Whoopie: at last, after only seven years, I have finally finished renovating the upstairs of the house. Well, when I say finished, I mean completed to a standard where people can live in it. OK, there may still be the odd gap in the skirting where a mouse could sneak in and obviously Spike, our highly talented cat, can still manage to nest in every room behind locked doors but, in general, we now have a succession of usable bedrooms and bathrooms. Just as well, as they are currently all occupied by a coach-load of burly young lads who are all here on holiday, oozing testosterone everywhere and burdening a constant drain on the fridge. I have to admit, it is nice to have guests and this year, due to unforeseen issues, we have had precious few. It may have been a tad easier if they had arrived in ones and twos instead of 12 all at once, but hey-ho, we can cope as long as the septic tank holds out. They are a refreshing bunch, too, many of whom are finding their way on new career paths after a lifetime in education, and relishing what challenges life holds before them. I would like to think I could offer snippets of guidance here and there, but then when I look back on my own dappled career of cattle groomer, computer programmer and then writer, I am not so sure anyone else on earth could take such a diverse route through life, blindfolded or otherwise. Possibly the only real advice I can give is that: when your years come nearer to retirement, be able to look back and say ‘if I had my time over again, I would do it all exactly the same.’ I am almost proud that I can do that.
Anyway, enough with the philosophy, let’s get down to complaining about stuff. For instance, what the heck is the British government on about now? Most of us are aware that autumn is the time of year when bored politicians, just back from their annual month in the sun, sit around creating new legislation to justify their overpaid existence. So why is it that, even though we expect the absurd, their moronity still never fails to amaze? Yes, I am talking about the latest suggestion, that of putting health warnings on alcohol. Are we really expected to save ourselves from ourselves by heeding the signs. Will a skull and crossbones deter us from pulling another cork when we really should be reaching for the Perrier? Exactly. Who is kidding who here? Of course drinking is bad for you, that’s why we do it, surely? Save your money, Mister PM, and give the nurses a well earned raise instead.
Although I am not one to intensely keep an eye on world news, this month I really must mention Captain Ian Baston who was brought to my attention by the BBC. It appears that this honourable chap lost control of a Flybe aircraft during landing when his arm accidentally fell off! Yes, I reckon that would do it? ‘Nobody was hurt,’ said a CAA spokesman, ‘and Mr Baston has sworn he will make sure his arm is well and truly screwed on in future!’ No wonder Flybe has a the nickname Fly?Maybe! Note I have avoided the temptation to make a sic joke about their second-hand planes…
Last month I mentioned that the Tour De France was coming through our local town. Well, despite my disinterest in the sport of cycling, we decided to use the occasion as an excuse for a party and, my, what a party it was. With quite surprising insight, I did a reckie of the route the night before, selected a suitable spot on a blind corner and parked my sheep trailer there. The next day, when 20 of us arrived at noon, the French bystanders were already into their picnics and lining the route when I unlocked the trailer, rolled out the gas bbq, 2 tables, 20 chairs, 20 litres of red wine, a full 5 course meal, including 2 whole legs of lamb which we proceeded to cook under their noses. I have to admit, the locals were generally impressed by the pluck of Les Anglais, and particularly when they got to sample some gigot de agneau. However, some of neighbours were not quite so hospitable, suggesting that we were parked in their own personal space. Non too perturbed, we continued preparing our feast until one quite angry little Frenchman became very irate, threatening to remove us personally and hurling a few insults. ‘You are not friends of poo-poo!’ he repeated time and again, in a mysterious fashion. To be honest, if he wasn’t so intimidating, it would have been quite comical. Still we held fast, and even checked with the local gendarmes that we were perfectly within our rights to remain there. In fact the men in uniform also partook in a few morsels of cooked lamb and a wee snifter. Eventually our friend retreated still muttering about poo-poo but, feeling slightly sad for him, one of our party delivered him a plateful of food and an aperitif, to try and console his grief. It turned out that Poo-Poo was not an insult at all, but a real person. Not just any person either, but one of France’s most famous cyclists who had lived in the town until his recent death, and these were his mates who were trying to get themselves on TV via helicopter coverage of this exact spot. Instead, what made it onto TV was a plethora of drunken English, complete with one wearing a lime green chef’s hat and brandishing a carving knife. C’est la vie, Poo-Poo. Merde Happens!