Friday, August 29, 2008
So, here it is, probably breaching copyright for which I'll have the 'cul' sued off me, but hey, it's too good not to share!
Oh, I Wish I'd Looked After Me Tits
By Pam Ayres
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me dear old knockers,
Not flashed them to boys behind the school lockers,
Or let them get fondled by randy old dockers,
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me tits.
'Cos now I'm much older and gravity's winning.
It's Nature's revenge for all that sinning,
And those dirty memories are rapidly dimming,
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me tits
'Cos tits can be such troublesome things
When they no longer bounce, but dangle and swing.
And although they go well with my Bingo wings,
I wish I'd looked after me tits.
When they're both long enough to tie up in a bow,
When it's not the sweet chariot that swings low,
When they're less of a friend and more of a foe,
Then I wish I'd looked after me tits.
When I was young I got whistles and hoots,
From the men on the site to the men in the suits,
Now me nipples get stuck in the zips on me boots,
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me tits.
When I was younger I rode bikes and scooters,
Cruising around with my favourite suitors.
Now the wheels get entangled with my dangling hooters,
I wish I'd looked after me tits.
When they follow behind and get trapped in the door,
When they're less in the air and more near the floor,
When people see less of them rather than more,
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me tits.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
OK, it was an honest mistake. I wasn't trying to bump him off or anything (I'm not sure he was well enough insured at the time to be honest). He asked me to turn the power off then kept getting electric shocks from the switch (he was at the time standing astride an old cast iron bath making a perfect circuit). I, having survived only one year of O Level physics in the company of Mr R, a confirmed breast starer, made up some very reasonable sounding guff about residual electricity (well I believed it!) until I suddenly remembered that the power shower was on a different ring main which was still turned on!The CH professed to finding the electric shocks quite enjoyable so what that says about his character, I have no idea.
Now one of the problems with French houses in our area is that the roofs (or is it rooves) are all made from canal tiles, in our case, handmade over the thighs of vestal virgins.... no hang on a minute, I mean old Frenchmen, when the local tile factory was still operating. Now we all know that one thigh isn't the same as another and your entire roof is never made from tiles from one particular thigh which means that they are all slightly different. In the main this works well but sometimes during high winds and driving rain they leak like a 'passoire'. We've had this problem with the roof over our bathroom in the past and now, with plans to sell up and move on, it was time to repaint the bathroom ceiling.
I hate painting ceilings, particularly this one as it's too high to paint comfortably standing up but too low to paint from a small stepladder without constantly sticking your head to the ceiling.
Those who live in France will know of the poor quality of French paint. Here we have two choices. We can buy Dulux for the equivalent of about £50 a 2.5 litre tin or we can buy French paint which often has the coverage properties of the breast milk of a beaver or more often, water. The other option is to buy huge 20 litre vats of reasonable brilliant white paint which are often on sale at the 'bricos'.
At some point in the past I obviously opted to do this as a huge plastic tub of the stuff was found lurking in the cobwebs of the barn. First job is to get the lid off which took a good 10 minutes then try to mix the stuff into a decent consistency. Now, a DIY Diva would have one of those super-dooper mixer thingies that you attach to a drill but a DIY Distaster would more likely have a........ stick. Trust me, trying to mix 20 litres of paint by hand is no easy task and by the time I'd finished I'd got about 18 litres left and another couple were spread around the floor, my feet, the barn walls.....
Time to decant it into a smaller paint tin. Hmmm, therein lies a problem. I usually keep old pool chemical tubs for such jobs (Oh alright..... I forget to throw them out. I'm really not that organised) but the CH has had a massive clear out of the barn and disposed of them all. What should I use. I check out an assortment of old buckets but they are all coated in old plaster or mud or chicken poo. Eventually I opt for an old Dulux tin which has a couple of inches of old paint stuck to the bottom. That should do the trick. Trying to lift a 20 litre tub of paint is difficult enough so I decide to put it on the steps where we feed the cats so I don't have to lift it so high.
