Tuesday 30 July 2013

The real thing

Ezra insisted . . .
Actually there's not a lot of difference to the previous spoof.
God, help us.

Monday 29 July 2013

Reeves and Mortimer

We were talking about British comedy this morning, (Ezra and I). Well steeped in Fawlty Towers, Monty Python, and Eddie Izzard, he is.
I was explaining about the wonders of Morecambe and Wise and then remembered the early episodes of Reeves and Mortimer. There was a bit of an episode where Mortimer was nailing a piece of bacon onto the studio wall; I can't recall much more than that except I did nearly die laughing. Here's one I just found . . . enjoy, Ezra.

Building number 25

A cross between a Dalek and a layer cake. I saw this while on a dog walk with friends in St Polycarp.
'What is it?' I said. No one knew, or if they did, they didn't tell me.

Thursday 25 July 2013

twenty minutes

While going to the printers yesterday, I discovered the surface of the road I would normally take had disappeared - took a different road to circumvent the huddle of yellow machinery and found myself lost. Lost in Limoux?
How can this be possible? Ezra and I have walked every inch, surely; gaped at every wood-effect door, and neat, gnome-filled garden and wondered who lives in the houses with the untidy, exciting gardens.
Yes, lost. The no-entry signs were confusing: one way streets for no apparent reason. After a bit of hapless car-wandering I ended up at the municipal cemetery. I thought there was only one in Limoux - on the main road, a solid rectangle of ancient stone tombs. I must admit, although being a fan of death-logements generally, I've never been in that one - something to be rectified.
Anyway . . . I parked and went into the one facing me rather than do the rectifying of going to see the other one . . .
Anyway, as I said: twenty minutes.
Time; an odd thing. You can spend twenty minutes faffing, trying to find where they have moved the tinned tomatoes in a supermarket, or glassily watching a game show, knowing it's crap but not being able to move; or sometimes twenty minutes can become stretched, embedded, something your mind chooses to remember.

Friday 19 July 2013

Building No 24

Would you enter this hair salon?
I think I would not.
It is maybe some sort of time/space portal; once in there you would be strapped to a leatherette seat, one of those giant egg-shaped hair dryers from 60s movies clamped to your head, and that would be it: flung into a Stanley Kubrick film, walking about in pale beige leggings, serving trays of dehydrated pizza to a soundtrack of 'The Blue Danube'.
I like the way the building inhabits its footprint on this piece of Carcassonne soil: a long, lone brick of pink 'crepi' with a snarling mouth of 'grillage'. What about the window though? Surely if you bother to drag that metal across the door, why not the other bits of glass?

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Misplaced fauna

A few days ago we heard a new bird-call in the garden; on investigation we discovered a grey cockatiel attempting to drink from the swimming pool. It would launch off, tail trailing mournfully in the water and then land again on the paved surround, head cocked in confusion. We couldn't leave it, pretty though it looked amongst the lavender; it would get mobbed or eaten or both, so Ezra heroically netted it and put it into the spare parrot cage.

These are expensive birds, mmm . . . rationality prevailed.
"Ezra. We must make 'found bird' posters and take them to the vet's, etc."
Then I remembered the slightly unhinged woman a few doors along who has seven dogs, chickens, a goat, budgies, parrots, an elephant (possibly) and cockatoos . . .
Ezra went to inform her son of our find, and, a few hours later the mother tottered along on high-heeled espadrilles, her voice piercing in the afternoon silence: "Bebe? OH, Bebe, tu étais où, alors?"
Thanks was brief, and then she told me off for not shutting our shutters: "Oof, il fait tellement chaud chez vous!"
"Oh, OK, au revoir then . . . "

Two days ago on a trip out to festeringly hot 'Bages' on the coast we found another lost beast.
As we turned a corner in the village, I saw a tiny blob attached to a huge blank, boiling hot wall: not a dead leaf caught on a scrap of web, but a minuscule bat: really so tiny, like it would be lost in a matchbox.
It was perhaps a few days old, no fur, just like the baby mice that I saw so many times in the old mother mouse's bedding back in my childhood. Why was it there in direct 40 degree sunlight?
How many times have I done this . . . and I never learn: pigeons with broken legs, vicious gulls with maimed feet, hopeless swallows, mice in the throws of a heart attack after being dropped by the cat; this was probably the silliest yet, but I couldn't leave it on that wall.
We took it home in a cigar box and tried to tempt it with milk, squashed flies etc. The next day was filled with bat-angst phone calls to bewildered bat experts who obviously knew it was hopeless. One even suggested putting it the fridge 'it will go to sleep' then the freezer - 'it is perhaps the kindest thing'.

