Sunday, December 14, 2014

Conversations With Your Kids ...

The heraldic ravens here at The Shamblings
Hey Dad!

Yeah, hi.

I'm hungry!

Yeah. You only have about 3kg of Kitty Kibbles there in your feeder, and you got a TV dinner this morning.

OK, true, but you have to watch me!

Yeah. Why? You do tricks?

Nope, not that you'd notice, but if you don't watch me then no-one sees me eat and then who's to say that I've eaten?

Hey, that's pretty existential for a cat. But I would like to point out, if I may, that even without being watched 24/24, 7/7 you have still managed to put on quite a bit of weight. Not to put too fine a point on it, you is one big fat ex-kitten, and keeping that tub of cat-food brim-full is playing merry hell with my mortgage repayments.

Let me out now? Before Indra starts licking me? Please?

Also, you are not as cute as you used to be. You may think that the incident the other day, when I pranced and screamed ever so slightly as your needle-sharp claws sank into the good old gluteus maximus and the left testicle, was amusing: but I beg to differ. Have you considered going out and getting a job? No, I thought not.

Damn. Hey, I'll fuck around with all your piles of paper and put them all over the floor, and then I'll convince dickhead Shaun to come piss on them.


Kids or cats, the results are rarely what you expect. At least with cats you can have them sterilised and no-one will bat an eyelid. Kids are beyond the pail. (No, that is not a typing error. From Whackywheedia: "beyond the pail: an expression dating from C13 (citation needed) when a pail was placed on the floor of the Great Hall on the occasion of a high feast. Those seated above the pail were permitted to enjoy the same privileges as the lord and lady of the démeure, and could crap on the steps leading up to the main entrance: those 'below' (or 'beyond') were obliged to relieve themselves in the pail, often to raillery from their fellow diners but always to the pleasure of the gardener, whose perquisite it was to fertilise the potager with its contents.")

S'on the innernetz - or will be, as soon as I hit "Publish" - so it must be true.

There is a song - sung, if my doddering memory does not mislead me, by Julie Andrews on one of her better days - which goes something along the lines of "Climb every mountain/Ford every stream/Molest each furry bunny/Until you reach your dream" and I can proudly say that, Margo and I together, this morning we attained that. Yes, we have achieved the seemingly impossible: armed only with a screwdriver and a large hammer, we succeeded in putting together a flat-pack cupboard that we had previously taken to bits!

It was left here in The Shamblings when we bought the place, a great thing made in the pre-IKEA Bronze Age of malicious furniture à monter soi-même: back in the days when men were indisputably men, cast-iron was considered a viable alternative to particle board, and such items came with a handy pack of splints and bandages for the inevitable injuries sustained in putting the damn thing together.

We took it down with much cursing, for as I think I've mentioned before the previous owners - or their predecessors, or those before them - seemed to believe that although, in the words of the poet, "the centre cannot hold", it bloody well would if held together by enough three-inch crosshead screws and a couple of bolts, such as you might find protruding from the neck of your poorly stitched-together neighbourhood monster given a semblance of life by the vital electricity from a lightning bolt.

Anyway, now Margo has her office we found a use for it, so we slowly heaved its component pieces back up the stairs to the attic, and put it back together. Much to my surprise we had lost none of those curious little bits that turn and lock other curious bits together into a semi-rigid structure, also Margo had thoughtfully taken photos of it in its tumescent state: still, I had gloomily expected rather more blood. Now it's up, I don't think we'll be taking it down again in a hurry.

As you may have noticed, even down there in Upside-Down Land where you are probably preparing your barbecues, Gristlemuss is impending and the marché at Carcassonne is full of jollity and foie gras and people trying to sell you dodgy pine-trees that are so fresh they only fell off the back of a lorry this very morning.

Or at least I guess it would be, were it not for the fact that an ice-skating rink has been installed slap in the centre of place Carnot, and the actual market itself has apparently been dispersed to the four corners of Carcassonne. Which is a bit of a bitch, because the urge came upon me to make a cassoulet - and even, maybe, to buy a cassole to make it in - and it would have been a fair trot to gather together the necessary piggy products.

Cuisses de canard confites I have, of course, in the freezer, and I have a couple of kilos of haricots Tarbais - the only ones, it seems, which may be used for an authentic dish - in the cupboard, but there's still saucisse de Toulouse and some saucisse à l'ail and a bit of poitrine de porc and maybe some lamb shanks to be obtained by one means or another: a good cassoulet can feed a family of four for some considerable time. (Have I ever remarked on just how fond of meat, in gargantuan quantities, the southern French are? You may have this idea that everything is olive oil and vegetables, and these are indeed important parts of the cuisine, but they are still at heart unreformed carnivores.)

Still, it is also the time of year when the truffle comes into its own, and soon enough at Talairan and Villeneuve-Minervois there will be the truffle fairs. I have no idea what the things will cost (a fib, the going rate is currently anywhere between 600 - 800€/kg depending on where you are and how advanced the season is) but a 10gm truffle will not break the bank and will add its - particular - flavour to any number of meals. So I rather think I shall head off to share the fun.

Our elderly friend Bryan will be down here for Christmas but for some reason he's decided to turn up on the 23rd and head back to Chambéry, god and the SNCF permitting, on the 27th and so will miss all the excitement. Not to mention what I confidently expect to be serious eating and drinking.

Anyways, this has been short and and we are definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel in the photo department: things have been rather busy, and right now I am exhausted by the act of being polite erecting recalcitrant furniture. Things will get better. Mind how you go, now.

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