I lift and pour slowly....... all over my feet. How on earth am I supposed to do this? Then I decide the only way is to pour it fast. About three quarters go into the paint tin and the rest in the vague direction of it. I get some newspaper to wipe up the spillage. Have you ever tried wiping paint off concrete. It just spreads around. Now I'm wondering if trying to do this in the same place we feed the cats was really that sensible but, tant pis, it's too late.
Off to paint the ceiling. I decide to put my hair in a topknot to keep it out of my face but then every time I go up the stepladder I forget to allow an extra inch and within minutes my topknot has become a second paintbrush. I bet Michelangelo never had this problem when he painted the Cistine Chapel!
The other thing I find, which is probably more to do with me than whether I'm a Diva or a Disaster, is then when I paint a ceiling, I often lose all sense of direction and end up back at the point where I started instead of the other side of the room. Several hours, one stiff neck and a sore back later I was nearly finished. Just the bit in the corner above the bath to do.
I teetered on the edge of the bath to reach the far corners. Nearly there, just one more bit to do. DAMN! I accidentally stood on the tiled bath surround which promptly collapsed leaving a gaping hole.
At the same moment I heard a terrific commotion from the barn. Extracting my foot from the hole I rushed out to see what was happening. Mad Baz, the crosseyed Siamese cross, had come home for a little snack. Being not quite the full picnic, he had sat on the paint lid that I had carelessly left by his bowl. Replete and ready to head off to catch a mouse or two, he stood up to find the lid firmly glued to his behind. Not entirely sure what it was and why it was following him, he was careering madly around the barn yowling like a demon possessed and trying to outrun the lid that was flapping around his bottom. I eventually caught him and peeled the lid off giving him a sort of kitty Brazilian. His little eyes watered and he rewarded me with twenty claws and a full set of teeth sunk into my hand. Still I probably deserved it.
Why, oh why, must DIY be so painful! Still, the ceiling looks nice:
Monday, August 25, 2008
I have to say that I am exceptionally lucky with my neighbour, as she is certifiably insane (in the nicest sense of the word) and enormous fun to be with and a non-stop talker so we never have those awkward pauses
Her husband is her opposite. Quiet and reserved .
It was a family affair with four of her five children present, three grandchildren, nephews and the indominable Tata Lili, who despite her very advanced years, spent the evening blagging cigarettes of anyone and everyone then smoking them furtively. She's a delightful character.
Nephew Thierry was there doing his Donald Duck impressions and sneaking up on me and shouting 'Cocorico' at the top of his voice. This was punishment for giving my very vocal cockerel to Ma Chere Voisine when his non-stop crowing got the better of me. Poor Thierry was sleeping in his 'camping-car' by the barn and was awoken bright and early every morning when the cock started his regular 40 second crowing at about 4am.
Big surprise of the evening was another (recently divorced) neighbour turning up with a recently separated mother from school on his arm. This particular lady is no favourite of mine. She's not from 'le coin' and is very superior. She's been introduced to me loads of times but then the next time we meet she acts as if we have never met.
I often see her at the bus stop in the morning dropping her daughters off. I'm the one in the pyjamas and dressing gown with bed hair and last night's mascara making me look like a latter day Chi Chi. She's always immaculately coiffed with full makeup and just the fact that she's dressed is impressive in itself. (OK, OK, I'm just jealous!!) I've often sat in the car and waited for her to finish buying her baguette before I venture out in public. Just imagine my delight when, just before the end of term, I espied her, beautifully turned out as ever but wearing red fluffy slippers. Hooray! There is a god!
Anyway, so here she is on my turf, among my neighbours, so I thought it only right to 'fait les bises' (mwah, mwah). She almost visibly recoiled and regarded me as one would a ripe, smelly dog turd on the bottom of your shoe. Ah, there's nothing quite like an imperious French woman!
They sat entwined, like Love's Young Dream, even disappearing off for half an hour and returning looking very smug! There was much whispering behind hands that night I can tell you.
