This is my smiles page that I add to from time to time when I see or hear something interesting and when I have the time…

It’s Christmas, creches are being created everywhere to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This is one of the more unusual.

une crèche française

regardons de plus près

The close up is to show St Marie, St Joseph, and the infant Jesus asleep with a cork as a pillow. There is also a donkey present, definitely a French take on the stable scene.

20160115_170547Here is another, constructed from veg!


Despite being visually arresting, this sign gives no clue as to the business of this business. But when I tell you they are wine producers the sign becomes obvious. ( Three readers guessed correct in the competition and received a case of the wine.)


This is an interesting car I saw recently, it is not the drivers seat I found different but the windscreen wipers. There is no windscreen for them to clean, so a surgical glove has been attached to one of them to wipe the drivers spectacles.

Still on motoring, well, sort of. What do you do with old tractor tyres? Salvador Dali found a use for them. To support his statues outside his museum in Spain!


What do you do with old wine casks?


You hold the ceiling up with them!

What do you do with old car wheels?


You weld them together to make ball. Then…

You place them outside you garage and watch idiots like me photographing them in the rain.

What do you do with old cycle saddles?


 You weld them to frame, tie material and horns to the frame and scatter them around the courtyard of one of France’s top fashion houses – I suppose.


I’m talking about the song here. Few people know that this song is still under copyright. Whenever you sing it to someone, you should be paying a royalty fee.

Time Warner, the owners of the song however, never charge for a private performance. If it is sung in a film it will cost the singer around $15000.00! Used on TV at around $8000.00, down to lower fees for amateur theatricals.

It is rumoured Marylyn Monroe paid $1.2M to sing it to her President!

So, don’t go singing it in front of too many people!


A Parisian Plaque



The translation:   ‘Here, killed by the Nazis, corporal Roger Salomez.            He died for France on August 20th 1944’. This is one of many, many plaques of remembrance that can be found in the streets of Paris.

As you can see I took the picture from below as these plaques are all at least 3 metres high. When I asked why, a friend said, “if they were any lower they would be stolen.”

Seems the Free French fighters still have value.


Good Luck in there!


It’s the hopper head at the side of the window I found baffling


“Nothing to do with rain water,” said a local.” They used to be used to empty ‘the night jar’.”



Visited the latest Parisien tourist magnet. Finished in just twenty years and at a cost of E220M the result is breathtaking. If you are interested in architecture a visit is a must. If you are an architect, a visit is a must but I guarantee you will be green with envy at the result of such dedication.

It cannot be described as a building, more of a cloud hovering above the woods in Boulogne in the centre of Paris. I was lucky, I arrived at feeding time for the er…er…er. I arrived at feeding time for the blue er…er…er. Well I arrived.


This is a pic I took from the Captain’s seat on the bridge of HMS Belfast, the WW2 battleship moored in the Thames in London. The vessel’s a huge tourist attraction, but notice the guns are all pointing in the same direction and are also of the same elevation.

The guns have a range of fourteen miles, so if they were fired, where would the shells explode? A field behind the Scratchwood services on the M1 motorway would be turned into a huge and deep hole – Health and Safety and the anti-terrorist branch think of everything!



This is a pic of the English flag. It is on the wall of the tunnel that leads to the pitch in the rugby stadium at Twickenham. It is the last thing the players see before they go out to do battle for their country.

The slogan reads “Hundreds before you, thousands around you, millions behind you”. Even when packed the tunnel can be a very lonely place for a player. The flag is to remind him or her that they are not alone.


The flag and the slogan are also on the other side of the tunnel – to remind the visiting team just how lonely they are feeling – before they move forward into the English cauldron!




This is a wine vat full of wine, as you can see from the size of the man beside his van on the left, it is quite large.

I took the pic from an old railway viaduct that crosses the vat that is now a cycle and pedestrian path. The giggle is when you cross the viaduct. By taking in deep breaths of the fumes that rise from the vat you get the effect of having drunk a couple of glasses of wine by the time you reach the other side – all for free!

