The Top Five Tips On Learning French From A Stay-At-Home Dad…

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There are many ways to learn the French language: go to college, listen to audio tapes, watch all Luc Besson’s back catalogue sans subtitles or get arrested for smuggling drugs into France – you’ll have plenty of time to learn the lingo then.

But for other, less obvious ways to pick up the language then read on as I – a fully fledged resident of the country for a whopping four months! – impart my meagre advice.

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POWER RANGERS

Yes, you read that right, Power Rangers, the kid’s TV show featuring teenagers in lycra body suits that leave little to the imagination, fighting badly dressed aliens in poorly plotted episodes.

My French partner gave me this advice when it came to learning the lingo: ‘Just watch the news in the morning for half an hour, it’s what we did when we were learning English, and we soon picked it up’. I immediately dismissed this as I find the news A) Depressing and B) Boring. So I picked Power Rangers as an obvious alternative to this.

Yes for an hour-or-so a day (pah! more than the 30 minutes I would have spent on the news) I watch these 7 – 12 (I’ve lost track of how many there are) young kids fight the bad guys while talking in a context that I can understand. Each day I pick up more and more snippets and the phrases filter in. Not only that it gives me some daddy and daughter time, as she loves watching it with me too.

OK, OK, so I am now more prepared to respond to an international invasion by poorly designed monsters (and then fight them in a quarry/car-park/industrial estate), than I would be to say, discuss the Geo-political situation in the Middle East. Have you read any of my other blogs? That was clearly never going to happen anyway.

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PLAY ONLINE GAMES WITH THE FRENCH

I play Belote. I play it a lot (copyright Phil, 2017). It’s available to play for ‘free’ on Facebook. I say free like that, in inverted commas, because they give you an initial amount of 2000 chips for nothing and, while you can get free chips everyday, there’s a definite sales tactic pushing you to actually invest in large amounts of chips.

Don’t do that, just get good at it.

Anyway, playing with the French is great because, as well as an array of emojis to indicate your mood at any given time, there’s also a text input option. This small window enables you to converse with your fellow players. And by converse I mean insult.

Yes, the only time this small text window is used is for insults to be hurled at other players. You will quickly learn what the following words are in French: Stupid, idiot, useless, dickhead, fuckwit etc etc.

Your education doesn’t stop at words though as the French are more than capable of string whole phrases full of insults together too, such as:

 

Vous etes debutante? – Are you a new player?

 

Vous ete  un batard inutile! – You useless bastard!

 

Pourquoi avez-vous choisi cette carte stupide? – Why did you choose that card stupid?

 

J’ai eu des rapports sexuel avec votre mere! – I have had sex with your mother!

 

Et votre pere regardait aussi! – And your father was watching too!

 

Yes the French take their Belote games very seriously.

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BUY AND SELL ON FRENCH EBAY

I went through a phase, back in 2009, of buying vintage Transformers. I had a man-cave, in the loft. Then I had kids. Bye-bye man-cave, bye-bye Transformers. Something good that came from this though – apart from having kids of course, ahem – is that in the brief period between buying and selling these items, they had increased in value and thus I turned a tidy profit.

I’m applying the same rationale to vintage video games, I’m buying them with a view to selling them at a later date for a profit. They are also much easier to store as they are just games in tidy little cases, not robots with 18 legs that will break if you look at them funny.

One of the great things about using eBay France is that – surprise, surprise – all the item descriptions are in French. Thus you will increase your knowledge of words you didn’t know you would ever have a use for, but that can come in handy in many circumstances.

A word of warning though, when selling your own items you may be tempted to use Google Translate for the item description, this will get the point across, but a true French person will spot it a mile away. One item I sold led to me conversing with the buyer (or ‘acheteur’ as they are called, ooh! Look at me!) in order to garnish them with more information, and he actually told me that I ‘Could respond in English if I preferred’.

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DON’T BE A COWARD AND GET YOUR FRENCH PARTNER TO DO IT – TAKE THE ITEMS YOU SELL ON EBAY TO THE POST OFFICE YOURSELF

Yes, pretty self explanatory this one because, if like me you live with a native French person the temptation is to just coast along and get them to do all the ‘hard work’ i.e: interact with actual French people. You must resist this and force yourself to ‘get out there’.

