Last Diary From Limousin

Last Diary From Limousin

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by: Madeleine Dickson

Gemini May 21 – June 20 Last week’s euphoria will slowly drain away. The next few days may well prove to be a test of Gemini resistance

6 am Think will just read critique of one’s stunning novel by V. Helpful NY Novelist-Mentor. So sweet of such an eminent writer to pass eye over work of fellow literatus. May even read her books one day too, if available at local library.

8 am “…to put it bluntly….plot is really muddled….badly flawed….quite apart from that voice…too croaky…oomphless characters …so start again from scratch…cut the crap…watch your POV etc…….”

Well really. Obviously didn’t read great work at all. Anyway, those Yanks can’t speak the Queen’s English. Croaky Voice? My POV? Need an interpreter. Cut the crap? Hmm. Must be some weird American ritual thingy, like baseball, cheerleaders, pumpkin pies etc. Certainly not going to start cutting up…..Ugh.
Anyway, is only one person’s misguided opinion. Clearly a very jealous competitor. Send tripe straight to Trash.

Visit Vile Véronique for repair work to ravaged visage, image. V.V. very bubbly, upbeat this morning. Don’t really want to hear any more re great GL Show, celebrities wetting themselves, massage-ins, dosh she banked etc, but listen, as one is polite, even though heart v. heavy after cruel rejection of magnificent manuscript.

2.30 Feel much better after feeding Inner Woman, massaging stomach with a spot of tournedos à la Madeleine, generous quantities of St.-Joseph.
Accompany fellow Sisters of Mercy to hospital, laden with extra-dark chocolate (for magnesium), Armagnac (for spirits), girlie mags (for cardiac/ophthalmic therapy).
Gérard glum, curiously desperate to leave newly-revitalized, dynamic region. “Limousin is bad for my health,” he says inexplicably, eyeing photo of mag chick with impressive XL udders.

Gemini May 21 – June 20 Look before you leap, don’t take the first offer that comes along – it won’t necessarily be in your best interests

8 am Check kittens, emails. Two of former have eyes open already, unfocused, like inebriated Gazelle. Little heads nodding heavily, as if cerebrally super-endowed.
Scan excitedly through inbox. All from agents/editors. Falling over themselves to get their eager mitts on the rights to Fatal Throttling Near Limoges I reckon.

Oh. Fail to find single one falling over him/herself.

Huh. What do they know, these overpaid, underbrained, failed scribblers? Still, haven’t had answers from the other 376 London agents yet. Must cultivate a little patience.

9 am High-five co-Gazelles at post-Show meeting. Sit opposite Bernard at conference table, flanked by Bernadette and Françoise. Bernard in formal gear, has discarded overalls in favour of pink shirt, yellow tie with brown cows grazing thereon, Prince of Wales check trews. Looks like refugee from our golfing-for-midgets course. 
Mayor clears throat, confirms provisional Show figures.
” …profit around €180k after expenses….”
Spontaneous applause from Gazelles. Bernard beams, clearly doesn’t realise we’re clapping our own vision, creativity, persistence, hard work.

“…holiday bookings still rolling in…127 cabin weeks so far…That alone justifies 2 full-time employees.” Wild cheering, fart of approval from Grizzelle.
“…but the biggest benefit is the marketing prospects that that I see opening up…“
Goodness. Whatever happened to socialism in our commune?

“We had 37,691 visitors…or 42 times the population of this village.”

Organized by amateurs, on a shoestring.  Refrain from reminding euphoric mayor of his initial antipathy, obstructive tactics.

“…who cleared out most stalls. You see where I’m heading? T-shirts, ornaments, gardening tools, books.” Bernard looks across the table at me. “The region is giving us a special marketing grant …we could make the Great Limousin Diet our first publication – every copy was sold on Saturday.” Further cheers, attempted wolf-whistles.

“I’m advised to buy the copyright if possible…avoids complicated legal arrangements for reproduction, logos etc…” Bernard waits, expectantly.

Nod knowingly like judge, can see their point. Would mean messy user licences etc, a whole battery of semi-illiterate legal gobbledegook. Besides, is likely to sell a few hundred copies per year at most. “Sure, no problem Bernard.”

11.15 Have paid very first writing fee into bank. Was slightly surprised, but thrilled, when mayor wrote out check on spot for €1,000, the sum suggested by the region’s publications squad. Also v. good, I think, for my literary CV. And definitely not bad for a few hours’ work.

Gemini May 21 – June 20  Don’t put off organisational matters – doing so could cost you

Put winning numbers on Loto. Keep fingers crossed that Française des Jeux refrains from picking wrong combination again.
Empty handbag rubbish onto dining room paper piles, will sort same out later. Find vaguely elegant clobber, smart leather evening bag in upstairs warehouse. Dress for dinner.

8 pm Gazelles assemble at local gourmet watering-hole for end-of-gym/end-of-Show/Denise’s hen night celebration.

Gemini May 21 – June 20 Further disappointments are ahead. Time to abandon unrealistic objectives?

9am Take handful of aspirins, resolve never ever to touch alcohol again. At least not before Saturday.

11am Refuse Ayatollah’s invitation to participate in human resources translate-in. Retire to computer, open mailbox. Bin zillion refusals to take up blockbuster. Business acumen, foresight, obviously not first requirement for publishing executives.

Aha. Spot message from René, charming young publisher I met at Paris party.
“….contract attached….could you get it back to me ASAP? Our legal eagles are keen to clinch this deal….”
Oh yes, at last. Hug myself affectionately. All those months on the night shift finally rewarded. Love the French. Such a cultured, literary nation. Open attachment.

