Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Steppin’ out

Being back in the rainy season for at least the next 4 days it is harder to stay motivated, but as I have probably got lots to do, I get up at 8.20am to start the day.
My first official duty of the day, after my caramel tea and cereal (in separate vessels) was to phone the UK tax office to see if they were expecting me to fill in a tax return. I had not received one from them, but this could have been because I told them I was going to be resident in France.
I dialled the special “from abroad” number and after some options I was through to a lady from the tax office. I gave her my details and explained my situation. She told me that unfortunately as their computer was down, she would not be able to check my records. She would however phone me back tomorrow. This means that I will leave all the paperwork which might be of relevance spread on the chairs and floor until tomorrow….

Bee boy is back after his long weekend away, so it is open house again. To keep him on his toes keyswise though, I continue to lock the main door when I go in and out.

In the afternoon it was back to the Instep office to meet my advisor. My advisor for the next 6 months is a friendly lady who tolerated my mangled French very well.
The Ariege is one of, if not the poorest departments in France and this year they are expecting 3,000 jobs to be lost. Our 45 minute chat lasted for an hour and a quarter, but this was okay she said, because the next appointment had cancelled. I have been given the task of going to the Chamber of Commerce in town to chat with them about possibilities. She did have a moment of excitement when she found a job advert for work lasting 8 months working in the south of the region. She had spotted the need to speak English but had however missed the fact that the person had to be an expert in the Prehistoric period and the prehistory of the Ariege. There are numerous caves with prehistoric painting in the area.
My next appointment is in two weeks time. As we were concluding the days business she asked me when I had registered. When I told her it was last week she seemed very surprised that I was already on the orientation course.
I like to think it is because I am special..

Literature update

I am currently listening to Elizabeth George’s “What she did before he shot her” which will keep me occupied for 23 hours. I am just over half way through and I fear that several of the characters that I have become attached to will not be the recipients of a happy ending. On verra.
Over the last few weeks I have listened to: “The Chopin manuscript” by Jeffery Deaver with chapters contributed to by 15 or so other authors. Jeffery wrote the first chapter, then the book was passed to the other authors in turn, who added their own twists and turns. Not one for the faint hearted as the body count mounts at a steady pace throughout. It fell to Jeffery to tie up all the loose ends created in the final couple of chapters. It was written specifically for audio, so I do not know if it will ever appear in text format.
Victoria Hislop’s “Island” set largely on Spinalonga, a small off Crete which was home to a colony of people with leprosy earlier in the 20th century, and which I visited briefly one afternoon in the mid 1980’s.

Disappointing ending with this one though, almost as though the author got bored and decided to end the book in as short a time as possible.
Alexander McCall Smith’s “The finer points of sausage dogs” which had very few funny bits in it and was rather a mess in my opinion. Did anyone edit it before it was published? I found the main characters extremely annoying and did not warm to any of them.
Alexander McCall Smith’s “Irregular Portuguese verbs” which was more successful on the comedy front, but I still hoped (in vain) that all the main characters would be killed off. There is a third volume but I do not have it yet.
Michael Simkin’s “Fatty batter” was far more successful on the funny bone front. Unfortunately the last section of the book with vignettes of some of his team’s matches tacked on, perhaps to pad the book out a bit. This space could have been used to fill in details e.g. about this English actor's relationship with his wife. Perhaps she got fed up of him and his obsession with cricket and whipped off his bails?


  1. does caramel tea involve butter and sugar? or .... ?

  2. No it is far more exotic than that. You buy it in Casino. It is black tea and caramel flavouring (flavoring)and comes in handy sachets with string attached. Perhaps you are getting confused with the film Last Tango in Paris. This is a common mistake. :-)


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