So, piggy was duly roasted and was quite delicious although I was a bit put off when one of Chantal's sons-in-law very ceremoniously placed the charred head in front of me. I like to think this is some sort of rural custom and not a concerted attempt to offend the sensibilities of a poor English lass. DD declared herself vegetarian (except for sausages) and threatened to 'liberate the piggy'. Happily it only lasted until the next day.
The birthday cake was delicious. 6 chocolate cakes, each representing 10 years, stuffed full of sparklers and candles. Guy was delighted and made us all sing 'Happy Birthday', 'Joyeuse Anniversaire' and 'Cumpleaños feliz' more times than I care to remember.
The evening was cool but the predicted rain didn't appear and we all enjoyed watching the lunar eclipse from the cover of the awning that had been put up for the occasion. Us southern softies disappeared about 2am but the hard-partying French kept going until about 6am.
The following day, an invite arrived to come over at midi to finish up all the food left from the night before. Romu, Chantal's son-in-law bought out a bottle of his home made Mirabelle eau de vie and once again I was relieved that I don't drink.
Neighbour and Mme Nez dans l'air didn't show but rumour has it she may be moving in next week. YIKES! I'll never be able to be seen in the garden without the full slap now.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
No idea who said bit of well chewed pork belonged too and who I need to be hiding from. All neighbours are talking to me and no-one has mentioned losing a large shoulder of pork. Another rural mystery!
(Just for the benefit of the many people who phoned, e-mailed and commented to find out what I did, I would have gone for a, definitely.
When I say I would have gone for a, I mean that I would have done if I hadn't firmly chosen b. In fact that's what I did. Smuggled it out of the garden, down to the communal bins where I threw it into the far corner and moved another neighbour's bag of rubbish on top, while putting mine safely in the other bin. Morals? Moi? Nah!)
Sunday, August 17, 2008
The morning of the fête you go outside to find your dog lying next to a large shoulder of well chewed, uncooked pork
After the initial panic do you
a) get on the phone immediately, fess up and promise to replace said shoulder of pork
b) continue to panic, hide the evidence in a plastic bag and then secret it away at the very bottom of the communal poubelle, not forgetting to place another neighbour's rubbish bag on top so it looks like they are responsible. They don't actually have a dog but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it
c) practise saying 'Mon dieu, how absolutely awful' in your most shocked voice when neighbour tells you the story of the missing pork
d) Trim off the chewed bits, wash off the flies eggs and sneak round to replace it before she notices
e) say nothing
What would you do? I'll tell you what I did tomorrow.......
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
It happened late one night. I'd been feeling funny (peculiar, not haha) all day but couldn't put my finger on what was wrong. I had an early night but still felt distinctly weird. At first I thought it was because the CH was tucked up beside me rather than the usual assortment of children, cats, dogs and chickens - OK, OK, not the chickens.
I drifted off to sleep but woke up suddenly about 2am, very short of breath (must give up smoking those cigars!), and feeling like I was being dragged backwards down a long tunnel.
As a childhood drama queen I'd long imagined a early, tragic death and a handsome hero weeping at my graveside and for a moment I wondered if I'd actually brought it on myself.
I woke the CH and told him that I was quite likely dying (still a hint of the drama queen then) and he needed to call the Pompiers. In France they are qualified paramedics and nearly all volunteers. I have tremendous respect for them. They are the first port of call, then if you need a doctor, they call one.
CH suggested that we wait a while to see if it passes. 'No', I insisted 'Death doesn't pass, it's permanent!'.
Now, the CH has never really got a handle on the French language except for the neccessities like ordering from the wine menu, and 'un pression, s'il vous plait', so he struggled to make himself understood. Personally, I find that taking English in a French accent is rarely successful. In the end he handed the phone to me, who was by now slightly less coherent than usual and becoming more convinced by the minute that I was shuffling this mortal coil. I made a startling discovery, a bit like the one where you find out that if you pull all the left legs off a spider it can only turn in one direction. In moments of stress I can't speak French either.
In the end, they traced the call and within minutes the blue flashing lights were making their way up our hill.