It may sound like a scary proposition, but once you start doing this it gets easier, a bit like taking the training wheels off your bike. It also helps that more than likely the people you deal with at the post office will be the same people that deliver goods to your door, so you will recognise them, and they you.

The rewards you get from this kind of interaction are priceless. My favourite, this week anyway,  was dealing with two different people at the post office on two different days. I had to return an item – to the UK – as it was faulty. But I first had to get the costing for it, then notify the seller, who would then reimburse me, and then I would be able to post it.

Two different interactions over two days with two different, and very helpful, French people, with little to no confusion on either side. All under the watchful eye of the work-experience boy who has picked a VERY bad week to be stuck in a not-particularly-well air-conditioned room.

Item successfully posted, language-skills and confidence boosted.

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GO OUT TO THE SHOPS AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN AND TALK TO PEOPLE

This is not difficult for me, I have two kids, and they seem intent on eating their own body weight in bread, biscuits and fruit each day and drinking enough smoothies each week to drown a herd of cattle in.

When I say ‘talk to people’ here, I don’t mean strike up a deep, meaningful conversation – let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet! But you can certainly pick up on the little things, the social niceties.

Also just looking around and listening to other people while you are queuing is a great way to improve your lingo-skills. You will have a lot of time to do this in French supermarkets as, for some reason, they seem to abhor the thought of putting more than two people on the tills at any one time – even though our local Intermarche has an army of staff members.

Even just reading the different signs, leaflets, posters etc will aid you in your training. Does that sound patronising? Sorry if it does but this is the thing you must remember – everything you read, hear or see can help you learn, everything. Just keep at it, it will get better.

Oh No! It’s The Food Police!

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My daughter looks at me as I step out into the glorious sunshine, I’m eating a lemon-sorbet ice-pop, just the thing to cool me down on a day as hot as this. ‘You’ve had two of those today’ she says to me ‘Why have you had two of those today?’. It’s like this all the time at the moment, my daughter has turned into a food policeman/woman/child (delete as appropriate). You can’t put anything in your mouth – nothing edible anyway – without her noticing and commenting on it.

 

I was making her some food the other day, one of her favourites, sausage and chips, and I – as is customary for me – took a small piece of the second sausage, for what I refer to as ‘Daddy Tax’. This is a tax I levy on all foodstuffs (except cauliflower, bleurgh!) that I prepare for my kids, just a little off the top to keep me sweet (It is not, I repeat NOT ‘protection money’ in the form of food). She noticed straight away.

 

‘Why did you eat a piece of my sausage’ she said, her dark eyes fixed on me from beneath a furrowed brow. Was she in the room when I ate that piece of sausage? I don’t think she was, and as I break her sausages up into pieces, there shouldn’t really have been any way for her to notice. But notice she did.

 

I suspect that at night, when everyone else is asleep, she creeps downstairs and takes inventory of all the food in the house. She notes down all the different foodstuffs, the different quantities and then, if in her eyes you go over your allotted quota for the day, that’s when the interrogation, the questions, the accusations…that’s when it all starts.

 

Or I could just be being paranoid.

 

She’s always there, whenever food is being prepared, and if she isn’t, she magically will be as soon as she smells or hears it. It’s like one of those horror movie cliches, you know when you open the fridge-door, and then close it and there’s a mass murderer waiting, where previously there was nothing. Except it’s not a mass murderer, it’s a two-and-a-half foot tall munchkin who wants to know what you are doing with that pack of ham. And if you don’t respond then the consequences could be as dire as in the horror movie.

 

That’s if you equate being stared at for ten minutes, with the phrase ‘Can I have some’ repeated 278 times, to as bad as being stabbed to death by Michael Myers/Jason Voorhees/Freddy Krueger (delete as applicable).

 

She can also hear packets of crisps being opened from up to a mile away. I once opened a packet, downstairs in our house. I was alone, everybody else was off doing something else (together I should add, we don’t let our three and six year old wander the village on their own – we wouldn’t put the villagers through that). I hadn’t put one crisp in my mouth when I turned to see a pair of dark eyes staring at me through the patio windows.

 

They were my favourite flavour too.

 

I’m in the house on my own now too, and I think I might have an ice-cream. I’ll be ok though, she’s at nursery today. There’s no chance she can get me. Is there?

