Anyway, having better things to do, I went off this afternoon to get some dog food and wound up with a bottle of what I shall choose to call whisky. "Main Fields Finest Blended Whisky, Rare Reserve", bio-dynamic to boot with each grain of barley hand-crafted, aged in French oak and made in Marseille.
And there's another thing: I had occasion to go off to Lidl the other day to do a bit of necessary grocery shopping - and now that they've done the place up and installed barriers on the parking (I guess they were getting heartily sick of all and sundry parking there on a Wednesday moaning before heading off to the marché in the centre of town) I did actually remember to take my glasses with me so that I could actually read the code that gets printed out on your receipt and key it in at the barrier. (And why the hell didn't they put in a barrier with a barcode reader? Beats me ...)
And then, "Fruity Joy"? For a packet of condoms? I mean, really ...
(According to John, in England you can buy them curry-flavoured, or salt and vinegar, should you wish. Do you serve them up plonked on a lettuce leaf, I wonder.)
When you get to a certain age - such as mine, for instance - and you are doing up a house, as we are, there is one thing that is more or less guaranteed to give you a hard-on, and that is the arrival in the letter-box of the flyers from the DIY shops. All those power tools (OK, I actually have all I need, but a man can dream ...) and the limited offer on shower cubicles, and the 1400m² of parquet that I just can't resist.
In my particular case I wanted a new chopping board - I mean I still have three, but they are solid wood about 3cm thick which is not very practical if you want to pick them up and slide sliced things into a frying pan on top of the stove - because the little polypropylene one that Jeremy abandoned to our tender mercies some time ago a) warps under hot water and b) did not really withstand the ministrations of the butcher's cleaver when I was getting stuff ready to make honey chili chicken the other night.
Also, I headed off to the big brocante at Carcassonne - the one that has bronze statues of Atalanta orally pleasuring Melanion, should you have a garden into which that sort of thing could harmoniously fit - and came back (after a decent interlude drinking an excellent Mouxois white with Bob! and excusing myself to Lova, his Jack Russell) with a present for Margo (and, let it be said in all honesty, for myself).
Yes, I found an extremely over the top bronze and crystal chandelier, positively dripping gilt and extremely glittery. It was a consolation prize really, partly because it was chill and gloomy, but mainly because when I got to the market it was only to find the guy selling local asparagus loading his stall into the van, having sold it all.
So I paid the price the guy was asking for it (an eye-watering €100, but still probably a bloody sight less than I'd have been up for had I gone through to somewhere like Pezenas, where the antique shops cater to a rather more upmarket, if not actually more discerning, clientèle) and brought it home and after Margo spent some considerable time cleaning the accumulated filth of decades off the shiny bits, and I had spent even more time getting filthy in the crawl space above the top-floor ceiling (I refuse to call it an attic, 'cos as far as I'm concerned you can stand upright in one of them) arranging something sufficiently solid for my taste to hang it from, it is now sparkling up at the top of the stairwell.
Say what you like, we like it, and as it's up in our apartment no-one else has to look at it anyway. So there.
I can live with that - provided certain topics of conversation are banned - but they do seem to have a certain "Little England" mentality, which occasionally makes me want to flee screaming into the night. I mean, what the hell is the point of moving to France and then settling into a small circle of English acquaintances and trying to ignore the existence of all those Frog-persons around you? (Except when you are moved to complain bitterly every time you discover that the local tabac-presse does not stock The Telegraph, to supply a decent crossword and comfortably conservative reading matter.)
I stared glumly into my beer - for it was in fact running low - and wondered vaguely if I could get away with the admittedly lame excuse that I was scheduled to have an operation on my haemorrhoids that very day, or maybe just simulate an epileptic fit, but Margo piped up brightly with "That's a shame, but I rather think I'll be off at Nantes then, and Trevor will be far too busy, I suspect".
"Come on", he said, "it'll be very jolly. Think of England."
"I would", she replied, "but you should remember we're New Zealanders."
"Oh yes. Colonials. Oh well."
Whatever, mind how you go, now.