Tonight is the 800th edition of ATEOTD. You can view the first one here, although to be honest I wouldn’t bother: it was to say the least of it a tentative start, and the Delroy Smellie referred to – amazingly, a real person – has disappeared into the Famous for Five Minutes bin. It certainly didn’t have the makings of an alltime Slog favourite. But that’s what it has become.
The spot started off by being a bit of r&r for me, or to experiment with formats and general silliness. But over time it has settled into being the sort of micro-musings that, for some reason, lots of people like. So I’ll try to be faithful to that tradition tonight. But I warn you: anything could happen.
Life is full of starry-eyed bollocks, but few things more so than the expat at large in France living the dream of noble paysans, ‘honest’ red wine, and rural tranquility.
Take, for example, the Open Fire. “It’s oh, you know….so elemental,” says Henrietta in Highgate, in between regaling her guests with how she likes to visit Marx’s grave because that “puts her at peace with an unequal world”, and after serving up a 2005 Vosne Romanée that couldn’t have cost less than ninety quid at Berry Brothers. One lady really did say this to a table of twelve in my presence, and it would be impossible to fully describe how great it felt to observe, with a stoney face, “I think you’ll find Groucho Marx is buried in Burbank California”.
I used to sneer at my mum and dad with their Magicoal effect electric fires and North Sea gas central heating. They’re gone now, but each day here I imagine them grinning down at me from Another Place as I haul in baskets full of wood and twigs plus that day’s edition of Sud Ouest in order to light a fire I see as not so much elemental as ‘elluva lot of messy, dusty farting about.
You have no idea how much dust is generated by a daily fire, but here’s some photographic evidence to prove it:
I cleaned that table at 10 am on December 23rd, and took the shot at 9.25pm the same day. As you can see, the table looks like it was present at Pompeii during the Vesuvius unpleasantness. The only parallel for this amount of dust from one small ultra-modern sleek glass-encased fire is the amount of shit a mouse can produce during any given day.
The media gives you all that rural bliss shit, but it doesn’t tell you about the average mouse’s ability to shit its own weight in shit every 24 hours. Mice shit anywhere on anything and anyone including their food and your food. They don’t give a shit about where they shit, they just say “Shit man, I need to shit” and they do it. No social conditioning or self-discipline is involved in this dire production of damnable defaecation: just a never-ending process of in one end and out the other. The only thing to be thankful for is that beasts of the field don’t creep silently into one’s house and then hide. Because that would produce one mega-mountainous crock of shit. No shit. People would pass by houses like mine and say, “There was a house there once, but shit happens: the cows got in, and then everything turned to shit”.
But unlike shit, chopped wood is not the naturally automatic output of trees breathing in shit and then exhaling oxygen, oh dear me no: trees just sit there and Be in an exemplary Buddhist manner. Your average tree is bone idle – so don’t get taken in by that “wood is free fuel” drivel. You have to chop it down, cut it up, let it season and then haul the logs to a storehouse where they can dry out properly. After you’ve finished totting up the cost of a chainsaw to cut it, tractor mower to move it – and private-sector joint and muscle manipulation required to restore your personal mobility to something approaching normal – it all comes to a tidy sum……….and an untidy logstore with no room to house the tractor mower any more.
Being surrounded by lots of folks who never heard of Tony Hancock or Louis CK means you have to see every opportunity for hilarity.
This flyer came through my door the other day. There’s a small spelling error in it that suggests the new owners have invented a day that to date doesn’t exist. So they will be open on Monday, Tuesday, Shitday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. What happens if the weather on Wednesday is not shit remains to be seen.