Saturday, March 31, 2012

Miracles never cease.

Saturday morning . A busy day ahead . Wilf and owner bump into the plumber on the pavement outside the cafe . '' Bonjour M'Ongoose. I'll be along later this morning to work on the pipes . Just got another job to do first " . He holds up a wrench by way of proof . In the cafe the joiner greets me like a long lost friend and offers to buy me a coffee. '' I've not forgotten you M'Ongoose . Are you around this afternoon ? ". Miracles , as they say, never cease. Angus quickly replies in the affirmative . Life in rural France has taught him never to turn down a meeting with a local tradesman . You never know when , or if , you'll see them again . While Angus chats, Wilf gets his half croissant .

Home to find the gold metallic ' Wild Child ' voiturette parked , at a jaunty angle , on the lane . The unrepaired front wing still without a headlight. The after effects of a run in with a bollard outside the greengrocers. Madame Bay has returned safely from her retired gendarmes trip to Athens. The sound of high pitched girlish laughter emanating from the breakfast room . '' It was wonderful M'Ongoose. Simply wonderful ' . Angus gets a passionate embrace while Wilf gets kissed on top of his head. ''Oh ! Mon p'tit chouchou". This comment meant, presumably, for Wilf . Dog and owner quickly retire to the quiet of the library leaving ' the font ' and our white chiffoned septaguenarian to discuss the dangerous, and quite probably lethal, 'Vesuvius' in the kitchen.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Quiet celebrations .

Wilf celebrates his 11th birthday. Quietly . Not a bad age for a PON . This morning the illicit half croissant at the cafe seems more like an illicit three quarters of a croissant . An extra hair tousle from the waitress . She stoops, breaks the croissant into pieces , and feeds them to him . Wilf called a ' gaillard ' . A lusty lad. Once upon a time maybe . Laughter all round . A ' salut ' from the man on the motability scooter . The family fellows unexpected milestone toasted by the smiling , pre-breakfast , beer and absinthe crowd .

Home. A workmans van parked on the green . Wilf barks . A reminder that this is his village. Time for a quick circuit of the old roman walls before the heat builds up. The posts on the pottery kiln christened . Through the courtyard gates in time for a pre-lunch nap. We're sleeping most of the day now. PON birthday wisdom : '' The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are ". Simple happiness lies ahead .

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vesuvius erupts.

The ancient oven in the upstairs kitchen finally gives up the ghost . A bang followed by an acrid smell. The lights fuse. At ' the fonts ' urging Angus opens the oven door and looks inside . You'd need to be an archaeologist as much as an electrician to divine the workings of this cast iron Vesuvius . Angus is neither . Time to turn a few knobs and grunt . '' Looks like the filaments gone " said with less than total certainty . The subject of a new kitchen has been re-introduced into our dinner time conversation .

To the supermarket . ' The font ' goes ahead to order coffee and croissants at the cafe . Lifted down from the back of the car Wilf sprints across the car park in hot pursuit . No hesitation . No detour . No uncertainty . A perfectly straight line . How does he do it ? Blind ? Who are you kidding ?

Volume 2 and 3 of the ' Wilf the PON ' blog arrive , freshly bound, from the US. Ten days from ordering to delivery here in rural France . Old PON wisdom . " Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth ".

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Better from an Easter Egg ?

The supermarket suddenly full of chocolate Easter bunnies . Their happy little faces stowed floor to ceiling along one aisle . Is Angus alone in thinking chocolate tastes better when it comes from an Easter Egg , or Bunny ? Next to the wine , breathalyzer kits . A new law in France stipulates every driver must have one in their car . Points on the licence, and a fine , if you don't . Angus buys two . Homeward bound, the family fellow joins me at a table at the back of the bar out of the morning sun . Half croissant and a hair tousle . The reassurance of routine.

Safely home , Wilf falls happily asleep. A doze through to lunch followed by a long nap afterwards . A leisurely early evening stroll across the village green to the frog pond . Dinner . A taste of coconut ice cream. Then it's time to turn in for the day .
He's in that very special place only old family dogs inhabit.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cream canvas Long Johns.

The old farmer spends the entire day working on his motor home . Got to be at least 45 years old . The faded chintz curtains probably original . The left side rear window stuck permanently open . Does he know ? Despite the heat our neighbours wearing his fur hat. The ear flaps tied tightly in a knot under his chin . Inexplicable . Open toed sandals, string vest, and what appear to be cream canvas Long Johns complete the ensemble .

Lunchtime . A busload of German pilgrims arrive . They get off. Finding the church locked they stand chatting on the village green . Ten minutes later they clamber back on board. The bus has a sign on the back saying they're from Bochum . All of the men are wearing identical beige trousers . Must be a Bochum thing . ' The font ' wonders what they've made of the old farmer . Wilf, asleep on his back, thinks of barking at them but can't be bothered .

To the Post Office with Wilf. A group of cyclists in yellow spandex milling around outside . One of them , a lady of a certain age , drops her purse. She says something decidedly unlady like. As we pass she looks up and apologizes . Wilf gets his hair tousled . He wasn't in the least shocked by her outpouring . The first of the fresh local asparagus in the greengrocers . On our way home Wilf stops by the stream and drinks and drinks and drinks . The unhurried life of a dog in France Profonde .

Monday, March 26, 2012

Precedence .

Clocks forward by an hour over the weekend . Pitch dark when we set off into town on the morning croissant run . Not that Wilf is bothered . He settles down under the cafes corner table oblivious to the jarring neon light and the glow from the television above the bar . Waitress, bowl of water, and illicit half croissant follow soon after . Angus has to wait for his coffee. Here in rural France small, shaggy , polar bears take precedence .

