Nurse! The Screens!

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Having a temper on the volcanic side of volatile is not too good for my blood pressure and I’m not at all sure that the sight of a woman old enough to know better flapping her bingo wings as she advances on the perceived source of the problem while upbraiding it in the manner of Reginald Hill’s Dalziel would be good for anyone else’s either.

Though since leaving France, explosions have been far less frequent.

I can cope with Danilo’s urge to go left instead of right and to depart from the motorway (yes, we have one) on a side road miles before the turn off given in the directions. Scarcely a rumble.

Bureaucracy? A doddle!

The repairman who has been telling me that the strimmer will be ready tomorrow for the last three months? A shrug. Though he can’t count on that continuing once the rainy season sets in again.

The legal system? Not a problem (so far)….and as a senior citizen my papers get priority in the Constitutional Court. The sheer joy of having the local mayor told that if he didn’t repair the damage to my cafetal caused by his roadworks gang within three months he would be in the jug!

The expat bloodsucking community? Their stings have no effect.

So why the need for screens?

Because I still have a house in France and all that goes with it….tax demands, bank accounts, you name it and when the post arrives it inevitably contains something to make Krakatoa look like a side show.
While friends are very good about alerting me to changes that might affect me, I do read one or two of the national dailies online to keep up to date as well and yesterday’s news was a humdinger.

President Hollande, popularity plummeting like a lift with no cables, has decided to get out and about and meet the people. Whether they liked it or not. And they didn’t.
Whoever had that bright idea must have been trained in the Ecole Nationale d’Administration like Hollande himself.
We’ve come a long way from de Gaulle’s tours of the provinces and Hollande is no de Gaulle, even if on his first trip he was to sleep in a bed made specially to accommodate the General’s lanky frame.
You could almost hear the roars of ‘Who’s been sleeping in my bed?’ from the graveyard at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises.

So he went to Dijon where after being greeted by trade unionists with cries of ‘What about your promises?’ (99,500 jobs having been lost in France this year) though being spared further contact by his security detail strong arming them away he announced sedately that anyone was welcome to speak to him as long, one supposes, that they don’t ask about his promises.

Having failed to cut the mustard in Dijon he returned to Paris where his government appeared to be slipping on the ice left in the streets by the inaction of the Mayor.
They have to shave another four billion euros off expenditure to keep the deficit down to only 3.7 % as there is a likelihood that the EU will finally pay attention to France’s overspending after decades of the equivalent of the Gallic shrug.
So that was the signal for the Ecology minister, Delphine Batho, to mess off to Cherbourg to inspect the windfarm in the seas off the coast, using a governmental Falcon jet and a Navy helicopter for the occasion.

Not much hope of economies there, then. Not for anything remotely ‘green’.

Which brings me to the need for screens.

The French parliament have passed a law designed to reward ‘virtuous’ users of gas and electricity by permitting variable rates of payment according to the quantities used.
Good idea, you might say and indeed this scheme already exists in a vestigial form.

But, of course, this being France, it is not so simple.
You can’t just have a series of categories which are charged at increasing rates to reflect your usage, permitting you to decide independently whether to turn off the electric fire in order to run the kettle.
Allowing such independence would be tantamount to opening the floodgates of anarchy.

No no, Big Brother will take care of it all for you. All you will have to do is pay.

There will be different categories depending on what sort of fuel you use, where you live and how many there are of you.
There will be forms to fill out.
And the utility companies will be sending round people to fill them out for you in case you decide to invite your granny and her sisters to afternoon tea and add them to your total for the purposes of the form.
Thus, one imagines replacing the 99,500 lost jobs at a stroke….

Interestingly there will not be a category for the size of your house. There is an ideal size (so far unstated but rumoured to be the size of a dog kennel for dachshunds) and all calculations will be based on that.

But I’m not there…why am I worried?

Because I leave heat on in the winter to keep the bones of the old house warm and my last winter’s bill – up some thirty percent to pay for blasted windfarms – was enough to induce the habdabs as it was.
Multiply dachshund kennels to fill its volume and I’ll be paying the four billion in economies on my own.

And it hardly increases its appeal to clients….only families large enough for mum to have been awarded the Vichy medal for producing eight children could hope to afford the proposed bills.
Perhaps I should enter into talks with the English council who are building a property to house a lady with eleven children, a horse and a husband taking flying lessons all paid for by benefits.

My house would be cheaper and the husband could fly them back to the U.K. to sign on when necessary.

Some things are too good to keep to yourself….

We are building an extension which does not entail anything like the disruption to daily life experienced with the kitchen makeover, as it is, after all…an extension.
On the end of the house.
Away from me.
Dust is blown away into the garden…..
Nothing has had to be moved out to remain infuriatingly elusive for weeks….

The Men need feeding, true…but they do anyway.

