Tuesday, December 3, 2013

And Great Cthullu Gnaws My Bum ...

Trying to escape from the computing-themed whines that have plagued me for the past couple of weeks, met up with Piratical Philippe the other day. Now when he's not off demolishing and refitting chateaux, he has his gang of Poles refurbishing a small house in the village for he and Caroline. At least, the rubbish skip outside is always full of plaster and concrete and bits of wood, so I have to assume that they're gainfully employed somehow ...

And while he's responsible for the house, Caroline looks after the garden. Now she has a company in Toulon, I think, that consults on landscape gardening - tell you what trees to put where, stuff like that - and she seems to know quite a lot about trees: even knew, without prompting, of the feijoa, which is not doing too badly if you ask me. So their garden will have trees, all sorts of trees.

Which means that every time she goes shopping, Philippe knows that he has to get the back-hoe digger into the garden behind the house and prepare at least ten three-cubic-metre holes, to plant the things. Could explain why, when we met, he rolled his eyes heavenward in an admittedly theatrical manner whilst she waxed lyrical over the virtues of this, that or the other giant celery plant.

I rather think, much and all as I cordially detest the idea of naming one's house (like, I mean "Dunfartin"? Or "Sans Soucis"? So bloody 60s, the places are bound to be monuments to Formica, and plastic ballerinas clothed in cockle-shells, and "humoristic" bogroll cosies. Unless of course it is hysterically humorous in intent, such as "Mastitis Manor".) I shall have a plaque made for theirs. With, quite simply, "Dunsinane" upon it.

Whatever, after a week of chilly, cloudy, wet weather the rain has finally stopped and the sky is clear brilliant blue again. Not that this means it's any warmer, there's the eternal wind from the west which is, like I said, very lazy - goes right through you, rather than around you. Which means donning scarf, gloves and coat for the morning Evacuation Exercise, and also reminds me that I have not yet found, amongst all the boxes that haven't yet been unpacked, my big heavy overcoat.

Still, warming myself up in front of the screen with the first coffee of the day and a bit of serious investigative journalism, I came across what has to get the prize for best introductory sentence of the week: Flabbergasted investigators say that a previously unknown, very exciting Brazilian pussy was right under their noses but they have only just realised it.

Sometimes, the fruit of our loins is a puzzlement. Jeremy is a wonderful young man, but sometimes he seems to be as blonde as cousin Elise. Nothing to do with intelligence, I think Elise has an IQ the size of the GNP of Peru, but things happen ... and so it is with J, what with his magic explosive touch with computers he has also acquired - if genetically, it must be a recessive gene - the knack of being a target for theft.

First time round it was his laptop, in Nimes, which disappeared mysteriously from a motel room (always brings to mind the sad story of Percy's uncle and the Great Fire of London, that does) - then he left his backpack, with wallet in it, unattended for five minutes and lo! suddenly, there was no more wallet (which is a bitch, because getting a new credit card is relatively simple but getting a new ID card is a right pain and you have to jump through hoops to prove that you're actually French) - and then three days ago his scooter was stolen.

It's not as though he did anything wrong there, the scooter was in a locked garage and the lock was forced and surprisingly enough, shortly afterwards the scooter was gone - but you have to wonder, how exactly does he manage to attract this attention?

On the bright side, the cops apparently worked out whodunnit and found the scooter: on the darker side, as his official address is down here, the dossier was sent to the gendarmerie in Lézignan. So when he rang to tell us of a) the theft and b) the recovery, he hinted that we should perhaps go let them know, so as to avoid being rousted from bed at some ungodly hour by an over-enthusiastic gendarme hell-bent on interrogating us.

