October 13, 2017

I have been thinking of doing a Blogg about Colloquial French. This has always been a problem for me because I only ever learned Proper French, and consequentially never learned what on earth they were on about colloquially.

I go to this Banque Alimentaire once a week, because I am poor. This means Food Bank in English. And we all sit around for at least an hour while we wait for the hand outs. Everyone has a lovely time, and they all chat away about local scandals and traumas. Unfortunately, I mostly don’t understand a word of it. It is all much too fast for me. Although I did catch “Chez Angele” last week. I knew Angele while some of them were still in nappies, but I couldn’t join in because I know nothing about colloquial French.

Angele ran this really grotty little bar, and a brocante. Well, she sold a lot of dubious second hand furniture. Her useless husband who never appeared to do much at all, had his leg cut off for diabetes, and then died. Why would he not have done, I asked myself. But they did toll the bell at the church of Saint Rivalain for him. The last of his kind.

He was a groper. He groped me once or twice, but you don’t pay much attention to that sort of thing in Brittany. They all do it, and no real harm meant. I’ve got this theory that none of them are getting enough, poor souls. Probably Brittany’s answer to Catholic Birth Control. And it is only ever a grope.

But this brings me to Colloquial English. And whatever it was I was going to say, I have now lost it. I can no longer remember most of the ghastly language that was my heritage. From the East End of London. I was one of the last Cockneys to be born before the war.

I don’t know if I am sad about that. Maybe just a little. And I can still do a mean, “Gor Blimey Mate”, if circumstances allow. And the occasional, “See you Jimmy”. Not to forget the few odd, lurid Cornish expressions which I won’t repeat here because they are a bit, er, too lurid.

My Yorkshire father in law did call me, “Thee”, which I thought was lovely. He was a nice old man who never made me feel like a London Tart, which sadly, a lot of Yorkshire people did.

This knowledge all being due to having lived all over Britain at some time in my life.

But my favourite remains, “Come orn, Get arf”. This is Glaswegian for, “Come on, get off”, when I was a bus conductress in Glasgow and the passengers were getting a bit out of hand after a football match at Ibrox. I was never very good at this one because it made me laugh. But then these hardened, very drunk Glaswegians were never anything other than nice to me, even if they couldn’t understand a word I was saying most of the time.

In France you see, everyone learns proper French in school, they just don’t use it, and I am not brave enough to inflict this upon them when they are having a chat to pass the time. My loss, obviously.

But in the end it is bad grammar that most offends me about English. Do they actually still teach this in British schools?


Harvest Time Again.

September 20, 2017

Okay, Harvest Time again. I do so love this time of year, mainly because it feeds my Cave Woman desire to stack the store cupboard for lean times ahead. Not to forget some Nuclear Disaster that might or might not happen. You never can tell.

But Ten Massive Great Marrows? Even I have a problem with that. After all, there is a limit to how many Marrows you can stuff. And of course, I couldn’t say “No Thank You” as that would have offended. So what to do with them?

I can’t dump them in the Communal Bin because everyone uses that. And I can’t give them away because everybody else has already got too many anyway.
Any ideas beyond Stuffing and Jam will be gratefully received. We don’t actually eat Jam.

However, there is also a very big box of Cherry Tomatoes. I am working on what to do with those. And a bag full of little Mustard Packets. They will be okay because they will keep. Three very big Beetroots are also welcome as I like Beetroot, preferably uncontaminated by Vinegar. Also about a dozen eggs, left over from the recent Pardon, but I quite like those pickled.

The good news is that I managed to pass on a couple of jars of Apple Pickle from the vast store that I simply had to make last Autumn. I’m not sure if The French actually do Pickle. But I don’t really care. Sorry about that.

As it is there is a dearth of Apples this year, and Thank God for that. God obviously knows that I don’t need Apples at the moment. Can someone tell Him that I don’t need any more Marrows either?

The Chestnuts are looking good, so I am going to bottle a few of those, I hope. For a country that grows Chestnuts by the barrow load, they are very expensive to buy.

A quick tip. Cut a small slice in the outer casing and bring to the boil. They won’t be cooked, but the shell comes off much more easily, thereby avoiding bleeding thumb nails. Cook them later, and you can freeze them uncooked.

The rest of the nuts aren’t doing well at all.  Maybe next year. Oh, and forget the Apples and Marrows.

The Fosse Septique.

September 4, 2017

I have one such.  It is a Septic Tank.  And France, by the directives from Brussels do have to look into my Septic Tank.  Good one.  Not a real problem for me.  They did exactly that today.  They took the covers off.

