Day 12: Small Pleasures

Mrs Playmo enjoying the small pleasures in life with Smelly Dog, whose head appears to make a very good impromptu slide.

Mrs Playmo enjoying the small things in life with Smelly Dog, whose head appears to make a n excellent makeshift slide.

Day twelve’s walk started off quietly. Mrs Playmo and I were still shell-shocked from recent events, and the subdued, mellow sunlight bathing the vineyards seemed to echo our state of mind.

After a few hundred meters, Mrs Playmo asked why we were being so mopey. We were, she argued, wasting precious time. “Life’s there to be lived, honey-bun!” she chirped before scaling Smelly Dog’s leg. She clambered dangerously along the furry backbone, a female equivalent of Indiana Jones on the roof of a train, and hoisted herself on to Smelly Dog’s skull. Sitting between the two floppy ears, she yelled “Yeeeee- ha!” and pointed into the distance before pulling hard on them and bellowing, “Onwards, and forwards, my faithful steed. To infinity… and beyond!”

I had a sneaky feeling that she had combined John Wayne, Napoleon and Buzz Lightyear in her head. As far as I was concerned, she looked uncannily like Alice astride the Bandersnatch, with a truckload of attitude and a black corset. She attained the result she had hoped for: I laughed.

Letting go of Smelly Dog’s ears, she slid down her steed’s nose and landed neatly on her feet, her face flushed with pleasure. “Ta – daaaah!” She eyed me from head to toe, sniffed and added: “C’mon. You might have given up the rosé, but your muffin top is still drooping for Britain. Lets walk.” So we did.

For those who are new to the blog, check out this post to understand what this is all about.

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A Compromising Photo of a Compromising Photo

"It was with immense satisfaction that Mrs Playmo immortalized the proof of Amanda Shacklebottom's infidelity. Finally she had a means to get her hands on the pink and cream Versace handbag she had coveted for so long."

“It was with immense satisfaction that Mrs Playmo immortalized the proof of Amanda Shacklebottom’s infidelity. Finally she had a means to get her hands on the pink and cream Versace handbag she had coveted for so long.”

Yesterday Mrs Playmo and I decided to bite the bulllet, and stepped out for a five kilometer hike. On our journey, Mrs Playmo heard mumbling behind the rocks and beckoned to me. Creeping up through the bushes, we spotted two inhabitants of Playmo Street doing their best to hold hands as they watched the waters of the Hérault river tumble past their feet.

“Wait for me here!” Mrs Playmo hissed. “Nobody believed me when I said that Amanda Shacklebottom wasn’t as chaste as her name implies!” She pointed a manicured claw at the couple, sitting on a blanket on the rocky shore. The man was fast discovering that offering flowers to a woman on a bent knee is only something that happens in films in Playmobilia.

“It’s Marcel, the village garage mechanic!” Mrs Playmo gabbled, her eyes wide with incredulity.  “I don’t understand what she sees in him. For lack of a better word, the man’s a complete tool.”

She rummaged in her lurid green handbag and pulled out her camera. Then she was off, creeping up behind them to immortalise the moment on her camera. She returned through the grasses and hauled herself to her feet. “At last. A means of persuasion. See that cream and pink Versace handbag? I’ve been after it for months.”

I made a mental note to confiscate her camera in case she knows any human journalists on the local rag. I am starting to discover the darker side to Mrs Playmo. Under the presentable red dress and string of pearls lies an extortionist and a contortionist. And it’s only day three of the challenge …

If you are new around here and don’t have a clue what this is all about, please read “The Great Outdoor Playmo Challenge”. Yes, I am crazy, and yes, I’m happy this way. 

Day Two: Open-Air Pole Dancing

"Open air pole dancing"

“Open-air pole dancing.”

It is somewhat paradoxical that the outdoor exercise part of my dry January Challenge takes Mrs Playmo and I through numerous local vineyards. Mrs Playmo asked me to hold her dog’s lead then stripped off, placed a feathered hat at a rakish angle on her head and proceeded to practice her pole-dancing techniques on a vine shoot, singing an off-key “You can keep your hat on” that would make Joe Cocker turn in his grave.

She confided on the way home that she sneaks off on Friday nights whilst Mr Playmo is asleep to work in the sleazy joint down the road. It pays for her Tupperware party addiction and her (equally secret) rosé consumption. But don’t tell anyone, or she’ll be struck off the board at the local WI.

