Thursday 13 June 2015
Cloudy with torrential rain later
Today is normally my favourite day of the week. I go down town to my little nearest town and look at the fripperie and buy unnecessary fabric items, chat to the German lady who works there and speaks the most fluent English, look around the market, pick up bhajis or crepes to nibble on and then go for a coffee in the English bar and see who is around.
My working language is French so it is interesting to dive back into English culture and norms and, after eleven years over here, see it from an outsider’s perspective. That is not to say I feel completely or even partly French. I don’t. I still retain a very strong and eminently British disregard for bureaucracy and petty rules and regulations. However, there was a man in the bar today who had stretched that disregard to several microns’ width. I never know if he is telling the truth or if he is flying on the wings of fantasy. That is the thing with a lot of the local expats. They don’t speak French so they are obliged to live in their own world and I think quite a few of them find it a strain.
This man, GH, has lived in the area for many years, does odd building work, and lives with a French lady. His strong native accent means both Brits and the locals have trouble understanding him – he comes from an area which is about 300 miles further north than any of the rest of them have ever known. He was nursing a little coffee and talking about DIY to an Aussie guy who is over for three months. I sat down, bought the Aussie guy a drink because it was my turn, and GH turned to us both and said:
‘when you find eight grand in your bank account, what do you do? The only thing I could do was take it out and spend it’.
‘Whose money was it?’
‘Well, it was in my bank so it was my money’
‘Where did it come from?’
‘The bank made a mistake – there was a guy up in Paris who banked a cheque and the bank put it in my account’
‘That is fraud! The bank will sue you and you will go to jail’
‘Well yes I know but the doctor says I have a weak heart and it is giving me a lot of strain so I am suing them for 25 grand’ ‘I am an old man. I don’t speak French’
‘You have lived here for 20 years. You are married to a French woman who doesn’t speak any English’
‘Well I am going for a little cig’
He wandered out and the Aussie guy said Jesus and we talked about art and exhibitions and how much he loved painting but not the promotional side and then I went back home and OH said where had I been.
In the afternoon I had to go to my biennial boob squashing session. The wait was an hour and a half and I had read every magazine in the place and watched a procession of limping, staggering and myopic people through the doors. Finally it was my turn. I hate mammograms even though I can appreciate their health benefits. I am always worried that the machine will forget to stop the compression. Emerged feeling very tender.
Speak to the US lady and she says there is no way she can pay in any monies before the due date because she wont close on her US sale until the 10 July and, in any event, it is not her responsibility to pay the penalty clause if she defaults. Her notary is not agreement with this – they both signed the contract. They are jointly liable.
OH is in preparation frenzy for his upcoming trip to Spain with his mate JH. There is fishing apparel absolutely everywhere and he is trying to learn some new knots and, at the same time, some Spanish. This went on late into the night and I left him to it.