‘I Can’t Tell Him That’

1.9.14

Lunch at Le Code Bar today consisted of my favourite onion soup; a slice of pizza similar to yesterday’s, but more piquant; a superbly cooked lean and succulent steak, chips and salad; and coffee ice cream. I asked David to tell Max the steak was ‘mirobolant’, which means superlatively wonderful or marvellous. He replied: ‘I can’t tell him that. He’ll want more money’.

I made arrangements to secure my house in preparation for my return to England tomorrow.

Maggie and Mike visited me briefly early this evening, and we had a drink at the bar. Mine was Perrier water.

The blurb on the case of the DVD of ‘State of Play’, which I watched this evening, quoting the Daily Telegraph reviewer, described it as ‘an outstanding thriller’, and it certainly is. Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck play their parts well, as does Rachel McAdams. Crowe is magnificently brooding, so low-key as to be barely audible at times. Affleck makes a credible guilty congressman, and Helen Mirren, as the newspaper editor, reprises her role in Prime Suspect.

Twice Assassinated

9th July 2014

Yesterday evening I read Cicero’s oration ‘Pro Murena’ (For Murena). This was a speech in defence of Lucius Murena, accused of having, in BC63, gained election as consul by bribery. It was the custom of losing candidates, in the hope of supplanting the winners, to prosecute those rivals after the event. Of the two elected consuls, Sulpicius, the plaintiff, actually a good friend of the great orator, picked on Murena. Following Cicero’s successful plea, the accuser had to wait another twelve years to hold office.

Delivered cogently, with both humour and seriousness, this piece reads as freshly and fluently as if it had been written today. Also focussing on the interests of national security, Cicero paces his argument well and stakes his own reputation on his closing commendation.

The next in The Folio Society’s selection of Cicero’s Orations, which I went on to read, is ‘Pro Caelio’ (For Caelius). Possibly because the jurors, on account of the nature of the case, had been forced to forgo a public holiday, the advocate set out to entertain them. The fury of a woman scorned, it was Cicero’s contention, was behind the charges laid against his client. He stated that they had been brought ‘to gratify the whim of a licentious woman’, Caelius’s ex-lover. It seems to have been the practice in Roman courts to deprecate the characters of the protagonists. Cicero therefore defends his client’s reputation, and slays that of Clodia, the lady in question, saying very little about the actual charges of violence he was meant to refute. This is skilfully done, often indirectly, and with innuendo. He makes the woman out to have led the young man astray. The tone is light-hearted, with free use of irony, wit, and satire. It did the trick.

Gangs roamed the streets of ancient Rome at the behest of wealthy men. Two of these were Milo, and Clodius whom Cicero hated. In ‘Pro Milano’.which I read this morning, the author defended Milo, charged with Clodius’s murder. This is how it came about: From other, independent sources, it is clear that the two gangs mat by accident on the Appian Way. They fought. Clodius seems to have been victorious, but was soon afterwards murdered by his enemy, and dumped in the street. There was speculation in the city that one had laid a trap for the other. Cicero’s false case rested on Clodius having set the snare, and Milo simply defending himself. This time the jurors did not buy it. Despite a brilliant speech, full of the orator’s customary eloquent techniques, they found the defendant guilty. Clodius was twice assassinated. Once in reality by Milo, and later, figuratively, in court, by Cicero.

Mouths were agape in Le Code Bar this lunchtime, not poised over plates, but trained on the TV. It was not the flavoursome noodle soup; the crisp calamari in batter; the succulent pork kebabs, rice, and ratatouille; nor the gorgeous creme brûlée; but the aftermath of Brazil’s defeat by Germany, 7-1, in the World Cup semi-final, that grasped their attention.

This afternoon Saufiene drove me to Eymet and beyond in search of a charger for my HP laptop. Despite helpful assistants opening up various boxes we shared defeat with both Brazil and Cicero.Sunset

As I watched the Sigoules sunset, I reflected on my friends Majid in London, and Saufiene in Acquitaine, both observing Ramadan, and now able to break their fast.

