Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lies, Fatties and Kittens

So much to do and so little time to do it in, let alone write about it. During the week I note subjects I think are worth expanding on and now have a long list of items, though many of them are so cryptic I can't remember what they refer to. Perhaps a reflection of my life in general.

Having passed the health check (obligatory in France) I have no excuse for not going to the gym and battering the flab, other than laziness and embarrassment, both of which last night's viewing of recent wedding photos have overcome (wish the gym could sort out the wrinkles too). Paul and I have agreed that the midday slot is the preferable option, because no one else will be there to witness the tragedy.

On Saturday we went with Emile and his wife (retired and very typical French farming couple) to a horse fair - an event I would usually avoid like the plague (horse events, of any kind, have lost their allure since I ended my own semi-professional episode as a rider, but I also know that this particular agricultural type of fair will also involve various attitudes I will find hard to ignore), but two days later I am still cursing myself for not taking a camera.

The sense of walking into a dying world was written on the faces of men and women and embodied in the Percheron horses - beautiful, immensely powerful beasts strutting their stuff for the judges, but without purpose in the mechanised farming world. They are the souvenirs of a bygone age that these people are hanging onto for as long as they can afford to - a posture I admire, even though their treatment is rough and all too whip-ready. Less easy to bear, for this sappy southerner at least, was the line of bottom rungers - horses and ponies either too old or too ugly to be of interest to anyone except perhaps for meat. I wish I could have bought all of them, a large rangy ex-race horse in particular, but just the thought of our own 'girls' struggling in the mud back home put pay to that. Still, I wish I had brought a camera to record what must be the last rope maker in France, the farrier trimming a hoof with the circumference of a car tyre and faces only wind, rain and age could produce. I would have put them on this blog for … possibly posterity.

And on animals - we have two more. Kittens to be precise and in direct contravention of my own law - NO MORE CATS. My excuses were Lucy (she will need company when she is on her own) and the cold, both of which are fairly plausible. Our friends, Barbara and John, have gone back to England for the winter, leaving a stray cat and, formerly, six kittens behind. Barbara, who claims that she is "not a softie" and believes in nature taking its course, left buckets of cat biscuits in a green house and deviously ensured I got a glimpse of them before she left. Enough said, after a series of extremely cold days and nights (during which a local footballer collapsed with hypothermia) I went back to check their progress and found only two survivors, now Nell and Orpheus (Lucy's pretension not mine) and currently asleep on the rocking chair (see photo).
Moving down the list and lifting my gaze from its currently, dangerously navel level, I feel the need to comment on the latest furore about labour donations and political funding in general. After so many years of 'ends justifying the means' rhetoric by Blair/Brown, this revelation is hardly surprising. In fact the only surprising part is Cameron's willingness to wade in and criticise, when he must know that the spotlight will inevitably turn back on the Tory party's shenanigans in that department. Perhaps there is a case for restricting election funding and allocating a proportion of our taxpayer's money to the purpose, if only to stop the kind of carpet-bagging we are seeing now, but this in itself raises another raft of issues that I have neither the time, energy nor interest to debate here. Much more fundamental and more disturbing is the general sense of dishonesty in politics and society, though even as I write the nagging thought occurs tome that it has always been thus, just better concealed. Do I have a solution? No, of course not.

On a higher, no scrub that, infinitely lower note, has anyone seen the new reality (though God knows I wish it wasn't) TV programme; Fatties Go To Borneo, or some such title? I'm not sure which aspect I find the most shocking and/or repulsive, the sheer size of the teenage fatties themselves or their behaviour. Perhaps it is all one and the same. Rude, ungrateful, spoilt …. The adjectives, similes and metaphors don't exist to describe them. In fact the only comparison available is another programme of the same ilk - Tortuous Teenagers (correct title escapes me) involving distraught parents and kids who deserve to hung, drawn and quartered (this from a passivist who has have never even resorted to smacking). Lucy and I have our problems, my weight and wrinkles, her growing up (which incidentally she is doing beautifully and of which I am immensely proud - wish I could take the credit), but we have never behaved like that lot. What is the world coming to? I ask myself and the rest of the world.

So who else is in today's metaphorical firing line? No one actually, because yesterday left me feeling warm and much-loved. Everybody should have a bossy friend prepared to turn up unexpectedly and tell it like it is. Denise and Eric have found happiness in Portugal after a fairly miserable 12 months here in northern France and I am more than happy for them, in spite of my own, very current need of someone to dump on when I am feeling pissed off. They were only here for a couple of hours before rushing off to somewhere else, but long enough to remind me of who I am and why I am here … which brings me back to the present and my responsibilities … I have a guide book to write and the Guardian to read … so here endeth the latest diatribe on the trials and tribulations of being an overweight and grumpy retiree in northern France, where it is, of course, raining.

1 comment:

Denise said...

Heaven only knows why this gorgeous woman should even mention weight as one of her problems - and this is from her bossy friend, Denise - I am so seriously pi...... off with all of this constant carping on about weight, what to eat, what not to eat blaa blaa blaa - life is so seriously wonderful and is terribly simple if only we would just LIVE it! Live it to the full, every second of everyday is a bonus - it's the only way to get the best out of our time her on this planet. Denise Sutton