 

Hang on…I think I heard something….

Why Would Hundreds Of French People Spend A Day Waiting For A Cow To Take A Dump?

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‘He’ll be waiting a while, I had eggs for breakfast’

 

How do you like that for a title, eh? But down to business, why would anyone, with half a brain, spend a gloriously sunny Sunday watching one of our bovine friends waddling around, keenly anticipating a fresh, steaming cow-turd being delivered?

 

Because you can win a car if it craps in the right spot.

 

Yes, you read that right. You win a car. If a cow craps in the right spot.

 

Don’t believe me? Then have a look at this:

 

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Just when I thought I’d seen every bizarre game going, the French come up with a lotto game involving cow shit. You pay your 5 Euros, you take your ticket with the randomly assigned numbers, and you cross your fingers and hope that Lady Luck (or should that be Muck?) is with you.

 

There are many prizes to be won – TVs, day trips, home cinema gear etc – but the big draw is obviously the car. I could not, for the life of me, work out how they would justify this. How can a lotto game generate enough revenue, in a fairly small village, to cover the cost of a car AND turn a profit? How big is this field?

 

Also, as someone pointed out, what if the cow shit covers more than one grid? Will the winners have to car-share?

 

There are so many questions regarding this game, none of which were answered on the day. Do you want to know how they worked out the winners? Have a look at this board:

 

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That’s cleared that up then hasn’t it?

 

No, not at all.

 

It looks like hell for someone with a morbid fear of Sudoku puzzles. I think whoever came up with this looks at the Enigma code machine as ‘child’s play’. I stared at it, and stared at it but it made less and less sense to me. But after 30 minutes I think I did start to see some sharks swimming around a sunken ship*.

 

We were told by the guy who deciphers this numerical-bollocks that we were ‘quite close’ to winning the day trip. What ‘quite close’ constituted with regards to all those numbers and a big steaming pile of cow faeces is anyone’s guess.

 

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‘When weel zees cow take a sheet? Ah ‘ave been standing ‘eer for an hour!’

 

Seriously, how do you plan a game based on cow dumps? You wouldn’t want to have everyone standing around in the blazing hot sun, waiting for Daisy’s sphincter to deliver the goods, only for it to remain resolutely shut. I’m obviously showing up my glaring lack of knowledge in this area, and can only apologise (note to self, research cow’s bowel movements ASAP). I can only assume that the farmers have a few tricks up their sleeves.

 

Either that or they just pop them full of industrial strength laxatives, and then shove them out on to the field.

 

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Note: electric wire – the only thing standing between the crowd, and a dowsing of cow-shit.

 

I was informed by my partner that there had been three rounds of this cow-poo fun during the day, and that they had sold three thousand tickets. So I then understood how they got the money for the car. We had arrived for the final round, not wanting to spend all the day watching this ‘entertainment’. Also because the final round was the round where you could win the car, and I wanted to win the car.

 

Who doesn’t want to win a car?

 

It dawned on me that narrating a game involving cows taking a dump was a horrible job. The DJ made this plain with his terrible dialogue. My French isn’t perfect, but when you’re complimenting a cow for running for approximately three seconds, you know you’re in trouble.

 

He perked up though, when the cow actually did have a dump:

 

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Two men, looking at a cow turd.

 

There was further excitement caused when the turd in question seemed to be covering two grids – perhaps a car-share was indeed on the books. The chap who checks the poo, who had already called another chap to check the poo, then had to call in the top, top man to check the poo:

 

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Now there are three of them – and one of them has a measuring tape.

 

They seemed to be some disagreement on the placement of said poo, so they then used a scientific technique known around the world as ‘Walking away and standing in the distance so that we look like we now what we are doing’. They also started using a measuring tape – you wouldn’t want to borrow that afterwards would you?

 

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So if you stand there, and I stand here, we’ll look really professional so then hopefully, when they announce that the winner is the mayor, nobody will complain.

 

They finally made a decision and announced the winner. They read the numbers of the winning ticket out in reverse, thus making my already fragile mind, all-but spent from trying to make sense of the number-grid-from-hell, start to ooze out of my ears.

 

We didn’t win.

 

But, as Jim Bowen used to say, let’s have a look at what we could have won:

 

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Stupid bloody cow, shitting in the wrong bloody place….

