Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Imperatives of bath enclosure

I am not a shower person - showers inhibit reading. The douche in our French house was quickly replaced with a bath and I then had to cover up its vitals. I made a wooden framework and went off to the bricolage for some boarding-off material.

I explained my needs and the man nodded. Use faience he said, which in this context translates as tiles. This would have meant first boarding off the bath so there was surface to which the tiles could be glued. More than that I was struck by the formulation he used. His reply employed devoir which can mean "must" in English.

I paraphrased: "So I must use tiles to enclose the bath?" He nodded. Any alternative? He shook his head. But tiles would complicate a simple job. He stared at me. Tiles, he repeated, and ostentatiously looked around for another customer.

I left enraged. Elsewhere I found compacted panelling in pretend-wood that was perfect (Ask for lambris). Then I simmered down. I've been taking French lessons for decades and this was proof, if I needed proof, that they'd last the rest of my life. Language is not just words, it's culture and that's much harder. Confirmation too that France is a foreign land.

TECHNO-ART The second-best play with a technological basis is called "The Affair" and is based on a C. P. Snow novel that pre-dates the Strangers and Brothers sequence. It concerns a scientist who fakes his crystallographic results. It's OK but the technology is somewhat peripheral. There is, of course, a much better techno-play which became a West End success. We'll get to that later.

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