It looks as if we are destined for the record books here in France, with the hottest June ever recorded and temperatures soaring into the high thirties. Well, at least that is what the forecast says, whereas in reality we are currently getting daily thunderstorms, clattering away the dry air, scaring the hell out of the dogs and filling the pool with debris. I will admit, to help with the latter, this year we have employed Dexter, who scrubs away tirelessly underwater, cleaning up the algae, dead leaves and insects. No, he is not a local serf, but a labour-saving robot, as neither my wife nor I manage to find enough time to take on the maintenance task. I love work, I could watch it all day!
We also have another new man in the fold, this time of the woolly variety, as we have just purchased a new stock ram, having sold Roger on to another flock earlier in the year. I have to say this new chap, as yet un-named, is quite a fine specimen whom we picked out from a nearby flock of Charollais. I don’t always admit to being wily, but when it comes to choosing stock I learned well from my father. The farmer showed us the 3 ram lambs he had for sale and I looked them over, nodding appreciatively when, from the corner of my eye, I spotted another lamb, out in the yard with the rest of the flock. ‘What about that one?’ I suggested. ‘Not for sale, I am keeping him as a ram for my own flock, monsieur.’ Aha. Then that’s the very one we want to buy! And we did.
You may recall that last month, in fact for the last six, I have been working on a renovation project in Scotland, which is now more or less complete. However, a few days into my last trip I had a run-in with an electric power-tool, it winning the day and ripping a hole in my leg in the process. Too wide to sew up with conventional stitches, the nice nurse pulled the wound together with some paper strips which lasted all of about 3 hours before they fell off under the strain. That was over 4 weeks ago and still the weeping open wound is enough to put you off your breakfast, preventing me going in the swimming pool - a minor set-back that the rest of my work-force were very unsympathetic with! Not that I am whinging, but this is the second June in a row I have had this issue, as last year it was a case of shingles that prevented my aqua-activity. Coupled with this trauma I now have acute back-pain, possibly brought on by walking around on one leg for weeks. A visit to Doctor Poopoo – yes, that is his real name – to get some painkillers resulted in him throwing a wobbly when he saw the state of my leg. Whereas in Scotland, I had been advised to keep the wound open to let the air heal it, here in France they are still quite Dickensian in such matters, wrapping everything in mummy-like bandaging until gangrene sets in. Seriously, I could see him setting up the saw-bench and providing a leather strap for me to bite on if I had stayed around much longer! Anyway, the upshot of all this is that, for once, I am confined to life in the slow lane for a while, something which has been frequently suggested for some time by those around me.
Despite the endless list of jobs which keep amassing in front of me, apart from shearing the sheep - a task for which I canvassed the help of a fit young chap half my age - I am doing my best to ignore them all. This affords me some time to sit in front of the TV, catching up with the tennis, rugby and golf, as well as the aftermath of yet another farcical electoral result which leaves nobody in charge of Britain’s dinner money. It appears that the only way to govern from on-high in such situations is to invite the loonies to help run the asylum, and then pat them on the head and offer them a wooden chair in the corner in the hope they don’t try and enforce their own outrageous homophobic racist policies in the process. Shame we couldn’t revert back to Cromwell’s day where a hung parliament meant exactly that, as they swung by the neck quietly in the breeze, amid a swarm of blow-flies! Wouldn’t that make a pleasant sight for London’s cyclists?
On the subject of bikes, I note that the city of Dublin is considering banning the bicycles from their streets as the Road Safety Organisation admits they are unsafe. Really? Whatever gave you the idea that 2 wheelers ducking and weaving in and out of fast moving trucks and cars, and jumping red traffic lights was a health hazard? In an article in the Dublin Times, a particularly articulate spokesman for Cycle Weekly says, and I quote, “If there was proper cycle lanes, people would use them. Ours are just painted white lines on the side of the road!” As opposed to what, I ask myself? Raised gantries, people-free pavements or traffic-less roads perhaps? He further added that “sometimes there is so much congestion that it is quicker to walk..” Hoorah for common sense, enforce the ban right now and get Europe back on its feet. Except, of course, this wouldn’t include England, would it? They are far too clever. C’est la vie, Patrick, we stand together on this one.