The other plus is if you climb the rail and dive headfirst into the vat, it has got to be one of the best ways to commit suicide!


Took this pic a few weeks later – someone had drunk all the wine!


Made a big mistake today. In France you read your own electricity meter every two months on receipt of an email from the electricity company.  I read mine two days ago and, comparing it with the last couple of months I realised I had used 9euros of current.

Impossible! So I checked again yesterday. The meter numbers had not moved despite using washing machines, kettles, etc. Obviously the meter was jammed.

There was an ant’s nest at the side of the meter, this time I gave it a blast from an ant killer aerosol. Obligingly the ants started dropping away from the meter and … NO! The meter was turning again!

If I had let the ants alone goodness knows how much electricity I would not have had to pay for. 


This is a darker giggle on the wonders of modern medicine.

A friend was suffering from hypertension and the medic attached a recorder, with a pressure band, around her arm. Every fifteen minutes the band would inflate, record her blood pressure and at this moment she had to stop whatever she was doing until the band deflated.
At ten thirty that evening the box made a funny noise and stopped inflating the band. The next morning the specialist was most concerned the machine had stopped functioning, but decided with the amount of data they had collected during the day a rerun was unnecessary.
The results arrived two days later with a copy sent to her doctor.
Her husband had appointment with the same doctor in the afternoon.
Puzzled by the extra attention he was receiving in the surgery, he was astonished when the doctor actually came out of his room and led him tenderly into his office.
“Please accept my condolences over your wife,” the doctor whispered.
“Condolences?” The husband was now totally perplexed.
“I understand she passed away at ten thiry the other evening.” Explained the doctor.
As I said, the wonders of modern medicine!



If you drink wine you have most likely heard of Chateauneuf du Pape.

To the right is a picture of the Chateau. There is not much left of it.

During the last war, after the defeat of France, the Germans requisition buildings to work in. Nearing defeat, with the allies allies advancing rapidly the Nazies retreated, their policy was to destroy any buildings they had used.

Chateauneuf du Pape was no exception. The German commander was particularly evil, ordering explosive charges to be placed, ensuring that the Chateau would topple onto the village below. The armourer, horrified by the order, ‘forgot’ to wire in the charges on the village side, saving the village and the villagers from destruction. The Chateau attracts thousands of visitors each year, but alas now there is only a couple of walls.


This is an artwork outside the castle at Lacoste in the Luberon in France. It has no name, so one has to guess what it represents. For me, they are the arms of a fisherman describing his latest catch.

But Lacoste castle was the home of the maquis de sade(sadism). And it was in the castle he conducted his famous orgies. So perhaps the artwork is indicating the size of something else.


A friend who was recently married cooked a leg of lamb for her new husband.

“Why did you cut it in half and cook the two pieces next to each other?” He asked. “Because that’s the way my mother cooks it.” She replied.

“Does it improve the flavour?” Her husband wondered.

She did not know, so she called her mother.

“I cook it like that because my mother cooks it like that.” Her mother’s unhelpful initiated a call to her grandmother. Her expectation of a wise and traditional culinary tip was rapidly dashed.

“I cook it like that,” smiled her grandmother, “otherwise it wont fit in my dish.”




How about this for a rum baba? If you don’t want the rum, just the ba ba, don’t press the phial!


A nearby abbey, that is open to the public, sells produce produced by the monks. A friend was taken aback when he found a jar of honey he had purchased was labelled PRODUCE OF ITALY.

The monk was unperturbed. “Everything is local to the lord.” He replied. My friend pointed out he had not bought it from The Lord but from the monk.

“We are all in the common market.” Replied the cool monk.

My friend left, deciding that taking on The Lord, the cool monk and the might of religion was a little too much for the trading standard’s office.


My neighbour was driving home. A rather disreputable figure was beside the road holding out his thumb. It was raining and cold and the neighbour, who never picks up hitchhikers, for once stopped.
The man was extremely greatful and for the next mile did not stop offering his thanks.
The flashing blue light and the siren stopped the conversation and the neighbour was pulled for speeding. Both the driver and the hitchhiker were ordered out of the car. The PC made notes in his notebook and issued a ticked from his ticket pad.
Some ten miles further the hitchhiker reached his destination,
as he left the car he turned to the neighbour.
“I know I look pretty dreadful, but I have just come out of prison.” He said.
“You have been very kind giving me a ride and I should like to show my thanks.’
He handed the neighbour two books, the policeman’s notebook and ticket pad.

