Merry Christmas. Joyeux Noel.
Happy New year 2011 Bonne Annee.
(You can see my French is coming on a dream!)
Now, prepare yourselves before you start to read this little number.
1. Find a quiet corner
2. pour yourself a small, actually large (it’s a long letter)sherry
3. Warm the mince pies
4. Begin the thesis.
It’s a red day today, so no heating, no lights on, in fact no electrical appliances allowed. Thermals firmly in place, woolly hat and gloves on and ski jacket at the ready, (JS stays in bed with a hot water bottle by his side, and I shout up to him occasionally in case he needs a cup of cocoa.) As I have mentioned before these red days have been invented by EDF, so that they can increase the cost of the KW per hour by 10, ensuring that their boss’s will receive a nice fat profit, oap’s will freeze to death, animals head for the dogs home because the state pay their bills, and we hope the new expats who are unaware of these red days will ask us for lunch!
This time of year is the olive picking month. Not even the locals are fully aware when the exact “gong goes” for the work to begin, it’s a mystery to all. However; it is critical timing, when word gets about that the Barbers (grand landowners in these parts!) have started their harvest, then we must follow their example. No matter if our olive trees are way behind their maturity, the race is on. The hand pickers prepare their hands, rubbing virgin olive oil into every joint, massaging and exercising the fingers essential for the“pulling”method! Enormous nets, buckets, bathroom scales, Great grandfathers original wooden stepladder(superior to the more modern health and safety ones) dustbin sized containers, wine by the gallon(pour dejeuner) and the A&E department alerted! Its fun for a day, but then the cold, rain and cramp sets in, the old arthritic knees start playing up, and you have nightmares of never finishing the last olive tree. You nearly give up this seemingly thankless task, when the Barbers announce that they have produced 100litres of their own olive oil, and your competitive nature kicks in. “I’ll be buggered if they can beat us!!”
French Strikes continue to be an uppermost, Sarkosy announcing and achieving that the retirement age should now be 62.Shock and horror all round, Tasha’s Lycee was devoid of any teaching staff for several days including Madame Sénéchal the Sociology professor who was to lecture the students on productive methods of striking! , supplies of food,loo rolls, petrol and even WINE were depleting, and it was observed by JS that the Prostitutes caravan had a large banner declaring war on Sarkosy and fair rights for all!!
Shipman’s health continues to go from strength to strength. Until he had a dynamic fall on the 15th hole at St Endreol. Having lost 8 balls between us, we decided to try and retrieve a few from the forest on the right of the fairway, leading down to a steep hill and a river below. JS checked the cloture (electric fence) all clear, so I did my usual gymnastic hurdle over the top, followed by John. However during this minute second, HQ had decided to turn the power on, all 6000volts! Well, if he was competing in the Olympics he would have got a gold. He launched magnificently into the air at least 8foot, but re entry needed a bit of practice! Landing on his bottom, with obvious signs of burning smoke arising from his crutch area, he continued to do a double somersault down the bank and into the river.Whats more he gathered 3 golf balls on his descent! After what seemed forever, at which time I had momentarily reassured myself that all life insurance and wills were well up to date, he recovered consciousness, a little dazed I have to admit, but still hanging on for dear life to his 9 iron(spot the mistake!)
Two days later after his electrical experience, Johnny boy had a few bruises and a sacro iliac tear, all mendable but certainly memorable.
Ps. Tash wanted to know if I had filmed it!
Thanks to Cedric, Tash’s copine, the DIY at St Blaise continues to be efficiently and effectively completed on a regular basis JS also feels a tiny bit jealous of this diy expert, so when the Forage(water system) in the garage goes disastrously wrong then he has a golden opportunity to demonstrate his DIY skills to the wife.
Its 3am, normally the time when JS wakes up for a pee and heads to the fridge for a Nigella food fix, but he continued to sleep like a snoring baby, when I alerted him that there was a very strange noise downstairs.
“Go and check it out then Nessie.” “If there is a problem I will come and help you!”
JS, starkers, BUT clasping the 9 iron, heads for the garage. He is greeted with gallons of water pouring out of a broken valve; the dogs were gently drifting in their basket out towards the infinity terrace, similar to Noah’s Arc I assume.
JS called for the back up team,well,Pip is rather a long way away, Jean Pierre was in Brussells,the Barbers were dreaming of olive oil, and Cedric was asleep with Daddy’s little girl, so this was definitely a no no.
Morning arrives, flood continues, no water, even in the loo. JS trundles off to the Forage expert in Draguignan,I panic because the hair looks like a haystack, Tash and Cedric sleep blissfully through the commotion, and the dogs continued to drift down the hill.
