Monday 18 May 2015
Spoke to the owners of the llama farm and they said, categorically, that they were exhausted by the whole debacle and wanted to withdrawn their house from sale for the foreseeable future. All that time, effort and angst for nothing then and not a centime earned. Rang up the new buyers and the man was absolutely distraught and said ‘shit’ many times. Too fed up to write today so here is something I wrote a while ago
Our eldest has recently left home to work on a campsite in Provence and it has been very pleasant. I have cleaned his room, removed vast quantities of old yoghourt pots, spoons, beer bottles and screwed up paper. I have extracted all the rolled up socks and reeking tee shirts from underneath the bed and behind the wardrobe. I emptied all the cigarette butts and papers and fragments of tobacco from the chest of drawers. I organised the bookshelves and installed my craft books. A roll of toilet paper lasts more than a day.
When kids are at home, you feel obliged to lead by example – getting up early, doing housework and not watching telly during the day. We have slipped a little in our standards. We have siestas. We watch Bargain Hunt with our lunches on trays. Our youngest came back from Uni in the UK and the loo roll still lasts more than a day. The house stays relatively clean and tidy, or so we thought.
Last Friday I came home early in the mid-afternoon. The sudden heat wave, with temperatures of over 35 degrees, had blasted both the locals and the tourists from the streets and our local town was as dead as Tucson before the shoot-out starts. I was lolling in a very pleasant torpor on the sofa, watching tennis and feeling zapped, when the telephone rang. It was RJ and he was sounding very pleased with himself. He had a new girlfriend and wanted to bring her home for the weekend. I looked around at the front room and was traumatised. The doors looked like they had been eaten by rats – paint loving rats. Dribbles of tea had mysteriously spread themselves generously over a really well-lit wall. The ironing mountain had reached epic heights. We needed to do a ‘big shop’. At least we had loo roll. This was a real quandary. He had only brought home one other girlfriend in all of his nearly 22 years.
We were galvanised into action. OH (husband) seized a cloth and bucket and went outside to clean the windows. Our youngest, WF, was extracted from his room and given the Hoover to wield. I set to work on the tea dribbles. We have a poele a bois like most of the locals – this is a sturdy wood burning stove and provides an economic means of heating as we have a lot of trees on our land. I knew that all fuel burning systems give out a certain amount of dirt and dust but hadn’t quite realised how much of it makes its way onto the walls. The sunny cream of our front room had turned, over a period of a couple of years, into a rather dingy beige. I started to wipe off the tea stains; they were resistant. I got the wire ball from the kitchen sink and applied it with gusto. The paint came off the wall. OH was not pleased.
WF, puce with effort and overheated by the lack of good insulation in our loft space which renders the bedrooms on the hot end of toasty in the summer, and arctic in the winter, came downstairs, trailing the Hoover lead behind him. He paused in surprise and asked why on earth I was washing the walls. I replied I was washing off the tea stains and stood back to admire my handiwork. To my horror, the part of the wall I had washed was now restored to sunny yellow and the rest was still beige. I had to spend the next hour washing the rest of the wall and hope no-one noticed that I hadn’t done the part above the telly. WF assured me that it just looked like ‘shading’ and our surprise guest probably wouldn’t even notice.
We paused for a cup of tea and pondered sleeping arrangements. We decided they probably did want to share a room (and hoped Grandma wasn’t paying attention from her snowy cloud) and OH went up into our loft and found a spare mattress. The spiders had enjoyed the mattress and more cleaning was required.
RJ rang at 11 pm to say they had only got as far as Toulouse (2.5 hours away) so we went to bed and slept fitfully. They arrived sometime in the night and WF let them in.
The next day dawned and I saw a small red 205 parked in our courtyard. There were contact lenses in the bathroom and, when I peeked through their door, I saw RJ on the mattress and the girlfriend, a shock of dark hair spread on the pillow, in RJ’s bed. I made a cup of tea and relayed this information to OH. WF was flat out and not ready to give any interesting further information.
RJ had told us that his new lady had a BTS in Esthetique and had done the makeup for runway models. I went into the bathroom and surveyed my reflection. I looked like the mad cat woman who tried to rent a room with Flanders in one episode of the Simpsons. I recently went to my hairdresser and said I would like my hair to be wavy and not short. I have known Martine for seven years now and we get along very well. She said she would make me look young and beautiful. She said that I should trust her; frankly I should have had misgivings because the last hairdo she gave me made me look like Mireille Mathieu. She very meanly started at the back of my head and by the time she reached the side, it was too late. My hair, which had been pooling in my collar bones, was now just covering my ears. Martine then proceeded to put in the perm rollers and gave me some magazines, full of pictures of women with lovely hairdos who, I presume, were as young and beautiful as I was going to be.
I am now very curly – the effect is of a halo (on a good day). During the night, it often goes completely flat on one side and I have to rewet it to get the ‘desired’ effect. People who haven’t seen me in a while are often surprised.
I quick-showered, wound a towel tightly around my head, put on my dressing gown, and marched into the kitchen. Everyone else was up and dressed, including the new girlfriend, who had also put on full makeup.
She was tiny and looked like a cross between Bjork and Kirsten Dunst. We both felt shy and I escaped upstairs to get dressed. I found OH hiding in a bedroom.
OH has been studying French for the last two years and has proved surprisingly resistant to both grammar and pronunciation. Now it was crunch time. We went downstairs and OH kissed her appropriately and then declared
There was a confused silence as T tried to take in what this could possibly mean and RJ took in my new hairstyle.
‘ah, no! Bonjour I mean….’
They stayed the weekend and it was lovely – we had a day out at the seaside, ate tapas and played cricket. OH made a real effort to speak French and we laughed a lot. I am happy to report that T ate like a horse, is capable of drinking us under the table and kissed and hugged us goodbye with genuine affection. They have now moved in together… could I become a mother in law? Is it all too early? Will she manage to organise and motivate RJ a way neither he or we could? Watch this space….