Oh what a summer? Too hot, too dry, too long – I could complain, or even gloat, compared to the rubbish one that Britain has endured, especially my poor holiday-makers in our Scottish cottage. As usual, this year ours has been spiced up by a large number of guests sharing our house/pool/fridge/dinner table for a month or two. Also we have a new addition to keep us entertained: a ginger-ninja with the body of a small stripy kitten and the mind of a criminal genius. We have named him Outspan – a joke which is lost on anyone under 45 – and I have to say he is quite a character, as he torments anything and everything, much to the discomfort of the dogs. Right now he is even helping me type this page, which is enormously unhelpful! However, he is not the only orange striped menace around this year, as we seem to be plagued with aggressive wasps, each and every one of them hell-bent on attacking me at every opportunity. It was just a year ago that I discovered that I was actually allergic to wasp stings, after an encounter with a nest of them inside the bars of our gate. Since that rather uncomfortable time where my arm swelled up, went black, and itched for a fortnight, I have made strides to avoid a repeat incident. Except this year, it seems I can run but not hide as I have had no less than six stings which has sent me queuing for the doctors surgery so many times I am pretty sure I am now on her Christmas card list! In an attempt to rid us of the pests, I have sought out their ghettos and blasted them with high-octane fuel, something which not only renders them homeless but aggravates them a tad. Maybe the survivors of these haulocausts have good memories as their scouts track me down in revenge for such genocide. With a change of tack, I seek out advice from google on how else to deal with the problem which brings me neatly round to another pet hate of mine – that of people posting videos on Youtube about how to do DIY, when they are about as qualified to lecture on the subject as Bin Laden chairing a meeting on world peace. ‘Hello, my name is John, welcome to my workshop --!moves camera around a tiny basement full of shiny unused cheap tools--! Today I am going to show you how to make a wasp trap out of a plastic milk carton and some string...’ He then proceeds to waffle on in a monotone for about twenty minutes as I glaze over with ennui. In the end I just played the video near to the wasps nest and I am sure 3000 of them all died of boredom!
And here’s a very tenuous link: Cricket = Boredom. Well maybe sometimes it does, but we have to hail the prowess of the England team and their instant dismissal of Michael Clarke’s Ozzys. Did you see the 4th test at Trent Bridge? No, nor did I as I blinked and it was gone. In fact it went by so fast I thought I was watching the highlights – with more ducks on display than fairground shooting gallery. What an anti climax if you had bought tickets to occasionally snooze through four days of the sound leather on willow, only to be in the pub by lunchtime on day 2. Honesty, I have seen longer darts matches! And then, just a few weeks previous, we got the opposite, as we rented out our cottage near St Andrews for The Open, only for it to rain so hard for 2 days that even the seagulls were wearing souwesters. I really felt for the 7 guys who had paid over the odds for tickets and accommodation only to have the final day of play run into a working Monday. Ever the entrepreneur, I did offer them the house for an extra day at a reasonable rate, were they able to throw a sickie, but they declined and went home to dry their underwear in the warm south. As it happens, a couple of mates of mine, encouraged by the fact that final day tickets, normally a couple of hundred quid a go, were on sale for just a tenner, got a free bed for the night thrown in. Bargain.
Anyway, that rain would certainly be welcome here in France just now to green up this dustbowl and give the sheep something to eat other than my neighbours maize. It’s been like Escape from Colidtz here as they continually find ways to get through the electrified fence to quell their hunger. Having said that, we did put a couple ‘away’ last week and I was surprised how well they had done this year considering how dry it has been. It proves a fact that, not many animals enjoy rainy days – with the possible exception of the Australian cricket team!
As with anywhere else in the world, the hot weather does tempt out the human flesh but this year has been particularly disturbing in France, whose latest fashion craze is to wear tight t-shirts with incomprehensible English slogans on them. I swear, everywhere you look there are girls wondering around sporting baffling things like ‘shopping is my hamster’ or ‘life, spaghetti, elephant!’ How on earth did that become cool? It’s like listening Boris Johnson with dyslexia! My only guess is the manufacturers of such garments must have used google-translate – that incompetent software application that makes up more rubbish than the Daily Mail. Well, in the interests of appearing youthful and hip, I have decided to get the felt-marker out and run up a few of my own. On a farming note I quite like, ‘Eat sheep and be merry!’ I also came up with ‘Keep calm, unless you are actually a certified f**king psychopathic killer!’ which appeared to upset a few people, especially when I was down the cutlery aisle in Intermarche. ‘If you can’t stand the heat – move to Scotland’ is not so much of a slogan as a statement. As is ‘Football is a load of balls!’ But my favourite has to be: ‘Donald Trump – you are joking, right?’
Incidentally, if dyslexia is a condition for people who have trouble reading – why is it so difficult to spell?