Sunday, August 17, 2014

Newspapers Do Me 'Ead In ...


"What's this?" I thought, blearily glugging down the first coffee-and-cocaine of the moaning*. "Why on Earth has the world's most peaceful, prosperous and technologically advanced nation weaponised the clergy?" In a parallel universe I would probably have slapped the newspaper down onto the breakfast table with a triumphant "harrumph" at Margo at this point, narrowly avoiding a cornflakes-related disaster, but in this Shamblings we don't actually do breakfast, and in any case avoid being together until we've evolved a bit.

(Also, to be totally honest, the actual physical paper newspaper has gone the way of the clepsydra and the button-hook, rendered obsolete by technology. But slapping a tablet down just doesn't have the same ring to it, and could also get quite expensive, what with the little buggers being kind of delicate and all. So we're stuck - metaphorically - with dead trees.)

As it will (must cut down on the medications which are not, strictly speaking, mine anyway - and truth to tell I'm not entirely sure that powdered doggy worm tablets are really that hallucinogenic, although if you cut them with baking powder they are kind of fizzy) this sent the dinosaur hind-brain running off down memory lane looking for something to play with, and all it could find was the old Monty Python sketch "The Bishop", which it dutifully brought back and started to gnaw. Would be nice, if one day it just brought me my slippers ... 

Anyway, visions of booby-trapped baptismal fonts, bishops with bazookas, Kevlar chasubles and exploding aspergillae started weaving in and out of more normal daydreams involving improbably-dimensioned young women, and it wasn't until I clicked on the link and realised that some sub-editor over at was probably going to be told he was a very naughty boy that things started to calm down.

At long last EBK is learning the fine art of cohabitation with SOD. He still refuses to find himself in the same room as her, but when both the dogs go out on the late-evening "Avoiding Unpleasant Incidents In The Night-time" walk he prances along with us and dives in to see what's going on. Patting a cat whose head is covered in dog slobber is less than pleasant, but I guess it could be worse.

Our new(ish) maire, M. Mazet, is a small stumpy man with a Panama hat and the harassed air of a self-important minor bureaucrat; walks stiffly and seats himself with an uncomfortable grimace. I would not be surprised to learn that a stick was surgically implanted into his arse at some point. Or perhaps he just has haemorrhoids (as well as an idiot nephew, which as I've said before seems to come with the job). Whatever, he is not winning any prizes in the popularity sweepstakes in our little corner of Moux.

Tuesday, when I was off in Chambéry (decanting Bryan and Beckham and vast quantities of wine back there after their week in the sun, amongst other more serious things) Reets (that's how "Rita" is pronounced in bloody Barnsley) reached the ripe old age of sixty-mumble and had a birthday party.

She and Neville have a house which can only be described as "teeny" and anyway it was hot and sunny, so as will happen it spilled out onto their extremely narrow street, which sort of came into being back in the day when plumbing was invented so they decided that paving over the open sewer might be a good idea. Also, at that time "transportation" meant "donkeys" so I suppose that technically speaking it is in fact a two-way street: personally I am not about to try and take Sarah down there because I would probably get stuck for the rest of my life.

That is not the point: the point is that at some time in the evening M. le maire came out to ostentatiously close his shutters and I guess he must have a photographic memory or maybe he's the French rebuild of the 6-Million Dollar Man because the next day all those present - including, I'm sad to say, Margo - received a Letter.

The very first sentence ended with an exclamation mark: a bad beginning, being almost invariably the sign of a diseased mind. It reminds us that Moux is governed by the laws of the République, that roads may not be closed without permission from the mairie, and - just by the way - that there should be no noise, vulgarity, drunkenness or lascivious behaviour in the streets after 10pm. Sadly, it did not end with a "longue vie à notre Président, vive la république", but the sentiment was there.

He also seems to have a mild obsession with parking spaces in the place - better that than penis size I suppose - and under normal circumstances that would be harmless enough, but it has led him to upbraid Margo on occasion. He seems to feel it very deeply that we have two cars, one of which is bigger than his, and neither of them are in our garage, and this cuts him to the quick. Personally I am impatient to get all the furniture out of the garage and into the house, which would at least leave the possibility of sticking a car in there, but this seems of little consolation to him.

Whatever, I could give a shit.

Pouring fat on the flames, or adding insult to injury, or whatever, old Hélène was also on the receiving end of a Sternly Worded But Uplifting Letter, which did not please her. As a good soixante-huitard she of course did something about it: consisting, quite simply, of asking Mr. Stick-up-bum whether or not she needed an arrêté municipal to park her car in the street outside her house in order to unload it. The splenetic response was apparently quite edifying.

I kind of wish I'd been around to hear it, I'm sure I'd have learnt something. Or if not, I'd probably have laughed myself sick.

As is traditional around these here parts the day arrived with a bright sun in a flawless blue sky and - kind of exceptionally, this one - no wind. Of course I had better things to do, so I resolutely ignored their siren call and headed off to Paraza, a bit north-east of here, instead.

It's a pretty little village, baking under the sun, and the canal du Midi winds slowly around it under the platanes and on a hot Sunday afternoon the only people moving around are the tourists, who hop off the house-boats to see if they can't find some decent wine for the apéro a bit later on.

I know it will be my downfall, but the gates were open and there seemed to be a dégustation going on in there, so I followed my nose through the imposing gates and on into Chateau Paraza. Which I can now heartily recommend. Even if it is Minervois, rather than Corbières. I'm quite broad-minded, in that respect.

Started off with a couple of whites, then the rosé, then onto serious work with the reds. Beginning, as one will, with the youngest and least complicated, and working up from there ... the vin du pays is not to be sniffed at - the 2011 was really rather decent - and the 2010 AOC Minervois (les Baronnies, should you be wondering) was extremely good.

From then we worked our way up to the top level, In Vino Veritas, which is a syrah/grenache blend picked when very ripe so sod-all natural acidity: don't expect it to last too long in your cellar. For a number of reasons. Lovely stuff, I'll take you there. But be warned, it's rather treacherous at 14.5°, going on 15°, so don't plan on doing much after the wine tasting other than lounging on the banks of the canal idly heaving stones - or German tourists - at passing ducks. (I am made of sterner stuff. They had a vinaigrier on the table: I spat. Shame, really.)

It had not in fact been in my plans for the afternoon, but somehow I found myself heading home with a dozen bottles in the boot and a thirteenth - a present - rattling around on the front seat. I really must think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but quite frankly off the top of my head I can't.

And in my spam folder today, a very poetic message which almost moved me to reply:

Good day Upstarting
Now You Can Buy Tabletz :-)
I slept on leather ate right off the knife a shepherd thou a shepherdess john and georgiana reed

Eat your heart out, ee cummings. Strictly speaking I suppose I really should give the real url as some form of attribution, but
  1. I can't be arsed.
  2. I shall plead "fair use" if sued.
  3. I am guessing that you do not really want a brown-paper wrapped container-load of Viagra and "natural human testosterone" - possibly extracted from Ukrainian war orphans - turning up on your doorsteps, should you by accident or terminal stupidity click on the link, so I'm doing you a favour here by redacting it.
Well, mind how you go now.
*You may say "morning", I say "moaning". I find it a more accurate description. Arthur Dent screamed.

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