 

*That’s a joke from the 90s, remember those ‘Magic Eye’ posters? You stared at them for a while and then a fantastic image would slowly appear, depicting cats flying planes, or unicorns dancing in a golden stream. Or, if you are me, absolutely nothing except a load of squiggly lines.

Cultural French/UK Similarities: Aldi’s Aisle Of Random Crap

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I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw this: an Aldi in my new French village! Tucked away in amongst all the boulangeries, brasseries and other things beginning with ‘B’ was this delightful example of German budget-shopping. OK, so it’s actually ‘tucked away’ on a small industrial estate, between lots of trucks and a public toilet, but that doesn’t paint a very pretty picture, so I lied.

 

The interior is just a cosy as the equivalents in the UK i.e: not cosy at all, and in fact very, very grim. They do the job though. Another fantastic similarity to the UK stores is the legendary aisle of crap. So named, by myself and many other Brits, for the random assortment of goods that can be found there. The aisle of crap is always, always located in the middle of the store.

 

But as pictures paint a thousand words, let me take you on a tour of this cultural gem.

 

I will also add words too, so therefore will be painting more than a thousand words per picture. Aren’t I nice?

 

 

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In case you didn’t know, that little bit of French means ‘low prices’. Note presence of an item of Star Wars merchandise. Aldi stores are regularly checked by upper-management in disguise*, if the aisle of crap is found to be lacking in at least 48 different items of Star Wars merchandise, the manager of the store in question is fired on the spot.

 

*Generally a middle-aged man in three quarter-length, khaki shorts, who parks his 4×4 in the ‘parent and child only’ parking space at the front of the store, to make sure he fits in.

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Nothing screams ‘keeping up with trends’ like Halloween decorations in May. Place your bets now, will they still be here this October?

 

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Books that nobody wants to buy are a common theme in the aisle of crap. In the UK it’s generally Lego Annuals that have had their ‘Exclusive’ Lego Figure stolen, and thus are doomed to gather dust till they are incinerated. Here it’s this interesting oddity, with a title that translates as  ‘Football, Champagne and Evening Glitter‘. What does that even mean?

 

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There’s a hint of sunshine in the sky, and you know what that means don’t you? SOLAR LIGHTS!!!!! There are approximately 4,567 variants of these per store. If the quantities ever dip below this figure then the manager of the store – they and they alone – must immediately restock the quantities. They generally do this while the queue – which had been snaking past the tills and up the aisles – heads towards the fire-exit.

 

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Can’t decide between completing a jigsaw puzzle, or putting up some curtains? Well, why should you have to? Here at Aldi, you can do both. So don’t delay, come in today and within mere minutes/hours* you can be sat next to a window, while your freshly purchased curtains blow in the gentle breeze, knocking your half-finished jigsaw all over the floor.

 

*Dependant on queue-length

 

 

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I want a treasure box for the kids’ toys, but I also want to strim the grass…if only the option of finding both of the answers to these quandaries was relatively close together…

 

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Another feature of Aldis-worldwide are the cabinets crammed full of electrical items, with prices that have been plucked from the sky. They occasionally reduce the prices, with equal disregard for any kind of structure:

 

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Yes, just stick a 50 Euro yellow sticker on it, that’ll shift it*

 

*I have never, ever seen anyone buy from one of these cabinets, here or in the UK. I suspect the manager doesn’t actually have a key.

 

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The gap between the…cage/basket/thingies. This achieves two things. 1. It allows you to have a ten-minute stand off with a lady with blue-rinsed hair, who has approached the gap with her trolley at the same time as you, and will not budge to let you through first. and 2. Allows the goods to make the leap from pillows, to car accessories.

 

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Can you think of anywhere else where sets of knives and bed-linen live together in perfect harmony, side-by-side, on their basket/cage/thingies? Oh lord why can’t we?*

 

 

*That noise you just heard was Paul McCartney picking up his phone to call his lawyers.

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‘There’s a bit of space here boss, what should we do with it? Put some more shoes there? Or maybe some insoles?’ ‘Sod that, stick those game packs there for the kids’

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‘Daddy, daddy!’ ‘Yes darling?’ ‘Why is that lady naked?’