Recently visited NAUSICA. A large aquaria complex in Boulogne in Northern France. In the entrance it impressed upon one that the site is not only to show off many hundreds of species of fish, but that it is also a marine reasearch and preservation centre.

The guide also informed us the centre was heavily involved in attempting to bring overfishing under control. His sincerity however was a little debased as he delivered his spiel beside a sales stall piled high with tins of Sardines, Herring, Pilchards and Mackerel (a protected species!).


As a writer I search for, watch for, listen to and inhale material. It is not often it arrives in chunks.

I was invited to a community lunch at the town hall. I did not really want to go but I asked myself why not? I could not really come up with a satisfactory answer and so I went.

I was seated next to one of the village’s oldest inhabitants, opposite a draughty door and the starter was foie gras on which I am not keen.

Not a good start.

I had prepared myself for a miserable two hours when the old man started talking to me.

I sat and listened, amazed, as the village that I live next to, suddenly became alive.

Had I noticed the hole under a certain house? Yes, I nodded.

“Ha, that’s were I hid from the Gestapo when they came,” he chuckled.

The splintered stone at the side of the washing fountain apparently was not caused by age, but by Nazi bullets when they executed fifteen young men from the village.

The bend going out of the village he smiled, was not always as narrow as it is now. The French Resistance halved the width of the road so that German trucks could not escape when they attacked from the woods.

He ran, in his bare feet, through10cm of snow for three miles to escape once more when the Gestapo returned to arrest him.

The Germans never had enough food and set snares to trap rabbits. He would go out at first light, and take the rabbits from the traps before the German’s could get them.

Instead of suffering two miserable hours, I sat enthralled for the whole meal as accounts of horror and bravery were offered across the tablecloth.

I spend the war in London during the blitz, it lasted a few months.

My tablemate had it much, much worse, German thuggery – for four years.

And I got enough story lines for three short stories that I shall write some day.


The Apple logo.

During the second world war. The British captured an enigma code machine, considered by the Nazis to produce unbreakable codes. Alan Turin, a British mathematician, broke the codes and saved the lives of many allied servicemen, and some say, shortened the war by two years.

Turin was homosexual, an illegal trait in the forties. He was offered a choice, to go to prison or chemical castration. He chose the latter with devastating consequences, eventually taking his own life. He chose poison and following in the footsteps of Snow White, in his opinion, the purest person on the planet, he injected the poison into an apple and died after one bite.

Now it is said Steve Jobs, of Apple fame, admired Turin’s achievements so much he took a white apple with one bite as his company logo.

I cannot remember where I heard this story and no one believes it when I tell them.

So now I am asking, does anyone know if it is true?

Thank you to all the readers who emailed me on the above. Apparently, the man himself, Steve Jobs was told this story.

He thought it was very dramatic, but, it is not true.



I took this picture during my time as a sound engineer in the rock ‘n roll business. It’s a production clock, on stage at Twickenham Rugby Stadium during The Rolling Stones Bigger Bang world tour in 2007.

Notice it counts down to tenths of a second.

So why give you all this guff?

The Stones two and a half hour, 50th anniversary gig, in the O2 arena ended suddenly. The fans got ‘No Satisfaction’ as the last number was cut.


It was the dreaded curfew.

If the band had gone on playing even a few seconds after the curfew hour, The Rolling Stones Rock ‘ Roll Band Company Ltd, would have caught a hefty fine from the local council.

Now you know why rock concerts sometime finish suddenly.

Sorry about the quality of the picture, but I have a talent for buying mobile telephones with rotten cameras.


