Monday, July 17, 2006


Readers of this diary have been spared the minutiae of the repairs to the house following the storm damage in March, but I'm allowing myself a minor celebration, as today the bedroom ceiling went up again. When it is skimmed and ready to paint, it will be four months to the day since it fell down. In the meantime, serious structural rot was found in the roof above, but that has been fixed, as have numerous lesser problems.

I gave up looking for a plaquiste when the hot weather hit, knowing that only mad foreigners toil in the summer. You won't find plaquiste in the French-English dictionary, but that's what they call a plasterer down here. One assumes that it's a masculine noun, but you never know with French, and I haven't found a dictionary of the local dialect that could adjudicate.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


HoopoeA couple of hoopoes have taken a liking to the garden. As these spectacular birds eat ants, of which I have more than enough, they are doubly welcome.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bastille day

Out here in the provinces, firework displays are often scheduled for the evening of the 13th July, not on Bastille Day itself. Many communes cancelled their displays this year, because of the elevated fire danger in this hot dry summer. Cahors did not. The city fathers have sabotaged the retailers by digging up the parking lots and driving the tourists away, so robbing the locals of les feux d'artifice was not an option.

The display started 25 minutes late, but the crowd hardly complained. The display was the same as last year - ragged start with a splendid finale - Mozart accompanying. But the crowd loved it and applauded. A display like this isn't bad for a city of 20,000 souls. Have to admire the sense of city pride, but can't wait for the bums in la Mairie to be voted out.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A whimper

France seems very quiet today. Yesterday's World Cup final has been dismissed with a Gallic shrug. The Italians were clever to bait Zidane, so that he would be sent off and unavailable for the penalty kick finale. It's reported that when Materazzi hung round Zidane's neck, he called him a terrorist; a few seconds later, the bull from Real Madrid butted him in the chest.

The whole World Cup episode was bizarre. The French team was widely dismissed as too old: no one dreamed that they would be in the final. Le Pen complained that there were too many blacks on a team that represented France. Almost half the team refused to sing the national anthem. Yet the exploits of Ribery, Henry, Barthez and, above all, Zidane will be with us for a long time. It's all a bit sad.

P.S.   The Times enlisted the help of an expert lip reader to determine the precise nature of the dialogue that caused Zidane to react in such a manner.   After an exhaustive study of the match video, and with the help of an Italian translator, she claimed that Materazzi called Zidane "the son of a terrorist whore" before adding "so just f*** off"   for good measure.   Paris Match reported that Materazzi called Zizou a queer and his sister a whore.   All a bit much for a sensitive footballer.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

On with the mushrooms

Just over a week of violent thunderstorms and intervening hot days has kickstarted the wild mushroom season. Wednesday's market saw our first girolles (chanterelles to anglophones) and today we were offered cèpes (boletus or porcini) as well. The cèpes don't last more than a day or two before self-destructing, so sauté of mushrooms is on the menu.