Sole Survivor

Yesterday’s mid-day meal at Le Code Bar consisted of a noodle soup, ham salad, and plentiful roast chicken and chips followed by a Paris-Brest dessert, of which a welcome second helping was, with a smile, placed on my table by Fred as I worked on my blog post.

Later, I watched Prime Suspect Two. The first production had dealt with sexism. This one has racism as its sub-plot. It is as tense a well-acted and directed drama as its predecessor. I then began reading ‘Keeping the World Away’ by Margaret Forster.

This morning I undertook a bit more clearing up. A wasps’ nest had been found in the attic and eradicated by Renov Conseil 24. With a dustpan and brush I transferred the corpses to the garden. Like the survivor of a massacre protected by a screen of deceased comrades, the largest of all the vespas staggered from the heap and crawled towards the lip of the pan. I gave it its chance on the earth outside.wasps I do hope it doesn’t create another  home inside.

On leaving the house to make my farewells at Le Code Bar, I met a two year old and his grandmother. I had some difficulty in communicating with the little boy who was dragging his cart over the steps to No 6. Grandma spoke clear northern French so there was no problem there. I explained that I had equal difficulty understanding such small children in England. She identified with this, saying it wasn’t easy for her either.

The ATM at Credit Agricole told me it couldn’t give me any money and I should contact my bank. I had only attempted to withdraw 20 euros to pay for my taxi. There was plenty in my account and I had entered the correct PIN. Taxi Eymetois would, I know, have been happy to wait until next time, but that wasn’t the point.

I telephoned Barclays in Paris. I have previously written that they transferred my account from Bergerac without telling me. This time I was told that my card had been blocked in September. The very helpful woman who spoke to me did not know the reason for this, but she freed the account and told me I could use the card again from tomorrow morning. When I explained that that would be too late, she was most apologetic, but could do know more.  As I said to her, thank goodness Taxi Eymetois have become friends.

It is because I came away in September with enough euros to see me through until today that this was the first time I had attempted to withdraw cash on this trip. Had I done so earlier in the week, one day’s delay would have been manageable. Having relaxed after resolving this problem, I drew out 20 euros with my NatWest card. The transfer fee on such a small sum will be minimal, but I had opened the French account in order to avoid such supplements. Unfortunately my English bank does not operate in France.

Sandrine arrived early to collect me and drive me to Bergerac Airport. When I told her the tale of the card she said, as I knew she would, that I should have waited to pay them next time. The plane journey went smoothly and Jackie was waiting at Southampton to drive me home.

My iMac happily accepted my Sandisk photos and I was able to upload them to the last week’s posts.

This evening Jackie and I dined at Curry Garden in Ringwood, and enjoyed the usual good food and efficient, friendly, service. We both drank Kingfisher.

A Bright New Morning

Yesterday afternoon Saufiene visited with an electrician to repair disintegrated wiring to the landing lamp.

In the evening Roger collected me and drove me to the Munns’ idyllic home on a hill above Eymet. From the main road, across the valley, the white new rendering of the tall house with its red-brown tower shone in the evening sunshine. Pink-tinged clouds strolled across the calm skies. When the forthcoming Tour de France takes place, my friends will be able, from their verandah, to watch the cyclists speeding along this very thoroughfare.

Judith, looking trim, her garments covered by a full-length apron, was putting the finishing touches to a superb Sunday dinner. Keith joined us and we sat down to tender slow-roasted pork with prunes; crisp vegetables; perfect roast potatoes and parsnips. I slowed the proceedings a little by devouring a secon helping. Judith’s apple pie was to die for. Supplementing their own apples were cinnamon, cloves, mincemeat, and sultanas in an attractive pastry casing. None of us had room for cheese. We all drank red wine and enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation after which Keith kindly drove me home.

fishing lake 1This morning I walked the loop around what I still call the donkey’s field on the D17, returning via the fishing lake. Sun shone in the cloudless blue sky, although it was still rather cool. In the clear light I took a number of photographs which I hope to add when I return to my iMac.

