Sunday, January 19, 2014

Like Cats And Dogs ...

As is so often the case, we open with a Health & Safety advisory: do not, I repeat not, use WWII era canned food. Not that there's anything wrong with it, given that it may have been sterilised in the afterglow from Hiroshima it's guaranteed germ-free, but it may contain surprises. Case in point: it came into what I may loosely call my mind the other night to make a quick dinner - crab and sweetcorn fritters.

Which are normally quite safe and only rarely explosive (and then only if you get the amount of nitroglycerine wrong): you take half a tin of sweetcorn and stick it in the blender along with four tbsp of flour, salt, an egg, some chopped spring onion and as much cayenne pepper as you happen to feel like, and whizz the lot into a thick batter. Then you stir in the rest of the sweetcorn, a tin of crab-meat (such as you will have lying around in the pantry somewhere) and some more thinly-sliced spring onion, before making little balls and deep-frying them.

And that was where it went titsup for me: one of those little balls apparently had live ammunition in it and exploded as I was turning it, which meant a healthy dose of oil at 250° flying up and spattering over the palm of my hand. Left hand, luckily, so I can still look at porn on the innertubes, but it hurt like hell and I spent the rest of the evening clutching a frozen bottle of water.

So let that be a warning to you. I would also recommend wearing safety goggles when deep-frying, were it not that seeing the cook in full hazmat kit does rather tend to put guests off their feed.

Whatever, I was roused from my torpor in front of the screen by a godawful racket in the sitting room, and lurched in to be greeted by a scene of domestic bliss and tranquility all-too rare around The Shamblings. Primary Systems Cat was seated on a chair, watching benignly as Shaun rolled yelping with pain on the floor, Emergency Backup Kitten apparently surgically grafted onto his muzzle. EBK was afraid to let go, and with four sets of needle-sharp claws planted in his nose Shaun was probably not really thinking at 100% of his admittedly limited capacity ... so we separated them, the kitten bolted upstairs and Shaun licked his wounds.

A funny thing, but since then he's seemed far less inclined to go in for Boisterous Play than he used to be. It may not last, but a bit of healthy respect for cats' abilities in the mayhem department would do him no harm.

Anyway, what is it with these people? What makes them think that Spring is here already? There are no buds, no flowers, the branches are bare, but already the bloody cyclists are out, lycra-clad and puffing along uncertainly down the back roads. And they tend to go in packs of forty or so, six abreast and seven or eight deep, so that they can chat happily amongst themselves and incidentally block the lane. It's worse than having an Aixam or a flock of Dutch camper-vans in front. I suppose it's Mother Nature's way of improving the species, or something, because the inexorable invisible hand will get them. Or if ever Adam Smith fails, there's always the front-mounted rocket-launchers that came as optional equipment with the car.

On the other hand, and always looking on the bright side, at least the road-kill will be healthy (apart from the small matter of being dead) and in good shape when it comes time to put it in the pot. (For boiling, I think. Too stringy to roast.) What? You leave run-over game on the tarmac?

So Margo was telling me about the time when she had to get some information about setting up a small business and she went in to see officialdom, as one does, and she happened to ask - I don't know how it came up - "just what is the weirdest one you've had?". The woman looked around, closed the door, and confessed that it was this guy who'd invented a set-top box to detect aliens. Despite not being a Canadian politician he was convinced that they are amongst us, and his box would bleep if one came in the door.

He had the circuit diagrams and everything, and just wanted seed money from the government to develop the product. Seems he was saddened when this did not arrive, but that just goes to show that his paranoia was internally inconsistent. I do not know how he failed to work out that if the aliens are here then they own the government, and are hardly likely to want attention drawn to them by little boxes going "Bleep!". Makes one conspicuous. Buy tinfoil hat.

(Of course, there are other ways to be conspicuous. If, for instance, you are a serving French president, you can go off to see your mistress on the back of a scooter driven by a member of your security detachment. You are likely to be noticed for the simple reason that your scooter will be the only one obeying traffic regulations.)

Why, oh Lord? The Great Google tells me that one search term, and one only, lead people here last week, and it was "girdle for fallen bladder". Have you ever noticed me writing about girdles, or bladders - fallen or otherwise? Incidentally, how does a bladder fall? I mean, it's not as though it's likely to trip over or something, or jump out a window. Not without its fleshy envelope anyway, in which case the actual bladder would probably be the least of one's worries.

And even if we're speaking in the religious/moral sense, of a fall from grace, I remain to be convinced that a bladder can actually be said to be in a state of grace in the first place, in which case it can hardly be said to fall from that state, now can it? Not as though there's some cheeky serpent with an apple wandering around the small intestines, going from duodenum to pancreas trying to tempt various under-esteemed organs (liver and lights, as they're known in the trade - the unmentionables). Not in my abdomen there's not, at any rate.

After a three-week hiatus before and after Christmas the workmen have turned up again, and things are going on apace. It's almost possible to believe that we'll be migrating to the top floor sometime mid-February, while they're gutting the first floor.

Very cunningly, I headed off to Chambéry last week, this being when they turned the heating off so as to be able to shift the boiler a couple of metres to the west. This is not because of feng shui, just because we thought it would be rather a good idea to have it lurking in its own little - sound-proofed - utility cupboard with the 150l hot-water cylinder (which has yet to be hooked up - suppose that'll mean they'll be turning the heating off again and this time I will be here, woe is me!) rather than invading our living space.

Also, when I arrived back at Narbonne I found that I was sharing the back of the car with a brand-new Bosch low-pressure spray-gun and a Bosch angle-grinder, equally new. Not to mention a tungsten blade for the grinder, so as to be able to use it to cut tiles. For this is what it is going to come to in the near future: there are tiles on half the floor of what will become our bathroom, and rather than pay Cédric 500€ to lay a thin cement chape over the lot to level it out, I shall spend some quality time with the big jack-hammer drill.

And we shall have to go get some parquet flottant, and some jute matting for the bathrooms, and pick out tiles for the showers, and then there's always the vexed question of paint. But one thing at a time, I guess.

In any case, I am going to wrap this up: EBK is getting too close to the keyboard for comfort. Although he does not yet know it, he's going off tomorrow to get his balls ablated, which means that as of a couple of hours ago he has no food, which means a very vocal, very affectionate and particularly blundering kitten.

Which is fine so long as he sticks to floor level, but when he decides to explore my desk I do rather draw the line.


  1. Not as though there's some cheeky serpent with an apple wandering around the small intestines, going from duodenum to pancreas trying to tempt various under-esteemed organs

    That's your actual Kundalini there.

  2. Are you Trevor Bimler ex Wairoa Primary??????

  3. Was in Waroa recently and noticed your old house was for sale which set me off telling my kids about your dad growing peanuts?

  4. Who doesn't? Grow peanuts, that is.