Diary from Limousin

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Diary from Limousin
Monday Gemini. 21 May-21 June. Try to be less flippant, not everybody appreciates your approach to life. An unforeseen event later on today will cause some annoyance, and may last longer than anticipated. The phone starts ringing before breakfast is finished. “Can you do 10,000 words for tomorrow lunchtime?”  Hmm. I only have the zillion-words restructuring plan, three articles, four sets of pleadings and a contract to finish translating today. “No problem,” I mumble, spraying John with croissant flakes. “What do you want me to do to them?” Silence. Realise French sense of humour at 8.30 on a Monday morning possibly non-existent. “Only joking,” I reassure my agency friend, and dress up refusal in enquiries after health, the weather in Lyon and Tante Fifi’s cholesterol problem. The latter wastes another ten minutes of my precious breakfast hour. “Her doctor’s refusing to prescribe the pills any more,” Melanie confided, “and the bastard went on strike last week. Imagine.” I can, of course. The whole of France Inc. will be on strike in the next few weeks.  Lousy weather, no holidays before the February skiing beano, and nothing to look forward except work. I don’t blame them. Boot up computer and start on downsizing, redeployment and relocation to Vilnius. MiddayWish machine bon appetit and prepare lunch. Take phone off hook as a precaution. The sun is out, birds in our woods twitter tunelessly and life is wonderful. We take an hour off to walk local lanes and enjoy the unspoilt Limousin countryside on our doorstep. Back at the ranch, John disappears into the loo with a book (filthy habit) but is out in 30 seconds, muttering merde impolitely. I envisage raw sewage everywhere, but it’s only the pan, leaking slowly and gently in the Limousin fashion.  Call one of the local plumbers. He’ll drop by later. Tuesday Gemini. 21 May-21 June. Yesterday’s events will spill over into today, but try to see the other person’s point of view – curb your Gemini impatience. Located the water main stopcock late last night.  Am amazed how much water a small leak produces. Have a bathroom full of wet towels and no water to wash them in. Find the old camping loo in the back of the garage, and some ancient chemicals that I nearly chucked six months ago. Made coffee with two bottles of Perrier (not a success). Am angry and depressed and shout at John about an excess of merde in my life just as the plumber walks in. Am disproportionately grateful to see him. Forgive his interpretation of ‘later’. Offer coffee, and listen sympathetically to an extended discourse on strikes, social charges, and too much work. He’s called Michel. Steer him towards bathroom half an hour later. He hasn’t touched the coffee. Michel whistles the international plumber’s anthem through his teeth while examining the patient. “No problem. You need a new pan.” He’ll bring one this afternoon. I ignore the doubting Thomasina inside, and thank him over-profusely. Hug my PC and repeat “no problem” over and over as I launch into confiscation of cargo in Brest. Pizzas and salad for lunch. Stocks of bottled water are running dangerously low, even if all our problems will be solved this afternoon. Try to avoid fellow Gazelle (village gym club member, average age 50, most members spherical) in village shop. Feel guilty, because I’ve skipped the last two classes, but assure her I’ll be there next week. Work and plumbing permitting. 5 p.m. Call plumber. He’s gone out on an emergency, his wife says primly. I am the emergency, I wail. Regret my outburst instantly, and apologise. We’ll manage for another night. I suppose. WednesdayGemini. 21 May-21 June. Those around you are feeling the strain of your frustration. Remember it’s difficult for them too. Perhaps the time has come to take matters into your own hands and act decisively. 8 a.m. Cannot face bubbly coffee this morning. Decide to switch to tea until water’s back. Find three sachets of strawberry tisane at the back of the cupboard. Remember neighbour bringing them when I had flu in 1999. Drink milk for the first time in 30 years. Plumber arrives at 9.45 with mustard-colored loo pan. Give him another tour of our all-white bathroom. “Ahh….No problem”. He’ll be straight back with a white one. 11.30. Turn down a lucrative translation from a large bathroom manufacturer. Recorded message chez le plombier. Our cat, Gizmo, is hatching clementines in the fruit basket. She suffers from a psychosis induced by my feeding a stray tom, Whinge, who has awful Limousin accent. Our lack of washing facilities is becoming noticeable.  In mid-rant, I have a brainwave. Wonder why it didn’t reach the shore before now. 11.55  It is almost the hour when country folk, especially plumbers, lay down their tools to eat. The plumber answers the door himself. I cut into smiling explanations involving burst tyres, burst pipes and sick mothers-in-law. “We need to shower,” I say firmly, pushing past him. “Where’s the bathroom?” 3.30 Plumber installs new (white) loo pan, and checks whole system for leaks. Detect slight wariness in his attitude. Notice he smiles less. Assure him he has a beautiful bathroom. …
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