Another Pair Of Sleeves


My builders arrived in good time this morning and continued as cheerfully as ever.  They are working their way slowly and carefully through the ground floor.  Much of what they have to do is level off the surfaces to take the well-made and stout PVC frames which come with the factory-made doors.  Already I have several perfectly fitting entrances and everything is looking much better.

I was happy to leave the men as Bill and I walked up to the church at Monbos (see post of 8th June last year) and back in time for lunch at Le Code Bar.  We ate a tasty soup containing semolina which neither of us could identify; a delicious, warm, quiche; pork belly and roast potatoes heavily garnished with garlic; and finally the exquisite creme brulee.  Complimentary coffee was to follow.  The bar was so full that some people had to wait their turn to be seated.

In the church we both lit candles.  After trying the matches provided in their damp boxes I was all for giving up.  Bill persevered and got a flame.  My prayer was my usual one of thanks for the way this stage of my life has panned out.

Thierry pointed out a slight leak in a tap in the corridor linking the hall and the shower room.  Hopefully this would just need tightening up, which I think he said he would do.  I will wait and see.  I had done this on my last visit, but only hand-tight.  I really don’t want to bring back the plumber who renewed the plumbing after the great storm of 2008.  The cowboy builder had installed plastic piping which he assured Mike was legal in France.  It isn’t, and pipes had burst ten days after the completion of the purchase.  The French artisan who installed the current copper piping had never returned to paint the pipes, make good, nor replace the broken shower head, having claimed ignorance about how it came to be damaged.

Having been advised that this was the thing to do, I had, against my better judgement, paid in full in advance in cash.  He made several appointments for completion, none of which were kept, and never returned my key.  Eighteen months later, at my request, Mike collected it from him.  This was made all the more difficult by neither of us understanding the other.  It was less his fault than the very rusty state of my French.

Thierry and GeoffreyThierry is a totally different kettle of fish, or another pair of sleeves, as the French would say.  He and Geoffrey get on so well that I asked if they were father and son.  In fact, the younger man is Saufiene’s stepson.  He has been placed in good hands.  We are now at the level where they can helpfully correct my grammar for me.  Thierry told me the word for the ‘pins’ forming hinges for the doors.  Looking up the spelling in the Robert Dictionary I discovered it was the same word as for a fish, the gudgeon, which my informant confirmed.  I told Thierry I knew someone who thought he was proficient in French because he knew the phrase ‘comme ci comme ca’, and that he should come here and listen to this man who uses it all day long.  Someone, you know who you are.  Get over here and help me with translation.

When Bill and I set off this morning, it was still raining, but this afternoon was much finer, just as Thierry had said it woud be because he had ordered it.  We saw a large deer, its white scut flashing, bounding across a field into woods off the D17.  This movement was quite unlike the elegant gliding I see in the New Forest.  Perhaps it was a different variety of cervid.

Saufiene had an hour to kill when he made his inspection visit.  We sat and had a pleasant chat.

Because of levelling off they had had to do, it was not possible to leave the hidden key in place.  Geoffrey therefore made me a present of it to keep.  It now lies on the mantelpiece.


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