A small grandchild was taken to the doctors by his mother. It was decided a blood sample was neccessary. The seven year old watch unperturbed as the sample was taken.
For being so brave, the doctor offered the lad a sweet. But as his mother turned to leave the little boy stood unmoving in front of the doctor.
“It’s over,'” Smiled the doctor. “You can go.”
Outside the little boy burst inot tears.
“All that blood,” he howled. “It’s worth more than a sweet!”
The child has since grown up to be a successful businessman!


Archie sighed and closed his computer, glaring at the hall clock he opened his front door with an annoyed snatch. Who could be knocking on his door, at nearly midnight?

His gasp, blink, and mouth dropping open married into his astonished stagger back.

A coffin shadowed his entrance!

With an ominous creak the lid slowly opened.

Archie backed away. From the bowels of the casket, a voice, dripping death, poured towards him.

“Room for one inside sir…” The clock in his hallway chimed midnight.

A shiver down his spine rattled both his brain and his bottom but his slow move away was halted with a start – the lid of the coffin banged furiously shut.

He watched, with eye-popping terror, as the coffin crossed his threshold and glided towards him.

Through his sitting room, and across the kitchen the coffin followed. The front door crashed shut as he approached, his fingers ineffectively scrabbling on the sealed door.

The stairs! Caskets cannot climb stairs! He raced upwards, turning to watch, but backed away further as the banisters rattled, slowly the casket hauled itself towards him.

Flying into the bathroom, he locked the door and sat shaking on the toilet, wishing he had put the seat down first.

The door crashed open, the casket loomed over him.

A weapon! He needed a weapon!

But the bathroom cabinet had been fixed firmly to the wall by his Polish plumber.

His hand scrabbled inside as the coffin approached, the lid now swinging open towards him. Grabbing the large bottle of cough syrup in the cabinet he hurled it into the coffin.

And the coffin stopped.

I typed the tag in 8pt because I am so ashamed of it.


Hot Justice.

Here in the South of France, fire is feared. The lack of rain, hot sun and the fierce Mistral wind combine to make the countryside an ideal fire bed.
Between May and October fires are banned. Even open barbecues are forbidden.
But the local farmers and peasants used to disregard this law and firemen spent weeks chasing dozen of small landowners with smoke rising from their property.
Many of these fires resulted in huge blazes that wiped out hundreds of acres of woodland and vinyards.
Something had to be done.
One day a farmer, standing beside a blazing pile of rubbish, was astonished to see a helicopter land in his field. A fireman walked across and told him to put out the fire immediately as he was breaking the law.
The farmer begrudingly obeyed, the fireman handed the farmer a piece of paper, not a fine, but a bill, 3000 euros for the use of the helicopter. Now it was the farmer who was about to burst into flame.
News of the incident spread faster than a Mistral fuelled fire, and since, there has not been a plume of smoke in the deep blue sky, and the firemen sleep peacfully in their fire stations.


I am bemused by parents who are concerned their children might be exposed to drugs, then let their kids use a telephone with a hash key.


Have a problem with a piece of local folklore.
Truffles are a much prized delicacy and grow here in The South of France among the roots of certain oak trees.
To hunt truffles you need a licence, (even good sized truffle will sell for more than a thousand euros!) a pig, or a dog.
However, with a knowing wink a local confided, in fact you need none of these.
You find a suitable oak tree, sit quietly, and wait for a fly to pass. If the fly hovers near the oak, a quick dig will reveal a truffle below where the fly hovered.
So I sat quitely beneath the suitable oak for ten minutes before the truth dawned.
Truffles are harvested in December. December is winter here – so where are the bloody flies? Answer, asleep until next spring.
There can ony be two answers to this puzzle.
A. I have to wait until next spring for a fly by which time the wild hogs around here will have eaten all the truffles, or they will have rotted away.
B. The local is taking the piss.


James Bond was around thirty-five years old when we met him for the first time. That was over fifty years ago. I thought it was time someone wrote an update on his adventures…

The black ink of night betrayed nothing as Bond slowly opened his eyes. The noise had come from the sitting room.

His hand reached out and grasped the cold hard shape of the glass on his bedside table, he would need his dentures.