I'd managed to instruct the CH, in my deathrattle, to tidy up the bedroom and remove any dirty underwear that might have been carelessly discarded, so I lay serenly on the bed like the Lady of Shalott (though in my case it was more Shallot) ready to make peace with my maker.
The bedroom door flung open and men, lots of them, mainly young, poured in. I couldn't believe my bad luck. I'd never ever found myself in the bedroom with so many fit men and I was in no position to take advantage of it or them.
They crowded round the bed while the chef d'equipe took a history of my funny turn. It was at that point that I discovered the downside of life in a small village. Among the pompiers was M. B from the paper shop, Laurent, the mechanic who fixes my car, two dads from school and the pharmacist.
The chef decided that I was having some sort of crise cardiaque so I must be put on a heart monitor while we awaited the arrival of the ambulance. He started to try to take off my pyjama top. Not on your nellie, matie! I suddenly felt much better faced with the prospect of being topless in front of so many familiar faces. Now, there was a time, when my breasts were pert and pointy, that I wouldn't have minded. But post children and breast feeding they resemble spaniels ears nestled under my armpits and are not for public viewing. A tussle ensued while the chef tried to remove my pyjama top and I tried desperately to hang on to it while at the same time translating for the CH who wondered why I was wrestling with a fireman in our bed.
In the end, age and experience won the day and I lay there, cold and half naked, in front of people I see most days of my life. I tried telekinesis, willing my boobs to at least stay on my chest and not under my arms and all credit to the pompiers, they remained expressionless and didn't fall about laughing and pointing and barking like dogs!
And there I remained chatting idly about the fire brigade in the UK, feeling so much better. Whatever was wrong it had been shocked out of my system well and truly by my enforced semi-nudity.
Minutes later, the door was flung open and a doctor who'd spent far too much time watching ER burst in. He leapt on the bed brandishing a needle. OHMIGOD, he's going to straddle me and start heart massage in a minute!
He checked me over and declared that I must go to hospital. I was bundled onto a large canvas sheet thing which was apparently a stretcher. It was then that I really, really wished I'd stuck to that last diet as they seemed to have to huff and puff an awful lot as they maneovred me out of the bedroom to the ambulance.
'What should I do?' said the CH. 'You'll have to stay here with the children' I told him stoically. 'Where are they taking you?' he asked. 'Not a clue' I replied. 'Here, take this and let me know'. He thrust my mobile into my hand and I was carted off to hospital wearing nothing more than my pyjama bottoms and clutching a mobile phone.
This was nothing like the 'emergency hospital admission' I'd always dreamed of where I was wearing Rigby and Peller underwear and a chic peignoir. I didn't so much as have a pair of knickers with me. I can still see the face of the doctor in A&E when he asked where my 'affaires' were. I waved my mobile phone at him and smiled. 'Zees Eeengleesh are very strange' I could almost hear him think.
Monday, August 11, 2008
The next morning, I got up bright and early, made myself a cup of tea and got ready to go for my morning perambulate around the garden, feed the chickens, and generally enjoy the peace and quiet while the rest of the house sleeps.
I opened the shutters........ and there she was, MACIW, sitting on the path steps. Flaming Nora! It's only 8.30am and she's already here. I stepped back quietly into the house before she saw me. Damn, damn, damn. My morning walks with my tea are sacrosanct. I spent 10 minutes plotting alternative routes out of the house, through the big barn but the big oak doors stick so they make a racket when you open them, through the small barn and out by the cottage and north of the pool.. but all roads led back to where she was sitting.
In the end I went out onto the balcony and sorted out my ironing which now has a red light on top so passing light aircraft can avoid it. Not how I like to start my day. Still, it was a job that needed doing.
9.30am.. BANG, BANG, BANG. She's knocking on the door. For heaven's sake, it's Sunday. Where are the flaming parents? Having a lie in while their little demon wakes us up? I ignored the knocking. 'Hello' she called in her nasal whine (this kid needs her adenoids out, pronto!). 'Hello, Hello' she went on.... and on...... and on.
