Samantha David is a freelance journalist and writes for various publications including BBC Online, the Sunday Times, the FT, Living France, everything France, and France Magazine

Samantha David, writer

Le Dernier Mot - articles by Samantha David



DERNIER MOT - Operation Cosy 

      I'm proud to announce that I've finally completed "Operation Cosy" - otherwise known as draft-proofing the hall.  It started with the front door, which the Senior Partner painted in the summer.  This inspired me to do something about the doorstep; two centuries of visiting feet have worn a friendly dip in it, allowing drafts and scorpions free access to my kitchen.

      Needless to say there was no question of replacing the doorstep.  So up went an industrial-style curtain rail above the door and after a week or so of watching dvds - I mean hand-sewing rufflette onto a large army blanket - up went a floor-length draft-proof curtain.  But the draft remained.

      "I don't think the wind was coming under the door," said the SP gloomily.  "It's coming through the stairs."

      He was right.  Sitting on the stairs to admire my curtain handiwork, my derrière felt decidedly glacé.  Armed with a candle (so I could see what I was doing) and a large hammer (in case of scorpions) I delved into the cupboard under the stairs.

      "Blimey!" I shouted from the depths.  "You're right.  There's a brick missing!"

      The SP rolled his eyes, but I was rather pleased.  It was a brilliant opportunity to play with cement, and I was off like a hamster with new bedding.  Several hours later, having left cement-tracks all though the house, I'd filled up the gap under the stairs and for good measure, set off an expanding polystyrene foam aerosol-gun-job from Brictruc.

      "You've gone too far," said the SP.  "Look at all these plastic mushrooms oozing out of the wall."

      "They're in a cupboard," I said.  "Go and sit on the stairs.  How's your bottom?"

      "Not bad," he admitted.  "Not bad at all.  In fact I'd say these stairs are now officially draft-free."

      I should have left it there.  I do realise that.  I'd achieved the objective, what possible Brownie Points could I gain by continuing?

      "I think I'll re-paint the hall and the stairs," I said.  "The ceiling is a bit cracked..."

      But there was no reply.  At the mention of the word "paint" the SP had disappeared.

      I didn't care.  I set up my ladders and platforms and got going.  I'd originally done the hall in gay Provençale yellow and blue but to be brutally honest it had never really worked.

      "Warm tones," I told Bella.  "Rosy, glowing, welcoming colours."  She panted obligingly.  "Pink!" I said. "A pink hall!  Baby-blush, summer-rose, raspberry!"

      And then two days later fate played into my hands.  I stumbled upon a box of half-price wallpaper in Bricotruc: dark fuchsia with gold swirls.  And in the next box along was a whole collection of strawberry crush wallpaper trim; that stuff you put along the top and the bottom to disguise the torn bits.

      I bought everything and dashed home triumphant and full of energy.  I stained the stairs deep cherry, painted the risers with two shades of baby and blush rose, adorned the inside of the front door with a complicated pattern of red fruits and got going with the wallpaper.

      It took several weeks, during which time everyone had to walk sideways up the stairs to avoid my paint pots and buckets of glue, but finally I cleared all my materials away, and called the family in to admire my handiwork.

      The SP gazed at it in silence, taking in the warmth of the new colour scheme, the welcoming fruity glow of the hall.  "It certainly is cosy," he said finally.

      Meanwhile the JMs were in hysterics.  "Ha ha ha!" they gasped.  "It looks like an Indian restaurant!"




If you would like to read more articles, or would like to commission one for your publication, please email me using the form on the contacts page.