Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Body Electric/New Look ...

Well, it's great news in our little southern village, for the bar is to reopen beginning of February! We had begun to despair, for nothing moved, and then it did it again, and it kept on doing it, sporadically. But the other moaning we met Didier Deville, local fabulist historian and, incidentally, member of the conseil municipal, who told us that it was a done deal, and that the lucky winner would be announced on Monday. And then that evening, all gathered at Cash & Terry's (for it was a Friday), who should turn up with José but Magali and Lionel.

We know them, they live just down the road, and it seems that against all odds they won the beauty contest: despite the fact that they are not on the best of terms with our Dear Leader. So as they are nice level-headed people who have what seem to be good plans for the place we are happy for them - and also for us, for a year without a bar is a long time. Also, as they apparently have the support of the local greasy eminence, half the population of Moux will not feel that they have to boycott the place: which means that there's a better chance of it getting off the ground.

Angela and Martin turned up for dinner (and to recuperate their two dogs, who stayed with us whilst they swanned off to a Robert Plant gig in London) and so we had salade Lyonnaise, homard thermidor and - because I found more baby beetroot at the market that day - this. I'm not saying you have to rush out and make it, because it won't actually change your life, but it does make a nice change from the eternal carrot cake, and the colour is beautiful.

Personally I leave the walnuts out because I am not that fond of them: I omit the ginger too, because Margo's not keen on that, but you could always replace that with candied citrus peel if you'd like. Can't hurt. Also, double the quantity of cream cheese frosting (Rick complained) to which - in lieu of ginger - you could add either natural lemon oil or very finely grated (Microplane! Yay!) lemon zest.

Anyways, being as all the wall sockets in the dining room needed to be taken down for painting porpoises, I decided to explore the mystery that is electricity here in The Shamblings™. There was a wall-mounted thermostat for an electric radiator next to the window, but the radiator had long since gone AWOL; also, two power points at the back of the room on one of the long walls with, in time-honoured rustic DIY tradition, an extension cord leading from them, glued atop the skirting board along the back wall, to two other power points on the facing wall. "That lot", I thought to myself, "has to go", so I pulled the main fuse and, after checking that there was nothing that was in fact live, unwired the extension cord from the first two plugs.

A good start, and then I put the fuse back so that I had light to see by, and started to unwire the other end of the extension cord. I expect you see what's coming? I mean, my fault entirely and on top of it I know better, and I had absolutely no justification whatsoever for my belief that the extension cord took power from the first two power points to feed the other two. I said a few choice words as my thumb tingled, and resolved not to make the same mistake again.

And then there was the light fitting on the ceiling: it used to be considered good practice back in the day - before they mandated the use of pre-wired sockets and plugs - to at least tighten the screws on the little domino connectors that were used to hook up the wires from the light to the actual mains supply. This appears to have been thought unnecessary here, for the wires were just stuffed in to the connector. Which I found out, rather to my surprise, when I came to unhook the thing and the domino just fell to the floor as I touched it with a screwdriver.

I also removed the surplus-to-requirements thermostat: now the power point just next to it (which I guess once fed the now long-gone radiator) no longer works, although there is 220V on the phase pin. I strongly suspect that the thermostat was wired into neutral - electrically that works, of course, but it is highly illegal and may also be shockingly surprising to the unwary - and I shall check that out this weekend maybe, when I have time.

For everything else has now been done: the walls are painted, the floors are clean, furniture has been moved in - even the huge old 1950s buffet that used to occupy an unconscionable amount of space in the garage was lugged up the steps and installed, and then we put the termites to the sword.

And now, for the first time in over four years, we are confronted with the pleasant problem of actually having somewhere to put stuff, rather than living with it in stacked cartons. Why, even my stereo and record collection have come out of their long hibernation - still in working order! (Although I shall have to see if someone still sells things like CD lens cleaners, for my poor old player futters and starts madly at the slightest provocation.)

And then I went online and ordered 15m of picture rails, for there are photos and prints to be hung, and no way am I going to be sticking holes all over the wall for individual hooks only to decide "not the right place!". Again. Not the old heavily-varnished wooden mouldings I recall from my misspent youth, but flashy, slim-line aluminium rails, such as would not be out of place in an art gallery ...

As usual with that sort of thing, there was a whole stream of confirmation email: first to tell me that my bank account had been debited, that my order had been confirmed and would be processed as soon as possible, and a little caveat to the effect that internet boutiques are really difficult things to do and that even if something shows up as being in stock it might not really be so 'cos some other bastard got in before you. So you might not actually get what you ordered.

I like to think that I'm a reasonably tolerant person, and in any case I'm used to incompetence, so apart from a few mutterings along the lines of "How hard can it be? I used to write real-time stock-control systems, FFS" I was willing to let it go, but I must admit it was kind of annoying to read the fine print that said (more or less) "Should this be the case, we will of course reimburse you - probably within two or three weeks."

Whatever, I need not have worried - too much - for then I got a mail from the transporter to tell me that my order had been picked up and was ready for delivery, followed by one from the supplier to tell me much the same thing, but thoughtfully listing the items: which consisted of a gift voucher, a plastic pochette and a 1000-page catalogue. Not a mention of the picture rails I'd actually ordered, but then the next day there was another flurry of emails to let me know that a second package would soon be on its way, and that this one had what I wanted.

Then came yet another email from the transporter to let me know that my order would be delivered on Friday 22/12, if that was convenient: of course, the picture rails turned up today, Thursday, and I got an SMS to let me know that there had been a delivery. Which seems kind of pointless, but what would I know? Then came another email, to say that they had to get a flatbed truck for the 1000-page catalogue, so that will be delivered next Wednesday: it will probably turn up tomorrow. You get used to it. (Although I am not entirely sure what I shall do with the bloody 1000 page catalogue: weight-lifting? A doorstop, for summer? Perhaps weighting a ham when I cure one? Margo says it will be her friend.)

Whatever, Merry Christmas. Bah, humbug.

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