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