Diary From Limousin

By Madeleine Dickson

Monday
Gemini. 21 May-21 June You will encounter problems today at home and/or at work. Take a deep breath and avoid the temptation to rant and rail at those around you. 

New bathroom towel rail not working. Temperature akin to that in outskirts of Vladivostok Still, less stressful than the last bathroom problem. System guaranteed for 10 years. Only one twentieth expired. Call heating company. Am unnaturally polite until facetious male advises plugging rail into electric socket. Has Madame actually been to Vladivostok? No Monsieur, but have foul temper and good imagination. Will see what he can do. Swears will ring back. Prochainement. Wonder whether this means s-o-o-n as in dictionary.

Have been scratching poor knee since Saturday evening. Now covered in gigantic pustules.  Smallpox perhaps. More like hugepox. Call physio. Pascal slightly unnerved by complaining spotty-kneed foreigner. Is reaction to anti-inflammatory cream. Not uncommon in people like me. Do not understand what that means. Use Nivea cream as suggested. Would prefer large award of damages to fund extended vacation in Seychelles. 

John says we cannot sue everyone and would I please get back to being his unpaid, undervalued ace translator. Am ordered to continue appalling real-estate document by said unreasonable spouse. Spend hours ploughing through legal nonsense for benefit of rich Americans. Only 20 pages to go. Notice endless blather about bathrooms with heated towel rails. As in heat emanating therefrom. Imagine.

12.30    Call heating contractors. Closed for lunch. Please leave message. Decide not to vent
spleen before lunch. Not really sure where spleen located, but venting surely bad for digestion. .
12.31    Gizmo and Whinge staring each other out on kitchen windowsill. Do not think these
cats are best friends. See the REAL Europe with Rail Europe Let Gizmo in and tell Whinge to go home. Add have given up being unpaid slave, so no lunch. He whinges silently through double-glazing.
12.32    Tell John am too busy with rich Americans’ heated towel rails to make lunch.
12.42  Lunch is served. Looks suspiciously like tinned choucroute garni. Dislike choucroute,
garni or otherwise. Eat same as am polite and famished. Drink large quantities of Bordeaux between forkfuls to help grim feast on way.

Seem to sail through real-estate after lunch. Except now have bathrooms fitted with cheated trowel wails, products of Bordeaux. Hope no one will notice.

Tuesday
Gemini. 21 May-21 June  Your difficulties may seem insurmountable but relief will come towards the end of the week. Be patient. Do not be drawn into arguments - your views may not be well-received. Watch your diet.

9.00 Call heating contractors. Same facetious male. Suggests Madame brings rail to warehouse for exchange. Grit icy teeth and remind him of guarantee. He’ll ring back. Bientôt. Resolve to delegate next bathroom problem. Or emigrate.

11.45 Am chatted up by two charming men at physio’s. Both about 80. Better than nothing. Swap knee notes with fellow sufferers. Feel revalued as person. Spotty knees all round. Mine much admired. Older wrinkly even gets out spectacles for closer look. 

Pascal reassuring re erupting knee. Is normal Madame. Puts more spot-inducing cream on said knee. Plugs me into wall socket and leaves me to simmer for 30 mins.  Drift off to sleep again. Physio not doing knee any damned good but super-relaxing. Am catching up on years of sleep Hope not snoring, farting etc.

12.20 Am unplugged. Pascal tells me my condition is Footballer’s knee. Hmm. Must have watched too many Arsenal matches. Will be more careful in future.

12.45 Prepare lunch. Ostrich steaks bought by John, a culinary thrill-seeker. Am conservative but persuaded.  After all only XXL chicken.

Fry/grill one min each side. Serve in natural juices.  Am dubious but follow instructions to letter.  Serve said flesh with broccoli banned by John last week. Natural juices known as magenta in printer circles. Wonder if beast actually dead. Eat cooked edges. John blathers on about meat properly bleu for once. Would have made excellent caveman. Feel am not cut out to be cave woman. Donate rest of haemorrhaging animal to John.

Spend afternoon checking real-estate document with spousal slave-driver. He spots excess of cheated trowel wails and is annoyed. Shouting clearly side-effect of bloody meat. Offer my resignation. Will take up new career as duster-flicker, potato-peeler etc. Damn. Resignation refused.

At least can kiss goodbye to real-estate nightmare. Will take prospective purchasers whole vacation fortnight to read rental agreement.  Still, have picked up beaucoup d’American. Can now speak two foreign languages

Go to village gym club. Gossip with fellow downtrodden Gazelles. Is more therapy than exercise until teacher arrives. Gazelles bent, stretched, drawn, quartered. Plus bas, Madeleine, plus bas. Cannot go plus bloody bas. Have sick, poxy knee. 

