Willkommen Bienvenue Welcome

Welcome, gentle readers.

This is an everyday tale of regular folk, who moved from Sheffield to the deepest Corrèze in France Profonde and thence to the rather more cosmopolitan Lot in search of something… different. We certainly found it.

The Lot is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Reputedly, a famous TV globetrotter was asked where, of all the places in the world he had visited, he might return to. He answered, ‘The Lot’.

Fans of Channel 4’s Grand Designs will know that we built a somewhat quirky straw bale house-with-a-view here in the Lot, not far from the celebrated Dordogne river. You can read all about it in my book,
Bloody Murder On The Dog's Meadow, or watch the re-runs of the programme on More 4, or view it on You Tube.

After a break in the proceedings to write a book or two, this blog now takes the form of an everyday journal. Sometimes things happen, sometimes they don't (but the art school dance goes on forever). I hope it will give you an entertaining insight into what it's like to live in a foreign country; what it's like in the slow lane as an ex-pat Brit in deepest France.

I shall undertake to update this once or twice a week, unless absent on leave. Comments always welcomed, by the way, but I do tend to forget what buttons to click in order to answer them.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Stop the Week 3

This week I’ve been re-discovering a box-set of Trojan-label lovers’ rock, which I picked up years ago in Fopp, my favourite record shop in London, for something fairly notional like a tenner.
While I was preparing for this morning’s sub-zero constitutional with Alf, my daughter called me into her bedroom. ‘Is this Inner Circle, dad?’ she asked.
‘Yes,’ I answered with astonishment. ‘It’s their version of the old Stylistics’ number, “You Make Me Feel Brand New”. The singer, Jacob Miller, has been dead for yonks. How on earth do you know about Inner Circle?’ I imagined it might have been featured in Shrek 17 or something like that.
Jacob and mate Bob laugh off the rising cost of ganja
‘Did he… have dreadlocks?’
‘Yes, most of them did. I saw them once in Brighton, supporting Average White Band.’
‘Did you?’ she asked with what I took to be genuine interest. 
So there I was, thinking I might be able to dig out some of my old Mighty Diamonds’ LPs for her edification, when she smiled archly and revealed the mobile telephone in her hand. It’s some fiendishly clever application that identifies music playing via the internet. These youngsters. She’s a monkey, that daughter of mine, raising my hopes like that…
Signficantly beter than sliced bread
In her mother’s absence (on another therapeutic course in Brussels this weekend), Tilley and I watched the last episode of Mad Men. A cracker. But that’s it for God knows how long, now that Richard Murdoch and his running dogs at Sky (or whatever it’s called these days) have bought the rights. Our family fix will have to come now from the occasional box-set. I still think that The Sopranos may be the single finest piece of TV drama, but Mad Men has certainly been the most enjoyable. Devotees of The Wire will probably tell me to wise up, but I couldn’t go through all that grim, brutal reality.
Me and the missus were mightily relieved that the Grand Designs re-visit on Wednesday night didn’t turn us into a pair of namby-pamby alternative dip-sticks. At least, I like to think it didn’t.  I spent the next day courageously phoning up the newspaper editors I’d contacted by e-mail the day before. Most of them weren’t there or were too busy, and not one person I spoke to either watched the programme or wanted an article from me. As my dear friend Trevor, the PR guru, so succinctly put it: most TV is like newspapers – the next day’s chip paper.
One good – and rather astonishing – thing emerged from the next day’s chip paper. Our friend Sophie, who lives but 15 minutes from here, spotted a long lost bag that she’d bought as a souvenir of a holiday to New Zealand. It was hanging in our kitchen. It took a prime-time national TV programme to unearth her bag and reveal the Sampsons as untrustworthy souvenir-thieves.
You will, I’m sure, be delighted to hear that Sophie is now reunited with her Kiwi bag. I’m still fruitlessly trying to place an article, but, as the immortal Viv Stanshall would have it, ‘Life’s like that, isn’t it?’ I’m heartened at least that the boy Alastair is doing great things Down Under. May he put those bumptious Aussies firmly to the sword!
Shame about the World Cup bid, but it only goes to prove the truth of the maxim that ‘the best laid plans of mice and men come to nought in the face of bribery and corruption.’ They hate us because we invented the ‘beautiful game’ and we’ve got the most exciting and truly international league in the world. Put that pensée in your pipe, Mr. blinkin’ Blatter, and set light to it…

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