I haven’t done an ATEOTD for some time now, because my travails have been those of a man with adequate resources and very little in real terms to moan about. In recent weeks I have suffered a shower equipped with exploding turds, a lavatory capable of with excretial reflux, an entire electrical circuit that doesn’t work, a ch boiler advertised by the cockney psycho who fitted it as “fullay ortmatick” but which is in fact casually incontinent, carbon monoxide poisoning from an oven installed by a man of avian brain, and a series of very high blood pressure readings. I doubt very much if these events are mutually exclusive, but compared to what most people are enduring in this our sadly deranged world, these are minor tics and flea bites.
However, this has been one of those days containing genuinely important stuff – to either celebrate, or pause for reflection about. And while remaining suspicious of organised religion, I do think that taking a break from Urgent, and an injection of Important, can only be good things to do.
If you’re in or approaching the same decade as me, for example, you will notice that Limbs Aint Wot They Used To Be. After 65, muscles, joints, ligaments, and bones don’t hurt in a passive sort of manner: they complain in a tediously activist way. I brought some wood up to the house first thing this morning, then dug a tiny trench around the mains pipe into the gite….and wrapped the sort of copious insulation round the pipe which former residents of Cracow had omitted to think about.
Inordinately proud of myself, I tidied up the kitchen, cleaned the floor, took the rubbish to the poubelle, lit the fire, polished the living room work table, and vacuumed the carpet.
“Are you some kind of retarded denialist?” asked Biceps, “It was bad enough you pretending to be a bloody Navvie without then going into Victorian Skivvy for two hours”.
“You obviously think,” chimed in Legs, “that you’re still the midfield General of Stand Grammar First XI. Get a grip, man – we’re dying a thousand deaths down here”.
“Contrary to the belief system of your drink-addled brain,” Lower Back opined, “It’s all I can do to get the f**k out of bed these days. Lugging dirty great logs up eight steps is not what I call recuperation”.
Taking due cognisance of these somewhat impertinent observations from the weak flesh of a vile body, I grabbed the shopping bag and drove down to the nearby bastide village of St Pastour.
In this village, there are but two businesses: the restaurant (once very good but now average) and the shop. The latter is a classic example of human perseverance and fortitude in the face of mass-market out of town distribution dominance. It is at one and the same time épicerie, newsagent, tabac, and off-licence – for our American readership, liquor store, and for those Scots still not offended by my prose, licensed grocer.
The small, relatively young family who run it look constantly tired, but this doesn’t stop them from doing what they do. This is not to make munneee full stop, but to earn a decent living selling the slightly unusual alongside the locally-grown fresh to keep a community going.
Anyway, having finished the skivvy/navvie part of the day, I totted up those items still missing from my Christmas Fare, and then plundered the St Pastour bazaar. As usual, the brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and parsnips were all available. There was also a brilliant Chianti at €4.95 (I’m halfway down the bottle so far) and a special Malbec I know well but most people round here don’t.
In case I’ve forgotten something, but the way, this indefatigable couple will be opening tomorrow – on Christmas morning – as a recognition of how our mad economic model leads to many folk these days needing things at the last minute.
This is what else happened. My younger daughter rang from Sydney, and we both laughed out loud at human bonkersness for a quarter of an hour. I rang my elder daughter and spoke also to granddaughter Lyla who is “sited by presns coming from Sata”. I nodded off for a bit mid afternoon in a sheltered spot under a ridiculously warm sun. And then came back to discover lovely emails from Slog sources and supporters across the Globe…Spanish, English, Greek, French, Hungarian, Polish, Australian, Kiwi, American, German, Brazilian and yes, even Russian.
After reading those, I sat outside and watched the sky going from florid to full-on black. I saw a giant full Moon. I watched the smear of 10 zillion galaxies we call the Milky Way. And an odd part of me hoped – in a positive way, I have to declare – to be abducted by benign aliens with a mission to show me whatTF all this Universe stuff is about.
It didn’t happen and it almost certainly won’t. So in the meantime, have a good Christmas. I shall be (briefly) open on The Day.