Swinging out of the bed he slipped on his slippers and slipped in his teeth. His walking stick fell into his grip as he hobbled across the bed room. He was naked, it did not matter, this would be quick. Holding his left knee to stop a revealing creek, his gnarled hand quietly pushed open the door of the sitting room. The lights blazed as his stick prodded the switch.

“Oh God!” She gasped, her gaze travelling over his nakedness, at what was left of his body.

He smiled. “He won’t help you my darling.” Bond purred, pleased, that for once the cackled of age did not lace his sexy tone. But the familiar tensing of danger now ached across his shoulders.

Pussy Galore straightened, as much as her hunchback would allow. In one hand, it’s hole of death pointing at Bond’s head, glinted the black metal of a Mauser pistol. In the other, the steadying reassurance of her Zimmer frame.

“You know what I’ve come for.” She croaked. “Take those – now!” The Mauser muzzle moved menacingly.

Bond paled. The three tablets on the coffee table were certain death, an overdose of Viagra. They were Pussy’s favourite weapon. The Viagra caused an erection so huge the victim’s brain died from the lack of blood.

“Drop your stick!” She commanded. Bond’s stick, with the deadly darts in the handle, the canister of nerve gas in the middle, and the atomic bomb in the tip, that he had stolen when M was not looking, clattered to the floor.

He did not hesitate, a tap from his heel and the pink pom-pom from his right slipper hit Pussy’s forehead, dropping her instantly.

Dragging himself around the inert form and then untangling himself from her Zimmer, he hobbled to the kitchen.

He needed a drink.

Taking down his extra strong cocoa, he smiled as he stirred in the hot milk. The name James Bond still meant something. Especially when it was written on something they were all after.

His pension book.


Ever thought how the characters of the famous among us seem to match their intials?
Angela Merkle – an early bird that catches the worms.
David Cameron – likes to be seen as a live wire.
The Duke Of Edinburgh – always telling people what to do.
And surely not – Barack Obama.


Took my dog for quiet evening walk in the forest. We passed several houses, all quite isolated with large guard dogs that snarled as we past – except for one.
An Alsation had dug a hole under it’s fence and, with teeth glinting, hair raising, and barking furiously was charging towards me.
I had only one weapon, a foot, that I raised as the animal prepared to leap. A brown and white flash zipped between my legs. My Jack Russel does not allow anyone to threaten me, with at least five teeth she attached herself to the Alsation.
The barks of fury from the guard dog turned to yelps of pain as the Jack Russel grabbed a bigger mouthful of the Alsation.
A scrabbled turn and the dog raced back to the safety of it’s garden. Problem. The hole was only just big enough for the Alsation, so I watched helpless as the windmill of dogs raised dust and damaged everything near them.
Jack Russels never let go. If I tried to prise my dog off I would also get an Alsation that I did not want.
My timid jabbing with a hand at the melee was stopped by a yell. The Alsation’s owner was swearing at me on the run from his house.
Apparently it was my fault his dog had got out. My reply did ot please him. He picked up a stick and ran around his garden to the gate to get at me.
It was obvious, as I could see him running at me with a stick raised, my Jack Russel could also. Like I said, no one is allowed to attack me and the brown and white flash released the yelping Asation to attend to it’s owner.
The Alsation shot through the fence and hid under a tractor in the garden.
The yelps of pain turned from animal to human as the Jack Russel sampled a piece of leg. The victim tried to hit my dog with the stick. No one is allowed to touch my dog! The stick snapped easily as I caught it and threw it in the garden.
Another yell eurupted. Mrs Alsation had joined the party. She took one look at the scene, summed up the problem and like all good wives, blamed her husband for eveything.
“I told you five time to fix that fence!”
Her husband was holding on to tree and swearing at me. Now I was getting annoyed. I can speak French, but when I get annoyed my French changes to a type of French the French do not understand, which I forgive them for as I can’t understand what I am saying either.
But I was ignored. Madam Alsation was slipping into top gear.
“And you haven’t fixed the bath tap, or the chair leg, or the fireplace, or…”
The list went on and on. Now I can deal with a maniac dog attacking me, I can deal with someone trying to hit me with a stick, but a list of domestic chores strikes fear into my core.
Even the Alsation was covering it’s ears with it’s paws under the tractor.
I needed to retreat but my dog was still attached to the wilting form of the husband.
But when the going gets tough, the tough go for a walk. My Jack Russel, seeing her master walking away without hindrence, let go of Mr Alsation and trotted, with her tail up and only a trace of Mr Alsations bood on her fur, happily behind me. And we continued our quiet evening walk in the forest.