 

The Morning After the Night Before…

IMG_7361

“When she woke up on the beach the following morning, Mrs Playmo couldn’t remember much of the New Year’s Eve party. It was, she admitted, as good a time as any to sign up for Dry January.”

As promised, here is Mrs Playmo on day one of my January Challenge. A compromising photo of Mrs Playmo in the great outdoors will be posted every day until the end of January.

 

The Day MM Pooh-poohed the New Year.

I’m a self-confessed New Year party pooper. Call me cynical if you will, but I don’t do New Year celebrations. Much my teenaged offspring’s disgust, I don’t party, get drunk, sing Auld Lang Syne, kiss strangers at midnight or wear silly hats. I will happily settle for a nicer than normal meal with my family, then switch off my mobile phone and toddle off to bed so that I can make the most out of the following day, when we generally have the world to ourselves as the rest of France either gets over its hangover or feeds its face once again. But this year, Karma decided to bite me on the bum for pooh-poohing the New Year, and this is how it happened.

English: Bulldog

MM at a New Year’s eve knees-up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I woke up happy and hang-over free on New Year’s day. After a leisurely breakfast with PF, I power-showered myself into positive thinking for the day. I congratulated myself on the fact that I was a practical woman who can change a wheel and paint a ceiling. Come to think of it, my eagle eye had spotted that the bath plughole was not draining fast enough during my power shower…

Three years ago, MM and PF were silly enough to buy an old house with waste pipes the diameter of your average toothpick. You could have driven a Sherman tank down the  waste pipes in our previous house – a luxury compared to the congested B-road network we have in our current bathroom. The equivalent of three narrow Cornish lanes join together in a pint-sized spaghetti junction, hastily assembled and buried forever in a cement sarcophagus by the previous owner of the house. Needless to say, when this particular junction gets blocked, the traffic backs up further than anything you can see on the M25 at rush hour, with wet and smelly consequences that must be avoided at all costs. But I could deal with that – easy peesy, lemon-squeezy.  I’d already proved my prowess as a bog-standard plumber.

And THAT was when MM made the mistake of biting off more than she could chew. Pride comes before a fall, and Karma was ready to bite me on the bum with a crap surprise she had waiting in the pipeline. Cue theme music to “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly” to get you in the mood:

As the rest of France was settling down to their starters on the New Year’s ritual gastronomic frenzy of oyster/salmon/foie gras quaffing, MM was peering down the open washing machine waste pipe – the only available access to the lost tunnels of Sewage City. Grasping a coiled, 10m long snake in her right hand, MM was a hybrid of Calamity Jane and Indiana Jones: a mean, clean, bog-busting machine.

For those of you who are happily unsavvy about the plumbing world, the snake ( – or the “ferret”, as the French nicely call it -) is a basic necessity for unblocking pipes. This long, flexible, metal rod can go where no woman has ever gone (nor would ever wish to go): through the murky labyrinth of stinky pipes stretching from your bathroom to the rat-infested sewers below.

In theory, Mr Snake blasts his way through the blockage in the pipe, and dislodges it. The pipe then belches loudly and sends up fumes that make Indian take-away burps smell like cherry blossom, then MM tidies up her equipment and gets back to more feminine activities. In theory.

In reality, MM looked for her rubber gloves, and couldn’t find them anywhere because PF had tidied them up so well they’d disappeared. Rather than acknowledging that reality was tapping her on the shoulder, MM unwisely decided that she would go for it anyway, equipped with two old t-shirts and her inimitable optimism: having power-showered all self-doubt into oblivion, she was certain that this would be sorted in five minutes flat because she was simply the master of the Universe.

Calamity Jane (film)

MM, Snake Charmer and Master of the Plumbing Universe.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

45 minutes later, MM was feeling flushed (for lack of a better word), squashed in the small space behind the washer with no more than her heaving stomach for company. Battering away at the constipated pipe with Sammy the snake, I coolly enquired if a few prunes would do the job. A little while later, PF popped his head around the door and grinned as I swore copiously at the plumbing in both French and English. I finally realised that whilst I was probing the innards of the waste pipes, the rest of France was dipping their crudités in tapenade. I promptly lost my cool, and angrily yanked the flexible rod back out of the pipe.

Now flexible rods, being flexible, tend to have a life of their own when pulled at speed from a confined pipe. That’s how MM ended up redecorating herself, the floor and the bathroom tiles with modern, albeit odorant, art. Bang on time, Little My opened the bathroom door and wrinkled her nose delicately as she contemplated her mother, who was splattered from head to foot in raw sewage and looked like she’d been mud wrestling with hippos at the local water treatment plant.  I suspect that I have put her off Nutella for ever.

