This morning was just wonderful. Spring provided the perfect awakening, courtesy of birds arguing noisily on the cedar branch in front of our bedroom window. P.F had offered himself the luxury of a “lie-in” until 6.30 and would go to work by car instead of taking the bus, giving us time for a leisurely breakfast with the boys. We waved Bigfoot off to the lycée and sneaked upstairs to wake Little My, who pretended to be grumpy but was obviously delighted to be woken up by a grinning parental posse.
As P.F left the house, he waved happily at the open window in a spontaneous Prince Charming moment and yelled, “Au revoir, Princesse!” I looked suspiciously behind me, half expecting to find Elle Macpherson pouting over my shoulder in one of her designer silk nighties. Nope, “Princesse” was apparently me – complete with my very unprincess-like Mr Men P.J.s, garish purple bed socks and lurid orange and red dressing gown. I was gobstruck by this touching sign of unconditional love – as far as I could see, all I needed was curlers in my hair and a fag hanging out of the corner of my mouth to qualify as Dame Edna Everage’s look-alike.
As the car left, Little My charged into my bedroom wearing her Hawaiian costume for carnival this afternoon. We giggled as I gave her a crash course in dancing the Hula. Rugby-boy kissed me goodbye and sauntered off to the bus stop. I looked out of the window at the improving weather and the tulips opening in the garden, and heaved a happy sigh. The beginning of my day had been a smooth, rolling carpet of excellence. Life was perfect.
Suspiciously so. I furrowed my brow. Something fishy was going on – my days never usually start like that. The usual morning in our household is somewhat animated, and generally goes as follows:
1) Get out of bed just after P.F. runs out of the door at 6.45 and gets the bus by the skin of his teeth. 2) Observe Rugby-boy as he looks for his shoes and discovers that he has “forgotten” that he needs a cheque for the canteen. 3) Deal with a grumpy, half-awake Bigfoot who can’t find his favourite jeans, generally because he kicked them under the bed in true teenager style the night before. 4) Discover that the cat has thrown up in the staircase and that the dishwasher still hasn’t learned to fill and empty itself overnight. 5) Wake up a grouchy Little My who is muttering below her quilt, resolutely anchored to the mattress. 6) Reassure offspring that the remains of the two-day-old baguette really are edible if toasted and disguised with generous slatherings of Nutella.
I therefore immediately suspected that this morning’s euphoria was doomed to be short-lived. My intuition was correct: the positive train of thought that had set out at 6.30 courtesy of Rapture Railways was rudely drawn to an emergency halt at Reality Central two hours later by a terse call from P.F. He was nine kilometers away, but he might as well have been in a snow drift in Alaska. Albal, our aluminium foil-coloured people carrier, had suffered from acute indigestion on the motorway, and had gone into a mechanical coma just as she got to the motorway exit. Oh, the irony of it all: my steely stead had bitten the dust less than twenty-four hours after the death of the Iron Lady in London.
Albal was rapidly towed off to her favourite
massage parlour garage. I immediately smelled a rat; as I have already described in a previous post, I suspect Albal of having a serious crush on the garage mechanic. Monsieur Mécano is not your average French mechanic featuring builder’s bum and a beer gut on either side of his anatomy; he’s young and fit (in every sense of the word), and wears a snazzy red and white Citroën outfit that would be more at home on a Formula One race track than on the windy forecourt of a provençal village garage. Albal has apparently succumbed to his charm, and is constantly blowing fuses as an excuse to get him to manhandle her headlamps. Whilst he tickles her inner sanctum with his outsized spanner, P.F. and I get to play gooseberry and foot the bill.
So I’ve dusted off Helga, my faithful green VW, and put her back in service until Monsieur Mécano has diagnosed the cause of Albal’s suffering. Affaire à suivre……..
Monsieur Mécano has shaken his head and announced that Albal is in seriously bad shape. She has bust her timing belt – so much for staying in trim, Miss Albal.