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Kill my partner, deck the garden or go on holiday..Kill my partner deck the garden or go on holiday? Choices, choices. Yes if you have ever been struggling with the difficult choice between upgrading your garden/burying your partner under the new decking or going on holiday/disposing of your partner in suitcases then come to Aldi. You can do both here!

 

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And here, at the end of the mockery the legendary Aldi queue awaits you. I know what you are thinking ‘maybe if I just go for my 37th tour of the store all those people will go away’. But they won’t go away, and you know what? More people will come. But they won’t open another till, not till the queue reaches critical mass (90% of people in queue over 70 years of age, and the queue now has its own Facebook page).

 

And they want you to go for another tour of the store, because by that time your resolve will have been weakened. So that swimming pool for 15 Euros? The one you wouldn’t buy before? Your son’s constant whining will have finally eroded your will, and you will take it, from a cage/basket/thingy, from the aisle of crap, and put it in your trolley.

 

Then you take your place in the now even longer queue, and look at all the other unmanned tills.

 

Oh and the manager won’t care, he’s too busy restocking the solar lights.

The Seven Strangest Things At Today’s Brocante…

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Ever had one of those ideas that you immediately regret? Like taking a moped out for a spin in Greece, without taking out insurance? Or maybe accepting that drink from the slightly too friendly guy, that keeps touching you? Or maybe going along to that ‘it’s not timeshare’ presentation, with the promise of a free trip on a glass-bottomed-boat afterwards?

 

Or how about deciding to man a stall at a French brocante, and taking along your three and six year-old children? Doomed to failure that idea, a non-starter if you are seeking a peaceful, profitable day.

 

Regrets aside this is what brought us to the huge brocante in our home village of Aubigny sur Nere today. I don’t use the term ‘huge’ lightly either. The brocante dominates the place to such a degree that traffic has been shut down throughout and there’s nary an alley, or sidewalk, that doesn’t have somebody selling something.

 

It’s not long before the kids start to act up (2 micro-seconds to be exact) and so, after the requisite amount of paternal caring (3 micro-seconds to be exact) I bugger off and leave the kids with their mother, Grandma and Grandad, and take a look at what there is for sale.

 

There are lots, and lots, and lots of interesting items, the usual medley of guns, knives, rusty farm tools, knives, dead animals and more knives. The stand-outs for me, today, are the following seven deadly deals…

 

MUSCULAR GNOME-IN-A-THONG

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This combines two of my least favourite things: gnomes and (male) thongs. What’s going on here? What message are you sending out if you buy this and display it on your lawn? If I bought this, the Peter Stringfellow of garden ornaments, and put it outside I wonder how long it would be before the gendarme came knocking at my door?

Also note his accessory: alarmingly phallic mushroom – I don’t think the plan here is for him to get his fishing rod out. Well, obviously that depends on your interpretation of the term ‘fishing rod’.

I think the plan is actually for the placement of these in the garden to attract ladies inside, with the suggestion of virility, muscularity and…well, a great big mushroom. The only slight hitch will come if it actually works, and the ladies knock on the door only to find a 9-stone-man with a stoop and halitosis…

 

STATUS AT END OF BROCANTE: UNSOLD

GOAT/COW/SOMETHING’S FEET LAMP

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Yes, yes so I’m clearly not an expert on what foot comes off what animal as the title of this segment demonstrates. I don’t know about you, but my first thought if I cut off this animals legs and started wondering what to do with them, would probably not be ‘Hmm, you know what? They’d make a lovely lamp’. What the hell do you buy to complement this? A buffalo leg coffee table? Or maybe a set of four deer-leg coat-hooks (they actually had those, in case you wondered what happened to Bambi)?

If nothing it’s definitely a conversation starter. A conversation that would probably start with ‘What the f*ck’s that?’

STATUS AT END OF BROCANTE: UNSOLD

NOT THE JOY OF SEX BOOK

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My closest encounter with flagellation came in 2006, when I sat through the interminable The Da Vinci Code. You remember? That albino monk kept whacking himself when he thought he’d done something wrong. Or he might have enjoyed it, I forget which one.

Anyway, I didn’t realise it was actually a thing, or that there were even guide books for it. Needless to say, this was as close as I got, I really didn’t want to bump into one of my children’s teachers whilst ‘browsing’ Kinky Flagellations…t hat could open up a whole new world of problems. It would certainly make parent/teacher evenings interesting.

