What would Jeff do?

June 30, 2011

The other week, we introduced you all to Jeff (one of the three Jeff’s in the village) who took us into Narbonne on our first day here. What we failed to mention was, this was the day we fell in love with Jeff.

We’re not really sure what exactly it was that made us fall for him. Perhaps it was his Welsh accent, or his full head of bristly, white, 70 year old man hair. Or maybe it’s because he knows how to fix just about everything in the world. And DAMN, does he know how to wear a pair of khakis. But most likely, it’s because he’s is one of the most lovely, generous and kind people we’ve ever met.

Oh and he commented on how good our cement was.

So now, whenever we’re faced with any challenge going forward (e.g Luke – which one of the 7 identical Topshop t-shirts am I going to wear today? Me – can I steal piece of bread and eat it by the time Mummy S comes back from the pantry?), we’re going to stop and ask ourselves, ‘what would Jeff do?’


Some people like watching sport, others like brushing cats, however I have worked out I love laying cement and hacking trees with axes.

Yesterday, Luke and I almost came to brownie point blows. You see, his job was to dig a hole to get rid of the roots that the bamboo had created. Very manly and full of sweaty, labour-y fun. I got told about another job for him that involved getting rid of the thick roots the wall ivy had created. Now this job involved an axe, saw and crowbar. All items that greatly appeal to me. So I decided to do it myself and from now on, I will only accept axe based jobs. The joy of hacking away at something with an axe with the sweat pouring down your face, stinging your eyes and going into your mouth is only something that can be described in Country song lyrics or a well choreographed modern dance piece. After it was done, Luke came to inspect and as he was having a go holding the axe, Mummy S came out and praised him on the work he’d done! It’s a dog eat dog world.

Today, Luke and I joined forces and made cement together. Honestly, the only thing that could have made it more romantic was laying it by candlelight. Eat our cement bamboo roots.

The jam

June 29, 2011

Last night, it finally happened. Four musical beings, five if you count one doing out of time clicking, came together and created something magical. Daddy S on bass, Mummy S singing, John Yves the winemaker on piano and Luke P on acoustic guitar.

It all came together like congealed blood.


June 27, 2011

My once nemesis has grown on me. Therefore I’d like to dedicate the following rap (West coast all the way, RIP Tupac) to him. My creative vision hopes to be realised through commercial RnB. May Ashanti and Ja Rule reunite and make such sweet, sweet music like their former hits ‘Always on Time’and ‘Mesmerize’. Thank you and this goes out to you Murphy.

Murphy, Murphy,
You make my sinuses go crazee
But when you look at me with your itty bitty eyez
My heart goes BA BOOM with surprise.

Hey lil’ Murphy, I think I like you
(like you, like you)
Hey lil’ Murphy, I don’t despise you
(despise you)

Just last week, the thought of you made me low
All you were, was a goddamn furry foe
Now I know you don’t mean no harm
Hey lil’ Murphy you got some feline charm.

Hey lil’ Murphy, I think I like you
(like you, like you)
Hey lil’ Murphy, I don’t despise you
(despise you)


June 26, 2011

Scene: dinner outside. Cold mackerel, potato salad, green salad, olives, sun dried tomato bread, selection of cheeses.

Present: Daddy David, Mummy S, Luke and Vanessa

Conversation theme: music

Luke: We went with friends to a speakeasy style bar and there was this great band playing. You know, they were pretty old, like about 70 and they were actually really good.

Mummy S is 71 and extremely conscious about her age and her looks. Every so often she looks at her complexion in the oven door and hoots ‘you old bag’ then laughs hysterically.

While Luke was telling his story I was sending him abort messages which were NOT RECEIVED as he mentioned the band’s age and how they were old, yet doing a great job, not once, but TWICE. I glanced over to Mummy S while still furiously sending Luke shut the fuck up signals and saw her cringing slightly but with this weird smile on her face. It was amazing. Sometimes, you just can’t pay for this kind of shit.

After dinner, we went to a neighboring village called Le Sommeil where they were having an outdoor jazz night. It was another surreal moment as while we were watching an old style jazz band (yes, they were about 70), one of the village women came on stage and starting playing the spoons. The spoons! Oh my days, it was fantastic. Then we watched the villagers do the conga line to some really bad 90s French music. You can’t pay for that shit either.


June 25, 2011

Luke looking high and low for the olives that are, as usual, in the most least obvious place imaginable, like the cheese drawer.

This is what happened when Luke found out he had put the wrong placemats on the table at lunch. The glass outdoor table doesn’t need placemats, only the wooden inside table does. Duh.

After today’s events, I had to tuck him up inside the local tree vagina to find his happy place.

The singalong

June 23, 2011

Take a moment, sit back and think about Luke and I. Picture Luke’s little happy face. Imagine him wearing a shirt (we’ve run out of clothes), opened in a 90s pop star kind of a way with an acoustic guitar slung around his neck. Imagine me, forcing a pleasant/in awe kind of a face, sitting on one of those poofy sofas that tries to swallow you so you can never quite sit up straight. Now imagine Mummy S – a petite, 71 year old woman, who has a penchant for wearing purple, having her tits out and closing her eyes and shrugging her shoulders when she smiles.