Wednesday
Gemini. 21 May-21 June Don’t hesitate to be blunt today, but be clear in the signals you give others. Take some time off this evening. Indulge your creative talents.

9.00 Give Last Chance to facetious male at towel rail company. Am lame, depressive consumer losing extremities due to frostbite etc. Slam phone down.

Big human rights document to translate. Freedom of speech, movement etc. John claims he needs help or will not finish by ridiculously short deadline. Point out am no-good translator. Remember cheated trowel wails dear. Dictator claims no right to strike in document.

Midday. Prepare normal, safe lunch. Escalope de dinde with salad. And Perrier. Cannot risk freedom of spovement, meech or spikes.  John says turkey not real meat. Tell him to find new housekeeper/translator-slave. Do quick calculation in razor-sharp brain. Point out have cooked 21,600 meals for him and family since wedding day. Eat lunch with silent caveman.

After four hours translating rights I don’t have, understand meaning of deadline. Translator dead when reaches finishing line.

Call heating contractors. Lemon-sucking woman claims alone and about to shut office. She has never heard of unheated towel rail. Is pathological liar. Do not tell her so as am coward.

Open new bottle of Pineau. Verify drinkability. Cats howling for supper. Point out have prepared at least 29,200 meals for sundry animals since date of birth. Mine, not theirs. Feline freaks start purring duet. Decide we have intellectually challenged cats.

9 p.m. Watch France v Sweden. Ref bald and visually impaired, but am careful not to shout too much in case further damage Footballer’s Knee.  Decide Thierry Henry has beautiful knees. Can put his boots under my bed any time.

Get out laptop from hiding place in dog basket. Decide may replace dead Yorkshire terrier with greyhound. Whinge can be the hare. Open best-seller notes. Add heating technician and gym teacher to list of murderees. Must now think up very painful modus. Sleep like log.

Thursday
Gemini. 21 May-21 June  You'll be especially efficient and productive on the job today but don’t overtire yourself. Tonight is perfect for inviting others to your home and demonstrating your cooking skills


Write Limousin Litigant letter to heating contractor. Quote most of Code Civil. Nothing more therapeutic than sending threats by mail. Take to fellow Gazelle-postlady in village. Spend happy half hour gossiping. Dream of being full-time duster-flicker, village gossip etc.

Starts to snow on way home. God obviously bored again. Boss waiting on doorstep pointing at watch. Urgent translation for NGO. 8000 words for tomorrow lunchtime. Client does not work Friday afternoons Am outraged. Half France works part-time. Half work 200 hour-week. Other half has no work.

Decide country needs me. Send email to J-P  Raffarin. Suggest ban hunting, bunking-off Fridays, reduced taxes for translators. Add nationalisation of towel rail industry as afterthought. Offer services as Finance Minister. Waste happy half hour dreaming of being feet-on-desk one-woman-state.

Midday. Remind John no lunch as have guest arriving from England this evening. He has forgotten. Am concerned about his degree of senility. Claims he is harassed by unreasonable clients. Reassure him everything will change when I am in government. J. horrified.

Zip through yards of nonsense about Internet policing. Decide France needs new Justice Minister. Still, have no time to offer services as must clean two loos, make spare bed. Vacuum parts of carpets not holding up furniture. Prepare dinner. Collect Marie-Thérèse from airport.

Battle home through blizzard. Pour drinks. Prepare dinner. Chestnut soup. Lamb chops, girolles... Walnut tart. Serve. Hmm. All courses brown/grey. Nobody notices. Monochromatic meal invisible through alcoholic haze.

Friday
Gemini. 21 May-21 June  Your earlier worries will begin to disappear. However, unexpected additional work will temporarily upset your equilibrium.

8.45  Call from heating contractors. Will send technician this afternoon. Au revoir Vladivostok

Finish Internet translation mid-morning. John sends one minute before client knocking-off time. Low-priority mail. Small victory for worker rights.

Still no call from J-P Rafferin. Poor man obviously too busy ticking-off useless Finance and Justice ministers. Make lunch with Marie-Thérèse. Wonderful to have staff. Realise am made to be boss. Tell John am on holiday until Tuesday afternoon. Look forward to relaxing afternoon in front of fire and installation of towel rail in Vladivostok suburbs.