It’s nice that the producers of this book have thoughtfully included a warning that it is ‘not suitable for minors’. I would have thought the image on the front of the book, of the woman wearing S+M gear, and exposing her breasts would have done that job, but maybe that’s just me.

STATUS AT END OF BROCANTE: UNSOLD 

JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING DOG-LAMP

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Fans of the seminal 1982 classic John Carpenter’s The Thing (to give it its full title) will recall the standout scene early on, where the husky dog that has seemed to be normal reveals its true colours, goes bat-shit crazy, and starts melting and attempting to assimilate the other dogs. If you could turn those melted dogs into a lamp, it would look like this.

At least, I think it’s supposed to be a lamp. My French isn’t yet at the stage where I can confidently pose the question ‘What the bloody hell is that supposed to be? Is it a lamp?’, but I’m getting there. Where does the light bulb go? In its mouth? Or are you supposed to finish that part off yourself? The mind boggles.

This…thing, won the award for the day of being, in my partner’s words, ‘The scariest thing I have ever seen’. It’s so like The Thing, in so many ways that I’m slightly regretting not buying it now. It looks like something trying (and failing) to look like something else, part-dog, part-lamp: all-horror. That being said, If I had have bought it I’m fairly certain that the kids would never enter the room that it was in…bah! Yet another reason to have purchased it!

 

STATUS AT END OF BROCANTE: UNSOLD

An Obviously Stolen Road Sign

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This lady had some balls on her I can tell you. Stood there, in plain view of any passing gendarmes – of which there were many – with a stolen road sign. Just consider, for a moment, the lost motorist, adrift betwixt Gracay and Vatan. ‘How far is it now my love?’ grey-haired Elsa says to her beau, Francois ‘I don’t know’ he says, taking off his glasses and peering at the mound of upturned soil ‘Someone’s stolen the f*cking road sign’.

As uninteresting as the actual item is, it still garnered inquisitive looks and questions from passers-by. My partner heard her setting her stall out, price-wise, when she responded to a query on the matter with ‘let’s look at 350 euros, then we can start to talk about it’.

She also tried, unsuccessfully, to photo-bomb my picture when I took it. Like I said, she had balls.

STATUS AT END OF BROCANTE: NOT SURE, SHE DROVE OFF

COCK-SWITCH LAMP

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‘Eh!’ said the lady who owned this ‘tasteful’ item when I took its picture ‘You take a photo of it, you buy it!’. I just hid behind my foreignness, gave her the thumbs up, and said it was ‘Tres bon!’.

When what I actually wanted to say was ‘How do you turn it on? By flicking the penis?’.

STATUS AT END OF BROCANTE: UNSOLD

GORILLA-MECHANIC WITH BOTTLE OF WINE/OIL & ADJUSTABLE WRENCH THING

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So I’ve no idea on this one. What’s the purpose, the point, or the message? The bottle clearly used to be a bottle of wine, but now it’s been re-covered to look like a bottle of oil. With nuts at the bottom of it.

The wrench is touching the bottle, so is it implying that the two go together? Mechanics use oil and wrenches a lot?

What’s the gorilla got to do with anything? He looks like he wandered in from another set. Oh, and if you can’t see he’s also eating a banana. Is this the view of mechanics in France, that they are apes?

Maybe it’s an actual depiction of a ‘Monkey-wrench’ or…you know what? I’m giving up on this one. I personally think it’s someone’s art degree effort, probably means something really deep and cool. For me it just looked really weird, and faintly insulting for some reason.

STATUS AT END OF BROCANTE: UNSOLD

16 Years Of Faithful Service…

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So today, to celebrate being with my partner for 16 years, I have decided to dedicate a blog to her…

Dear Madam,

We are writing to you in response to your letter regarding the performance of your 1976 Model ‘Phil’. We are pleased that you have chosen to continue using the services of our company, and are happy to answer the questions that you have included in your recent correspondence.

