Monthly Archive for August, 2016


The heat shuts down the village. All shutters are barred and nobody goes out to play with their noisy machinery, except the grandson who mucked out his car with a leaf blower. Alarming cracks are beginning to appear in houses as the clay beneath dries out, but the maires will be declaring a natural catastrophe, which will make the insurance companies pay for repairs. I don’t think this house has any new or expanding fissures but next door has a problem and I’ve heard of others. The lawn by the house has subsided by several inches, but at least I don’t have to cut the grass at the moment.
The matriarch had her three operations and is still bristling with tubes in intensive care. There was initial gloom as to her prospects but she is rallying. The junior dog, a tough little beast, suddenly began to scream in pain. It was taken to the vet who anaesthetised it and pulled from its ear a bloody grass dart that was burrowing into its eardrum.


At this time of year one spends time trying to dodge melons. A neighbouring farmer wouldn’t take no for an answer and came round the side of his house with a full wheelbarrow. 10 was the lowest number we could escape with. You drop them on nearby doorsteps and flee before the householder can come out to decline them.
I was introduced to Pokemon Go by grandchildren, a craze that seems to have erupted over the past month. In the botanical garden in Toulouse more than 50 people of all ages were clustered by one of the gates busily stroking their telephones to catch the Pokemons that had been lured to the vicinity. I stopped updating my understanding of technological things before the smart phone came out. I’ll stay that way but it won’t be that long before I’m barely able to function in the modern world.
The only time a swimming pool could be useful in the garden is when children visit, but the swimming lake with unrivalled slides is only about 10 minutes away and there the thrill is clogging, finding someone with a fat arse to back up the water flow to create a mighty skoosh that hurtles you down into the water before the life guards get there to tell you to desist. I did spend five minutes in the water one day when the thermometer hit 35, but it wasn’t that much fun.


Except where the outflow from the septic tanks seeps into the lawn, grass growth has stopped. The clay has shrunk revealing fissures in the lawn, which is bumpy and sags in places. The sag is irritating where it meets the tiled path by the house as this sinks and tries to pull itself off the house. Last year I touched up the resulting crack but I won’t bother again since the same thing will happen every year.
Small family is here for a week. Much time will be spent by the local swimming lake that has two slides plunging into the water. Supervising adults cluster beneath the few shade trees where the air is filled with the scent of cannabis.
The village’s Mr Noisy who has a buzzing machine for every eventuality has taken his family off on holiday. His immediate neighbour has seized the chance to have folk to stay without these boytoys adding to the hullabaloo of the cicadas.
My Frankification has begun to progress once again. The District Secretary of Kandy in Sri Lanka says he will produce my mother’s birth certificate for the rupee equivalent of c55p, paid by bank draft. It’s such an absurd price that I’m sending him c£15 and hope that will cover postage and not make him think I’m trying to dash him a bribe.

Hot dogs

Ninety sat down for supper on Saturday in the square the other side of our hedge. The village matriarch, who is due in hospital this week for three operations on her innards, presided happily in her festive wig at the top of one of the three tables. Traditionally the locals eat lunch barbecued by the maire on the lawn in front of the sale de fetes on Sunday. I sat beside the matriarch and, after placing her chewing gum on the table, she chomped her way through three hot dogs and two portions of chips and told stories of the network of tunnels that burrow their way between landmarks in the surrounding countryside, most reputed to have been built by the Resistance I have never lived anywhere that isn’t said to have similar tunnels, usually stuffed with gold or lost bagpipers, and I’ve yet to see one.
A very jolly circular lady whom I understood to be the deputy chairperson of the departmental council came and sat on our terrace to admire the chateau. She indicated that there would be no grants to help preserve the place and is the only person I’ve met who shares my desire to watch the place decay into an even more picturesque ruin. If I’d caught her name, I’d probably vote for her.


We are busying ourselves for the village fete this weekend. Bunting all down the street, big fat supper on Fri, metal detecting jamboree, a vide grenier, lots of petanque and a 2-night disco that goes on till 3am opposite our bedroom window. In the last couple of hours, the only dancer is usually an old lady who totters round in circles waving her hankie.
The village only obtained an ‘encouragement’ in the Flowery Village competition about which the maire was so pissed off that he is threatening to write a snotty letter to the judges. He was also advised by the prefect that his municipal councillors could be targets for inadequate brown youths with beards and sharp knives since we are functionaries of the state.
The grounds of the chateau are filled with roaring tractors chopping down the scrub to entice prospective purchasers. It doesn’t really help.