Oh dear, its looks like we have created a phenomenon – which isn’t easy to spell, let me tell you. What started out as a daft idea has somehow morphed into an event of a magnitude to rival Glastonbury - and all in the name of preservation.
It also seems that we now hold the accolade of adding the word ‘chutneyhead’ to the English dictionary. Yes, I am talking about this years annual Chutney Festival, which occurred last weekend at our gaff. How our brave judge managed to work his way through upwards of 50 jars of unlabelled, and possibly toxic, substances that were set before him is beyond me. But he did it commendably, which resulted in a winner being chosen in a ‘spicy red-pepper’ chutney from an overseas visitor and friend – Peter Hancock. The reserve prize also travelled in the hold of a Ryanair fight from UK, a tasty bbq sauce from my niece, Adele from Kidderminster, whose talents scooped a haul of other prizes as well. For all my own efforts, I only managed one prize, that of the hottest pickle which, once tasted, numbed the senses rendering the recipient unable to speak for nigh on two hours. I could probably find a use for it…
At the end of the event I made a short speech, thanking the 40-strong crowd and asking them to, please, take some of these jars home with them. That they did – but only the best ones. We are now left with 25 jars, without labels, some of which are not very nice. After the heat had died down I reviewed the judges tasting notes only to reveal that one of the offers resembled ‘baby-sick’, while another had the odour and consistency of ‘his auntie’s bath-water’. Sadly, one of these was mine! The problem is what to do with them now? Well, with a bit of canny resealing and rebranding, the remainder may still end up with Santa at the family Xmas present-opening at the close of the year.
At some point during the oblivion of that same day I heard a rather large creak in the roof of the terrace, which thankfully went un-noticed by our guests. A few days later, on closer inspection, it transpired that the sudden noise was in fact the roof caving in, as one of the main beams had given in to some mild wet-rot and dropped about a foot, causing the whole thing to list alarmingly to one side. Mercifully it didn’t collapse completely and maim everyone underneath it. Since then, with the aid of some well-meaning house-guests, we have now chocked it back up until a better-qualified engineer can rebuild it into a construction that will last another hundred years. Phew. Methinks for the next event, I had better apply for some public-liability insurance.
For the 6 months of the year here in this part of France there is a policy, ne, a law, which says that ‘thou shalt not light a bonfire’. Quite sensible really, especially this year as the whole place has been a tinderbox for the entire summer. Eventually, this week, after at last getting a few splashes of rain to revive some reluctant greenery, I added a match to the huge pile of brash that was once an overgrown hedge in the sheep field. Wow did it burn, attracting raised eyebrows from passing cars and nearby hikers as it billowed black smoke towards the heavens. Unfortunately it also attracted the attentions of one of the sheep, a certain Daisy-Deathwish – yes her, the star of endless stories about a lamb with an incredible sense of self-destruction – who thought it may be a good idea to graze the few remaining weeds around the fringes of the pile as the fire raged. She now has no eyebrows and an even pinker nose than before. But still she defies nature by remaining alive on this earth.
Meanwhile, Rambo, the ram with a supersonic ego, is hard at work, for once chasing the ewes around the field instead of people. I, on the other hand, am running nowhere, having now added a sprained ankle to my already overloaded Achilles’ problem from last month. As the last of our house guests left this morning, for me it’s feet-up time for a week or so, before setting to the task of battening down for winter.
For a household who generally like to talk a lot, I was quite relieved to open our phone bill this month to find that it was relatively normal. The reason for my relief was because a lady in the nearby village of Pessac got a bit of a shock when she opened hers to find it was for an amount of 12 quadrillion euros. Evidently it was a computer error – with no blame attached to its operator. As this rather funny story made it into the national press, so the phone company then waived her real bill, which was a mere hundred quid or so, getting some bad press in the bargain. But what really intrigued me was that there was actually a number called quadrillion, because I for one had never heard of it. Apparently it is 6,000 times the national output of France – or possibly the age of Bruce Forsyth?
Has anyone ever been in a Frankie and Benny’s restaurant and been dissatisfied. I certainly am always appalled at their service whenever I go there. However, it seems that Nora Rees, some welsh bird from Cardiff, really had something to complain about when they mixed up her drinks order.
“It was terrible, see,” said Mrs Rees, aged 17. “I only nipped in for my morning snifter at about 11.30 and they served me with a beaker of Ribena. I was so appalled that I had to steal my son’s glass of whisky.” Nora has since been recovering from shock in a local hospital, while her son, Sonny Leek Daffodil, aged 2, stays at home minding the drinks cabinet. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the company denied any mal-practice, claiming it was Sonny himself who had placed the order as he felt his Mum had been overdoing it on the cooking-sherry lately. ‘…and anyway,’ he added, ‘there’s nothing wrong with serving whisky to 2 year olds, as long as they are not driving home or working the afternoon shift down the pit..!’
Finally I have once again raise my furrowed brow at the antics of the French. This time it is the men of Brittany who are making demands on the government, that they should be allowed to wear skirts to work. After all, they claim, Louis XVI looked great in one, right up to the time he was executed for cross-dressing. President of the Hommes en Jupe group also quoted: ‘… my cousin Jimmy from Glasgow wears a skirt every day and nobody takes the p*ss out of him?’
Yes Jérémie, but he doesn’t wear stilettos as well?