  1. Unfortunately madam the legs of your Phil will get no more muscular. Due to an error in the production line the model you have had its legs switched out with that of an 11-year-old girl. We are, however, working on an update to correct this flaw. The update should go live in October of this year and will give all model 76 Phils new legs. Of a 14-year-old girl.
  2. It is perfectly normal to go through ‘up to 35 pairs of slippers per year’ (your words). This is actually slightly lower than the average for that model of 46.
  3. I do not know what they do with their socks, we have tried to work this out ourselves. We have concluded that they must eat one sock and leave the other one to annoy you.
  4. The continued requests ‘for anal’, while annoying, are necessary. This is simply a glitch inbuilt by the programmers giving them a ‘back door’ (no pun intended) to allow them access to the Phils’ interface. Without this they would not be able to upgrade the legs to the bulk of a 14-year-old girl in October.
  5. No, they will never understand washing machines.
  6. Yes, he is more than likely having sex with the vacuum cleaner while you are at work.
  7. The wrist action of the 1976 model Phils, while more than adequate for masturbation, does not have the requisite strength of later models. Thus the tap will always drip, as they are unable to apply sufficient pressure to turn it off.
  8. Yes we are aware of the ‘declutter’ issues. the 1976 model Phils have a flaw in their programming. This is due to a small file being transferred from the same year’s model ‘Glynis’, our very popular Grandma model. So he will indeed try to make your home resemble a show-home. Please do not interfere in the running of this program, or he may attempt to kill all the Sarah Connors in the phone book.
  9. Those stains on the sheets are perfectly normal it is just ‘lubricant seepage’ and happens when they reach their 40th + year of operation. At least, this is what every 1976 model Phil we asked told us.
  10. We always recommend never looking at their feet. Or smelling them. Just try to pretend their legs end at their ankles.

I hope that this has addressed you concerns in this matter Madam, but if you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

With regards to your enquiry about our ‘Young, Hot and Italian’ part-exchange program we do have the model you requested: ‘Pablo 1998’ in stock, however we do not have it in the colour you requested: ‘Black’. Please resubmit your order and we will be only too happy to fulfil it.

Best Regards,

For and on behalf of the Perfect Fiancee Corporation,

Miles B. Dyson

OCD Much Darling?

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We are just about to set off out for a picnic, an impromptu plan suggested by yours truly, on what is a gloriously sunny day. One of the added benefits of living where we do in France, is that we are a stone’s throw away from some truly lovely parks, and a short five-minute drive from my partner’s work; meaning we can pick her up on the way.

 

Everything’s ready to go, sandwiches are made and packed; drinks are ready; desserts are also in the bag for the kids (not for myself and my partner though as I  think – incorrectly as the black looks I later receive attest – we don’t need them).

 

Yes everything’s ready to go, the kids don’t even need to go to the toilet – I know this as I have asked them the requisite 58 times. Only ask 57 times and you are treading on thin ice*.

 

So, I think to myself, as I don my footwear, if everything’s ready to go why is my daughter crying?

 

My son is running around her in a circle, so I assume this is what’s making her cry. I tell him to stop, but she keeps crying and makes a grab for his shoes. Has he stolen something from her and hidden it in his shoes?

 

You might laugh at that, but these two would give airport-security a run for their money when it comes to finding new and interesting places to hide things. I know what that implies, and I stand by it. You DO NOT want to know where I’ve found marbles…and then promptly thrown said marble away.

 

I had to, it was a health and safety issue.

 

Anyway, back to my teary-eyed daughter and I finally, somewhat disbelievingly, discover what she’s crying about. One of the velcro grips on my son’s shoes is not lined up correctly.

 

Just re-read that sentence to yourself.

 

They aren’t her shoes, they are someones else’s. They are on the correct feet, but one, ONE of the velcro straps is slightly, SLIGHTLY ‘askew’.

 

She often mothers him, I’ve mentioned this in the past, so that’s not much of a surprise. This however, is a new level of fastidiousness.

 

She loves everything in her life to be ‘just so’, her hair has to be a certain way, the clothes have to match up, things in her room have to be lined up correctly. I tidied the books on her floor up the other week while I was mopping, as they seemed to be messy, this led to a three-hour interrogation on why I had done it, and why I shouldn’t do it again.

 

Did I mention she’s only three?

 

I tentatively reach over to my son’s shoe and correctly line-up the velcro grip. He couldn’t care less; if I took them off and replaced them with odd shoes – odd girl’s shoes – he’d quite happily carry on regardless. I think I could offer him hollowed-out racoons and he’s shove them on each foot. He’s a free spirit.