And then my blind, demented and very old Pug fell into The Shit Tank because I wasn’t watching her.

I freaked and shrieked, very loudly.  And then I shrieked  some more.  Oh my God, oh my God.  My neighbour came round to help me because she heard me shrieking.

This poor little man  with his elbows in shit eventually managed to hoik her out before she actually drowned.  He won’t forget my house in a hurry.

Meanwhile, I was doubled over, and he told me to calm down.  He missed the point that I was nigh on hysterical with laughter by then.  Although I could quite easily have had a heart attack if I wasn’t as tough as I am.

Charlotte is okay.  Or I hope she is.  I doubt that she will remember.

All of Melrand now knows that my dog fell into the shit tank.  Such is life around here.

But I do have to say that this is the funniest thing that ever happened to me.



The End.

August 25, 2017

My one and only favourite daughter in law died yesterday.  My grandson just happens to be here at the moment.

She was however an ex daughter in law.  Shit happens.  But she never ceased to be one of my most favourite people.  Probably the only one if truth is known.

So this is an eulogy to her.  She never told any of us that she was dying from Cancer.  No sob stories from her.  She didn’t want us to know.

She was not the easiest of people.  Actually she was raving crackers.  But guess what?  She liked me.  And made me feel as though she really did like me.  So it all comes down to me in the end.  I have just lost one of those rare women who don’t see their mothers in law as a threat.

She was tall and leggy and very pretty.  She could wear shoes that most of us wouldn’t dare to even think of wearing.  And oh my God, she didn’t half work, although a teensy bit too New Age for me.  But I did love her.

I am devastated.

Her name was Fiona.  Ma Belle Fille.

If there should be some sort of life hereafter, which I personally doubt, then ma belle fille will be there.

Sleep in peace sweet thing.


August 12, 2017

I own hundreds of books. I have bookcases all over the place, and books up the stairs because I have run out of space for any more book cases.
Am I a book hoarder, you might ask yourselves?

When I moved here twenty-five years ago I came with about fifty books, some of which I had already read, but I had by then discovered the fact that some books are very much worth re reading.

But since I can go through five books in a week when the mood takes me, they didn’t last very long. This was utter catastrophe. English books were impossible to buy in France in those days, so I read them over and over again. I can now quote the opening sentence to far too many books, and not just Rebecca.
And the last sentence of  The Sun Also Rises. “Isn’t it pretty to think so.”

I didn’t have a computer, so no chance of Amazon, which I didn’t know even existed.

In truth, I went to England to visit my children with the only intention of buying books, but they don’t know that. And at three hundred pounds a throw for ferry fares, these were very expensive second hand paper backs, although I did inadvertently pick up a couple of First Edition Hard Backs, which I will never part with.

Intermarche in Pontivy eventually got around to displaying about six up to date titles which I would gaze at longingly, but at the equivalent of ten pounds a throw I couldn’t afford more than one of those. Oh the agony of deciding which one.

It was a long time ago, and things have changed. Other expats gave me books, and I went to Amazon for the real goodies.
I now have every book ever written by Nevil Shute. Every book written by Elizabeth George. And every book written by Diana Gabaldon in The Outlander series. Plus a few more. Too many to mention now. But all worth rereading. I will never again be without a book to read.

But I will never forget the agony and the fear of never having a new book to read.

I sometimes think of The Pioneers who went out into the Western Hinterland with nothing much more than a Bible. No wonder they knew their Scriptures.

Actually, I know a few quotes from The Bible, Old and New, but that is more to do with my Grandmother and a desire to soak up words.
That is what it is really all about. The passion for words. Even if they are the words of other people.


July 26, 2017

I briefly rescued this horrible kitten.  Flea ridden, worm ridden and starving.  It spent five days shitting absolutely everywhere, despite trying really hard not to do this.  She actually sat in the dirt tray for quite some time each day.

My really horrible Pug took a shine to her, and for a minute I thought it might work.

Charlotte, the horrible, blind and demented Pug found her own good thing to do, and she was brilliant.  She tried so hard to look after this appalling scrap of inhumanity.

Charlotte was lying beside the kitten when it died..  I will forever now see Charlotte in an entirely different way.  I thought that Charlotte had lost the plot.  But she hasn’t.  She actually has more time and patience than I have.

Tien?  It is just a name.


An Epiphany.

