Despite those who consider that we spend our daily lives entirely in the sun, we do get quite a winter here in SW France. And it’s just arrived. Well sort of. I mean, it was, oh deary me, nearly down to ten degrees on the weekend! So the time has come to move everything indoors away from the potential frost and cold mornings, including the geraniums, lemon trees and the exterior kitchen.
It is also the time for creatures to come in too, of which I was reminded last night when a mouse spent the entire night rummaging around under the bed. After waking up screaming in fear of this mighty beast, Wendy decanted into another bedroom while I slept on. Scratch-scratch, rustle-rustle, it went, possibly having a picnic with some left over sweeties. Eventually I succumbed to checking under the bed only to find it was not a mouse at all, but none other than a moth, noisily flapping its wings in an attempt to shake off a spider’s web which it was wearing like a coat. Despite the urge to stamp on the thing out of spite after it disturbing my beauty sleep, my kind heart compelled me to expel it from the window instead. Unfortunately, I hadn’t taken into account that it was unable to fly, due to its silk straight-jacket, as it plummeted helplessly to the bushes below to be gobbled up by lizards. C’est la vie. I did try.
Then this morning, with a mountain of writing to catch up with, I am at my desk at 6am when another beast catches the corner of my eye as it scuttles across the floor. Well, it doesn’t exactly scuttle, more sort of leaps. This time I see it clearly, a huge mass of grey hair that would befit the most toxicant of tropical arachnids. Even I felt the urge to raise my bare feet up onto the next rung. But spiders don’t jump do they? Any more than mice can fly? On closer inspection, this was actually a tiny frog who had amassed a ball of hair around it which had been shed to the floor by Louis the Pointless Pointer and stuck to its scaly skin until it looked like Donald Trump on a space-hopper! Now there’s an image you don’t consider every day? What that says about the state of our cleanliness, I am unsure!
This time of year also brings us into rugby season where grown men charge around in the rain knocking seven bells out of each other in the name of sport. Now it is common knowledge that the majority of these players are tree-trunks of men to the extent that some of their brains may even be subject to vertigo. So why does ESPN employ an elf to interview them? Yes, this tiny but perfectly formed little blonde Welsh girl, who would need a ladder to even sniff the jock-strap on some of these giants, gets to ask them personal questions, presumably through a loud-hailer like a celtic Stuart Little. Mind you she is married to Irish rugby lock Simon Easterby who is at least 100 feet taller than her and they just had a baby. Hollywood should use it as a script for a King-Kong sequel.
A few months ago I wrote of the absurdities of French rules, many of which had been brought in with little consideration for common sense. Well it appears that, somewhere in the bowels of Parisian government offices, someone has suddenly found some and decided to scrap the derisory ruling about having to carry breathalyser kits in cars. Yes, it was a stupid law, for a hundred reasons. But then we discover that the u-turn is not for reasons of intellectuality but for that of miscalculation, as they simply haven’t made enough kits to go round. This, for a country which has more bureaucrats than Jimmy Saville’s had ten year-old Cubans, seems a somewhat pathetic excuse. How difficult is it to count your own population, Monsieur ‘Ollande? Do you actually know your derriere from your elbau?
Then, as if the malady of incapability is catching, we hear that the British government have too done an about-turn, this time on the subject of pest control. Of course, I am referring to the badger cull, due to take place in the south Midlands of England, um, last month? After sending in an entire army of beardies to do the maths it appears that, although our aficionados can count beans, they are unable to count black and white nocturnal animals to within an accuracy of 50%. It would be laughable but for the outcome of this ludicrous oversight which will continue to threaten the beef and dairy industry of UK to near extinction.
Bringing me neatly on to a little announcement of my own. As many may know, for years I earned my living amongst the pedigree livestock industry and enjoyed every minute of it. So I feel that it is of some reward that I have now been drafted back into it in my career as a writer. Starting this week, I have a accepted a little project to author the History of Aberdeen Angus Cattle over the last half-century, a job which will keep me busy for some time. To compile this coffee-table styled doorstop of a volume will require extensive research and entail me travelling the land, interviewing many of the older generation who have been instrumental in the breed’s redevelopment. For those in the know, which I am sure Tony Neath will back me up, by the early sixties the Angus, along with the Hereford, was reduced to a size no taller than the afore mentioned Welsh bird, in-keeping with overseas demand from Argentina’s corned beef industry, but rendering it little use for much else. For the next 60 years some extremely clever men had to rebuild the genetics into the monster beast that is now the industry’s leading beef producer. Somewhere in the middle of that, a few ungainly long-legged animals resembling ‘black stick-insects’ were imported from Canada in the eighties and paraded, often by a younger me, to a throng of agricultural sneers. They say it’s great when a plan comes together, and I am looking forward to piecing this jigsaw into order and getting my teeth into the project, in more ways than one!
Meanwhile, in a moment of madness, I have volunteered for a couple of charity undertakings during the month of November both of which I am already beginning to regret. Firstly, I have teamed up with 300,000 other participants around the globe to endeavour to write a novel in 30 days for National Novel Writing Month. The rules are quite simple, it must be of at least 50,000 words long and possibly make sense. As I sit here, I am nearly half way through and struggling with the latter part of that requirement. The second, of equal irritation is that I have once again decided to join that band of merry men advocating awareness of men’s health issues and grow a moustache for Movember. Anyone who comes into contact with me in the next few week might find me rattling my begging bowl. You can run, but you can’t hide!