Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Party Like You're It's 58

Which is, by an odd quirk of fate, exactly what I will be by the time you get to read this here deathless prose. Yet another year down the tubes, on this rough beast's slouching journey to retirement.

Well, thanks for asking, it was a good party the other night. Julian and Batu, who bought old Charles's vines (along with the Mayleish dream of life in the south of France), finished the vendange (all done by hand) and threw a party for all the devil's little helpers, in the chai on the ground floor.

As an aside, the house that came with the vines was in rather worse shape than The Shamblings™, and living there is still kind of approximative. Although there is electricity - of sorts - and something that makes an effort at imitating plumbing. And of course, gravity is free. Charles's son Philippe was squatting the place at the time, and I must admit that it's the first time I've ever heard of a real-estate agent having to ask someone to clean the drying cannabis leaves out of the attic so that he could reasonably show prospective buyers through the place without too many questions, possibly of an awkward nature, being asked.

Anyways, old Charles and Isabelle were there, and we took the opportunity to raise the question of child support for little Emma and her sisters. He hummed, and hawed, and allowed as how it might just be possible, but insisted on DNA tests and if they turn out positive he might just have to charge us stud fees, given as his dog is mostly beauceron. Also, that would make us family, of a sort, which is an alarming prospect. The better part of valor is running away: I think we'll call it quits.

Batu must be seen to be believed. Ever watch "N° 1 Ladies Detective Agency"? Extrovert, larger than life in all senses, and you'd swear she'd never met a person she didn't like. Or if she didn't like them, there were certainly bloody good reasons. (She makes an exception for me.)

Johann did the music, being a pretty mean guitarist, and old Nev did the vocals for a couple of songs - in what was, I must admit, a bit of a revelation for us because I can now see how he managed to make a living for a while singing in clubs and bars. Seventy-mumble, and a great voice.

Of course there was wine - it's only a bloody winery, innit? - and between us all there was enough food for a smallish army, and dancing was committed. And then sometime around midnight the impressively-mustachioed local pharmacist turned up, he being the pharmacie de garde for Sunday, and jovially consented to drink a few glasses in between welcoming people turning up to buy a packet of aspirin at 1am.

I had occasion to go see one of the inspecteurs des impôts at la cité administrative at Carcassonne the other day - a little question of a re-estimation of tax due (guess I make too much money, must stop doing that) and it left me unnerved for a week.

First of all, I rang and requested an appointment. "When", I asked, "may I come in to see you?"

"Why, at your convenience, sir. I exist merely to serve you, the public". Already, that left me a bit queasy. A public servant - a fonctionnaire - announcing (over an unencrypted communication) that he is there to serve the public? I don't think so.

It got even weirder when, once he'd fawningly accepted a date and time for a rendez-vous, he told me that rather than wait at the accueil with the other plebs I should just give him a call and he'd come down directly, and to this end gave me his personal cellphone number. Alarming, I think you'll agree.

And then I turned up at the appointed time, called the number I'd been given, and a little white-haired guy bounced out of a stairwell and cheerfully led me to his office, where he proceeded to have problems with his computer - still, I noted, running XP.

Then he clearly and courteously explained the administrative procedure which would be followed, and went on to congratulate me on my excellent grasp of the French language before discussing the natural beauty of New Zealand. And finally, before shaking my hand and leading me to the stairs, "You will, of course, receive a letter. When you receive this letter, you should call me and bring it here, and I will explain the necessary elements to you. You may not be aware of this, but there are certain inspecteurs who are not gentil, but even so they may not oblige you to pay the full amount in one sum. Should you have problems you have but to call me, and I will ring his superior. I wish you a good day, and also to your doubtless equally charming wife".

The word "gob-smacked" is, I think, in order here.

Just like Donald Trump, I have an accountant - which is where the similarities end. For one thing, I actually have to pay for their services, also they have not yet found a creative way of letting me lose some 900 million dollars. Which is a shame, because if I could pass the resultant tax credits onto the kids, as part of their inheritance, I guess that this particular branch of the Bimler family would be living tax-free for the next ten generations at least.

Anyway, I guess that they must feel guilty about making me fork over hard-earned cash for their services, and as some sort of consolation every three months or so I get a large envelope from them in the post. I must admit that I'm always eager to get it, for it contains a glossy booklet absolutely brimming with articles of passionate interest to accountants. My favourite would have to be the last-but-one issue, with a full-colour tear-out section on ring binders ...

What I actually meant to say was that I have just learnt - from the aforementioned little fascicule - that France is taking a leap forward of some fifty years or so, for in 2018 they will be instituting PAYE! Only a few decades behind the rest of the world, but you wouldn't want to rush things. (Also, the French taxman has discovered the innatübz, and has embraced it with a vengeance. To the point where, when you receive - as you will, inevitably and sadly, very regularly - demands for your taxe fonçière or the taxe d'habitation, all of which involve frightening numbers and a due date for payment which is unnervingly close, you will note that you may pay online. The advantage of that is that you have an extra 15 days before the cash comes out of your account: that much more time to plan a bank robbery.)

Whatever, I shall pass on the sordid details of my birthday, mostly because I can't remember that many. I spent some time officiating at the bigger of the barbecues and then, having dished out the chicken wings and the bulgogi and merguez and fish and this, that, and the other, quietly slipped upstairs and went to bed - half-cut, and completely knackered. Didn't bother anyone, and I got to sleep the sleep of the just.

And the next weekend our old friend Jacques came down from the mountains to see us, bringing his fractured L1 vertebra with him (the old fool would slip and fall on his arse playing ball with various grand-children: godnose I've tried to tell him but will he listen? No). It was mainly to see his youngest daughter Claire (whom I mostly remember as a ten-year-old kid when we first turned up in France) do a 180km run, starting from Carcassonne: heading off to points south before looping off to the east to take in Peyrepertuse (and actually running up 1100m to get to the chateau itself, before running back down again) then back to the west and up to the starting point.

This, I should point out, on goat-tracks and the sort of pistes that SUV drivers tend to avoid. (Because you really don't want to scratch the paintwork on your brand-new Cayenne.)

We duly saw her off, and welcomed her back 44 hours later, and quite incidentally discovered a few worthy restaurants in Carcassonne, which is nice. But I think that at some point Jacques must have offended whichever god it is that watches over the SNCF, for his train into Narbonne was 50 minutes late (due to flooding, which didn't help that run either) and then as we were sitting on the quai waiting for his train back to St-Avre there was an ominous (and of course, completely incomprehensible) announcement over the Tannoy which, on enquiry turned out to be to the effect that his train would be delayed at least two hours ...

 And to cap a busy month, our friend Mad Karen turned up, abandoning her cosy nunnery in Seyssel for the rigours of life down in the Languedoc. Ie, booze and sunshine. Mostly.

Sad to say, we missed the inauguration of the House At Pooh Corner, due to having better things to do. Shame really, apparently there was a vin d'honneur and nibbles and everything: but quite frankly, cutting the ribbon on a sewage treatment station does little for me.

Now if I knew that our estimable M. le maire were to be ensconced on his throne and, to general applause, give the first flush, that could be a different story - sadly, no.

Whatever. I'm not going to be watching the news for the next four years, and I'm seriously thinking of taking up drinking.

No comments:

Post a Comment