I went to get my few remaining teeth checked last week and managed to offend the dentist’s receptionist. Such things are very easily done. I bonjoured her but omitted to do the kisses. I hadn’t realised we were on bisou terms – another complication – and I left her cheek hanging. The first time you see anyone each day, you have to bonjour and bisou if they’re known female and shake hands if they’re not or male. If you have mucky hands you have to proffer a forearm to be shaken. I often forget. And if you’ve forgotten you’ve already bonjoured someone and do it again, they think you’re potty. I have an arrangement with the clerk in the mairie that I’m excused physical contact and we are allowed blow kisses at each other across her desk. I have also arranged fist bumps with Tim next door who’s now 9 and have stopped kissing his big brother as I consider it unseemly to snog a 15 year-old bloke with spots.
This house usually has the pleasant smell of wood smoke at this time of year, but I was hit by the combination of rotting mouse and squashed punaise when I went to find a tool. The punaise I don’t mind that much, but mouse is no fun when the deceased is behind panelling. The air mercifully clears after three days. It’s a grim way to control the mice but none of the other ways seem any better.

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