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Monday, 4 April 2011

Holidays are good for you

Now that all is sweetness and light chez TwistedScottishBastard, I settled down to a Sunday of relaxation and routine house maintenance.  Doing all those little jobs beloved of blokes, and essential to the smooth running of a family home.

Mow the Lawns (almost always a guy's job, but the lovely D****, the Head of literacy at Nuova Lazio does it herself. She muttered something about enjoying chopping the heads off things.  We leave her to it.  She's got a tough job)
Use the petrol powered weedeater all around the section (Kiwispeak for the grounds)
Swap out the dead light bulbs
Dust the very high areas
Fix or replace plugs
Drink beer.

I had just finished the first two jobs, and settled down with a nice cup of tea (I'm on a coffee ration of 1 cup a day now.  Damned nosey doctors) and a read of the Sunday papers that my beloved routinely brings back after her session of god-bothering.

While I was reading the World news, my beloved was reading that worrying section called escape.  I refer to it as worrying because it gives her upsetting ideas. 
Like spending money.
Like spending lots of money
Like going away from our nice comfortable home where all is quiet, peaceful, comfortable and controlled.

Then she mentioned the dreaded word: MELBOURNE.

I thought we'd settled that we were not going away for a short break during the rapidly approaching school holidays, but apparently I was wrong.

For any newly partnered blokes out there, a word of advice. You're wrong.  You're almost always wrong.  When blokes are born, they should be issued with a Wrongness Certificate which they can then give to their partners just to reinforce the whole attitude of wrongness.  You're a bloke.  Harden up.  Stop crying and just get used to it.  You're wrong.

Back to Melbourne.  I now had unstated permission to use the "Machine of Satan" to start searching for flights and hotels.  While I was having a look around the travel world, I began my little campaign of planting uncertainty.
The weather wasn't too great at that time of the year.
The exchange rate was rather unfavourable.

I did get a reaction from Spiders.  My beloved isn't particularly frightened by arachnids, but has a general aversion to creepy-crawlies in general.

I can actually remember the incident which maximised her aversion. 

We were on a family holiday in France, staying in a gîte on the Loire.  We went for a day trip to a local town, the name of which I now forget, but it had a large chateau near the town centre.  This chateau was set in large grounds, and had a large lake to the front and sides.  The lake was filled with very large goldfish/koi carp and the entire area was surrounded by a waist-high wall.  Many locals and tourists would lean against this wall while looking at the fish, and it was a local custom to feed the fish with leftover bread and sandwiches.

We were feeding the fish quite happily.  Our little son (he was about 4 at this time) was enjoying himself hugely, but kept on asking when the whale would appear.  He had heard us talking about the huge fish, and as far as he was concerned huge fish = whale, and no amount of discussion on the different physiology of sea dwelling mammals and true fish was having any effect.

Not what you expect to see at a Chateaux

Then my beloved, who was standing beside us, twitched.  It was more of  a ½ jump and ½ galvanic reflex.
"What's up?" I enquired.
"Something's just crawled up my leg" she replied, her face strained with anxiety, and just a hint of hysteria in her voice.
She was wearing those ¾ length white trousers that most women seem to like, and most blokes think just look silly. (Did they shrink in the wash or what?)
"It's getting higher" she squeaked, and I could see something , a bubble in the cloth moving into her upper thigh.
"It's still getting higher"..So was her voice.  It was now almost supersonic.  The lump was now moving into the area that I regarded as especially mine.
What to do?
Strip off her trousers and expose her glory to the surrounding populace?
Get the family to make a cordon around her so she could take her trousers of herself?

I hit her with my sandal. 

To be fair I was trying to squash whatever was moving under her trousers, but my beloved was dismayed.  I had never used any sort of violence towards her in all our years together (and never have, ever) and why was I hitting her because she had something moving under her trousers?
Then she realised what I was trying to do, namely kill whatever was in there.
She started to speak, then she screamed.

I have never seen a pair of trousers come off so fast.  Even in my Army days, when a Major inadvertently sat in a pool of battery acid, and his nether regions began to smoke and fume have I seen a pair of trousers disappear so quickly.  Mind you my beloved's trousers were removed mechanically.  The Major's sort of evaporated and fell of in lumps.