I attacked everything in sight with bleach (rest in peace, black t-shirt). I had a second, (not so power) shower. I sat down to lunch with wild eyes and frizzy hair, stinking of bleach. The plug hole still drains slowly. But looking on the bright side of things, if you start the year up to your eyeballs in shit, things can only get better.

Resolutely resolved to make no resolutions.

Across the world, running shoes are waiting patiently in the dark depths of cupboards, whispering to each other that their time has come: not for the end of the world, but for the chink of light meaning that they will be hauled on to post-festive feet and taken out for a run a year after their purchase. The local vineyards will shortly be taken over by squads of red-faced and lycra-clad sportifs puffing uncomfortably along in their sale-price Nikes as their iPods set the pace. Then their numbers will rapidly dwindle, until the last running shoes return to the cupboard and await either a charity-shop hop or next year’s harvest of unattainable resolutions.

2012-233 Pretty Shoes

 Photo credit: mrsdkrebs

Running, swimming, smoking, drinking …. We are fast approaching the date when the human race tries to out-do itself, deciding to take up this and give up that. Sports trainers and nicotine patch manufacturers will shortly be rubbing their hands in glee across the globe as the number of miraculously motivated, gullible pigeons triples overnight.

 

 

How on earth did we dream up the daft idea that the New Year would give us the motivational wherewithal to give up smoking/lose 20 kilogrammes/get healthy/put the keys away in the right place and otherwise totally change overnight? Apparently the Babylonians were the first to imagine the impossible, and the human race has been deluding itself on an annual basis ever since.

 

I could, of course, resolve to wake up as a whole new woman on the first of January. A new, improved version of MM : an updated, organised model sporting the female equivalent of fully-chromed bumpers and leather seats, and ecologically fuelled by organic vegetables and cod liver oil.

 

Imagine MM as the new, Swiss army knife-type of mater familias who achieves everything with a smile and still has time to pop out for a facial and make herself beautiful for her other half’s arrival. Sounds dubious, but let’s imagine, just for a minute. Let’s reverse all my inadequacies.

 

Victorinox Swiss Army knife, photo taken in Sw...

Add a head, and you have Wonderwoman.

You know the type. She deals with bills as soon as they arrive, and files the evidence away within the hour rather than stuffing it into a drawer and forgetting about it. She does not consider lifting a beer glass to her lips every evening to be a regular sporting activity. She has a strict food budget for the week that she never exceeds, yet feeds her brood on balanced meals that would turn Jamie Oliver green with envy. She rigorously applies a weekly timetable that includes cleaning the fridge and ridding the car boot of smelly dog’s hair. A perfect mother, she never gets tempted by the fascinating depths of a book or WordPress to the extent that she forgets the washing machine full of soaking clothes until it is discovered by an indignant teen wearing loud lycra underpants at 6.30 the following morning. She looks like a woman rather than a combination of a Yeti and Freddy Mercury, does not leap with joy at the sight of a pair of leather boxing boots in a charity shop, and can survive more than 30 minutes in a pair of high heels without swearing and slinging them into a corner. She hasn’t poked her fingers through her tights since she was at school and never has her skirt hem hooked in her knicker elastic on her way out of the loo.

 

The list goes on and on. But if I woke up like that, I think that my family would be nonplussed and even scared by the transformation. And it definitely wouldn’t last long, simply because it’s not me, but rather the way I think people expect me to be. It’s no wonder that resolutions don’t work.

 

So does this make resolutions a no-go zone, given that so many people set their sights so high that they are sunk before they even begin? Maybe not. Maybe we should see this in a more philosophical light: Every journey starts with a first step, and each day is a journey in itself. Taking one day at a time could therefore be the key to success for realistic aims, and is easier to deal with than the words « never again ».

 

 

So this year I will continue being realistic, both about myself and others. Being happy is a long-term project. Forget taking up sport or losing weight; I will settle for just being myself. I’ll take things one day at a time, because you never know what life will dish up for you tomorrow, and small bites are easier to chew. Enjoy the smallest things that don’t cost a penny, like watching my family on the beach. Listen to my gut feelings, but look before I leap. And last but not least, I’ll take care of those I care about, but look after number one too, because as my grandma always said, « no other bugger will do it for you ».

 

What are your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions?

 

The last thing I have to say on this post is to wish you all a happy, healthy and fulfilling year, and thank you for keeping me company in the WordPress world.