2 pm Marie-Thérèse suggests walk. For zee digestion. Is only sleeting slightly she says. Decide she has spent too long with mad dogs and Englishmen, but accede as am polite. Is freezing. Gale blowing.  

3pm Arrive home from Tibet. Am assured I have zee good transit now. Delighted to see technician shivering in Vladivostok.  Notice he avoids eye contact. Does not reply when I wish him bon weekend.

3.30 Am yacking contentedly by fire. Clearly my vocation. Knock on door. Merde. Is executive for English lesson. Have forgotten. John mutters something about creeping female senility. Have not prepared lesson. Merde, merde and merde.

Arnaud is attending conference next week. Realise pupil is slow learner.  Perhaps intimidated by serious teacher. Must get him to relax. Smile a lot. Tell Me About Yourself Arnaud.  Executive with NGO. Hmm. Friday afternoon. Decide to charge him three times rate first though of.

Very hard work. Pupil is backward. “Good murrning. Hi ham Harnaud. Hi want, euh…hi lick Mister Brown…” Not a good idea. Ask him where the conference is. Glasgow. Why didn’t he say before? Teach pupil survival English. Pub. Whisky.  Porridge. Chips. Black pudding. Celtic. Rangers. Heart attack.

Saturday
Gemini. 21 May-21 June Enjoy the company of friends and family if possible. Some brisk exercise will blow the week’s cobwebs away

Pick up son Patric at University. Marie-Thérèse delighted to see him after years. Reminds him she used to wipe his bottom. Seems not to appreciate trip down memory lane. Notice she speaks same dialect of Franglais as said son.

1230  Patric appoints himself chef. Cheer him on with help of Pineau. Thank God is weekend. Will be couch potato after lunch as Ireland due to squash Scotland at Murrayfield.  Have bought Limousin tournedos. Have also overruled John re bleeding flesh.

2.30 Is only slightly snowing. Accompany Marie-Thérèse et al around countryside for zee good transit. John turns back after half kilometre muttering about English weather, mad Frenchwomen etc.

6 p.m. Despite blind, deaf and brain-dead referee, Ireland dutifully slaughter barbarians of North. Hope England pulverise Frogs tomorrow

Get dressed up for concert. Everything clean for once. No dried cat vomit on jeans. No mud on shoes. No holes in woolly hat. Could be Claudia Schiffer in mirror. Forecaster wearing sleeveless dress in sweltering studio enthusing about sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow. 

Drive 25 kms to concert in large church. Heating is fifty feet up in rafters. Six one-bar electric fires. Should be cosy. Read programme. I have never heard of composer. Or performers. Regret lack of hip flask, hot-water bottles, sleeping bag.

Modern music. Not as in Queen or Genesis. Composed by bored dustman. Notice triangle player picks nose between infrequent pings. Am woken from doze by chief dustbin-lid-clanger.  I glare. He takes no notice, resumes scratching crotch.

Sunday
Gemini. 21 May-21 June Why not dine at a favourite restaurant, or even at a new one if you’re feeling especially adventurous. Don’t overindulge

Get up late and have hearty breakfast. Let frozen cats in. Whinge puts breakfast down hollow legs. Gizmo has deepening psychosis due to proximity of Whinge. Leave soggy moggies to resolve differences and wait for men to finish showering. Bathroom warm at last. But loo seat up. Floor like ocean. Feel expansive, so do not have screaming fit re disgusting male habits.

We take Marie-Thérèse and Patric to lunch at new resto. Ye typical Limousin Fayre. Said to serve generous meals.

Tuck into bread-filled soup. Salad next. Hope is not typical Limousin salade de gesiers. Plates size of small tables. Is typical Limousin salade de gesiers garni. Tell myself is only guts of small ostrich. Eat garni. Am then faced with restructuring/reorganisation problem for said guts. Relocate same around platter. Patron brings main course. Large flock of dead ducks. Or maybe several four-legged ex-birds. Stagger out two hours later after cheese, salad and pud. Am late for match, but roads icy. Still, combined weight of lunch will keep rear end down. Of the car, I mean.

4.30    Second half only just started. England well ahead. Hurray!
5.15 Stupid cretins lose. The English will do anything to deprive their better-educated, cleverer neighbours. Have been doing this for 400 years. Frogs now still in Grand Slam race. Notice early evening news full of glorious French victory by one point. Silent on 27-point Irish victory.  Must send another email to J-P Raffarin. Tell him to add Culture and Sports ministers to substitutes’ bench.

Bonne semaine

© Madeleine Dickson

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