With the help of my new landlady who had the misfortune to be in the house when I arrived, I managed to get most of the contents of my car into the house in almost drive-by time. We set up a throw and catch system with me doing the throwing, and kept it up until I heard her ask from inside the house whether there would be much more. Sensing that she was reaching the end of the road, I pulled out the big wheelie case, shut the boot on the remaining half-ton of books, cds, dvds, clock radio, framed wall tile etc and told her it was all over as I dragged the case across the threshold. And it was just as well I’d pulled the plug. The poor woman who, remember, has braved entire summers up the mountains in a one woman tent with only enough belongings to fill a large handbag, was squeezed into a corner gazing, dumbfounded, at the pile of junk that I had transported across 3 countries. Once I had engineered a pathway for her to reach the door I explained that ever since the famine we Irish have always been afraid of running out of things. She flashed me a brief look of sympathy (or was it pity?) as she edged her way out of the house.
A week later and I have settled in quite nicely, thank you. Most of the houses on this street are 3 to 4 stories high, with just one room on each level. So, it’s like climbing the stone steps in the old towers we used to be dragged around when we were kids – a lot of stairs for a disproportionate reward. You basically step off the stairs into a room at each level. Then you remember that you forgot to bring up the fly swatter from the kitchen and have to do it all again. I am very lucky with this house in that it has been extended backwards, so each level has much greater payback. AND I have a large roof terrace on which to lounge.
Speaking of fly swatters, why is it that once the hot weather comes every bug within a 5,000 mile radius makes a beeline for my body? It’s as if they, too, have inherited famine fever and on hearing that there was a good meal going in Argeles sur Mer have dropped everything to stake a claim. But what makes me a good meal as opposed to others who remain untouched? And why don’t I ever see, or hear, them coming? Having spent the last few days scratching, cursing and slapping as I sit indoors listening to French radio and watching French TV without understanding a word, I have declared war on all tiny vampiric predators. And so, tonight I will be rubbing the inside of a banana skin all over my vast canvas before heading for bed. I spent quite some time browsing the net before finding a French site that recommends this novel remedy/deterrent (I’m not actually sure which it is because my dictionary is still in the boot of my car but I’m not taking any chances). Wish me luck.