Friday, September 30, 2011
Audes dungaree wearing friend from the Womens Cooperative arrives in her van . Today she's wearing a t-shirt with the slogan ' Make mine a double ' in large red letters across the front . '' Cementing " she says by way of greeting . Madame Charm has brought with her one of the old Swedish dining chairs . Another member of the Cooperative has been recovering these with the silk I brought back from India . ' The font ' is happy with the result and gives the go ahead for the rest to be done .
After a year of defying the inevitable time seems to be catching up with Wilf. No pain . Just a gentle, slightly achy and arthritic drifting into old age . Rather like a walk into the mist . The warranty on liver and kidneys close to expiring . '' It happens to us all " says the nice young vet glancing in my direction . Wilf leans into me . '' While there's tread on the tyres and gas in the tank we'll carry on partying ". The vet, the receptionist, the senior vet and 'the font ' all laugh . Wilf beams . Outlandish old age beckons .
Thursday, September 29, 2011
For Wilf a day spent sleeping . He rouses himself in the evening for half a bowl of freshly boiled broccoli enlivened with a little langoustine stock .
Some unexpected excitement at 3.30 am when the old fellow fails to return from his early morning pit stop . A torch wielding Angus , clad in dressing gown and a pair of Crocs, scours the garden only to find him peacefully curled up asleep in what's left of the peony border. Confusion over time and place becoming a more recurrent part of his daily routine .
A trip to the vets scheduled for later today . Experience of life with Wilf teaches us that all his symptoms will magically disappear the very second he arrives in the surgery . Guaranteed .
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Bit of a rough day for Wilf. He falls asleep after breakfast and shows no interest in lunch . I can count on one hand the number of days he's missed lunch over the last ten years . ' The font ' coaxes him into trying a little smoked salmon in the evening before he falls asleep again . Did he eat too much pigeon guano on his morning walk or is this lethargy something more serious ? We shall see.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The weather forecast in the local newspaper blithely ignores the thick mist swirling like sea billows around us . For the next week it predicts blue skies and temperatures between 29 and 32 degrees . No mention of fog to be found.
En route to the cafe in the square we park in a side street full of 1920's style art deco houses . All boarded up . The French don't want to live in towns and the foreigners want elyssian farms in the country . As a result all these once fashionable little townhouses stand empty and forlorn .
Warm and still . A perfect night for sitting out under the stars with a Chicken Xacuti . ' The font ' comments on the fact that the recipe calls for no less than 10 dried red chillies . '' Do you think it's a misprint ? " I'm asked . To accompany it a Corsican wine . Neither of us can remember ever having drunk a Corsican wine before. Certainly the grape varieties - Niellucciu an Sciaccarellu - are a first . A perfect accompaniment to the hot and spicy Xacuti . Younger members of the family might say this ten chilly pepper delight was ' rocking ' .
The Cortisone has given Wilf a cast iron stomach. He has a small amount of rice and chicken with his evening kibbles . A quick game with a favoured toy then he falls asleep on the doorstep , snoring solidly until dawn . His attitude to food and to life : " If you wait , all that happens is that you get older ".
Monday, September 26, 2011
Headlights on as we drive into town . A thick morning mist covering the ground and swirling through the trees . The church steeple rising dark above the arcades . The first sign of autumn . With its neon lit windows the newsagents a warming beacon of colour and light . The haar burns off by nine revealing another day of sun and blue skies . A reminder though that it's time to have the central heating boiler serviced .
Wilf positions himslf at the door of the kitchen . Scotland have lost to Argentina in the rugby , 13-12, so a day for an uplifting Sunday lunch . Salade de cou de canard farci au foie gras followed by Dos de cabillaud en crout de brebis, sauce au vin rouge . The old fellow ignores me completely , his attention focused entirely on ' the font ' and whether he'll get some flakes of cod with his lunchtime kibble . He does .
