Monthly Archive for January, 2013


The surgeon smothered my nether regions in slippery gunk and slithered over them with an ultrasound scanner for some 25 minutes. He lingered for rather longer than I would have liked in some places, creating all sorts of pretty colours on the screen but he finally handed me a print out and declared himself satisfied.
I don’t know a single Frenchman or woman who does God, but they all seem to do superstition in a way that seems bizarre. Of course I had the sorciere opposite and folk really do believe she had supernatural powers rather than being what appeared to me to be no more than a crabby old crone who just needed careful handling. I know quite sensible people who will do nothing without consulting their futurologists who will tell them what is to come and how they should handle it. And you dare not take the piss.


My neighbour presented me with a thermos flask yesterday. I may have been insulted. Next door he has proper coffee on tap. When he comes round I give him Lidl instant. At his suggestion I made a cafetiere-full of the real thing this morning and decanted it into to the thermos. I gave him a slug this morning. He burbled his approval and decided it was better than his own brand. I told him to go to Lidl for it. The sad thing is that I’m so used to crap instant that I now prefer it, so he may have a thermos to himself. It’ll be interesting to discover if its contents become rather tired after a few days.
Tomorrow I return to the clinic to be checked over by the surgeon. I can’t think he can do more than admire his sewing skills when it comes to the scar. I’m sure as hell not going to let him have a peek inside to see how things are getting on.


Monday morning at Lidl is when all the old men come in to examine the new range of hardware that fills the centre aisle and stroke the tools and confer with each other on their desirability. I confess to have bought a drill there and I’m told their paint is the best and cheapest in France, but so far paint and I have not been there at the same time. I was humiliated there the other day when the check out girl rummaged through the bags at the bottom of the trolley for contraband – which I always consider a bit of an insult – and found a frozen something-or-other that I had not noticed and failed to place in front of her. She didn’t even roll her eyes at me.
My neighbour is looking for a Ferrari. It makes a change from the Deux Chevaux of which he has a fair collection but I can’t believe it would be a sound investment for use on the roads round here. He’s either doing things with cars or the family ironing. Both seem to take up as much of his day. I’ve tried to persuade him that ironing is a task for nerds and anoraks but without success so far.


A pleasant blue day. The windows were rattled by what must have been a series of sonic booms as the air force practiced zapping baddies in Mali. Here one instinctively looks towards the nuke at Golfech to check that there isn’t a sinister column of smoke rising from it. I mentioned the bangs to one or two others; all had turned to Golfech. We pretend we’re unphased at living so close to a couple of nuclear reactors, but I suspect our cool is only skin deep.
The Xmas decorations in the village were taken down today. I chatted to one of those involved about the jolly little shiny parcels that dangle from most projections. Are they worth nicking for their contents? No, they contain empty milk cartons. They are not washed out and, I was told, they sometimes explode if the top is left on


Took an old friend to the airport who’s been staying for a few days. He’s retired and has launched himself into a PhD that’ll take him five years to complete. I do my best not to feel inadequate in comparison. We went the lazy way, cruising down the motorway. It takes much the same time as winding cross country and is both longer and costs tolls, but the lack of hassle often makes it worthwhile. Long stretches carried no traffic save us. The fields were full of roe deer.
My neighbour dropped by for his coffee early on before I had showered and shaved. ‘Ah! You look tired. Perhaps you will be dead tomorrow.’ He can be a little ray of sunshine.


The snow went; rain replaced it and the floods came. The river Arrats is a turgid little stream about a mile away that marks the border between the Tarn & Garonne and the Gers. It has burst its banks and is now 300 yards wide cutting the half dozen roads that would normally be used to cross it from here. It’s the first time since I’ve been in the area that anything similar has taken place. I have a visitor here and we went round the lake at Beaumont. The river Gimone there has also flooded and inundated the lands roundabout. The bottom of the town has barriers up to keep traffic out. Most of it is used for horses that scurry round the hippodrome in front of carts in the summer and they seem to have been evacuated. The lake held a flock of some 30 grebes, which I have only known there as the odd pair.
I continue to convalesce. Strange sensations still flitter through my nether regions. Yesterday was a great day when I found I had regained the ability to fart.


Presaged by banging shutters, about three of inches of snow blizzarded in last night in the small hours. Daylight showed the trees sagging under its weight and the tit scrum was unable to perch on the railing before launching themselves at the feeders. Fortunately the day is bright blue and it’s melting fast and most of the chateau roof is now clear. The neighbouring children were out early to enjoy it but it can’t have been much fun as it was wet. With a bit of luck it may be the only real winter we’ll have. A morning is quite sufficient. The local electrical system which cats’ cradles its way across the countryside isn’t very good at weather stress and we must have had half a dozen short power cuts that made the router struggle to keep in contact and avoid collapsing for good.
The dog refused to go outside first thing to get wet and cold. I envy the creature’s lifestyle as the perfect parasite, getting everything it needs in exchange for being duckie. But most of all I envy its bladder. Even in my prime I don’t recall being able to go for 12 hours without a pee.


Blue and bright today, but it’s not forecast to last. I pottered round the village to allow the dog to drop his turd in congenial surroundings, went into the policies of the chateau and bounced a deer. Cato, the wind being in the wrong direction as well as being awfully close to the ground, failed to clock it. This was just as well as he reckons that deer, like cats, are fair game and he would have likely ended hung up by his ears in a bramble bush had he given chase. The local deer are very charitable and obligingly take off across a field in apparent terror when they see him sprinting towards them like a wind-blown dishtowel.
The loft is now covered to some ludicrous depth in insulation. The top floor beneath is still icy cold. I suppose the fibreglass only stops the heat escaping if there’s any heat to escape. But they say it keeps things cool in summer.


There’s talk of snow, but more to give a bit of a frisson to life rather than the stuff being remotely likely to fall from the sky. Still, it’s generally a bit cold and miserable. Here the oil tank should smugly get this house through to the summer, so I am unphased, particularly since it’s currently being supplemented with the fire. I brought back from Portugal a couple of bags of pinecones a while back and they remove any angst from trying to get it started.
At intervals one hears of people who would like to buy the chateau opposite here and do it up. Since the owner is a Swede and doesn’t bother to respond to anyone, it seems unlikely. I hope for a bit more roof to fall in over this winter since it would look that much more picturesque. Someone who seemed to know what they were talking about thought it could cost €6m to bring up to spec. My neighbour has a mate who quite fancies taking it on but his budget is only half a million and that would be swallowed up in rewiring alone.


A mild pall over the village today. The helicopter gunships used by the French have a base up the road at Montauban. One of the locals has a cousin who flies them and his best mate, another pilot, was killed yesterday in Mali. The only poll on the subject that I’ve seen – in the Guardian – shows 80% support for the French action there and I passed it on.
Otherwise I sit and do bugger all. Cato loves it since I am static and he can spend happy hours asleep on my lap. A friend told me she watched a similar operation to mine on YouTube. Would I like the link? Nope.
The matriarch’s mother hits 90 next week. She’s a mysterious presence who lives with her daughter & I’ve only glimpsed once, but I hear about her from her daughter. She was born in Poland. Others of her generation round here came from Italy or Spain. There was a great influx of people escaping Fascism who ended up in this locality to enrich the local gene pool.