Church bells rang the hour, a cock crew, geese cackled, a magpie rattled, and dogs barked.

The eyes of a small black cat, crouched in the grass of the field that was once home to the donkey and goats, beamed like a car’s headlamps, returning the sun’s gleam. Fishing lake 2Further along, a camel-coloured relative had not made it across the road. The field now contains a couple of ewes with muddy backsides.

Chateau Cluzeau

High on its hill, beyond a waterlogged field, Chateau Cluzeau was still visible through a row of as yet leafless trees. Later, I was to look down on its silhouette.

Tractor and car negotiating passage

A tractor and a small car negotiated their passing on the narrow lane where I turn left for my return journey. This was reminiscent of trips through the New Forest.

The dogs that normally herald my passing along the top of the high track were unusually silently watchful. The alsatian’s gate was open so I was rather relieved at its unaccustomed lack of interest.

New house

The house I have watched being built over the last couple of years now looks complete.

Catkins

Paths around the lake were more than a little muddy, reminding me of how slippery my MBTs can be. I didn’t fall over.

PigeonnierRuelleAs I approached the steps leading down to where the bottle banks used to be, I exchanged greetings with three gentlemen whose voices had floated towards me; and with a young man with a long shovel mixing heavy cement in a wheelbarrow as he prepared to repair the steps.

A superb onion soup in Le Code Bar today came with croutons and slices of garlic, the delicious fumes of which rose from the bowl. Surprisingly flavoursome calamari was then served with a rich tomato dip. The main course was a succulent steak with lashings of glistening tornellini. The meal was completed by Paris-Brest, a small cake containing coffee cream. I drank a coffee as I wrote this post.

Shoes

Last night I watched ‘Saints & Soldiers, an excellent film by Ryan Little depicting an heroic ‘journey through the hellish landscape of war-ravaged Europe’ during World War Two, undertaken by a small group of escaped American soldiers and one English airman. It deservedly won 13 international awards. I was familiar with none of the superb cast.

On a much brighter morning I walked up the Cuneges road turning left at the sign for La Bricotey. M. Pazero’s dogs began their usual greeting when I was still 100 yards from his house. The now grey muzzled sandy haired one wheezed between rather hoarse barks. The black one, like a car driver hurling insults from a safe distance, was silent until I’d passed his corner.

On the hill slopes a couple of people were tending vines in the distance. Their voices surfed towards me on the stiff breeze.Tending vines I hope to be able to post their photographs when I have resolved the continuing problem with transfer from the camera. (Done)

Today my shoes were MBTs (Masai Barefoot Trainers), apparently designed to produce the deportment of the inhabitants of Kenya and northern Tanzania. I had bought these, one pair for England, and one for France, in 2009, believing they may help my hip problem. In the event, they seemed counter-productive. I ditched the English ones, but fortunately left a pair in Sigoules.

During the snowy weather of December 2010, soon after my replacement operation, the tier of steps outside the Ridgway house in Wimbledon Village was so icy that I slipped on them. I identified the reason for my precarious descent to be the curve of the soles of the MBTs. It was as if my feet were encased in boats with only the centres of the smooth soles meeting the slippery surfaces beneath them. Jackie and I went straight to Clarks shoeshop in Wimbledon and bought a pair of their footwear with flat, ridged, soles. They gave me much more purchase, and it was those I wore yesterday. Today, still saturated from Yesterday’s downpour, they are hanging in the garden in the hope that they may drip dry.

Yesterday’s soup, repeated at the Le Code Bar lunch today was followed by ham and egg salad; succulent steak, chips, and green beans, and a flavoursome pear flan. I drank Perrier with this and a coffee afterwards.

Technical Frustrations

Last night the internet reception was hit and miss, which is one reason why my post was shorter than usual (I’ve just lost it again). I was also knackered, but mostly I wanted Orlaith’s photograph to stand alone.

