Monthly Archive for January, 2017


A heavy overnight frost – the last forecast – followed by a blue sky. A load of logs arrived. It’s the third this year, extravagant but the fire is nice to look at and there’s still two thirds of a tank of oil. I’d just finished stacking them when the angelus rang out from the church and I looked up to watch four deer delicately picking their way in front of the chateau. Who knows how long one’s sojourn is in any place, but there’s still nowhere I’d rather be.
I go to the lovely dentist tomorrow to have one of my few remaining teeth removed. I have no regret. It’s a nasty brute. But I’m beginning to warm to American teeth, a row of perfectly matched and shiny gnashers, preferably large and horse-like. Should I have a new set of falsies made to such a design, or just plug the gap? I shall have a discussion tomorrow. The maire has suggested that the extracted tooth could be encased in gold filigree and encased in a crystal box to become the church’s first reliquary, but I would have to pay for it.


I have always striven to avoid becoming a miserable old fart as my years advance, but it’s very difficult. Trump is a ridiculous man, but he may end up by being much worse than funny, while Brexit is already making the UK a more ignoble place. My neighbour and I have arguments on such subjects. He has a French reverence for democracy. If the people vote for it, then it has to be accepted but I can’t do that. Wrong is wrong and I make such judgements without reference to the ballot box. But, following the inauguration, my neighbour came round to tell me that Trump is unquestionably unhinged and he will surely soon be impeached. OK, but what would follow after him is no improvement and likely to be more effective at disseminating inhumanity.
I should have rung the church bells at a recent funeral, but the instructions on how to do it were missing and nobody else was confident enough to advise me. The priest was a delightful old man and shuffled through a tottery version of a highland fling after he had established I was Scots. The church needed a thorough sweep before it was sufficiently seemly for the occasion, but splashes of owl shit perforce remained. A rather dreary stone cross inside has been deemed important and the building has consequently been elevated to be part of the Patrimoine de France.


There are 195 communes in the Tarn and Garonne. We conseillers municipaux, some 2,000 of us, received a festive card from our representative in Paris. The maires, so far as I can establish, got about 20 such cards from conseillers départementales. That’s a conservative estimate of 6,000 cards. Perhaps a €15,000 cost to the taxpayers.
A maire is as busy as he wants to be. The huge majority of them in the department are farmers. The mairie here used to slumber through its opening hours because the maire wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to do and didn’t know how to do it anyway, so he rarely received visitors. Our current incumbent is not like that and clocks up nearly as much in travelling costs between here and Montauban as he receives in salary. To be fair, the intensive rounds of seasonal parties thrown by the great and the good may not be classified as duty.
Most inhabitants of Western Europe seem to have had colds since Christmas. I got rid of one and jumped straight into another with scarcely a break. Soggy tissues can be used for cleaning the glass on the front of the fire.


The maire has all his ducks in a row for money this year. We’re turning what used to be the priest’s house into two flats. That’ll cost €200k. Not much less is needed to bury all the electrics, which will piss off the birds that line the wires, and redo the street lighting to cut the electricity bill. Some of the money is coming from the department, some from the prefect, some from the region, some borrowed from the bank and a small amount from our own funds. Some of it will be paid up front and some in tranches over three years. The house is the only one that’ll bring in an income, but this depends on finding tenants who will pay the rent regularly and not trash the premises. This will not easy and the village has become unstuck on this in the past.
A hard Brexit means that the UK will fall back on the ‘framework’ of the World Trade Organisation. The snag about this is that there is no framework. To do business will require a treaty with each of the 164 members and it takes an average of five years to complete one. Once the UK has been told to get stuffed by the EU for ditching free movement, the negotiators will be awfully busy.


In London playing grandfather. What has changed since my last visit is the number of young women wearing heavy make up. Apparently it’s in case the need to take a selfie suddenly overwhelms them. We horrified ourselves at the Hunterian museum and fled when faced with a great rack of weaponry for going up one’s bottom and went on to the Wallace collection. We lunched in a restaurant on the 38th floor. Balls-achingly trendy, filled with beautiful people taking photos of each other, Chinese youths with western arm candy and Lamborghini keys displayed on the table, and one snake-like young John Travolta look alike with his shirt open to his belly button billing and cooing at his Chinese girl friend while her parents looked on disapprovingly from the other side of the table. Most of the waiters were hipsters who wear the same beard and flat hairstyle and are consequently difficult to tell apart.


A neighbour, out here at his holiday house for Christmas, went to the supermarket, opened the car boot and found a rat sitting there grinning at him. He put his shopping next to the dog in the back seat and, once home, dismantled the lining of the boot but found nothing. He left the lid open and a couple of times during the day, saw the rat sitting on the edge of the car sunning itself but the thing went back into hiding when he approached. He left a trail of tasty goodies down a plank of wood to the ground overnight, but the rat simply ate them and returned to its lair. He was getting a bit windy, being due to drive back to the UK and the rat was unlikely to have had its rabies shots, but he caught it out for a walk and managed to bop it with a golf club.
It froze overnight – just a bit, but it was enough to tempt the grandson to cut his patch of grass while it was still dark and then pressure wash the mower. He then heaved his washing machine to the side of his house, dropped the waste pipe into the village drain, brought out his washing powder and ran it through a cycle. He then pressure washed the machine inside and out, taking care to do the back to clear cobwebs out of the electric wiring. He hauled it back indoors just before dark.