Not only do the single years go by so rapidly these days, but it doesn’t seem five minutes since Sir Steve and Lord Coe were unveiling their plans for a 6 week London traffic jam for 2012. And now, it’s here. This year is not just an Olympic year but also a bissextile one, during which, come late February, unmarried ladies will be allowed to make indecent proposals to us poor unsuspecting chaps. Be warned, fellas. Go fishing on the 29th Feb!
Having at last got my computer back together, some recent interactions through the modern conduit of social-networking websites have brought me together with a few old school-friends and, wow, what a scary thing that is. I have to admit that it is good to see old faces popping up online, including some very dated seventies photos with hairstyles that thankfully never came back into fashion. Come to think of it, they probably weren’t in fashion those days either! Sometimes it makes me realise how lucky we are in my generation that this level of technology has arrived just in time for us to rekindle some of this nostalgia, as long as it is not abused. At the very least, its arrival will allow us to document history from the common man’s perspective from this moment forward.
This morning a new revelation arrived at our door in France. Yes, at last, after possibly twenty years of their existence in UK, we now have a wheelie-bin. Two wheelie-bins, in fact. To us, this means that we will no longer have to endure the inconvenience of heaving leaky bulging bin-bags into the back of the family car every day and delivering them to the stinky communal receptacles 500 yards down the road. But, more importantly than that, it means that, after hosting a few world eco-summits and patronisingly nodding their heads, France has eventually complied with EEC rulings of environmentalism, and is starting to recycle. A nice man also delivered us a pamphlet advising us of what we must put in the bin that will be of use to the environment, although we have to wait for a separate letter to tell us when said bin will be collected, also possibly informing us in advance of which days the collection staff will be on strike! I deduce from the picture on the glossy leaflet that we must now recycle plastic, paper, tin and cardboard. This brings me around to wondering what else will be left over for the ‘couvercle gris’, and then I note, for some reason, that yoghurt pots are non-recyclable. That and dog pooh. Well that will be a weekly bin-full then, won’t it? It’s rather a shame they couldn’t leave us our own bottle-bank too, to save those embarrassing monthly trips with all the empties, which we now have to make under the cover of darkness to avoid awkward encounters with our gossiping neighbours.
Whilst on the subject of recycling, and I am not sure if this is the same in UK, I have just discovered that our large Xmas tree, which has currently taken over most of our sitting room, is not only recyclable but refundable too. It appears that when it has served its purpose, we can take it back to the shop from where we bought it and get our money back, despite its toothless state. How brilliant is that?! Do you think I could try that with the dishwasher? Or the cat, perhaps?
Following four winters of relentless shivering (and moaning about it, apparently) inside our draughty old house, we have this year invested in a log-burner. After a few weeks of speaking to local firms and hearing horror stories of ex-pats being ripped off, we eventually bought one off the internet from a firm in Scotland. Let’s face it, if it can keep them warm up there where it snows all the time, then it has to be OK? I have to say I am astounded by the level of heat this thing chucks out. I don’t think this house has ever been as warm in its 300 year history, with the possible exception of when it burned down in 1854. We can now watch episodes of The Frozen Planet without actually getting frostbite ourselves. In fact, were we so wanton to do, we could probably watch TV in our underwear. Perish the thought.
Some of you may recall that, earlier this year, a new kitten joined our happy throng of pets, for the sole purpose of keeping the vermin down. To be fair to young Spike, he does seem to have got the hang of catching small mice and voles. Unfortunately, he also seems to have found another purpose, that of an alarm clock! One that goes off 15 minutes before daylight, every morning, without fail, without a snooze button! The horrific noise he makes is like an unyielding cross between a police siren and a Susan Boyle record; it is completely unbearable. In the winter, this behaviour is slightly more acceptable because I am usually up by that time, but what about next summer, when it gets light at 4.30am? The thing is, I am not even sure why he makes this ghastly din, save for the malevolent purpose of waking us up. It’s not like he is hungry? The dam thing is as fat a bronze turkey, and whenever he does come in the house, the dog beats him up. We even went so far as to have his testicles removed last week, but that didn’t seem to stop his morning chorus one bit, apart from making him sound more like Justin Bieber! So how do I stop this problematic intrusion? Any ideas? Maybe I could utilise that empty wheelie-bin, they are pretty soundproof aren’t they? Especially with a couple of breeze blocks on the lid!
So, a new year brings new plans, new challenges and new ambition. Will this be the year that the economy lifts out of recession, newspapers become honest, world weather patterns steady down and Bruce Forsyth finally gets put out to pasture? Well, one could hope for all of those things, but above all please, please, no more ITV documentaries about expats living happily in the Dordogne. Were the dreadful people depicted on that program as commonplace as it makes out, I, for one, would be leaving before the year is out!