A Christmas Giggle.

I bough myself a small remote control helicopter (because no one else would buy me one – big kid, childish, etc) for Christmas.
Learned to fly it and when the family was in front of a roaring log fire, decided to show off my prowess as a helicopter pilot.
The flight from my study, across the hall, into the sitting room and the hover down to the coffee table in front of the fire was impeccable.
I then hung the model in a hover half a metre above the coffee table, looked down to the remote control to check the trim, looked up, and blinked – my helicopter had vanished.
“That was clever!” admired an uncle. “How did you do it?”
I had no idea where my helicopter was.
“It shot up the chimney,” giggled a grandchild.
MORAL: Don’t fly small helicopters near a roaring fire, the draught sucks them in.
I never saw the helicopter again, but I still had the box. That came in handy to light the next fire!


Clochemerle peals again!

A man in the village wanted to sell his house. During the solicitor’s search it transpired the stairs leading to the house did not belong to the house, but to the village.
This made the house impossible to sell.
The mayor of the village could not give the stairs to the house owner because they belong to the commune.
It really was not a big deal as the stairs only led to the house and are of no interest to anyone else.
But now the newspapers are involved.
The owner of the house has gone on hunger strike until he gets the staircase.
Poor timing, it’s two weeks to Christmas, bet not many people buy him presents!


A friend was having problems with gastric wind. After a particularly loud release of pressure she covered it beautifully.

“Excuse me, but my body is interfering with me again!”


The Internet is awash with get rich quick schemes, especially surrounding the stock market.

All these systems are useless, failing to answer four simple questions.

1. If the scheme is so good, why are we being told, why isn’t the seller of the scheme on a beach in Bermuda working out how to spend his next million?

2. If the scheme is so good, why charge for it? The seller must already be stinking rich.

3. Why don’t the big banks use it to stop huge losses in their dealing rooms?

4. If everyone uses it, the stock market will run out of money.

Then I came across this very clever idea.

A trader with a website with a large following, has opened his dealing bank account for the public to see. He also tells you when he has bought a share and also when he has sold it.

And all this information is free!

Last year he made £300,000! So by following him you can make the same!… Er, not quite.

The clever bit is the ‘when he has’. His followers rush and buy a share he has just bought. The price of the share rises. When he has made his twenty per cent the trader sells. The price goes down. The first few of his followers indeed do make money but the majority do not.

And there is a second profit for the trader. He shorts the share before he sells, when the price drops he buys at the lower price and makes even more money.

Now this is not the usual get rich quick rip off. But a bright lad who has worked out a nifty way to make a fortune with your money. Not bad!


A bad case of galloping garden gnome disease – a cure is still being sought.

The picture above was taken in 2010. The one below two years later. The contagion has spread, leaving the only one cure – a couple of sticks of dynamite.



I was fixing this shelf in the kitchen when….

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A rare crop, a field of budding Picassos.


Someone’s day is about to end in tears.


So I don’t care what the neighbours look like as long as they don’t scare my dog.

To all who own a Weber Spirit barbeque!


Fed up with the doors flying open every time you move it?
Got dents on your shins because the wind blows the doors open as you cook?

Worry not! Help is at hand!!

It may look like a piece of wood jammed across the handles but I assure you it is not. It is a finely crafted, balanced, high strength, invention. After months of research and sleepless nights I offer all my readers this fantastic modification free of any copyright or patent. Please feel free to use it, copy it, tell your friends – it is just part of the service.

This conversation actually took place outside a post office that was closed
when it should not have been.

A man drives up in a post office van and takes out a sackful of letters.

