Etiquette to ride



Of course- it is the holidays at last and it is pouring with rain. Gilles and I went to Saintes to see le monument historique of the Carrefour hypermarché. One day these places will need guided tours and tourists will send by mind mails to their 10,000 friends on brain book by just swivelling their eyes. Remember where you heard it first. However, no shortage of tourists today. I reckon about a quarter of the shoppage was being done by peeved Brits. I spot them and then saunter up to check see if my detectors are correct. I loiter like a dispossessed store detective to catch a snatch of their conversation. I’m rarely wrong. I always wondered how waiters in Paris restaurants knew you were a Brit before you spoke. I still don’t know but it’s something to do with a kinda pressed clothing and over casual formality. The French are casually formal since they are shrugging people living out a book of etiquette. The Brits are formally casual since they are stiff people living without etiquette. You may need to read this twice – but it is true. Today in Carrefour we spotted 2 guys who live quite nearby. In the UK we might have waved or just given a nod. To a Frenchman this is impossible. They came over to us at the check-out since we were in mid conveyor panic mode and could not meet half way. People waited behind us while kissings and hand shakings were carried out. An exchange of news between Gilles and the lads had me glancing at the till operator and the waiting queue. In Peckham or Bermondsey (proletarian parts of London) there would have been uneasy shuffling and even some verbals. Everyone shrugged. Some things are necessary and have to be done. It is expected.


The same situation applies to French car driving. It is anarchic and pushy. All other drivers are fools who have to be defeated. Simply, driving of cars came after the main social etiquettes were formed and also in a your own tin box you cannot kiss or shake hands. Personally I would equip them all with very small cabriolets so that their normal impeccable etiquette would triumph over human nature as they came close enough to open their default behaviour mode.

Now for cuisine advice. You may recall my plan to cook curry on Sunday. Well, I did so and decided to use French curry powder in my lentil dahl. This was an expensive experiment at at about £2.50 for the normal sized jar. In UK ASDA I would pay about £1 at most. It was pale and weak. If you’re coming on holiday bring your own curry spices. There’s more tickle than massala. 

Emma thinx: When you get home – put the car in you away.

X Certificate Trailer

The French love construction work. Ownership of a trailer containing some sand and a few ubiquitous planks is almost de rigeur. This does not mean that one actually does any construction. It means that one is the type who can. Generally trailers are used to take horticultural waste to the municipal tip. Now – if there is one reason to live here it is La Déchetterie. All of us Brits will have queued for the Municipal tip in the UK. Once you park, you climb some high metal steps, dragging some massive item such a mattress. Once you have scaled the North face of Mont-bin there is last push for the summit. The edge of the metal bin is about neck height. With superhuman force you heave in the load  and stumble exhausted back to your car. Here, there is a simple solution. The car park is raised and the bins are below you. Now, there is of course the possibility of all manner of vehicle careering into the bin. I guess it has happened somewhere. I’ll chance it. There’s always an old tractor close by to pull you out.


Going back to the genetic love of construction, a pile of stone or sand acts as a magnet. It signifies Les Travaux. It’s like having a dog. With it comes all manner of guidance. “Oh yes – you ave to be certain of the foundations – zees sand will compress.” Yesterday a well wisher stopped to look at the stones but decided to address the matter of window frames instead, “You will have to very careful – there is plomb in the paint.” Knowing that I am English the term plomb had to be magnified in a kind of English. “Metal you know – so heavy in zee blood. You need masks to stop breathing”  I agreed to stop breathing if I went too close. He seemed happy. “The man who had this house who sold it to some people before – some years ago – he rendered that wall and he just had three young men who were not builders and it was not a good job.” Oh dear. “And then you have to sure of the termites and do not forget the capricorns. You must always be sure of your infestation certificate. Sometimes things just collapse.”  I began to feel that way myself.  He is a kind guy. He has a really big trailer. He does a lot of inspecting.


Gonna fix a nice curry for tomorrow. Bet you I can’t find any lime pickle or papads. Perhaps you know different? (Don’t tell me how to make them! I have tried it. I think they are using them as discus in the London Olympics.)


Emma thinx: Tired of those old fantasies? Ask your lover if they’ll do a swap.

Something fishy down at Intermarché

Salmon.jpg (796×313)
Neighbours round for dinner. Quite a marathon with apéros, starters, saumon au riz, lemon pudding with custard and cheese. Le Monsieur loves to speak English and it is just possible to catch the odd word. After the kir, the white wine, the red wine and the cognac the concept of language seemed to slip away under the table and was probably eaten by their dog.
The salmon was labelled wild pink pacific but to me it tasted like tuna. Can this happen? Do they interbreed and form hybrids called Tumon or Salma. If they do, Intermarché are selling them. If this is a unique discovery I hope those Nobel prize guys are reading this.
Novel progress – well – let’s just say thinking shall we.