He also gets some sorbet au jurancon et ses madeleines as a treat . He smacks his lips enthusiastically in a way that says ' human food - can it get any better ? ' . Then a four hour post-lunch doze . The hectic life of an old PON.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
To the scarecrow judging contest in a neighbouring village . A Madame Bay lookalike, La Reine du Menage, wins . Wilf enters into the spirit of things by carefully christening the feet of the winning entry . Thankfully , the farmers wife responsible is a dog person .
A large parcel of ungents for 'the font ' arrives from Libertys in London. Ordered on Friday, delivered on Saturday . Amid the revitalising face sprays, body oils, and assorted creams a free gift. Six bottles of ' balancing body lotion '. After carefully studying the label I ask ' the font ' if there had been some disagreement with the sales assistant . Wilf looks on as we roar with laughter . What a strange name for a product .
Saturday, September 24, 2011
On the evening walk a falcon falls out of the sky and lands dead at our feet . Wilf ignores it. I pick it up and lay it on one of the window ledges in the village hall . A sudden heart attack ? It's eyes still clear and bright . Late at night I walk across the village green and move this thing of beauty to a tangled, impenetrable thicket of wild pomegranates , junipers and blueberries . A more fitting resting place for an aristocrat of the skies . Strange how natures grace can move you .
Off in the car to look at a 12th century church in a deep valley three miles away . A sign on the front door : " If you want to gain entry knock at the house with blue shutters and ask Madame Dubonnet for the key ". Wilf waits in the back of the car while 'the font ' goes in search of Madame Dubonnet . A tall lady in a blue check shirt finally appears . She points out the nine hundred year old Greco-Byzantine frescoes in the apse . Gaudily over-restored to look as thought they'd been painted yesterday . A shame . The sense of antiquity completely gone to be replaced by something that would suit a Vegas wedding chapel . We smile and diplomatically tell our guide , quite truthfully , that '' they are really quite remarkable ".
France is playing New Zealand at rugby this morning . By seven the salle de fetes a hive of activity . Jack Russells hopping in and out of the french windows , five year old farmers sons staging sword fights , combine harvesters blocking the road, hamburgers being grilled on an outside barbecue , the mayor deep in conversation with his constituents . A scene of ordered chaos as only the French can do it . Angus is offered a very large glass of flock ( the lethal local brew ) and an undercooked cheeseburger before settling down with Wilf on a bench at the back . The family fellow is soon in a sleep so deep that he remains oblivious to the lusty singing of the Marseillaise . Life in France Profonde .
Friday, September 23, 2011
The old farmer visits his wifes grave every day . Out of the front door, right across the village green and then sharp left past the church . A journey of two hundred yards . He sits under the yew tree by her tombstone and then chats away aloud for an hour . An unchanging routine of continued devotion . We pass the graveyard on our afternoon saunter . He sees us and shouts out " just telling her to keep the bed warm for me ". I wave back unsure quite how to respond .
' The Font ' is making Selle d'agneau sauce aux cepes et son soufflet de carotte for dinner . Wilf and yours truly are sent to the supermarket for cepes. It's the foire aux vins . Hundreds and hundreds of different wines . We return an hour later with a dozen cases of burgundy and some chocolate . When asked where the cepes are we have to admit that they have somehow been forgotten . We get a rare '' Oh Angus ! " . Wilf gets a second visit to the supermarket . This time with ' the font '. He also gets a bowl of water and a piece of wholegrain bread at the supermarket cafe .
Thursday, September 22, 2011
A mystery of dog ownership. Daytime pit stops can be accomplished in forty five seconds . Two o'clock in the morning pit stops, with Angus standing at the front door in nothing more than a dressing gown and bare feet , require at least ten minutes of unhurriable flower sniffing and garden exploration. Why?
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Strange behaviour . Pit stops at 1.20 am and 2.15 am . Then awake growling and barking at 3.00, 3.10 and 3.50 . Most unlike Wilf . No interest in going out when the door is opened for him . He finally comes upstairs at 4.00 and sleeps on the Turkish rug outside the dressing room . When I get up at six he's already awake . An unsettled night . A sign that there's discomfort inside? Or maybe something as simple as the sound of the wind in the plane trees or the owls on the church roof ?