I should have perhaps found a more local tree, or camped out and waited for a frantic mother looking for her helpless offspring. How can something the size of a toothbrush head cause so much household disturbance? But it did: chaos, forgotten appointments, burnt lunch, frequent anxious checks by us all: 'look he/she is sucking that piece of wet kitchen roll - hoorah, all is going to be OK'. But we knew it wouldn't be for long.
We'd been invited out for supper, and the hosts own a large tree-y piece of land, outbuildings, and bats! We took Boris with us and at the appropriate dusk moment, re-attached him/her to a tree where she/he commenced high pitch squeakings, quite loud for something of that size. Bats circled and I tried to picture a happy outcome: probably unrealistic, but hopefully better than being frazzled on a wall or fridge-death.
It must be the menopause, (ridiculous sentimentality) or perhaps it is just me, but the thought of that tiny perfectly formed bat clinging to an oak tree is firmly wedged in my mind.
Good luck, Boris . . .

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Bed of roses

Life is not always the above saying. Yesterday was rather more bucket of wilting ragwort.
Actually, it wasn't all bad at all, I just had a headache and the boy was vacillating between vile crossness and manic stupidity. He was tired and hot and headachy too - ultra high pressure it was, with vast cauliflower clouds as he put it - poetic.
Today, same weather, same mother and boy, but roses . . . perhaps not a bed of, but certainly a good vase full. We talked a lot, went for a walk in a village, previously unexplored (by us), went to Carcassonne to get his phone fixed by the miserable bastards in Boeig? Beoig? Boueyg, (however you spell it) telecom; forgot the phone, much to the only-just-hidden pleasure of the sulky 'jeune', and  adjourned to the square to drink foot-high fruit cocktails.
Found the boy a pair of shoes he liked (almost impossible) and two t-shirts that weren't black, and a daft t-shirt with bluebirds on it for Mark. On our return home, the dog hadn't peed on the sofa, and the donkey-birds (see several posts back) in the garden had been replaced by two pairs of musical songsters, twittering happily in the early afternoon sunshine.

As a celebration of the rosier days: petals collected by the boy, and syrup he made subsequently after an afternoon of 'airsoft' gun practise . . .

Friday 5 July 2013


I knew there must be a reason we called him that.

Goodbye old friend

Is it only me that gets terribly sentimental about so called 'inanimate' objects?

We have had this car for eleven years; it's been on a million trips to the dump, Carcassonne to buy tropical fish for Ezra's Christmas present, been puked in by the runty dog, driven to the UK and back, trod many a time the route to the coast; been filled with instruments, cleaned twice, been beaten on all sides including the roof! cried in, laughed in, sung in, and sworn in, and it only broke down once or twice and that was due to a faulty key fob.

SO . . . I was sad to see it go, but the time had come. The dreaded 'Cam belt or 'something de distribution' in French needed doing, (big outlay) it had failed the 'control technique' (mildly, it must be said) and the clock was reading 300,000 KM.
A man in the local garage took it on for a fair price, and we have replaced it with the same thing but a bit younger.
Mark didn't hover closely to the car and whisper thank you, or any other twaddle, and the boy barely noticed that the car has suddenly become black instead. But I did talk to it, waved goodbye and took this photo . . .
It was far worse when I had to take my beloved Morris Traveller to a specialist garage in Oxford to sell it.
The car only liked London; as soon as I moved to Nottingham it refused to start most of the time and I was forced to consider a reliable Volvo thing. That goodbye was tragic – mostly for the poor guy who had to take me to the station (train, not police) sobbing in his car. Pathetic.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Life number 2

Back from it - in the UK.
I'm so very lucky to have lovely relatives to stay with when I visit the homeland; the thought of turning up to a lonely B and B every two and half months when I visit mum, is not be a pleasant one.
So, I hired the car, turned up at my cousins and was welcomed into their cosy cottage.
Odd, the two-life thing: all the familiar smells of the other place, my pairs of shoes where I left them, the book I was reading last time, marked and waiting.
I made a cup of tea and automatically reached for the radio: radio 4, old friend - desert Island discs (superb one featuring Hugh Laurie this week), the news quiz, midweek, even the shipping forecast (thought they had moved that?) and news, and news . . . ninety percent depressing: cuts, cuts, whinging politicians and whistle-blowers trapped in the 'high seas' of airports.
Of course, we can get Radio 4 back in the land of horse meat but I never want to listen to it there: just doesn't seem right. Sadly there isn't really an equivalent; France Culture is . . . just that, incredibly informative and full of cultured people who speak in wonderfully unhurried elegant speech, peppered with 'la la la, le le le, en revanche, errrrrr, etc. But where's the John Humphries person, or 'Sorry I'll read that again'? France info is informative but manages to be racy and dull at the same time, so I rely on Tele Matin for news and enjoy radio 4 when I slip into the second life for a week or so, along with fish and chips and people moaning about the weather, which they are doing here this year of course.
Here are some snaps from my travels:

The beach at Canford Cliffs: a very favourite spot, almost completely empty despite the fact that it was two days away from July.

Me, proving that I did get in the sea. Really I did; it was about fourteen degrees and there was only one other person in it: a man in a wetsuit. Bracing, darling.

Boring photo, yes, but I had to take it: a shop selling only mobile phone covers . . . where are we at on this planet!

A perfect piece of topiary. I would have taken more pictures, but a slavering Doberman came and asked me what I was doing.