As Forrest Gump so rightly said, “life is a like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get”. If every day was a bag of sweets, Monday would be dark, chewy liquorice, and Friday would be those fizzy flying saucers that get stuck behind your teeth. Saturday is definitely a pick ‘n’ mix day, because I never know what to expect. So to cheer up your day, drum roll….. here is a selection of excerpts from MM’s Saturday.
It was my turn to drive Little My and her pals to aerial dance class on Saturday morning. Imagine a sports hall full of little girls harnessed to long ropes dangling from the ceiling. They swing around at speed, twisting and turning in response to instructions barked at them by a frustratingly lithe and delicate dance teacher. (I think she is capable of licking the backs of her own knees – my perineum and I are still cringing after seeing her do the splits last year.)
Watching the girls twirling around has the same effect on my stomach as a Chinese take-out after one pint too many at the pub. So I dropped off Tarzanette and the liana girls and attempted a hasty get-away. I say “attempted” because when they built the local sports hall, the architect insisted on putting the heavy entrance door directly in the pathway of the Tramontane wind. I suspect that he had a collection of severed fingers to complete. When the Tramontane is blowing, it is as easy to shift that door as it would be to evict a housewife who has just discovered Brad Pitt picking up a pack of loo roll at her local coop.
This is how I practically knocked out the poor father who was leaving the building just behind me: the door slipped from my fingers and flew into the poor man’s face. I apologised, and told him that we were living in the French equivalent of the third world. He laughed and said that in the third world they didn’t have gyms, let alone doors that blow into your face.
We promptly forgot about our respective shopping missions, and chatted. He told me that he works for the SNCF – the French rail company. In the restaurant carriage. I stared at him with wide eyes. I had finally met the SNCF Sandwich Man. My mouth promptly took over proceedings through what I term “the gob-jerk reflex”. For some reason, my ideas bypass the “moderation” stage that they normally go through before hitting the verbal production stage. My thoughts about the SNCF sandwich, bottled up for years, spouted out of my mouth as my brain looked on in horror.
“Are you serious? I never thought a Frenchman would ever be able to sell that stuff to another human being and call it food. I mean, don’t your gastronomic genes rebel every time you sell one? Does your conscience wake you up in a cold sweat at night? Do the spirits of deceased French chefs scrawl sinister threats on your kitchen wall with ketchup? Geesh, even the English wouldn’t classify it as edible, let alone call it a sandwich. I’d have to pay someone to eat it. Honestly, I’m shocked.”
Sandwich Man laughed, and admitted that he didn’t eat them himself. He said that he liked his job because complete strangers come out of their shells and communicate with each other in his universe, before returning to their seats and reverting to a self-imposed silence, headphones on ears or noses in books. He was proud to be part of a mechanism that brought people together. I liked Sandwich Man’s vision of life.
Later, back on the ranch, I found a disgruntled PF in the garden. He was putting the finishing touches to a carefully constructed scaffold for the execution of 12 trembling tomato plants that had almost cost him a 90 euro fine. He had been obliged to fight a dexterous verbal duel with a pretentious whippersnapper of a gendarme who seemed to think that his new blue uniform gave him superhero eyesight and a licence to bill. PF was bristling with contempt. How could this mere kid accuse him of not having stopped at the stop sign? He was bloody miles away! Indignation oozed out of every pore at the injustice of it all as he patted down the earth around his new recruits. He strode purposefully towards the house to water Clementine, and was promptly drenched by two mischievous children hanging out of an upstairs window clutching bottles of water.
Not long after, a howl of anguish emerged from the bathroom. Regular readers are familiar with my hate-hate relationship with loos, and particularly with the toilet seat, which has not yet learned to lower itself after the visit of the UPB (Upright Peeing Brigade). Well, the joint corrosive effect of years of cleaning products and the bad aiming of the male firing squad had led the toilet seat to make its last salutary protest. It had broken its moorings with the porcelain, leaving a male member of my tribe (couldn’t resist that one) dancing cheek-to-china. Revenge is sweet on occasions; the French expression, “the waterer has been watered” has never been more appropriate.
It was 6 pm; the local toilet seat mecca was to close in 30 minutes. I pelted down the stairs and grabbed the car keys, but was intercepted by the evil lord PF, who had a Sinister Alternative Plan. He stabbed an insistent finger at the pile of garden refuse he had already put in the car boot. I told him that the dump had closed half an hour earlier. Evil warlord insisted. We went to the dump.
On the return trip from the closed dump, we drove past a Provençal remake of a royal wedding. Forget the horse and carriage: Worzel Gummidge was at the wheel of a tractor pulling two newly weds in a beautifully decorated trailer. Evil warlord was suddenly overcome by a bout of romantic nostalgia, and suggested with dewy eyes that we should do it all over again. He was mightily miffed to be informed that this princess didn’t marry princes who went to closed dumps rather than buying a new loo seat. I even asked him to stop so that I could run alongside the tractor and inform the young lady that one day in the not too distant future, she would end up with a car full of garden rubbish and all the family females condemned to sitting on cold china all weekend, just because her prince charming refused to accept that she knew the opening times of the local dump better than he did. Moral of the story: never get between MM and a new loo seat.