Well, a clove of garlic in the earhole certainly sorted something out. I’m painfree, if a little deaf (maybe it’s still in there) with high-pitched tinitis, which I hope is just a temporary thing. A rough night was had by all though. I hate it when you can’t breath through either bunged up nostril and have to wheeze through your dry mouth – it woke me up, it woke Tommy up, he ended up sleeping in my bed, I ended up getting toddler-kicked and karate-chopped all night, not to mention getting pinched black and blue. Tommy’s habit of comfort kneading and squeezing any bit of skin he can get hold of is probably very effective against cellulite and I could no doubt make millions by booking women in for an hour a go while Tommy pinches their fat bits so hard the circulation returns after a twenty year break. Unfortunately for me he chooses to pinch my neck (ow), my collarbone (OW) and the squidgy bit of skin between my thumb and forefinger – all places where cellulite is not likely to rear its bumpy head. Anyway, I awoke, for about the tenth time, at 5 a.m. and, fed-up with the increasingly sleepless night that was unfolding before me, began to have fantasies of getting up and cleaning the house. And I nearly did. Luckily I resisted and instead imagined seducing my old P.E. teacher which eventually knocked me back off to sleep, as getting up and doing the housework would have been a sure-fire sign of me turning into my grandmother. Apparently she would regularly wake up of a night and scrub the floors, re-organise the cupboards and hoover the felt-lined cutlery drawers. She was bi-polar and when she did her nocturnal blitzing of the house it was a sign she was ‘up’. When she was ‘down’ she just sat in an armchair like a turned-off telly. This seems like a very frustrating existence but apparently it’s as common as bicycles. And hereditary too, so I’m watching out for those tell-tale signs and using this as an excuse to avoid the housework.
Writing this is also an excuse to avoid the housework, but I fear if I continue like this piles of dirty washing will soon rise up of their own accord and smother us with stinky sock smell before making their way down to the village and chasing the older inhabitants who are too weak to defend themselves. I hope the bloke who runs the bar is one of the first to go. He’s a small hunchback with a limp who hates anything female, coloured, left-wing, gay, happy, in love, under-sixty, clean, healthy, non-smoker, or who doesn’t drink in his filthy little bar which is in fact just his stained and stinky kitchen with a few plastic chairs out the front. He came and threatened us the year Tommy was born; one evening around midnight he did an impressive ten metre Starsky and Hutch skid out the front of our house (there’s only about 30 metres before that to pick up speed so it was indeed very impressive), fell flat on his face out the door of his car as he’d got his shorter-than-the-other leg caught in the seatbelt, shouted that he had friends who were wild-boar hunters with wild-boar rifles and would ‘correct’ us and then nearly choked on his cigarette which had flipped round in his mouth and was now smouldering from the inside. It was very dramatic and we thought we’d made a very big mistake buying a place here, but it was all bark and no bite and since then he hasn’t said a word. He was drunk of course, and I had just sent the gang playing ‘boules’ just outside our house packing and insulted some squawky old biddy in the process (Tommy was four weeks old, I hadn’t had more than an hour and a half’s uninterrupted sleep and they were yelling their heads off at nearly midnight, and I HAD asked nicely the first time), which was the perfect excuse for the little limping barman to come and attack us, as he’d grown up with her second cousin or slept with her goat or whatever … anyway, it was very pathetic but it led to a summer-long battle over the territory in front of our house. It’s technically one of the village parking spaces, but seeing as it gives onto the most gorgeous view across the valley and it faces south and rarely gets any wind whatsoever, it’s the perfect setting for throwing cast iron balls at a smaller wooden ball, or so I’m told. And seeing as there was no-one living in the few houses around this space ten or fifteen years ago (or at least no-one who cared, as little old Fernand Dubois did indeed live in what is now our house but he generally fell asleep at the table with his head in his plate and his favourite chicken eating the leftovers, so he didn’t mind, or hear, the drunken boules players outside his house shouting all summer long), and seeing as the little village school had nowhere for the children to play outside on a windy day, the council decided to put sandy gravel, or gravely sand down, and make the space the official school playground – ahem – ‘boulodrome’. Little did they know that not only would the school be closed down and moved to the neighbouring village but that the house at the end would be bought by a doctor and her husband who have an aversion to all things loud/drunken/blokey and that we would buy Fernand Dubois’ house. That makes two families who aren’t happy with the summer boule arrangement and who say it out loud and write letters and go to meetings while breastfeeding their baby just to make the point while simultaneously embarassing the entire village council. It seemed to have an effect. The Hunchback of Stinky Kitchen Bar sent all his fat, farting, hunter mates down to play boule in front of our house all goddam summer long. Sometimes they rolled their boules into my feet, sometimes they insulted me for parking my car right where they were playing, once they opened the boot and put our dog into the car to get her out of the way. I gave them hell back of course but that didn’t change the mood and we were considering leaving the village from early July to end of August every single year. We were starting to regret having bought the house, and then the summer finished and things went quiet again.
When the warm weather rolled in again the following year we steeled ouselves for the worst, but contrary to our expectations, not a soul came to hassle us with their heavy metal balls. Just the odd grandad from the village playing a quiet game or two in the late-afternoon. We discovered that the woman I had insulted that summer evening had in fact rallied to defend us and persuaded all the youngsters and not-so-youngsters to go and play up behind the church. And the mayor had been taking steps to put benches up there and even some lighting and basically the fat boys had all just got bored of hassling us and probably found another pointless battle to amuse themselves with of a summer evening, like whistling at twelve year old girls. It might also have something to do with me sending them poisonous thoughts and dagger eyes and making effigies of them which I would torture on the barbecue, but we will never know. What does all this have to do with sticking garlic in my ears? I have no idea. Except that I think I’m becoming more French than the French. Right, off for a quick round of boules.