Wednesday 12 June 2013

Tea for one

As a child one considers all sorts of careers that may lie in one’s future. I’m not sure when my youngest son, Jack, decided on his chosen path but I congratulate him on securing his first job, as a graduate quantity surveyor – whatever one of those is – after getting a 1st class honours degree. Well done, fella.
My own decisiveness never quite came to me so young, other than that of being a farmer, and I sort of stumbled through one career into another for most of my working life, each one slightly more bizarre than the last. Cattle hair-dresser, computer programmer, fiction writer, they all happened as if by accident and none were a real surprise; but in all my wildest dreams I never considered that I would be negotiating with the Ukrainian Mafia. Yet, today it seems that is my very task. Having been gazumped on a property deal right at its closing stage, I then get a phone call from Don Mishkof Corleone making me an offer that I cannot refuse, no questions asked. ‘Consider it that I am doing you a favour,’ he said, in the voice of a Bond villain. I will admit that I was somewhat disturbed by the call, and thankfully the lump under the duvet when I crawled into bed last night was not a horses head, just my beloved, snoring quietly. Should I accept this man’s offer? I have checked out his credentials and he is definitely a cosha baddie, complete with Limmo and facial scars, and what he wants with a small beachside apartment in Bulgaria is probably something highly dodgy. But business is business, so I suppose I most go ahead, particularly as he didn’t seem keen to take no for an answer. If this column never appears again, you will know that I have been sent swimming in the Black Sea in a concrete waistcoat during the sinking season!
Maybe it is just good fortune – or luck, as some people refer to it – swinging my way for a change. Lord knows, we could do with a touch of that. I must be the only person in the world who chose to take 5 days holiday by the Bay of Biscay last month to endure constant rain. 6 inches in one day, no less! Meanwhile, back home at Chauffour, less than 3 hours away, the sun blazed away continually, frying the sheep in their woolly jackets. We did get a few nice days, eventually, when we could run the dogs on one of France’s few dog-friendly beaches. This in itself was a tad traumatic as the local authority had also designated it as ‘playa naturism’, although, in my mind, these two hardly go together. So we did get into a few scrapes as Pooper, our unkempt terrier, has a habit of surprising sunbathers by licking their ear as the sleep. This in itself would be alarming enough but when said sleepers are totally naked, it tends to freak them out a little. The screams from one poor chap are still echoing around the hills of the Pyrenees as we speak, as he ran towards the ocean in a dangly fashion. Needless to say, we will not be allowed back.
When we did return home, however, the rain followed us up the autoroute and hasn’t stopped since. Week after week it pounds the petals off the roses, encouraging the grass to grow like bamboo which requires mowing 3 times per week. The poor lawnmower will need at least a couple of pit-stops if it is to make it to the end of this season. We do have a great crop of tatties though, if only I could wade through the swamp to get to them. And yet, it seems, that we are the only ones to be enduring such torrents. This week I spoke to a few colleagues in Scotland who claimed to have had a month of dry weather and could do with a little rain to dampen the dust! Well, be careful what you wish for, as I set sail for Edinburgh next week and may just bring some with me.
I am actually in UK for a couple of weeks, and then a further one in Ireland, so the law of sod will dictate that the sun will beam on SW France while I tramp around the Grande Britannia in my Kagool. Those in the know say that ‘timing is everything’, and it appears mine is a little out of sync this summer.
Having built it up over the last couple of months, I have to report that our annual party was not quite such a blistering success this year. Guest numbers were well down, due to other commitments or general lack of interest, and this was just as well, as we were all ensconced indoors while the skies rained down and the cold east wind chiselled its way in from Siberia. Our only saving grace was the large open fire roaring away in the garage as we stoked it up with expired Ikea furniture in order to keep warm. They did manage to much their way through a 4.5kgs shoulder of mutton though, which had slowly sizzled away on the bbq for 12 hours. And delicious it was too, although I say it myself.
During the event we had a giggle when Wendy’s phone rang. On answering it, an old lady’s voice asked if we could bring her a cup of tea! Initially considering it was a wind-up from one of our friends, she soon ignored and ended the call. The problem is, however, that it was genuine. Somehow, a dear old lady has got Wendy’s mobile number programmed into her phone and continues to call, every day at 3pm, demanding her tea and a biscuit. We have no idea who she is, or from where she is calling, but we do feel a tad responsible for her daily disappointment when her afternoon sustenance fails to arrive. Recently I have gone to great lengths to try and track the call so that, if only once, we can obey her wishes and send a bob-a-job boy-scout round with a cuppa. But there is the problem. Although the world and his dog can manage to obtain my mobile number and constantly call me trying to sell me things, when we want to do a little good in the world, the information is more classified than the president’s nuclear launch codes. On the off-chance that someone reading this has their granny secured in the attic with a new cell-phone, please oblige us by firstly taking her a daily brew and digestive, and then deleting our number. Thank you so much.