Gemini May 21 – June 20 Don’t let an opportunity to bring order to your disorganised life pass

“I’ve finished your publisher’s contract…do you want to write a cover note, or shall I?”

Grrr. “He’s not my publisher…” Tell mad mullah to get horrid document out of house, ASAP. Only note I want to write is poison pen letter. Have no interest whatsoever in translation of contract for sodding second-rate, spotty, scowling teenage scrawler’s excessive advance for rubbishy romantic nonsense. Hate the French.

1 pm Serve lunch.
“Work’s winding down at last, “the Ayatollah mumbles through green beans. “Good opportunity to do some clearing up…ridiculous, always having to move piles before we can sit. You could sort the paper mountain this afternoon…then I can shred it.”

“I’m baby-sitting for Huguette. Practice some do-it-yourself, dear.”

2 pm Have skipped pud, due to slight altercation re shortcomings as housewife. Pointed out one is not married to house, then resigned. Told sexist spouse he could put paper Everest where monkey reputed to put nuts, etc.

Triplets asleep. Have brought Journey through Europe to play with Charlie and Camille, teach them some geography, travel planning.
Get stuck in Reykjavik for three turns. Run out of petrol in Lodz, take wrong turning at Krakow. Charlie wins. Notice children cheat a lot.

3.30 Triplets still perfectly behaved. Make afternoon snack, coffee.
“What are you wearing to the wedding?” Camille asks.
“I’m going as a couch.”  Children giggle, obviously think one is joking. Have resolved to remain standing throughout Denise’s wedding in case am mistaken for seating arrangements. “What are you two going as?”
“Happy Rotter!” Camille squeals, waving Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
“We wanta cat,” Charlie and Camille chant, when I tell them about the kittens. “But papa won’t let us have one.”
Hmm. “Keep pestering him for a horse, he’ll agree to a kitten eventually.”

Gemini May 21 – June 20 Your best day this weekend to enjoy quality time with friends or your honey

9 am Have forbidden spouse from wearing Male Chauvinist Pig tie, so as not to cause offence to at least half village population. Nip next door to Bernie’s. Get upholstered for nuptials with fellow bridesmaids. Decamp to Mairie with Gazelles, feel like peripatetic flower border.

Denise radiant in white frills and flounces. Paul radiant in white suit. Think maybe have obtained wedding sponsorship from Proctor & Gamble. Still, perfect foil for massed borders of Gazelles, including Grizzelle, resplendent in pre-war curtain number.

“…and I now pronounce you man and wife…” Bernard intones, leaning forward to kiss Denise at same time as Paul, kisses groom. Gazelles cheer, whistle. Scumbag, playing Father of the Bride, glares, face black as thunder. Catch his eye, stick tongue out. Really do think said wally unable to appreciate finer things in life.

Walk to reception at hotel.  Find J. propping up bar, explaining meaning of tie MCP graphics to fellow dickheads. Scumbag suddenly at my side. Turn, give him full frontal.
“I’ve been suspended,” he mutters, blinks, averts gaze from ornamental gardens. “thanks to you and your accomplices…”

“Serves you right. Hope your employers draw and quarter you while they’re at it. You’re a pernicious weed in the world’s garden…”

Gemini May 21 – June 20 The week’s chickens come home to roost today for many Geminis – pick yourself up, dust yourself off. Tomorrow’s another day

Have head like Birkenhead. Should really have passed on last nine Gazelle toasts, but not every day one of our team ties the knot.

2 pm Bernard on phone in state of great excitement.
“Just had a call from a lady who bought a copy of the GL Diet at the Show…she’s an editor with a big maison d’edition in Paris….they want to publish it for general sale…she thinks it’ll be a best-seller….could make millions for the village….” he gabbles.

Best-seller? As in blockbuster? Millions? For the village?

Feel my throat constricting, heart failing. “I can’t believe it….”
“I know…isn’t it just terrific?”

Terrific. Just bloody, bloody, sodding terrific.

Am author of future million-smelling blockbuster. Will be earnestly discussed by sociologists, dieticians, doctors, stars.
I Too Was a Fat Frump Until I Discovered The Great Limousin Diet, blah blah. And this fat-headed chump sold the rights for a piddling thousand bloody euros.

Have slight weeping session alone in bedroom. Notice through swollen ophthalmic slits that all kittens now have eyes open, beginning to move. Will soon be overrun by feline delinquents, running riot up trouser legs, curtains, unravelling loo rolls etc. Actually, not sure we have any curtains. No matter, will be nightmare anyway. Am condemned to a life of Yellow Pages shredding parties, translations as far as eye can see. My world in tatters.

7 pm Clear desk, screw up current Loto forecast, complicated, useless probabilities calculations. Won’t ever win the bloody Loto. Check emails, box empty. Nobody loves me. Decide to punish myself, check Loto results, confirm one’s uselessness, miserable future. (42) Hmmm. Think may have 3, possibly 4 of those numbers. Retrieve forecast calculation from waste basket.

Oh my God. Check numbers 20 times, check first prize again. 

Almost a million lovely euros.
Suddenly feel very faint.

Must put ticket somewhere safe until I collect the dosh.
First must find ticket.
Search through handbag, remember I emptied it on Wednesday. In dining room. Before the Gazelle resto bash.  Rush downstairs.
“I’ve done it! I’ve won the Loto! A million euros. Acapulco here I come!”
“Hey, what about me?”
“I’ll buy you life subscription to Reader’s Digest dear. Just help me find that ticket…where’s the pile of paper that was on this chair?” Look around. Dining-room strangely tidy.

“Er…in the shredder dear.”

God grant me the senility to forget the people who make my life difficult,
the good fortune to run into the bearable ones
and the eyesight to tell the difference