 

The effect on my daughter, however, is immediate and obvious. The tears stop rolling down her face, as if someone’s turned off a tap, her attitude changes completely and we head out the door.

 

She’s three.

 

Three.

 

What is going to happen at puberty????

 

 

 

*As it turns out 58 times IS NOT the charm. Not only did my son need a wee at the park he also had to go ‘number two’, which I, in a very civic-minded-manner, had to scoop up and carry. I used baby-wipes and held it like the world’s smelliest, warmest bomb. I do not wish to repeat that experience.

Alien Covenant’s Effect On My Attitude Toward Nocturnal Animals In Our Loft…

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It’s Friday afternoon, I’ve just watched the trailer for the new Alien film: Alien Covenant.

 

It looks like standard Alien-fare, lots of scared people running away from aliens, wishing they had made better career choices. I dismiss it, thinking it will be a decent rental, and get on with my day.

 

Flash-forward (remember that tv series? dreadful stuff) to 2 a.m and I’m woken by my partner, who has heard a noise and thinks there’s something in the room.

 

We quickly realise that it’s not inside the room – it’s in the loft above our heads.

 

It’s clearly an animal, you can hear its little feet scampering to-and-fro.

 

I say little, but at 2 a.m everything takes on added menace.

 

I flash-back (maybe that will make a better tv series?) to the trailer for Ridley Scott’s latest, imagining face-huggers, and acid-blooded-beasties up there.

 

So when my partner offers to go and fetch the ladders, so I can go up there, in the dark, and find out what it is, my response is both immediate and gallant.

 

‘No, I’m not going up there, let’s leave it till the morning’.

 

It’s the morning now.

 

I still haven’t been up there.

 

Bloody Alien films!

The Venetian Carnival In The Gardens Of Mehun-sur-Yèvre…

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With its roots in the Middle Ages, Mehun-sur-Yèvre is known as one of the “Most beautiful detours of France”, and is famous for its history with Joan of Arc. A walk through the cobbled streets of this quaint town brought us the arresting sight of the Venetian Carnival, a two day festival where the participants parade through the town adorned in ever more elaborate masks and gowns.

The procession eventually made its way to the majestic ruins of the castle of King Charles VII, and it was here, on a gloriously sunny Sunday, that I managed to capture most, if not all, of the participants…

 

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The Results From Tonight’s Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Race….

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I invested in a Nintendo Switch at launch – yes I actually managed to get one! – as the only way I can play games these days is in a portable form. This is mainly due to the TV being used for family viewing – shows, films etc. Playing games has to fit around my other duties – and never the other way around.

 

It was supposed to just be my domain – mine alone. However my children soon persuaded me into letting them have a go. One thing that I love about Nintendo is that, by and large, their games are wholesome, I don’t have to worry about my children seeing or hearing anything they shouldn’t. This even extends to their online gaming, players are not allowed to speak to each other, just select from a set of pleasant phrases.

 

My children’s choice for gaming tonight? Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. I must admit to initially dismissing this as a lazy port from the WiiU, Nintendo’s ‘failed’ system (though I’d argue against that, we have one in the house and my son loves it). However I have grown to love it over the last week or so, a love that quickly spread to my kids.

 

How did they get on? Well see for yourselves as I give a brief description of their playing styles:

 

 

My Son

(shooting anything and everything as often as possible)

‘Shoot it! Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it! It’s coming at me! I’m getting the sea!!! Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it! Look at that guy!!! Daddy Look at that guy!!! Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it! I’m winning Daddy!!! Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!Shoot it!’

This goes on throughout the match, he does not close his mouth at all – except for a ten minute break where his tooth falls out (due to natural causes I might add, it’s been wobbling for a while).

My Daughter

(reverses slowly in a circle, holding one solitary banana skin)

Stays absolutely silent throughout and, I think, the other players take pity on her, as she still has four of her five balloons left at the end of the battle.

RESULT: TIE

We had a great time playing it together, it’s a top system and I can see it becoming more integrated into family life. Not just now though, the Switch is a somewhat ‘fragile’ system and so not one that can be left alone with a very active 3 and 6 year-old. For now it will just be the odd supervised bit of fun…and the rest of the time? It will be mine..(does best Bowser impersonation) ALL MINE! BWA HA HA!!