Back in the day, the gendarmerie would have been right in the centre of town, somewhere between la Poste and the mairie, but in these enlightened times they like to stick them out in the wops, I suppose on the grounds that if the yoof feel they have to go out to burn and pillage and otherwise annoy the officers of the law, at least they won't be disturbing decent law-abiding citizens while they're at it. For in Lézignan, the caserne is located about 5km from the centre, in the middle of the tundra and surrounded by empty fields as far as the eye can see, its closest neighbour being an empty building site which proudly proclaims itself to be the location of the new lycée. Once the state and the conseil régional cough up the necessary cash to put up anything more than the sign, anyway.

As Margo remarked, it's really rather good planning - with the plods next to the college they won't have far to go to look for the criminals. In one building, or the other, take your pick.

Whatever, we eventually found the place, buzzed at the gate and got admitted and cooled our heels for a bit in the waiting room whilst the cop in charge (very nicely kitted out, by the way - expensively shiny-looking synthetic trousers bloused into glossy black boots, a couple of handguns and more radios than you could shake a stick at) looked after a bad case of colic, and then got asked to explain our business.

Which we did, as best we could (not always easy, trying to re-explain Jeremy second-hand) and he sniggered politely and although he doubtless had better things to do kindly explained: "Ne vous inquiètez pas, le temps que ça arrive de la Savoie ce sera en deux mois, ça sera classé et on va pas vous emmerder ...". I guess that's reassuring.

Also, Saturday being rainy and thus propitious for such things, I headed back to the market at Carcassonne, for we were in dire need of vegetables and great bloody hunks of meat. (Also wine, but we picked up another 5000l at CDD that evening, just to fill the emergency tank, so that's alright then.) And I must be growing feeble in my dotage, for I stopped at a stall manned by a tall shaggy pony-tailed man, and bought some certified biological organic bread.

In my defense I would just like to point out that even though he claimed to grind his own flour for the pain aux quatre ceréales it was not, as is so often the case, lumpen and sufficiently dense to sink unwary ducks, and the raisin bread, sweetened with molasses, was excellent, and contained no nuts. (For some strange reason, raisin bread in France almost always has walnuts in it. I've never quite worked out why this should be so, but take it from me. So this was a pleasant surprise.)

His accent was sufficiently execrable that I spotted him immediately as an American: we didn't really have time to chat, because the meat was calling out to me, but I kind of picture him as an aging hippy who fled California fifteen years back to live in a yurt down south, communing with nature and his goats, and knitting his own yoghurt before the bottom dropped out of the fermented dairy products trade and he was obliged to take up bread-making in order to make ends meet. That's my theory, anyway.

Anyway, we bravely signed up for another sortie with the retired folk and the OAPs, and headed off to Perpignan on Sunday. A beautiful day, with the kind of bright blue sky that you generally only ever see on the more expensive postcards, but there is one thing that you should know about Perpignan - the wind is vicious. Those of you who live in Wellington will be nodding your heads sagely and getting ready to go off on a kindly put-down starting off "Now, when I was a lad we'd not have called that wind ...": well, you can take your patronising remarks and stick them somewhere dark. It's the sort of wind that starts off playful, and it's not so bad in the sun so you don't mind so much that you forgot to bring your gloves, and then you go round a corner and it leaps out at you and skirls up inside your jacket.

After a few minutes of that you're wondering why you didn't bring a bloody overcoat, and your old Turoa ski bonnet while you're at it, and your ears have gone numb. And you have a camera in hand, so you have to swap hands occasionally to put the one you can't feel anymore under an armpit, until a bit of blood starts to trickle back, and it turns a slightly ruddier shade of blue.

I swear it followed us all through the palais des rois de Majorque (a particularly short-lived dynasty, by the way, only made it up to king n° 4 before dying out) and it must have thought we were friends because it followed us into the centre of town and waited patiently outside the restaurant to play some more when we came out, to go look around the Belle Epoque bits of town.

I'll go into that at a later date: right now I have some confit de canard to fish out of its own fat and stick in the freezer for a rainy day. Enjoy your spring, won't you?

1 comment:

  1. Reading a fair bit of Lovecraft lately I take it ?

    And if you want to go on about vicious winds, let me tell you about Glasgow ...