DERNIER MOT - GUESTS AND OTHER PESTS
We’re rushed off our feet. The holidays are in full swing, and the house is packed with friends and relations.
Everywhere you look, people are un-folding sun loungers, opening bottles, eating peaches, lighting barbecues, rubbing sun-cream into their shoulders, and lying around relaxing. The Senior Partner is pumping up bicycle tyres, the Junior Members are skittering about with fishing nets and jam sandwiches, the black panthers are working their paws to the bone, rolling in the catnip, and I’m constantly watering my garden. Luckily I don’t have to weed it any more, because it’s ecological. (That means un-weeded.)
We’re constantly cooking and pouring drinks. We don’t even get time to see our neighbours, because they’re in the same boat. Everyone in the village has friends and relations staying. We’re constantly running from house to house borrowing kiddie cots, mosquito nets and paddling pools. Marie-France and Yvette are even running a communal car down to Montpellier to fetch people from the airport. The cobbled streets or our village are full of brightly-dressed tourists taking photos and falling in the fountain.
It’s non-stop. Dusk to dawn. Can you imagine it? We’re forced to organise swimming parties at the waterfall, picnics at the beach, outings to zoos, museums, water parks, circuses and fairs. Not only that, but we absolutely have to attend all the star-light film screenings, dances, fetes, village feasts, poetry readings, and theatre festivals in the area. Not to mention the village bake-sale in aid of the new church door.
Yes, it’s a non-stop grind of relaxing, chatting, swapping jokes and er... guiding the unwary. Visitors tend to think that Factor 4 will suffice, they under-estimate the amount of red wine it takes to provoke a hangover, they attempt to drive in the afternoon when it’s too hot, and they go walking without taking a bottle of water.
So not only do we have to run round making ice, we are absolutely obliged to go swimming and sunbathing, sight-seeing and hill-walking, not to mention drinking with our visitors. To make sure they’re not over-doing it. Of course.
Otherwise we’d be happily, industriously re-painting the sitting room. Of course we would. Why are you laughing? Naturally I’d much sooner be standing on a step ladder covered in dust, scraping whitewash off the ceiling with a potato peeler. But we sacrifice the joys of DIY in the cause of looking after others. We have to sit on the loungers and get brown so as not to let the side down.
And we all feel it’s important to support the local bars and restaurants with regular visits. So we’re go out nearly every night. And socially, it’s only polite to invite people round for barbecues, suppers and apéros. We’re all agreed that it simply has to be done. Whether we enjoy all that laughter and relaxation or not.
And in return it’s only polite to accept invitations to lunches that go on all afternoon. Not because we want to, you understand. Frankly, it’s all too, too exhausting. We even have to take siestas to keep up with it all.
But taxing as this is, someone has to do it and I really think shirking is anti-social. In fact, waiting for people to ring up is a bit off, don’t you think. I mean, when duty calls, one ought to step forward with alacrity rather than lurking about in the shadows hoping to be over-looked. So we’re dutifully inviting everyone we know to a swimming party on Saturday. We’re having a picnic down at the river at lunchtime, moving up to the bar for apéros and boules when it gets cooler, and then all coming back here for mousaka and charades in the evening.
We’ll need a holiday soon.
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.