Monday 17 April 2017

The breaking season

    Sun shining, grass growing, a million jobs to do. I must be back in France again then? Not that I can complain about the weather in Scotland, for it was beautiful on the East Coast when I was there for 3 weeks. So maybe, for once, the sun is following me around: wouldn’t that be nice?
    I had recently announced that lambing was over, but how wrong I was when last weekend we had a surprise birth. The culprit was the only daughter of famed Daisy Deathwish and thus, true to family form, she dropped it and scarpered! After a brief ID parade, Delilah was gathered into the shed and presented with the poor orphan which she proceeded to head butt in a rather unladylike fashion. She then watched cautiously as I constructed a set of wooden stocks in which she still sits until she learns the error of her ways and accepts her responsibility. Even then I have to stand over her to let the lamb suck else she kicks it to pieces with a more accurate pair of feet than Wayne Rooney. The threat still remains that if she doesn’t conform soon, I will build a gallows next!
    With the fast growing grass, and lambs, comes the time for worming. After last year’s rainy spring, we had a particular problem with liver-fluke in the lambs, something which I haven’t seen for many a year in UK. So, after some expensive veterinary advice, we invest our month’s savings in a tiny bottle of medicine to treat all the sheep. As the leaflet within is not only written in miniscule font, but in French, I decide to Google exactly what this wonder-drug actually cures. Soon, up comes a page with a list as long as a politician’s expenses sheet, including over 100 parasites with lengthy and quite scary Latin names. I next have to get Bing Translator TM to convert French Latin into English, which is no mean task. It was then I was first introduced to a number of tiny beasts of whose existence I was previously oblivious to. Did you know that a Parafilaria bovicola is otherwise known as ‘False Bruising’? No, nor did I. My favourite was the mighty Hook-necked Cattle Bankruptworm. Who wouldn’t want to rid that one out of the field at first light, or moreover still, keep it away from the accounts department!  
   Staying on the subject of lamb, some might say rather callously, I have to mention our BBQ. We possess, and have done for exactly 10 years, a Weber top of the range gas barbeque, and for all its 10 years it has worked like a slave, faultlessly cooking not only for us but for our numerous party guests. Now some of you may be aware, Weber offer a 10 year guarantee on their products. Why? Because they pack up after that, that’s why. Yes, just 2 days after the warranty faded, it died. I have no complaints, it gave a good service till the end, I just find it unbelievably perfect timing, that’s all. Of course when we went to replace it with a shiny new one at the start of cooking season, the price had doubled to nearly a squillion euros, with no discounts available. Here’s hoping the new one can earn its keep for another decade.
    Last month appeared to be the season for things packing up, as I bought a new run-around vehicle in Scotland, which lasted approximately 3 days before a warning light flashed on the dashboard, telling me it no longer worked. Well it wasn’t so much a warning light than a blazing display of beacons all lit up like a jackpot machine on payout day. Along with it, the fuel gauge now goes up and down like a bride’s nightie, the electric speedo and handbrake no longer function and the parking sensors insist I am about to run over an old lady. My local mechanic in East Fife took one look at it and shook his head in doom, as only mechanics can. Eventually I took it to VW specialist in Edinburgh who gleefully announced that this particular model of Passat was renowned for electrical faults and should be avoided at all costs. He then proceeded to diagnose a faulty electrode somewhere in the bowels of the engine and arrived at a repair cost of £1500, a hundred quid more than I paid for the car in the first place. So, we now keep a half brick in the boot to aid parking on hills, keep a close check on the mirrors when reversing, refuel every day, and drive everywhere in second gear for fear of being caught speeding! Strangely enough, it is just over 10 years old as well.
    Finally I would like to wish you all a happy Easter or Paquee, as it is called in French. Years ago, one might proffer a card or even a chocolate egg on such occasions. But not now, since it has been hijacked by the demons of commercialism. Now we have seasonal shopping from Toys’r’us for all the spoilt kids, some of whom write their demands in a letter to the Easter Bunny, complete with death threats. Drinks companies advertise romantic nights in with hi-octane cocktails of alchopops, with Gaviscon backing up the rear (so to speak), and travel agents invite us to ‘quiet’ weekends with all the children at Centreparks, where the quietest thing in the place are the sirens on the security lorry taking our cash to their bank. However, I think the best band-waggon hijack I have seen so far was an email from EE suggesting: ‘I buy my mother a mobile top-up for Mother’s Day!’ Really? Here you go Ma, forget the flowers and choc-box this year, have a tenner on your Samsung in case you need to speed-dial the doctor! As always, je despair!

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