Reinforcements arrive, cavalry Chris and Angel Knowles, they suggest a cup of coffee (no water) and then from his BA pilot expertise, Chris gathers a few screwy things from Cedrics toolbox, tweeks this and that and the leak stops. Brilliant.
We (actually Jean Pierre) have been concentrating on perfecting the engine and the body work of the MG.I just take my girlfriend’s husbands out in it to collect the bread or improve the condition of the brie. If it sits in the boot, the cheese, not the husbands, for just 30mins it reaches its gooey perfection, apparently my expert tells me it’s because part of the engine is in the back of the car, and consequently heats the boot up! Is this right pool man?
The other day I accompany Tash to French telecom so she can change her mobile for the 100th time this year to the latest technology. Like anywhere in France you have to queue for ever. meanwhile there is a huge HD television positioned in front of the waiting area, to keep us all aware of the wonderful service that french telecom can offer us, not mentioning the queue’s. After about 10mins,the advertising stops and there is a blank screen, obviously their TV has the same problems that their whole company suffers from, breakdown and excuses.Then,quite by surprise, and absolute delight for the waiting male customers, a porn film appears on the screen! No kidding, honest. Do you get this service with BT?
Tess is fine and driving around in an Audi convertible, can’t remember the exact make! but she took me for a spin in it the other day, apart from going from 0-60 in 4seconds,she was totally unaware of half the workings of the dials ,but who cares, she didn’t eject me and I got to the Touchwood shopping Centre in 3minutes.
Emma is now 6months pregnant; Chris is tickled pink of being a Dad for the first time, and Gerard will have a little person to boss around.
Damian and Al continue to re furbish their house, seem very happy with life, but remember darlings, when the kitchen is finished then that’s the end of takeaways!!
We are spending Christmas at St Blaise, an unusually quiet one this year. No kids, partners, guests or friends, just Shipman! Now normally,JS will either forget or leave it too late to buy me a Christmas present, this can often go undetected because we have so many guests, I am preoccupied and before I know it the moment has gone.However,this year, I will be ready and waiting for the “present” time.
If I am given a well padded,underwired black size 44ddd brae and a pair of size 40 thongs, with a note attached” Receipt enclosed ,you can change them if you want to after Christmas,” love you darling. JS xxx”
I could be become a Mrs Shipman!!!
Love to all.
Ps. TJ and Cuddles. Do not worry Keith that half of the UK now know that all 6ft 3inches, body like superman, and charm of an angel know that you are called Cuddles. Xxx love your gorgeous wicked possible stepmother.
Kate and Big man. Missing you, and apart from that, we need some more wood cutting!! And I’ve got loads of jobbies for you Kate! If you remember to turn up at Nice airport I will be there!!
Em. Remember to rub oils into the expanding tummy. Chloe,Poppy,Agatha, Beryl Reynolds will just love the attention. The scan was just lovely; she even has hair Chris, obviously not your genes!
Frank and Sarah. Both to be parents in law, what excitement.
Joe. See you soon xxxxxxx
DD and Al. have a perfect Christmas day, not too many buckets Al.
Tash and cedric. Tash, can you guide your father to a jewellery shop before Christmas?
June. Always lovely to see you and look at the flights with bmibaby for September.
Cag.why do you always look so glamorous when we see you? Could you not, just once, look a wreck? Love me xx
TC. Love from the French tart. Xxxxxxxxxlove to Andree from us both as well. xxxx
Judith. You too look amazing for 50, whats the secret?
J,J,J and P. Coming over for a few weddings next year, how about a spot of golf and an Edg. Supper?
Buzz Lightyear. We are missing you and we need a chef for Christmas…and New Year and in fact the whole of 2011.any chances?? Xxxxxxxxxxx
Alain and Sami. Lovely to hear from you and hope Alain has not been eaten by Sidney and Sami is still running Elmhurst. Love me xxxx
David. Thank you so much. Xxxxx
Nancy and Jeff. Golf trolley working in perfect order, sharp knife has only caused one finger amputation, and hope the jam worked out. Xxx
Barbara. Lovely email, hope the postman finds your letters this year! The snow doesn’t put a stop to all your arrangements, and take care driving. Xx
Jilly.Are you surviving up there on the Figanieres Hill?
M&M. missing you two, we need some Olive pickers. Mind you, Cedric and clan have moved in and are doing a grand job. Do not get married aug.22nd, we have another wedding!!!I cannot be bridesmaid in two places at once!