Waterlogged fieldWaterlogged roadThis morning, taking advantage of what I thought was a lull in a night of rain, I walked the La Briaude loop. I hadn’t got very far on the straight stretch towards the hamlet when I was soaked to the skin, even through my raincoat. The chainsaw that was ripping into the back of my head was hail. The wind was the fiercest I have experienced. The rain was blinding and the hail piercing. The photographs of the rainswept field and the lake that was the road, were taken with eyes closed, by pointing, shooting, and hoping for the best.

Had the tumult not been coming from behind me, I would have turned back, but I could not have faced the driving rain and the painful hailstones.

As I struggled, head down, along the Eymet Road the wind roared through my ears and the violent precipitations spattered on my raincoat. Had I been offered a lift I would have taken it. Normally when a kindly driver stops for me I say I am walking for pleasure. I wasn’t about to give anyone a story to tell about the mad Englishman.

When I reached the corner indicating the last kilometre back to Sigoules, the downpour ceased, but the wind did not.After the rain A thin sliver of blue sky beyond the saturated vines appeared beneath the flat, leaden, cloud layer.

Upon my arrival, I peeled off and attempted to dry all my wet clothes. Changing apparel involved taking the trouser challenge. I have been aware that recent pressure on my waistbands has suggested that my older garments retained in rue St Jacques may no longer quite accommodate me. They didn’t, so I failed the test and was compelled to pull my wet pants back on.

Mo and John came over to Sigoules bringing my obsolete iMac and the bulk of my DVD collection so I can watch them on a bigger screen; and to treat me to lunch at Le Code Bar.

Max provided the usual excellent fare. An intriguing and delicious soup containing noodles, lentils and potatoes was followed by quiche for Mo and belly of veal in a piquant sauce for John and me. John opted for steak whilst Mo and I chose sausages for the main meal accompanied by the customary mountain of chips. We all selected creme brulee for dessert, and shared a carafe of red wine.

We enjoyed each other’s convivial company and went on, following Max’s recommendation, to L’Ancienne Cure, Christian Roche’s wine outlet at Colombier where we engaged in pleasant conversation with the proprietor who had been a friend of Max since they were boys. They had played rugby together and I wouldn’t have liked to have met either of them on the field. They each possess a grip of iron. After ample tasting, John made a purchase, and Mo drove us back to Sigoules.

In eager anticipation, I plugged in the iMac. Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought to bring either a mouse or a keyboard, so I couldn’t use it.

My technical frustration was to continue. Either my laptop or my card reader is playing up. I had the devil’s own job to download the three photographs I had taken in the morning and was completely unable to transfer the heart-warming shot of the open fire in the winery fuelled by spent vine stems.L'Ancienne Cure fire I may have to wait until I return to England next week to illustrate the rest of the next few days’ posts.

P.S. Back home with iMac

Peepo

Orlaith & Sam's footUp early this morning, Orlaith is still wary of me, although she was tempted to peep out from the shelter of her Dad’s legs. When I opened the kitchen bin to add a firmly wrapped up disposable nappy, I found half the contents of the spice rack posted in there.

I hadn’t used my printer yesterday, but somehow it kept turning itself on. It did the same this morning. The button is 50 centimetres from the ground. Any ideas?

I had a smooth journey to Sigoules by my usual method. Sandrine was Taxi Eymetois’s driver waiting at Bergerac to drive me to rue St Jacques where Saufiene and Stefan  attended with Champagne on the kitchen table. We had a long chat after which I watched Skyfall in which Daniel Craig starred as the implausibly indestructible James Bond. Judy Dench was a magnificent M and Javier Bardem a convincing villain. While the hero created noisy mayhem on the screen there was a clattering from within the house which was certainly not part of the film. Investigation revealed a folding chair which had fallen from its resting place in the back corridor.

I dined on cornflakes and repaired to le Code Bar where I was welcomed by David and Fred. Graham was also there. David was very appreciative of the call from Mike Kindred alerting him to the scam. Fred said Mike’s French was very good.