We had planned to build a new house up in the cafetal and had gone so far as to have plans drawn up, install a septic tank and plant trees in readinesss…..and then we thought…
No.
The views are beautiful up there it is true and we would still be sheltered from the strong winds of December by the mountain behind but we’ve grown to love this little house and the garden we’ve made around it and, at our age, what on earth do we want with a whopping Italianate villa on two floors with a tower!

So…the extension.

The Men are at the stage of painting the inner walls and yesterday, having a number of things to do in town, went to buy more paint to match the wall they had started on, taking the paint lid with them as well as the mix number.
The young man in the shop set up his machine…and looked puzzled.

It’s not the same.

He called his boss who confirmed that it was not the same colour. The Men concurred.
My husband suggested that perhaps one of the nozzles was blocked.

No, no, I’ve done everything properly.

But we’ve started painting….

The boss intervened.

I’ll tell you what….I’ll give you double the paint in this colour for the price and then you can paint over what you’ve done and it will be all right.

Agreement was reached and, other errands accomplished the Men returned in the late afternoon to take coffee and discuss the next day’s programme.

There was the noise of a motorcycle engine and the Alsatian took off…he is not keen on anything disturbing his slumbers and a motorcycle rates at the top of his dislike list.
The engine stopped somewhere up the road and a voice was heard calling.

My husband went out to find the Alsatian sitting at the gates and the motorcyclist standing very still behind his machine. While actually a peaceful animal the dog has a certain way of sitting and looking that reminds one of the immovable object…and it was clear that the motorcyclist did not intend to be the irresistible force.

It was the young man from the shop. Cautiously he held out a small plastic wrapped packet.
It was paint, to add to the mix to get the proper colour. The boss had dismantled the machine and found that, indeed, one of the nozzles was blocked and this was the colour that should have come from it.

Just mix it in and you’ve got the paint you wanted.

My husband thanked him and went to get the money for the extra paint they had been given.

No! The boss said it was our fault….and he sent me out straight away in case you had started to use the paint.

Would the young man take a coffee…a beer?

No…he would not. He had to get back to work….and, once the gates were closed between him and the Alsatian, that is what he did, his motorcycle kicking up dust and stones on the road up the hill.

To me, this is something too good to keep to myself….that a shopkeeper is not only willing to get you out of a mess by giving extra materials…but also sends his shopman out with the pukka gear to get to you before you’ve started with the new stuff…..
Not just service…but thoughtfulness.

It wasn’t the only good thing that happened yesterday…..
There’s a new prosecutor at the Fiscalia….and he’s been getting to grips with his job.

My husband had been summoned to see him by telephone that morning and dropped in on his shopping trip…to find about half the inhabitants of the Three Valleys in the waiting area.

The new prosecutor had unearthed the files on the would be developer and his Mr. Fix-it…The Neighbour.

The people giving us all trouble with our water supply.

The new prosecutor wanted to know why all the complaints had been filed and parked in a cupboard.

From the noises coming from the offices it sounded as though these were not the only files parked out of sight and out of mind…….

From the noises coming from the offices it also seemed that the new Prosecutor was not very happy….

Secretaries came and went at the gallop…people were ushered in and out of offices at speed….my husband’s turn came.

Did he uphold his complaints ?

Yes, he did.

Sign here.

What will happen?

Well, the files won’t be going back into the cupboard….

So, a new judge up at the court and a new prosecutor at the Fiscalia……The Neighbour had better watch his step.

And the best of all…an improvement in my husband’s health.

He has been diagnosed with something enchantingly known as Miller Fisher/ CANOMAD…..which always has me thinking of Noel Coward singing ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen….which is related to the better known syndrome Guillain-Barre.

What it means for him is that should he catch a ‘flu, his antibodies – instead of going for the intruder – go for the sheathing of his nerves, leaving him progressively paralysed.

And it’s a quick progression.

From a tingling in the hands and lips it can be complete paralysis and coma within  two hours. Treatment has to be fast and has to follow a particular cycle to avoid death or permanent damage to the nervous system.

Well, over the years, over many attacks, the treatment hasn’t always been fast enough and the cycle hasn’t always been respected.

There are many consequences, but one in particular has been that his blood pressure swings alarmingly from high to low and back again…migraines at one extreme, faintness at the other. It doesn’t make life fun.

We’ve always taken precautions against high blood pressure…I don’t use salt, I use as few prepared foods as possible….but it’s the swings which have proved insoluble.

Until recently.

He has been reading  up on blood pressure and discovered that it is controlled by three elements…the kidneys, the nervous system and sodium and potassium ‘pumps’.

Well, the kidneys are fine…but the nervous system is shot to bits…so he reckoned his potassium levels needed to be upped to compensate.

He bought a tub of salt substitute…potassium iodide and potassium chloride (I think)….sprinkled it on his food…and not only is his blood pressure stable but it is that of a young man.

With Mad Dog syndrome he could still drop dead tomorrow…..but in the meantime his quality of life has improved out of all measure!

That is certainly something too good to keep to myself!