July 19, 2017

I am not frightfully sure of what that means.  I think it is meant to mean that one changed one’s mind for some reason or another which was fairly serious.  You know, like a flash of light.  Oh God, didn’t I ever get that one wrong.  But I suspect that it is much more complicated than that.

It is actually changing a belief that has for so long been held.  I believe in God.

And then one day I thought, which God.  Is there a God?  Is this God my God.  No, he isn’t.   I am not sure if I  even like Him.  I don’t even know what such people are talking about to so believe.  Jesus Christ apart, of  course.

And No, I don’t believe that Jesus Christ was Devine, or the child of the Virgin Mary.  Come on, how daft do you think I am?  But that doesn’t mean that He wasn’t a bit special.

For 2 thousand and 17 years we have been singing His praises, give or take a couple of years, and nothing much wrong with that, excepting that no one got around to writing about this for something like 300 years, despite the fact that The Old Testament was already written.  So they were hardly incapable.

So Yes, I have had a epiphany which has been a bit painful.  I now only believe in The Universe, but even that might be a crock of shit.


England from the shores of Brittany.

June 19, 2017

What an inglorious mess.  I know I left a long time ago, but I have always gone on hoping.  I was once vaguely proud of being a Cockney, until Stepney went down the pan and ceased to exist.  And now The Ghettos are situated in High Rise Blocks.  So much easier to contain, don’t you think.  And a pox on the houses of those who had such contempt for human life to so do this.

But now, I don’t know what to do anymore.  Not that it matters all that much, because it is all only in my head.  I never did like England very much and often wondered why I was born there, although there were much worse places in which to be born at the time.  France being one of them.  But England never felt quite right to me.

Scotland would have been really okay. I love Scotland with a passion.  I just couldn’t afford to buy even a hovel their.  So I eventually bought a hovel here, and I have been back to England only four times in 25 years, when each time I could hardly wait to get out again.  Oh the relief when I got back on that boat.

I won’t be renewing my Passport when it runs out this year.  In excess of 100 Quid for what?  So basically I will be stateless.  Not that I care about that.  No one will be throwing me out.

I am rambling now.  But I would like to know which misbegotten God put me in England, and for why.  It almost certainly wasn’t Allah, although it might have been Buddha.  I am enough of a stoic and a failure to be a Buddist.

Oh My God, does that mean that I might come back again?  Could you make it Singapore on the next occasion, s’il vous plait?  But not in one of those high rise blocks, and with enough money to employ a servant.  I promise to rescue loads of Cats.  I like Cats.  My best loved Cat ever is buried in Singapore.  Just a storm drain runt, but oh how I loved him.

And now I am getting maudlin.  Always the best time to sign off.


May 30, 2017

I am distraught tonight, although God know why.  Tis just the same old same old.  Voila.

I have spent my entire life appeasing absolutely everyone, not least my own family. but they persist in treating me as some sort of a demented idiot.

So I have told them all to fuck orf.  Hopefully they will never speak to me again., ever. But since they never spoke to me much anyway, I don’t suppose I will notice the difference.

God preserve me from sanctimonious, arsehole children.  They are only who they are by courtesy of me.  Although they never seem to quite get that one, do they?


April 22, 2017

It is nearly sixty years since I first began a love affair with Australia when I read my first Nevil Shute book. Although I have never actually been there, and probably never will now.This is almost certainly a good thing as I doubt it is the Australia today that I first fell in love with.

It was still a brave, new world in those days. Tough and often dysfunctional families who somehow managed to survive in the outback, with nothing much more than sheep for company.
Most of them managed to make huge amounts of money eventually, which they often didn’t know how to spend.

That was the time when I should have gone there. I guess that I simply didn’t know how.

Stepmother thought about it because her brother had gone, but poor old Daddy nearly had a fit. He had lost his Irish thing by then, and preferred boring, grey old England.
His forte was mathematics, and he would never have made a sheep farmer.

Interestingly, I inherited his love of mathematics, but then I apply it to everything. I would have known how many sheep we had, and how many acres we owned.

In fact, I have probably got more relations in Australia than in Ireland. There aren’t many Mitchells in Ireland these days, not even in Mitchellstown. On the border of Tipperary, if anyone is interested.
The Mitchells are a wandering race. I only managed to get to France before I ran out of money for boat fares. And besides, I like it here anyway.

But this Blog is more about Nevil Shute. What a glorious story teller he was. I have read them all now, and several times, and will no doubt read them all again when I need a lift to my spirit.

Read a Nevil Shute book today. You could start off with, “In The Wet.” I guarantee that you will be hooked.