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

Monday, 12 May 2008

Where there's muck there's mind expansion

DERBLUH-VAY-SAY. Part One. Maintaining an oldish house in France is a good way of expanding your French vocabulary. I spent much time discussing things with the menuisier (rather grander than a carpenter), the macon (builder), the plombier, the zingueur (roofs), Société Générale des Eaux (water), EDF (electricity) and Trésor Publique (local taxes). None of it in English.

However, the most demanding exchange occurred when the mayor needed to explain the future to me. Ironically he was the only person in the village who had ever said anything to me in English. Encountering my brother and I moving an unwanted French AGA-type stove from the house to the garage, he asked, “How may I help you?” The question was rhetorical. He had no intention of sharing our quarter-tonne burden.

And English was off the agenda at the Mairie. We were about to see our fosse septique replaced by a connection to the new système d’assainissement d’eau; in short the unloved, concrete-lined cavity underneath the bathroom floor would be filled with sand and our lav would go online. Now there is much I do not know about sewage so all this would have been a sweat in any language. But after a barrage of technicalities I began to recognise that cash rather than plumbing was the real subject to hand.

“It’s going to cost two thousand pounds,” I told my wife afterwards, “but they say this is a heavily subsidised figure.”

“Pay it, whatever it costs,” said my wife with undisguised passion.

And the reasons for her passion will be covered in Part Two

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