He seems happy enough on our morning visit to the bakers and cafe . The end of a croissant from the bakers wife . A slow walk on our way back . Egrets standing on the heads or backs of the cows in the field . At least twenty of them . A truly comical sight . I try to get a photograph but they fly away as we approach. I'll keep on trying .
Home to find a turbaned Madame Bay hard at work polishing the windows in the drawing room . She's got every radio in the house tuned to Radio Nostalgie and is singing along lustily with Mick Jagger . '' I can't get - no - satisfaction - 'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try " . With each repetition of '' I try " she does a little 360 degree dance , waving the duster above her head, chiffon twirling in the slip stream . Our saintly septaguenarian chuckling away merrily to herself.
Victor Hugo once said " there is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age " . Both Wilf and Madame Bay would agree .
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Croissants safely stowed in the back of the little old Volkswagen we head off for our morning walk by the river . No sooner is Wilf lifted down from the back than it starts to rain . Lightly at first and then heavily . Very heavily . After carefully christening a fence post the family fellow turns around and heads determinedly back to the car . I'm left in absolutely no doubt that old PON's don't do wet .
With the rain thundering against the roof we set off to the supermarket . Rugby fever has arrived . An inflatable six foot tall bottle of Heineken stands in the middle of the first aisle . Around it kegs of beer , a rather forlorn ficus and a rack of French rugby shirts with made in India labels . The tout ensemble quite underwhelming . This early in the morning the supermarket eerily deserted - a retail Marie Celeste.
No coconut ice cream in the freezer . There is however a limitless supply of Creme Brulee with Caramel chunks. This is the sort of flavour that is bound to appeal to Wilfs gourmet palet . Two cartons go in the trolley . En route to the cash desk a display of goats cheese . The packaging on the Chabichou du Poitou says that it's 'a powerful cheese that will enthrall your senses '. I buy some for ' the font '.
It's stopped raining . Time for a second attempt at a walk . This time Wilf saunters merrily off , head down in the grass verge. The rain a great re-invigorator of malodorous delights .
Monday, September 19, 2011
As I come down the stairs Wilf sits bolt upright . He's spent the night curled up asleep in the office . The sound of my footsteps waking him from a deep , untroubled, sleep. By the lopsided look of him he must have been happily dreaming of chasing squirrels. One decidedly squiffy PON .
A few moments to stretch out , collect his thoughts and work out where he is. Then it's onto his back for an early morning tickle. Much yawning and swallowing as all the built up stress melts away .
To town for croissants, the newspapers and our ritual visit to the cafe . The waitress sees us park the car . By the time we've sauntered across from the bakers to the arcades the coffee is already on the table and Wilfs water is ready in a white porcelain bowl under it . '' Bonjour M'Ongoose. Bonjour Wilfee " chorus the beer and absinthe crowd .
Wilf returns home and immediately settles down in exactly the same spot in the office . Time to catch up on a few zzz's after an exciting excursion with his flock . Old PON's know that you live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted .
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Wilf finds something interesting in one of the flower planters under the arcades . Whatever it is warrants a full five minutes of intense sniffing and pawing . One of those canine moments when the rest of the world disappears and its just dog and malodorous treasure .
Overnight a strong, unexpected rain bearing wind from the Pyrenees . Had to be . I spent an hour watering the parched garden before going to bed . The weather forecast once again completely useless . This morning ' the font ' busy pruning the sodden roses and filling up vases .
Two bottles of St.Julien and a plate of blinis and foie gras as rugby ' snacks '. France plays Canada this morning . The village green outside the salle de fetes already a tangle of badly parked combine harversters , tractors and white vans an hour before the match starts . The France Profonde of farmers, their five year olds and well trained Jack Russells.
Wilf doesn't get the foie gras but he does get two blinis . If the contented swallowing and careful nose licking are anything to go by , these get full marks . Jonathan Swift got it just about right when he said - " May you live all the days of you life ".