At the End of the Day

The grind behind the glamour of expat life

SQUARE.JW.01This has been a long and tiring day.  I have pain, I have aches. You’ve heard of Aix en Provence? Well I have aches on my aches. What’s more, my pains ache, and my aches are painful.

The aches have invaded every part of my ageing body: they are Nazi aches, crossing the borders between shoulder blade and spine, calf and groin, and all other bits of me vulnerable to Acheskrieg. The pains are beyond any abstract pain in neck or arse: they are entirely, physically representational pains in fingers, joints, knees and wrists.

I didn’t set out to get this result. I set out to cut some grass. But the tractor-mower hit a hidden root (the gardener’s equivalent of the iceberg) and that caused the bent blade to start hitting the safety casing. The safety casing of such a mower requires the user to have a black belt in origami in order to undo the nuts, and the biceps of a Village Smithy to then hammer it back into shape, then cut off the filings created by the collision between blade and case.

Two dry days of fairly hot sun have in turn decreed that formerly gloopy soil is now hard and rutted…and as the mower isn’t a lunar excursion module, that means the human sternum being treated to the kind of punishment normally reserved for those falling down a flint-laced cliff onto the rocky granite beach below.

The chore somehow completed, I decided to use a different muscle set involved in the digging, dumping and raking of two grades of gravel that will greet blasé visitors to Sloggers’ Roost. There is – I now know – a 100% correlation between the gravel muscle set, the bone set, and Village Smithy set: they all involve the exact same Aix-en-Pains afterwards.

I leaned forward towards my pc screen as a rest from physical exertion, but the anger involved in writing about globalist economic denial and Brexit bias served only to lock the doors between back and legs.

So in a bold and – let’s face it here, idiotic – attempt to Keep on Truckin’, I decided to tackle the climbing bush I use to hide the brutalism of EDF’s electricity pylon so discreetly plonked right in the middle my garden many years ago. It parted company with said pylon during a January storm here, but something pernicious convinced me it would be the task of just a few metres of garden string and a few minutes of effort to restore their relationship.

After hauling half a ton of dead climber wood to the fire-pit, it seemed to me that a little weeding of the terrace surrounding it would be a suitably ‘light duties’ end to a generally productive day. The verb ‘seemed’ is probably at the core of that old adage, “Most humour comes from the difference between human aspiration and human achievement”. And it was indeed a half-bent Hobbit who made his way back to the barn conversion some time later.

In between all this glamorous vie francaise stuff, I had washed and hung bed sheets, cleaned the rear windows, done some shopping, back-washed the pool, and rung HMRC to ask whyTF they were still trying to fine me for late tax returns three years after I left the UK to its fate, and became a French resident.

Let me tell you something: TV programmes like A Place in the Sun are the recorded highlights. They are merely the starry-eyed bollocks. Believe me, lotus eating is bloody hard work.

Earlier at The Slog: think ‘global duopoly’ & everything falls into place

19 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Seriously, John, your aches and pains can be minimised and may be avoidable. If you’re interested in a non-pharma approach, contact me by email.

    I would be happy to help.

    (Dr)/paul clayton


  2. I was fortunate to have enjoyed many years of expat life. It was hard work and hard play and more fun than your life sounds. But then, different strokes for different folks! Still it sounds better than a bungalow in Bognor! Bugger Bognor!


  3. With you John on the pains of expat life. Just cut my lawn today first time of the season.

    Start gardening for the lady in the next village tomorrow.

    That Jasmine Harman isn’t too young to go over my knee you know. :)


  4. Deary me! Why? Surely your schedule is such that you could have left half of today’s tasks for tomorrow. Better yet, spread them out over the whole week. Different strokes for different folks, but I hire a local lad to clean up the mess left by a Canadian winter and three 30-year old weeping willows, a few maples and a couple of pine oaks. He is happy to earn a couple of hundred dollars and I am happy not to suffer aches on aches. However, I am still up to mowing the lawn on my tractor mower although I do take a tea break half way through that task. To quote Desiderata, “Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.” :-)


  5. The first big garden outing of the sprung spring at Chateau Slog! You seem to have gone for a formidable range of activities, nay, you’ve hurled yourself upon the jardin comme un enfant perdu, a verloren hoop. Bear in mind that the first big session is always the worst…till the second…looks like you’ll have to re-learn to pace yourself, J.W. Retirement? – ha! It all just gets busier, nicht war…

    Having spent the day sanding doorframes/windowframes/skirtings, building a wardrobe, and filling holes in plaster, while the weeds and piss-en-lits silently spread remorselessly across my so-called lawn, glimpsed forebodingly through the window. I’m impressed by your resolve. Steam yourself free of aches in a really hot bath, re-hydrate with a solid G&T, if necessary deploy the Voltarol. As a long-term back sufferer, that’s the best set of panaceas in my experience.

    And speaking of “Keep on Truckin” – I think the last verse is “Back home/Sit down and rest your bones?And keep on truckin’ on..” :)


  6. The best prophylactic against your condition (and many others) is a good quality cod liver oil, IMHO. 25 years ago, when my work involved plenty of physical exertion, I began suffering from too much joint and muscle pain. A Geordie plasterer told me about CLO, saying that it changed his life but that it takes quite a few months to start working. I tried it but fell off the wagon after about 3-4 months with no noticeable improvement. I had to do something so started again and stuck with it; after about 10 months I realised that the aches and pains had almost disappeared. I’ve kept it up through the years, occasionally I run out and have a week or two off, but I’ll take it until I die. It’s more of a food than a supplement and is also very good for general health including cardiovascular and the old grey matter, I wouldn’t be without it. Desiderata good too.


  7. Dihydrocodeine 30 mg, now you’re talking, no kidding. Special situations only (habit forming..) like in lumber with the lumbar etc, down to my last few strips, expiry ’07 so may have lost some potency, hard to find these days I should think. Another problem is that some people get very constipated with it, thankfully not me. Seriously though, cod liver oil really works.


  8. JW sounds like you’ve been having a similar time as David Cameron:
    “I didn’t set out to get this result. I set out to cut some slack. But the negotiations hit a hidden root (the EU’s equivalent of the iceberg) and that caused the fruit cakes to start hitting the fan. The Treaties encasing most of the EU requires the UK’s PM to have a black belt in origami in order to undo the work of the Leave EU nuts, and the wiles of a Lynton Crosby to then hammer them and the population back into shape, by cutting out the truth, and creating fear by confusion of the truth of the Out case”.


  9. May’s gone nuts, our prayers have been subverted, we’re to be subjected to a new scourge – pigs with wings. ‘Unexplained wealth orders’, check it out. It’s going to take more than codeine and cod liver oil to stop my sides hurting.


  10. Hieronimus – don’t let’s dig out Pink Floyd’s “Pigs on the Wing”!!

    I recommend to all with aching joints daily dawn Qi Gong – gentle, easy, ideal for older people and simply wonderful. At 49 I found eight simple movements I’m going to do for the rest of my life. After all it trains the ligaments which are things to go not the muscles.


  11. Likewise JW. If nothing hurt when I wake up I’d think I had died but keep on keeping on is what keeps us keeping on.


  12. Hallo liebling. Aches en Provence . ? Be like us Germans and take your holidays in Spain . Then whilst there you could get a new pair of legs at …JUAN … les…….PINS.


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