Croissant finished , chat with the waitress done , he puts his head on my foot and drifts gently off to sleep , unconcerned about the noise and bustle around him . Not a bad way to start a new week. '' That which God said to the rose, and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty, He said to my heart , and made it a hundred times more beautiful " . Old PON wisdom .

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Our 1400th dog post . We hadn't expected to get past 1000 . Wilfs longevity an advert for caring vets and the revitalizing power of coconut ice cream . His 11th birthday next week. Quite a result for a boy given three days to live - eighteen months ago !

Late afternoon . The old widow brings round some goose liver . The regions culinary speciality . '' The font '' prepares it for dinner . Wilf has the smallest of pieces . A very definite " I've died and gone to heaven " look on his face .

28 degrees yesterday . That's 82 for those with an American accent . The hottest place in the country . Eight in the morning and two Jehovahs Witnesses arrive at the front gate . Some quick thinking required . They are surprised to discover a foreigner who only speaks Swedish . Not a word of English . Not a word of French . They finally leave . A small scruffy polar bear barks at them . Angus gets back to watering the geraniums .

Down to the cafe under the arcades for a Sunday pre-breakfast coffee . The clocks moved forward this morning, the air already warm . Wilf lies down under the table . Bowl of water and half croissant soon arrive . He chats to the waitress, yawns and then settles down for a doze. Old PON wisdom . '' If you are irritated by every rub , how will your mirror be polished ? " .

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I'm not one to gossip , but .... !

Friday night . A village Committee meeting . The sun just setting as ' the font ' and Wilf set off across the lane to deal with the burning business of the day .

Item 1. Should tubs of ice cream be served at the pottery day ? If so should the ice cream be bought from the cash and carry ( membership €45 per year ) or in the local supermarket ? It's more expensive in the supermarket but you don't have to pay a signing on fee. An hour later , issue unresolved, the mayor decides that the matter will be discussed at the next meeting .

Item 2. The positioning of the solar powered floodlights by the pottery kiln. The lady in the grey Ford estate car shouts across the table to tell the mayors wife that the woman at the horse farm is seeing a lot of the chimney sweep from the neighbouring village . " I'm not one to gossip but his vans always there. Always ! " . Everyone starts to talk at once . End of the formal agenda . The residents of France Profonde have found a subject that really interests them .

Wilf slumbers unconcernedly on . Snoring gently . Occassionally passing wind . Dog and village secretary return home at nine thirty . Dog sleeps. '' The font " has a drink . '' Amazing what people around here do to get their chimneys swept " the comment as we sit down for dinner .

Friday, March 23, 2012

Blossoms .

London sunny and warm . More like Spain that Britain . People spilling out onto the streets, pavement cafes full , office workers in shirt sleeves. Angus stops off to look at the souvenirs for the Queens Jubilee celebrations . Many of the momentos produced for the Royal Wedding were dire . Barely marketable tat. This time round they're much better. Tasteful and fun .

Home to be greeted by a very shaggy Wilf. Arthritis rules out the wild welcome home dance but the warmth and intensity of the greeting are as strong as ever . That little stump wagging at twenty to the dozen .Soon , the family fellow settles down, head on my foot, and is fast asleep . Much happy yawning and swallowing . Old dog wisdom . "Quit being sad. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you ".

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Old PON knowledge .

Angus heads off to London . Wilf remains behind to guard his flock . By the time the car is out of the gate he's already christened the geraniums, walked back indoors and settled in the kitchen . Pasta being rolled for lunch . A twitch of the nostril, a sigh of contentment and he's asleep . Old PON knowledge . '' Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation '.

Deep and calm .

Bright but chill. The geraniums surviving if not thriving . The lawn tractor delivered back after three weeks in the workshop. Angus heads off for a celebratory grass trim . After twenty metres the machine emits a loud bang, then stops. A wisp of oily smoke traces its way delicately into the air. Angus kicks the tyres. Wilf christens them . The machine remains immovable.

The camera function on the i-Phone stops working . 15 calls back to the support centre. Each time a helpful voice asks " Have you tried turning it off and then turning it back on again ? ". Detecting the growing tetchiness in my voice ' the font 'suggests the quest for a solution be left to another day . Angus goes to bed determined that his future won't be Orange .

Wilf sleeps for most of the day. A different type of sleep now. Deep , calm , restful . His breathing untoubled . In the morning he's in exactly the same place he went to sleep in eight hours before . The sort of secure canine slumber that says ' My soul is from elsewhere , I'm sure of that , and I intend to end up there '.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Spanish frontier ?

This morning the conversation at the cafe under the arcades uncharacteristically muted . Everyone , beer and absinthe crowd included , avidly watching the television above the bar . Three soldiers shot dead last week and now three children and a teacher . This sort of thing doesn't happen here in deepest France Profonde .

To everyones surprise the BBC's news report , carefully dubbed into French, describes Montauban ( our departmental capital and the scene of the second shootings ) as a charming little town on the Spanish frontier. Geographically, this is a bit like saying New York is just down the road from Canada.

Despite the sombre mood Wilf still gets his half croissant and hair tousle from the waitress.
On our way home a quiet walk in the sunshine . Here by the river the days dark shadows seem a long , long, way away . The only sounds the woodpeckers, the squabbling finches and a foreigner chatting away quite happily to a small, white , polar bear trotting along by his side.