One reads, sees and hears so much utter nonsense nowadays, at times it is good to just walk about in the sanity of the countryside, do stuff in the garden, cook and occasionally break off to take the merciless piss out of Beleeeevers.
There was a tweeter yesterday keen to tell me that millions of Brits will starve as a result of Brexit. Mind you, he described himself as an activist, so that sort of explains everything. But what it doesn’t explain is the large number of undoubtedly quite nice people who retweeted his bonkers prediction….which, incidentally, contradicts the entire experience of Britain being blockaded during World War II.
The day before, an avowedly radical feminist from North London (which is rather a long way from Hollywood) was chosen by Sky News to tell us that sexual abuse in Tinseltown is about white male supremacism. The foundation for her assertion was that Oliver Stone had said he didn’t believe the accusations. If I might just intervene with a little sane logic:
1. Stone told the media on Saturday last he had reluctantly reached the conclusion that the allegations are true
2. Quite whatTF skin pigment has to do with it is a conundrum. To date, no Asian or African woman has come forward to accuse Weinstein of rape or genital exposure
3. Weinstein himself is a Jew and so probably not caucasian. This isn’t me going all Nazi and eugenic, it’s merely an empirical observation: technically, there is zero DNA difference between an Arab or Jewish semite. Few people would put Arabs into the silly category called ‘White’
4. On Twitter during the day of of Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace, every third tweet referred to him as a paedophile. The man may well be a sad flasher overcoming his chronic sexual inadequacy by hitting on defenceless actresses; but there is not one iota of evidence to suggest he is a paedophile.
Yet for some reason, Sky chose to give some delusional twit in Camden three minutes of free airtime without fear of contradiction. Go figure.
When the contemporary pandemic of pottiness gets out of control, I retreat into meditation or – if my mood is more active – into the natural reality of earthly science. Yes, I know that all sounds terribly Peace, Love and Greenham Common, but both activities are essentially the same thing: putting trust in, and focus on, one’s primary senses in order to shut out the multivariate ‘truth’ that passes for news.
We’re having a belter of an Indian summer here: the days are shorter and the shadows longer, but the temperatures are still up in the twenties centigrade and the heavens have been largely clear. Under the watered down blue skies of Autumn, tree-shavings are mixed with leaves, and then the mélange soaked to cover the underlay I’ve used to keep rockery weeds under control.
October sun in the Lot sun blesses rather than burns the skin, and the prevailing wind from the southeast comes second-hand all the way from the Sahara, cooled a little by the Mediterranean along the way. The last seven days I have also been Jeremy Corbyn on the jam front, experimenting with the last of the frozen fruit from the garden. I can recommend blackberry and damson jam and fig chutney in particular.
Everywhere you walk (the French use the verb randonner for aimless wandering about) the grapes are being collected now, old wood is being burned and the first chestnuts are starting to fall. The spectrum of red, pink, yellow, mustard and brown leaves is a banquet for eyes fed largely on tax forms, media bollocks and impenetrable instruction manuals of late.
And as the evenings turn chilly and dark, the culinary mind turns back to casseroles, cassoulets, pasta, fish risottos and chicken stir-fries. Last weekend I collected a local farm-reared chicken. It cost €12.75, but it had never seen the inside of an industrial henhouse and looked wonderfully yellow and skinny. A genuine farm chicken usually looks scrawny because it hasn’t had all sorts of noxious liquids pumped into it: there may be less flesh, but there is also less shrinkage, and notably more taste. It also comes with all the bits for a really historic stock.
Last but not least, it stretches to five meals (that’s €2.55 per occasion) because the breasts deliver two stir-fries, two legs for a barbecue, the remains a casserole, and the carcass plus offal at least two generous helpings of lunchtime soup. Top Slog tip for the soup: snip the flowers off sage stems, and add them to chives, parsley, thyme and oregano at the stock stage. Seal diced carrots, sliced leeks, chopped spuds and three crushed heads of garlic with olive oil. Pour in the stock. Blitz the whole and simmer for an hour. Buy very large stick of French bread. Eat too much. Get someone to winch you out of the chair later.
If all that sounds like paradise, do not be misled by my silver-nibbed prose. Take off the pink sunglasses and consider this:
* Two and a half acres of grass to cut, and a tractor mower reaching that temperamental truculence of middle age.
* Cleaning and closing the pool ready for winter
* Sawing and then hauling two tons of wood into the pool house to dry
* Packing away all the deckchairs, umbrellas, sun-loungers and other detritus for storage in the cellar
* Chopping back the larger bushes and fruit trees
* Wrestling with the incapacity of internet service to penetrate a French rural area.
The internet saga so far: SFR having acquired Nordnet satellite and Numéricable for cable internet, it seems that by sheer bad luck rather than choice I’ve been using all their services for the last few months. I say having them, but what I really mean is paying for them without actually getting the reception and after-sales service elements.
Numéricable in Paris was a sketchy provision backed up by call-centre lies, rude retail staff, then technicians who make appointments and break them. Complaining to the call centre got the phone slammed down on me, and our telephone line cut off within the hour. (When I quit Orange for SFR last June, they did the dame thing)
Nordnet delivers a very reliable internet supply, but the phone has a permanent delay caused by the sound bouncing up to a sputnik and back. Conversations are thus like watching Tony Hancock’s Radio Ham half-hour in 1958. And of course, during a storm the whole system disappears.
SFR ‘delivered’ a router box they hadn’t delivered and told me to fuck off when I rang to confirm its non-arrival. Rather than get cut off again, I let the problem simmer until the box did arrive three weeks later. Last week I returned from a few days away, and the box had died. No phone line, no internet. Just a bill for €42.60.
I get a lot of stick about this subject. I am asked to “stop moaning”. I am told these problems are “self-inflicted”.
Well let me state a couple of things.
First, on the SFR forum yesterday there were 4,725 French citizens writing seriousy adverse things about the nature of SFR’s service. The only crime these people have committed is to put their trust in a promise. This blog tries to advertise their predicament.
Second, those who don’t complain doom the rest of us to atrocious service. I don’t write this stuff out of self-pitying whinge syndrome: I write it to help protect Small Aspiration from Big Money.
Many of those who decry my efforts were born about the time crap nationalised service augured in the Thatcher era. They came to adulthood never having experienced good after sales service. Some of them clamour to the Corbyn cause, unaware that nearly 40 years of neolib bollocks have brought us right back to where we were in 1976.
Thatcherism was the response to unelected Trade Union power. Spineless Blairite New Labour was the collaborationist response to the Tory Dries. Full on Cameron-May neoiberalism was the response to that. Now the thinly disguised intolerance of Hard Left collectivism appears to be the reaction to bad-boy capitalism.
Extreme ideology leads to further depths of extremism. That is a historical and contemporary reality.
I dread to think what the reaction to Corbynist government might be. We have the audacity to call ourselves Homos sapiens. But we learn nothing.