In the end I flung open the door, nearly knocking her off her feet. 'You really must go back to Mummy and Daddy' I said through clenched teeth. 'Have you found the dog's lead yet?'. 'No I effing well haven't you little devilspawn' I thought 'Not yet sweetie' I said.
Today I had a barbeque. Not much in the normal scheme of things but for someone with my incendiary record, to have successfully lit a fire without it ending up with a visit from the pompiers (fire brigade) was a real achievement. The local pompiers are so used to visiting that Monsieur B from the paper shop often pops by to use the phone to call his wife if he's running late. I don't mind as I've certainly had my money's worth from them.
Last year, I set fire to the kitchen. Easily done isn't it? No? Oh well, it must be me then!
It happened like this.....
I was waiting for some guest to arrive. They'd said they would be there are 5pm but it was now 7 and there was no sign. DS and DD were hungry so I put on a pan of oil to do chips to go with our steak. To say I'm easily distracted is a bit like saying that Robert Mugabe is a bit of a tyrant so when the missing guests finally turned up, I went off to do my hostess bit, completely forgetting the chip pan.
DS and DD, in a rare moment of sweetness, came over to say hello too. The usual chat ensued. 'How long have you been in France?', 'Why did you move?'. Sometimes I think flashcards would be useful. Eventually DS excused himself to go and watch a TV programme.
Minutes later he came tearing back yelling 'Mum, you've set the house on fire!!'. 'SHIT, the chip pan' I shouted and legged it back to the house to see black smoke streaming out of the kitchen window and the door into the dining room.
In my past life as a stewardess I was taught how to handle a fire. One of my more obscure claims to fame is putting out the Head of Fire Safety at Heathrow Airport when he accidentally set himself on fire during a training session.
I didn't panic too much and quickly soaked towels in water to smother the fire. The kitchen was filled with choking black smoke that was already lower than the level of worksurfaces. I hesitated, thinking about how nice it would be to replace my kitchen (you know, the one that needs carbon dating) but knowing my luck, I'd wait a minute and the whole house would go up so I crouched down and administered several towels to the pan. For a split second it worked before the sheer heat just set fire to the towels as well. By this stage the flames were licking the ceiling and the halogen lights were starting to melt and big globs of burning plastic were dropping everywhere.
Realising I was fighting a losing battle I grabbed the phone to call the Pompiers. As it was a Sunday I was put through to a regional call centre who seemed insistent that I lived in a village about 40kms away from mine. 'No, I live in Le Mas, not Le Mas Grenier' I kept insisting. In the end, in desperation I yelled 'Just call the Pompiers in M de Q and tell them Mme. VLiF's house in on fire. They know which one it is'. I could almost here the sirens the instant I put the phone down!
DS, who is definitely the child to have around in a disaster, suddenly remembered that as our car came from Belgium, it is a legal requirement to have a fire extinguisher fitted. He ran to get it and by the time he got back, the guest from the cottage had arrived to lend a hand. He took the extinguisher and aimed it at the fire. Within seconds, it was all over.
Now I'm not a particularly houseproud person, but one of the worst things about the smoke was that it showed up all the cobwebs. They were like cargo netting across the ceiling and I'd cleaned that morning. I was mortified.
The pompiers arrived to be confronted by a black faced English woman who seemed intent on apologising for the poor quality of her housework and the 'toiles d'arraignée' hanging everywhere.
On the plus side it got rid of the loirs (dormice) in the loft above the kitchen - my neighbour reported them running along the telephone wire into her loft - Hooray, there is a God! On the minus side, the damage wasn't severe enough for the insurance to pay out for a new kitchen. Damn and Blast. I should have waited that other minute.
I'm thinking of adding another column to my guestbook called 'What I had to do for the owner during my stay' to which can be added 'put out fire in kitchen', 'mended leak from underground water pipe', 'mended handle on pool roller', 'changed tyre on car'..... So, who wants to make a booking then?
Saturday, August 9, 2008
So what are we doing in here? Simple. We're hiding from possibly the most annoying child in the world who's staying in our cottage for 2 weeks - and today is only the first day!
