Friday, March 31, 2017

The Plot Thickens ...

... in which we learn that the imminent closure of our beloved bar is likely to be a messy, not to say depressingly sordid, affair. For claims and counter-claims are flying thick and fast, and the mysterious Me Ferrand, notaire of Capendu, refuses all requests for enlightenment.

According to the rather breathlessly excited minutes of the last council meeting, letters are being fired off in all directions: the authors are noted, but not the contents, nor the recipient, which makes it a bit tricky to work out what's actually going on. Two things seem relatively clear, the first being that Yvan believes himself to be owner of the bar's fittings and wants 55 000€ to go away: the mairie is not of this opinion. The second is that Yvan has been able to convince a lawyer that he has a sporting chance, whereas the mairie seems to have not even the vaguest idea of what contract they actually signed.

Not, maybe, so surprising, given that going over the council minutes for the last two years I am unable to find any record of the deliberations concerning the form of the contract, let alone the choice of the successful candidate.

This seems a curious omission, but it may explain why everyone is so keen to get in touch with the elusive Me Ferrand.

Actually, "imminent closure" is not really the right phrase, because I don't think there's any way of saying that in the past tense. For yesterday being Friday, virtually the entire anglophone contingent of Moux turned up, along with a number of French-persons who were willing to run the risk of incurring our Dear Leader's displeasure, and we all set about an honourable wake.

Sadly we missed out on dinner, for we more or less set ourselves the task of emptying the shelves of whatever bottles were still there - even the dusty cobwebbed ones at the very back of the top shelf with names like "Summer Peach Cobbler" and "Crème de Morve" - so after we'd done the wine Margo got onto the Baileys, I hit the cognac, and John was nursing something that looked rather like eau de Cologne involving curaçao, vodka, and - I'm just guessing here - turpentine.

The place will be missed, because it gave us all a place to meet and chat and - in my case - unwind at the end of the week, but we've decided to keep this freshly-minted tradition going by hosting a mobile happy hour every Friday. Bring bottle, and bird. Oh, and whatever glasses you like drinking from. Next Friday it'll be chez Martin and Angela, and then I guess we'll just work it out as we go along ...

Poor Sarah had a hissy-fit the other day as we were coming back from Carcassonne, telling me that she had no more ABS, nor ASR, and that if I wanted to do a hill start I was on my own, also that the engine really really needed to be checked out and on top of that the fuel gauge kept jumping to "Absolutely Empty" from time to time: so I resigned myself to dropping her off at the Alfa garage, losing her for a week whilst they rummaged under her skirts, and paying eye-watering sums for spare parts.

Given that the last time that happened, not long after I'd bought her (so luckily enough it was under guarantee) they had to replace all the injectors, it was with considerable surprise and no small amount of pleasure that I got a call yesterday to tell me that she was good to go, just an intermittent short in one of the wiring boxes and that would be 120€ thank you very much squire. So Margo dropped me off, I paid, discovered that - as usual - she'd been steam-cleaned inside and out (it's almost worthwhile just for that, truth to tell), and being just down the road from But (think low-rent IKEA), went in there.

Because in about ten days we will have been living in France for thirty years, and to celebrate the occasion the Kenwood Gourmet food processor that we bought in the first month or so of our time in Vitré decided to expire. Well, I exaggerate a bit: she still worked perfectly: it's just that the locking lugs on the plastic bowl finally broke off, and as replacements start off at about 60€ I thought that just maybe, after all those years of good and loyal service, a new one was in order. (Also, I just got paid, and reckoned that the bank didn't need all that money.)

It is not easy to find a simple food processor these days - at least, not if you want one with a decently-powered motor, more than two speeds, and a metal body. So now, apart from the cubic metre or so of eco-friendly biodegradable packaging (not including the myriad plastic bags that wrapped absolutely everything, including the power cord) I have a plastic tub full of mysterious accessories, none of which - I think - will ever see the light of day again.

There's a rather fiddly looking planetary eggbeater thingie which must be a bitch to clean and anyway I have a perfectly good hand beater for that sort of thing, and for larger quantities Yog-Sothoth the big KitchenAid is sitting out on the bench just begging to be used (yeah, I know, the food processor should be out on the bench too but Need Moah Bench Space); there is a dough blade, as if I'm not going to knead bread dough by hand; there is the usual assortment of grater/slicer disks which, if the past thirty years experience are anything to go by, I will never use.

There is also a vitamizer jug, but we already have a vitamizer, and to be quite honest it's rare that Margo needs to make up two litres of Margarita slushies. (That would be one hell of a Ladies' Afternoon.)

Is this a thing? From the Daily Fail, excusing themselves for focusing on legs, comes an apologia: it's all OK because there are 83 pages crammed with interesting news including "a health supplement devoted to women's death issues". Personally I would not find that helpful, but then what would I know?

In other news, I has sads: the huge Asus laptop that serves as my Linux development system has decided to die. Well, more a case of death and resurrection, for she will run happily enough for ten, maybe fifteen minutes before shutting down with a slight case of heatstroke: after which I must wait half an hour or so before turning her on again.

This is rather annoying, for now I must go and buy another large high-powered laptop and re-install everything on that: OK, it was on my list of Things To Do Real Soon Now anyway, but right now is not really that convenient.

Still, all the backups were up to date so it's not as though I've actually lost anything: it's just that I'll probably spend a day or so getting a new system running and transferring files and checking that everything works as I want.

Maybe it would be easier just to buy a small fridge, stick her in there and run the network cable and power cord out through the door seals. We had been thinking of getting one such for up here anyway, to hold milk and white wine: this would be a way to claim it as a totally legitimate business expense.

Whatever, it is time to go drown my sorrows: first edition of our pop-up bar Chez Réné tonight, so we'll see how that works out. Mind how you go, now.

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