Ohh La La.  Merde.  C'est trés dangeraux

We could then see the problem. It was a Hornet. A bloody big wasp, which because of my clumsy efforts to kill it had stung my beloved only millimetres from her "Juicy Bits".  Our car was parked close by, and we all hurried of to it.  My beloved quickly changed into a spare dress (the trousers now being smeared with squashed Hornet and some trace of blood), and our kids went off in search of an ice cream shop (my daughter was 9, and was safe in charge for a few minutes), while we went of in search of an Apothecary.
Here lay the real problem.  My command of the French language was pretty minimal. I can proudly say that I have failed my "O" Level french 3 times.

I tried.

When we entered the Apothecary there were about 4 or 5 locals browsing the shelves plus 3 staff, 2 very pretty young ladies and an older (grumpy looking) gentleman. 
My first words were of course "Excusez moi, parlez vous Anglais?"
Gallic shrugs and blank incomprehensibility.
Shit, sorry, Merde.
I dug deep into my ancient memories of the intricacies of the French language.
What was the word for wasp?  I couldn't remember.  Something like Mouche or Mouchoir? 
What was the word for sting or bite?  Manger?
What was the word for "Juicy Bits"?  I was pretty sure we hadn't covered that in my classes at school.

Oh well, I could always point and gesture.  It seemed to work for the french most of the time.  Seeing a Frenchman or woman in full flow was like seeing a duck trying to take off.  Waving hands and pointing fingers and multiple shrugs, twitches and grunts.
So I said "Le Mouchoire" "Bzzz" "Manger"and pointed to my beloved's private areas.

The reaction was not what I expected.
The older male supervisor looked appalled.
The young assistants blushed.
The older locals browsing the shelves, looking for the latest french suppository for their livers turned and looked with interest.  Especially the ladies.

What on earth had I said?

I pantomimed a vicious insect attacking my beloved's "Juicy Bits", accompanying my gestures with a "Bzzz, Buzzz, Bzzz".

The older male turned away in disgust.
The young ladies blushed further.
The local stared at me as if I was a combination of Louis XIV, Gerard Depardieu and Bluebeard (Awe, Adoration and Loathing)

I had a brainwave.  A large poster on the back wall showed pictures of some nasty pests.
I pointed at the image of a large wasp.
Then I pointed at my beloved's "Juicy Bits", and she pantomimed pain.

The looks changed form disgust/interest to sympathy, and my beloved was hustled to a back area where the damage could be assessed.

A few of the locals still stared at me with interest, adnd I'm sure there are still stories in the town about the strange foreigner with outlandish (but interesting) habits.

Later, when we were lying in bed (my beloved with a strange and evil-smelling poultice strapped to her nether regions, which precluded any fancy hanky-panky for the rest of our sojurn in "La Belle France") I went back over the miniature French-English disctionary I had retained from my school days and had brought to France in case of emergency (it had been left in the gîte)
Oh dear.

What I had thought of "fly" was "la Mouche"  Mouchoir was actually the word for mustache.  Bite was "mordre" not "manger" which was eat.

Oh dear.

I had, in a quiet little French provincial Apothecary, demonstrated my desire for my moustache (I wear a full beard) to eat my beloved's "Juicy Bits".  With a buzz.

Holidays are so restful.

Wait till I try the same thing in Melbourne. But trying to describe the predations of a Funnel Spider on my beloved's "private areas" to an Aussie no longer seems strange. 

Odd, but somehow familiar.


  1. "She was wearing those ¾ length white trousers that most women seem to like, and most blokes think just look silly."
    You and athiest and me, well...
    But for once we agree on something.

  2. Thank you. I think. If we're both blokes (I'm pretty sure about me, but you never know) then there are some things we must have in common. Have a drink.

    You know it makes sense.

    Or in your case have a glass of water. It'll all turn out the same in the end.

  3. The paragraph below the certificate of wrongness should be carved in stone and hung in places of learning or chutzpa or tattoo'd on every male at puberty. It should be said before meals in place of thingumy, whatsitsname - oh aye 'grace' - as a constant reminder of its perfection and absolute truth - or so my wife has just told me!

  4. Alistair: Thanks for supporting my feelings of total inferiority when it comes to women.

  5. Angry Jesus said it for me - those bloody silly pants!


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