Now, if you will, imagine us in the ‘parlour’. Think Napoleon chic. Think high ceilings, spanish tiles with Persian carpets, a black grand piano, music stand and hundreds of sheets of music. Finally, imagine the three of us making sweet, sweet, ‘music’ together. Luke on the guitar, Mummy S with her mic (yes, a mic) and me on the sofa, being the official finger clicker (loser who can’t play an instrument).

Mummy S sings exactly how Luke and I and probably you, imagined…like an X Factor audition reject who is still in denial. Sometimes she hits a few ok notes and you gotta give it to her for trying but I had to keep on looking down so I wouldn’t laugh for the first 15 minutes. It was so touch and go at one point that I couldn’t even make eye contact with Luke for fear of breaking my pleasant/in awe kind of a face.

Then my worst fear happened. We’d already covered Fever, Luke doing a stellar job and gaining all the brownie points he so longed for with his ‘great rythem’ and had moved onto more ‘popular’ songs. Somehow, we began singing Come Together. And by we, it was me and Mummy S sitting on the sofa together, singing. And to my horror, she kept on shoving the microphone in my face. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her looking at me, willing me to ‘connect’ with her, make eye contact and come together with her through the magic tunnel of music. And despite the further lead it would have given me in the brown nose table, I just couldn’t.

The evening’s playlist was:

Come Together
Proud Mary

The while thing was so surreal. We were doing a singalong, with an aging ex soapie actress, who was now going by her Indian spiritual name, in the extravagant parlour of a chateau, in the South of France.

Daddy S is getting out his bass tonight.

If it was, I am in last place. Vanessa however, is flying ahead and loving it.

What blew it for me? Well, a number of things. Our hosts are intellectuals (a professor in Geophysics and an actress no less). Struggling to find common ground over the first few nights and dying of conversational death, Vanessa craftily pulled out the topic of reading the other day. Vanessa scored humongous brown-nose points when discussing the books they had all read. I made the enormous error of informing my hosts that I rarely read and received looks of pity. Jealousy embroiled me as they were diverting all their attention to Vanessa throughout the discussion and making notes of the books she told them about. Vanessa 1 – Luke 0.

While swimming in the pool it was commented that Vanessa “swims gracefully” and has a “natural talent that you cannot compete with” and that I, swim like “someone who is drowning”. I admit, I may lack some technique, but I thought my Michael Phelps size feet gave me the great speed to compensate this. I was wrong because Vanessa has beaten me in every race to date. Vanessa 2 – Luke 0.

Vanessa and I watched a movie from their DVD collection last night that I chose. It was ‘Sideways’ – a good 7/10 movie that in no way lives up to the book it was based on, written by Rex Pickett (I should know because I have read it!). Anyway, at the breakfast table this morning I proudly told our hosts that we watched one of their movies and that I also read the book. What a bad move. They hate the movie. It was a terrible gift from a terrible friend. Vanessa didn’t back me up. Vanessa 3 – Luke 0.

Also, apparently I have bad spatial awareness. My host ‘noticed’ this about me. Namely because I put things in the wrong place, i.e the wrong knife in the wrong drawer (see previous posts). In my defence, they have about three drawers for different cutlery and distinguishing a large knife to a small knife when there is only 1cm difference is a bit tricky. Cut me a break. Vanessa then went on to say her map reading skills were better than mine, and that I’m holding her back in getting us to our destinations. Vanessa 4 – Luke 0.

Lastly, Vanessa is half Chinese/half Scottish and Australian. Our hosts are Scottish, love asian food and have lived in Australia. Vanessa 7 – Luke 0. Actually, I now realise that coming from Essex is quite isolating when on the continent. Vanessa 7 – Luke -1

I have one hope that may save me – I can play guitar. And our hosts love Jazz. They have been singing and playing it for the past 10 years (did I mention one of them used to play bass in a successful Punk band in the 70s?). We have yet to hear the ‘Eva Cassidy’ voice of the lady of the Manor, but from the comments around the dinner table, she could be a prodigy. Using my prowess, I informed them that I play. Their ears had pricked up about this and they supplied me with a handful of music scores containing the Jazz playlist that they perform.

We will be jamming at Sunset. It’s all or nothing.

Vanessa waits on bated breath to see if I steal her crown.

Did I mention that I can’t play Jazz?


June 20, 2011

This morning, Mummy S asked me if by any chance, had I been dancing in the meditation room late last night. She had been trying to sleep and couldn’t because there was thumping coming from above her. Naturally, the first thing she assumed that it had been me – dancing very loudly and inconsiderately. Clearly I look the type to break out in a bit of interpretive dance after midnight and she was just bursting to give me a telling off for it.

Seriously, how the fuck do you answer that?

So I asked which one was the meditation room.

They are seriously mental. Luke almost got stabbed this morning with the wrong metal, not bone handled, knife he laid out at breakfast time. Tonight, we got told we could only turn on the oven if we were planning on using it for a range of other things not to cook one component of a meal. They water their HUGE garden by hose so they don’t have to pay for it and when rinsing the plates, we have to do it in an inch of water. Let me suggest you scroll down to take another look at their gigantic, three floored CHATEAU. Tight asses. On the bright side, this afternoon after some good old morning gardening, we swam in the pool, sun bathed, then went biking along the canal to a neighbouring village. Not bad, but they’re still fucking nuts.