Me: Ah! Good, could you please take this parcel.

Man: No, I’m not a postman.

Me: But have a post van and a sack of letters.

Man: Yes.

Me: But you are not a postman?

Man: No.

Me: So what can I do with this parcel?

Man: Take to to the post office.

Me: The post office is closed.

Man: Yes.

Me Why?

Man: The girls on holiday.

Me: Couldn’t you put a sign to say so?

Man: No.

Me: Why not?

Man: It’s obvious.

Me: No it’s not.

Man: She can’t, she’s on holiday.

He then picked up the sack of letters, put them back in the van and drove off.

I walked back home with my parcel and took one of my anti-insanity pills.


Les Imberts is a village, no, a few houses with a garage. The garage is where it all happened.

It is Sunday morning, The garage is closed. There are two sets of petrol pumps. One set is controlled by the garage and is tuned off, the other set is twenty four hours and is used with credit cards.

I pull up at the credit card pumps on the garage side, do the necessary with my card and the screen tells me to fill my car. The roadside pump is in use by another driver filling up.

A few seconds later my car moves slightly, a rather wide Mercedes has nudged my rear bumper.

A rather wide Belgian driver is pointing at the pump, then at me, and then at his rather wide Rolex watch.

I switch on a disdainful look but obviously do not make a good job of it as he now hoots as well as pointing at his watch. I blink at him and deepen my distain. He slams his car in reverse and does a wheelie out of the garage, I thought.

Not at all, he has swerved around the live pumps and stopped next to one of the dead pumps.

The driver at the roadside pump has filled his car and driven off. To my amazement the wide Belgian figure has got out of his car walked back to the twenty four hour pumps and done the necessary with his credit card and has been told to fill up his car.

A young French lad arrives, stops beside the roadside pump, tries to insert his credit card which he cannot but reads the screen that is telling him fill up his car.

I watch his expression as he pumps free petrol. He has a puzzled look at the garage, a puzzled look at the pump, a puzzled look for me and a puzzled look at the petrol nozzle.

The wide Belgian figure meanwhile is in no hurry. He has put his wide Belgian credit card into a wide Belgian wallet, stretched across his wide Belgian wife and put the wallet in a wide Mercedes glove pocket.

The French lad has filled up and disappeared in cloud of astonished and happy French dust, leaving the wide Belgian gentleman kicking a dead French petrol pump with a wide Belgian foot.

I have moved across to allow another car to fill up and to my surprise the wide Belgian body crosses to my car and snarls in the window.

“I have a problem with my petrol pump!”

I should not have but I could not resist it.

I shake my head “You don’t have a problem with your petrol pump – you have a problem with your intelligence.”


When it rains here it rains, soft light showers are unknown as everything disappears in a wall of water a few times a year.

It was pissing and I was in the local market. A stallholder I was buying some veg from tapped the side of his nose and said knowingly “It will rain until January the first.”

It was October. The thought of three months of rain made even the sprouts I had bought curl up tighter.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Month of the three moons.“ He replied,

“How do the three moons know when it is January the first?”

The answer apparently wasn’t in his folklore script as he looked at me as though I was the biggest imbecile in the South of France.

The next day was twenty four degrees of sunshine, and the next and the next in fact for the whole week right around to the next market day.

I waited in front of his stall and asked for an explanation as to why he was not wearing willies and a mackintosh.

“Because it is not raining,” he said and looked at me as though I was the biggest imbecile in the South of France.

I suppose the biggest imbecile in the South of France will get the hang of life here one day.


A married couple live nearby. He is German and she is French. They both speak English French and German and sometimes a mixture, which can cause confusion.

The other afternoon she suggested they go for a drive.

“Good idea,” he said and went into the kitchen and started cooking. After few moments she wandered into the kitchen and asked what he was doing.

“I’m making sauce Béarnaise,” he replied.

“That’s very nice,” she said. “But why?” Blankly he looked up from the saucepan.

“Because you just asked me to.”

They didn’t go for the drive but spent the afternoon trying to work out what the hell each other was talking about.