André's car has been in the garage this past week to have a few things fixed. One of the parts had to be sent away to the Netherlands to see if it could be repaired, failing which that part alone will cost him around €1,100 to replace! In the meantime we've been pottering along using just my car, which hasn't been a problem in and of itself because André has been working from home and I have about two "outings" a week where I need my car - grocery shopping and trotting down to the recycling centre. Yeah, I know, some of us just live the high life don't we. Anyway, he took my car to run into town the other day and when he came back he told me he had spotted his old girlfriend, Annabel, begging at the entrance to the supermarket. Now I didn't know about any girlfriends before Lily as she was the first one he ever introduced to us, but apparently he dated Annabel - who lives(d?) nearby from about the age of 16. He was telling me tonight that she dumped him to get back with her ex the first time, they got back together again and she dumped him a second time, presumably for her ex again, after which he met Lily. Apparently she called sometime later asking to get back together again but he hadn't bothered answering as he'd had enough of her (aaahhh, young love). Well it turns out that she must have gotten into drugs and has gone totally off the rails. I think she must be the young girl I've spotted begging a few times as I've only ever seen her and a man with a dog begging outside that particular store. He said he was shocked and saddened to see her like that but as he was driving out of the car park he didn't stop and speak to her, and in any case he wouldn't have known what to say!
So then we somehow got talking about his childhood and he told me that "it was an absolute dream". I'm so, so pleased to hear him say that because my memories of my kids' childhood is marred by the screaming matches between me and my ex and the physical violence towards me (but not them), so maybe there were good times before all the bad times kicked in. He said how wonderful it was to grow up in an area with so many mates (there were loads of young boys round here) and having access to the woods, the mountains and the lakes was fabulous. At school he had a great crowd of mates too, and when we got home the first thing he would do was look out the window to see who was outside and then dash off to meet them at la branche (their hidey-hole/meeting place). Again, it gives me so much pleasure to hear him say this because, as I say, I guess my guilt complex only allows me to remember the bad times!
So then I started telling him about how it was the same for me. Oh we were poor all right and I grew up in the inner city as opposed to a small rural village, but in the six row houses where I grew up there were 40 kids, believe it or not, so we always had someone to play with and, being in a city, we always had places to go - the swimming baths, the cinema, the ice rink, the huge central library in our city or, in my case, Birmingham's fabulous natural history museum, which I absolutely loved! It reminded me of Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly, saying how he had the most wonderful time growing up in the Glasgow slums because no matter how poor they were, he always had tons of mates!
As I say, I grew up in social housing where large families were the norm but it seemed everyone looked out for each other and there was much more of a community spirit than there is today. Two doors away from us was the Farley family who were the "rough" ones, but even if some of the boys got into trouble with the police on a regular basis (minor stuff usually), they never gave any of the neighbours any hassle. I giggle when I remember that as my bedroom was at the front of the house I was privy to many a night visit by the police to the Farley family looking for one of the boys. One of the best ones, though, was one night the police rang the doorbell at around 1 a.m. and Mrs. F must have answered the door in the nude and all I heard was one of the police officers saying "of for God's sake woman, put some clothes on will you"!
In other news, the weather here has taken a turn for the worse again and we have a storm blowing a right hoolie at the moment, with more snow forecast, so I don't know if I'll get much - if any - walking done this weekend. But damn it wouldn't you know that I totted up my miles walked tonight and I've totalled 99.85 miles so far this year! So close and yet so far! I'll be spending the weekend alone as André is going to stay over at Jordan and Jen's so they can play guitar and hang out for a while. I think it'll do them both good to break up the covid routine a bit. When I got back from dropping André off (at 18.02h so two minutes past curfew - don't tell anyone), I saw that I'd received an email from the French authorities asking me to stop by their offices in Annecy on 9 February, complete with passport and two photos, in order to finalize my request for my resident's permit. So that's not bad timing at all. After that, I should get my 10-year, renewable permit in about two weeks' time! Yay me!
And finally, did anyone see that sweet story in the news this week about the man in Turkey who was hospitalized and his devoted dog waited for him outside the hospital every day for six days? Oh the family kept taking the dog back home with them but every day he escaped and waited outside the hospital doors until his master came back. How sweet is that?
|Man's best friend!