Monday, November 15, 2010

What, you may well ask, was I doing at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, drinking beer with a half naked French farmer and his toothless wife?

It wasn't some sort of bizarre 'swinging' thing, although I am reliably informed (by several very unreliable people) that there is an active swinging scene around here. I'm deeply offended that I've never been asked to join!

Before I continue though, I should say that this couple, M et Mme de B are some of the nicest, sweetest people you'll ever meet. They are, however, true French agriculteurs with a rundown farm full of rusting machinery, countless half wild dogs and cats and lots of fleas!

In actual fact I was going to pick up an old school friend of DS who moved to French Guyana a few years ago, but comes back here to spend his summers. Wish I could find someone to have my little darlings for 2 months! The maximum security summer camp is only for a week.

So, we dutifully turned up at 3pm to pick him up from M et Mme de B, with whom he is staying. They invited us in and we sat down at the kitchen table. M, due to the incredible tropical heat we are experiencing, over 30 degrees in the shade yesterday, was stripped down to his shorts. That's the half naked bit sorted then.

We chatted away, or at least they did and I tried to decipher Mme's accent. Its the sort of local accent that you could use to cut granite and the lack of teeth doesn't help. Every other sentence I was whispering out of the corner of my mouth to DS 'whasshe saying?

We talked (I think) about how DS's friend was passing his 2 months in France, had we met up with his Mum when she was over in the Spring, wasn't the weather hot. All the while, waiting for the appearance of said friend. Eventually the son arrived (he's like a mini Sylvester Stallone) so we discussed the impending arrival of his partner's baby, her Braxton Hicks contractions, how difficult it was to be pregnant when it's so flaming hot! Still no friend.

I nodded my head, put in the odd 'oui', 'non' and 'd'accord' and apparently at some stage of the proceedings I said yes to a cold beer. I don't really drink and certainly not during the day in the heat so when it arrived, I explained my misunderstanding and said no to the beer. M de B was having none of it. 'Don't worry, there's no gendarmes around here' he said. Just as well because it's a standing joke among friends how I get stopped by every single gendarme I pass.

Only a few weeks ago I arrived at school with 3 carloads of gendarmes following me.
'Oh look' commented a friend wryly 'here come VLiF with her police escort'!

Eventually, after about 20 minutes of pleasant chat and still no sign of Friend from Guyane, I mouthed to DS 'he's not here is he?' 'No' replied DS.

I backtracked on the conversation and managed to deduce that he was most likely with a Croatian family in the village with an unpronounceable name.

'Ah, il est encore chez Draganononovinic' I slurred. (Told you I can't drink at lunchtime!) 'Oui' they answered in unison, not for one minute wondering why I was, therefore, sitting in their kitchen and not in the kitchen chez Dranogoanivinicic.

We bid our fond adieus, jumped up and down a few times to knock off the fleas and left to try and find chez Dargonvinicicic.

The trouble with Croatians is that they are like policemen, they go everywhere in twos, so we arrived at the little lotissement where live les Dragonvincicivivnics only to find that in our tiny little village, there are, in fact more than one. There are three.

Eventually we were reunited with Friend from Guyane, instantly recognisable by all the flea bits on his legs, which he politely insisted were mosquito bites, and all was well with the world.

Back at the homestead, Mellors the gardener was quietly expiring in the sub-tropical heat but godammit, he still had his shirt on. What's the point of employing a 22 year old gardener if he doesn't at least get his kit off (not all of it you understand)? Note to self to re-write his employment contract. Just my luck that the only bit of chest I've seen today belongs to an elderly French farmer with a paunch you could balance a tray on.

'Gosh, this is like the heatwave in England in 76' I comment. He looks at me blankly. The penny drops. 'You weren't even born then were you?' I ask. 'No ma'am' he replied. (OK, OK, he didn't say ma'am)

I went inside feeling every bit of my 40 something years.

1 comment:

Lehners in France said...

You paint a wonderful picture of your neighbouring farmer. I think I have visited them at some time. I definitely recall the fleas. I have an award for you chez moi! Bon weekend. Debs x