Why is it that some guests assume that not only have they booked your cottage, but they've also taken an option on your life? The joy of our little cottage is that it is very secluded with it's own garden and pool, so guests can tuck themselves away and don't need to even see us if they don't want to. The other side of the coin is that guests can tuck themselves away and you don't even need to see them which is kind of how we like it.
In the space of a day we've gone from one extreme to another. The last guests, who've stayed with us before, arrived last Saturday and with the exception of going to the supermarket to get supplies on the first day, didn't move from one weekend to the next, to the point that I even went and spied on them to make sure they hadn't pegged it in some bizarre suicide pact - two heads in the gas oven or something, or been viciously slaughtered in their beds by Colombian Drug barons (well you never can tell, can you?). Fortunately they were alive and well and thoroughly chilled out.
The next guests arrived with MACIW, aged 5, who has spent most of the afternoon knocking on the door - the record was 8 times in 5 minutes - wanting to know where the cats are, where's the dog, can I take her for a walk, where's the lead, can I come in your house, I want to go in your back garden, that cat scratched me, where's the lead, the dog won't come out of the bushes, you still haven't got me the lead ........... and on and on.
In desperation I decided the only thing was to go out to the supermarket and get a bit of shopping and respite. DS, driven half demented by the constant banging on the door, because she doesn't just knock once, she keeps on knocking until you answer, volunteered to come too. That's how bad it was.
So I grabbed my bag and we left the house, saying goodbye to M.A.C.I.W as we went.
"Why do I have to stay on my own with the dog?" she asked.
"You don't" I replied through gritted teeth, "you can go back to your Mum and Dad".
"Can't" she said "They've gone out".
"Don't be a ninny, of course they haven't"
So we went to check. The car was missing so we went and knocked on the door and the parents were missing too!
I'm not often speechless but on this occasion I was. They had actually gone out, leaving a 5 year old unattended, in a 2 acre garden with two swimming pools. I could only assume that they thought I would mind their little darling - which I probably would have if they'd only asked.
With only 15 minutes left until the shops closed, DS offered to babysit MACIW whilst I at least went to the village to get some milk.
Up in the village, who should I see but the Irresponsible Parents browsing properties in the window of an estate agent.
I'm not by nature a confrontational person but I have to admit to seeing red.
I marched over and told them they had no right to leave their child alone at the cottage, that I didn't offer childminding services, that I had no idea that their child was alone so if she'd wandered off or fallen in the pool I'd have had no idea as I certainly hadn't been watching out for her and that luckily for them, DS had offered to stay with her while I went out. Remember Madeleine McCann, I felt like shouting!
They had the good grace to at least be very embarrassed and apologetic, saying that they'd asked her to come along but she wanted to stay with the dog so they didn't see the harm.
I gently explained that the 45,000 euro fine I would receive if MACIW drowned in one of the pools would cause me harm, thanks very much.
Can you believe some people? I'm all for guests having a nice relaxing time on holiday but why do some people seem to relinquish all responsibility the moment they arrive.
So, now we are hiding under the stairs in case MACIW comes over again, but so far, not a sight of her. Maybe the Irresponsible Parents got the hint.
Still, we aren't planning to come out until after dark....... just in case.
If you don't hear from me for a few days, you'll know we're still in hiding.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Finally, Daphne, my lovely Phoenix bantam, has successfully hatched an egg. Only trouble is it wasn't hers but she doesn't seem to mind.
Meet Denis (or possibly Denise - only time will tell)
Denis/e has a little naked neck so she's clearly not Daphne's own offspring but then the lazy old hens just nudged her out of the way, laid their eggs in her nesting box and she went 'Thanks very much' and tucked them under her. She started off sitting on 4 eggs but she's now up to 10. Unfortunately they were all laid while we were on holiday so we couldn't take them away. The original 10 are now marked so we can take away any others she eggnaps.
Poor girl looks a bit like a hen who's been melted. She's spread out over so many eggs she's practically flat!
What I have discovered though is that I'm more Margot from 'The Good Life' than I am Barbara. I've no idea what to do with our new chick. Any advice gratefully accepted!