27 March 2016

d'accord . . .

LIKE MOST OF THE CIRCLE of chums here – the majority of whom ship in and out like we do – one spends the first days of one's return mostly in and around the abode, saving the sallies into the hinterland until one feels one has got one's feet back under the table, on the ground etc. And often that is partly about getting an assessment of what deteriorations have taken place since one last locked up and came away.

This time, nothing too bad: the usual fuzz of sablet salts coming out of various places, Fafner not sure whether its hot water or central heating we want, or both, or neither, but with much roaring from the garage now resigned to do both, as and when commanded; some doors sticking, and the windows in need of the wash leather even though covered over by shutters all the winter. Not to mention the film of dust that has to be sucked up. A chance to look round then and see what 'extras' the village has obtained in the winter months: the swimming pool constructed across the way, the surgery relocated to a new build by the football ground, new houses threatened on the boggy bit by the former filling station, unsightly aircon added to the house up the hill. They've even raked the river shingle to clear away the herbage down there, and done the winter tree trims.

We will find lots more ever-so-slightly-changed as we potter around the mean streets and alleys.  Above all we are reacquainted (or soon will be) with fellow enthusiasts from Germany, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Wales, France even, and the motherland who like this rather ordinary yet proud little place with its fish-and-chip Fridays, international book fair, grande fête, soup festivals, wine tours, Belgian nights, fun runs, history parades, brocante sales. The Mairie has applied the one-way system which is regularly ignored, and generally disliked, the traffic calming (bumps) has slowed things down a bit on the approaches while the misleading signage continues to confuse deliveries and newcomers to a degree. Junctions where road markings were painted out some time ago by a mayor-with-an-agenda continue to offer spice, risk and some dithering, the famous plastic bottle style bollards (the ones you can drive over with no ill effects, save to bollard itself) now grace the approach to the only roundabout actually within the village for no discernible reason;  the bus stop thereat was very sensibly moved last year to a safer place with room for the bus to actually stop.

Yesterday it was warm cloudless and almost windless. Today it is grey wet and misty.

Never mind that, – I have a plan: I hope to offer you a short address on varietal differences in road paint and furniture, pedestrian crossings into walls, proliferations and as status symbols, roundabouts for no reason, traffic lights for fun, giving way to the right in towns and villages or not, tailgating, road surfaces, pavement parking (fr. pavements are actually for parking, mostly it would seem) and the freedom to buy-your-own official, actual road signs from any good briccolage. . . well it might not be that short. Then I may bash on about Le Menu, the greatest of french institutions, after its cake and bread supremacy, and the dire affects it may have had on some french design (or lack of it) as a result of too much déjeuner indulgence. I may also very well have something to say about typeface abuse and street advertising that seems designed to simply turn one off making purchases . . .