Following Judith’s principle of setting off early in such weather as this, at 10 a.m. this morning I walked out on the Monbos road, taking a right turn towards Thenac. I soon came to a signpost promising to lead back to Sigoules. Eventually reaching an unmarked T-junction I had a 50% chance of heading for Sigoules. Fortunately I recognised the road and turned right. Had I gone left I would have wound up in Cuneges. That would not have been fun, for, after yesterday, I reckoned one hour would be enough.
On the road out I chatted to a very elderly gentleman engaged in persuading, with his stick, a miniscule fallen branch from the roadway into a ditch. Our Morden neighbour, Ken, specialises in similarly flipping cans from our lawn into the road. Sometimes this takes several strokes of his club. Each man seems to take on a quite opposite sense of civic duty. Today’s putter raised his hat when greeting me. The bare-headed Ken usually raises his stick.
Maize is flourishing, and hay is being bound up and collected throughout the area. A tree standing guard over one of the bundles obviously couldn’t stand the heat.
As I reached rue St. Jacques, reflective light was playfully dappling the surface of the road and the stone walls of Le Code Bar and the chateau between us. This kinetic illumination was emanating from faceted baubles strung on wires between the bar and its marquee across the road. Much more pleasant than the similar static white blobs seen all over the streets of London. They are chewing gum, and don’t move at all.
Just as I began to settle down to my daily few pages of Flaubert, I heard water dripping in the kitchen. I waded through puddles to see it pouring from the washing machine. Come to think of it, the wash I had put on hours before should have been finished by now. I couldn’t turn off the machine. Trying not to panic, I turned the water off at the mains and the flow stopped. I couldn’t open the machine, which was just as well because it was full of water. As I vainly attempted to mop up the mess the plastic fitment over the mop bucket disintegrated. It had been left out in the sun and had suffered the same fate as the plastic garden chairs which had collapsed under Michael and me a couple of years ago. I raided the armoire and chucked piles of towels into the pool.
Then began the process of finding a plumber. After several phone calls involving answering machines and emergency numbers I couldn’t decipher, I phoned Roger to see if he knew a reliable plumber. He immediately offered to come down and have a look at it. Just before he arrived Kim and Saufiene, from Huis Clos came to inspect the work of the shutter installation. I was then asked to complete a form giving my assessment of the organisation and the work. For one mad period I was toing and froing between the sitting room and the kitchen; the two patient Frenchmen awaiting completion of the form; and Roger, enviably crouched down by the machine, coming to the conclusion that it was kaput. The word I used for this condition caused my two French visitors great amusement because it also means ‘I can’t be bothered with it any more’. Roger dragged out the water- and washing-filled machine on his own, found, and disconnected the electric lead, and proceeded to drain off the water so we could move it out of the way for a new one. Thanks a million, Roger. The two Frenchmen insisted on putting it in the hall for us. Kim said he was short but strong. I had been asked earlier if I was a poet. I pointed out that, in French, Kim’s statement was a poem.
Then came a wonderful surprise. Kim lives with his grandparents. They treat him like a king. His grandmother does all his laundry. His own washing machine is in their garage. He will lend it to me. No money is required. He and Saufiene will deliver it tomorrow.
Outside the bar this evening I enjoyed Le Code Bar pizza with a glass of red wine followed by creme brulee. The pizza was very tasty with a runny fried egg in the middle.