Tempting the gods

Perhaps I was a little rash regarding felicitous Friday.

Now I have to leave for the land of my birth at two hours notice. 😯 Leaving the menagerie is a major headache. Luckily, a friend steps in at the shortest possible notice.

Should be back soon.

Felicitous Friday

No problems with the animals. Already that makes for a satisfactory day.

A friend recommends Edith Wharton, and I whizz to our nearest English bookshop, Christies. There is no Edith Wharton on their immaculate shelves, but I mention her name to Andrew, the proprietor, who disappears into the stock room, and returns two minutes later, with “Summer”. I snatch it greedily.

Andrew always astounds me for his perpetually calm demeanour as he serves coffee and the mouth-watering cakes (baked upstairs by his pretty wife, T-Anne), on dainty trays at spotless tables, from where you can  watch the world of Gençay go about its business in the square. He welcomes surfers to the Internet access points, answers the telephone, deals with people dropping in with odd requests, and has an amazing mental catalogue of the many thousands of books under his roof, and always has time to chat. It’s like a small island of the best of Britishness in the middle of rural France. And it is well patronised by the local French, who enjoy a proper English pot of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake.

The autumn colours are more vivid each day. A shame they can’t stay on the trees, though. Whining chainsaws have replaced whining mosquioes, and curls of woodsmoke wriggle from chimney pots. Not chez moi, though. Not yet, anyway. By my standards, the weather is still mild.

What a satisfying Friday this has been. You need a few “bad” days to make you appreciate the good ones. 🙂

Thankful Thursday

No unpleasant events today, praise be. Except for paying the Taxes Foncières and Taxe d’Habitation, which is always a painful moment. However, the menagerie managed to get through a whole 24-hour period without causing me anguish or costing money.

It’s true that Dobbie has so far failed to grasp the fact that his head is currently 20″ wide, and still crashes into the furniture and doors with the rigid plastic collar. He has also caught me with it on the backs of my thighs several times, and once in the kidneys, but his bandage is intact and he’s finally worked how to eat and drink despite the collar.

Tally was lucky enough to be taken for a walk today with his friend Biff, and his mummy, while I entertained Dobbie who is not allowed to get his bandage wet or dirty.

The cat is fighting fit and eating with gusto.


WTF Wednesday

After a sleepless night caused by poor Dobbie constantly roaming around in the dark, bumping into things with his giant collar, grating it noisily on the tiled floor, and getting trapped behind the stove from where I have to winkle him out, I make an appointment for the cat’s routine injections to keep his feline AIDS under control.

He’s uncharacterstically quiet on the journey, and I think that apart from his mouth problem something else is not right with him.

Mme Audoux smiles when we arrive. “We see you every day this week! With your animals, they all decide to get sick at the same time.” I smile back weakly. As I put the cat’s carrying box down on a chair, he makes a noise like a gurgling drain, and vomits explosively inside the box and all over the waiting room floor. The stench is indescribable. The lady vet carries him, still in the box, into the surgery and the ever-charming Mme Audoux says she will take his cage and wash it. As they try to remove him without emptying the box all over the place, he extrudes another couple of litres of yellow, lumpy slime onto the table. He has it all over his paws and tail, and all three of us humans are gagging from the stink.

“What is that?” exclaims Mme Audoux, prodding at a black hairy lump swimming in the mess. “Partially digested mouse,” says the vet as she peers closely at it. The cage is taken away, but the air is so foul that we can hardly breathe. The cat, on the other hand, is looking better already.

He has his usual injections of antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and cortisone, sitting calmly and purring loudly.

“You know,” the vet says, “it is not good for him to keep having cortisone. There is another possibility. We can remove all his teeth. That often helps. It is not a cure, but because his problem is inflammation of the gums all around the teeth, if we take them out it can help a great deal. It is something to think about.”

I think about it and ask how much it will cost. “It depends on how long it takes, how many teeth he has. But on average €150.” I gulp, and carry him back to the car, leaving the vet and Mme Audoux swabbing and spraying to try and kill the vile odour that has invaded every corner of the building, and wondering what I can sell. Dobbie will need a further anaesthetic when I take him to have his stitches removed at the end of the month.

Joanna and Jordan

Who watched Joanna Lumley in Norway, on her search to see the aurora borealis? Did anyone not share her tears when at last she was treated to the fantastic spectacle of the Northern Lights? I was lucky enough to see them about 20 years ago, in Cheltenham, and stood out in the road for twenty minutes, mesmerised by the vivid pink, yellow, blue and green lights as they swirled and flowed across the night skies. Then I remembered that I had left the bath running. 🙂

As I don’t watch a great deal of television, it was only by chance that I caught the programme while I was doing some late night ironing.

If I could choose who I wanted to be, it would be Lumley. She’s pure class all the way through. How many of us would willingly strip down to our less-than glam thermal undies, wipe off all our slap, and climb into bed in an ice hotel, wearing a woolly hat, in front of the TV cameras? And still manage to look glamorous?

If you haven’t seen Lumley’s trip to Norway, do try to catch a repeat. It really is Absolutely Fabulous.

Then there’s Jordan, aka Katie Price, and I can never quite understand why I like her so much, because she embodies the human characteristic that I most despite – self-obsession.  Why does she have to keep trying to improve her already-stunning looks? Agreed, she is grossly over-exposed; everywhere you look there she is, dressed in spangles, writing books, riding horses, building her global empire; but why not? Who woulnd’t if they could?  And if she wants to become a top dressage rider, why deride her? It’s a bold goal.

A couple of nights ago I watched part of a programme where she was in the USA having surgery to replace her breast implants with smaller versions. She came home with the old ones, the size of canteloupe melons, as souvenirs, and looking at them I wondered: when something so large is crammed into your body, how does your skin manage to fit over it? 😕

Traumatic Tuesday

I had intended to recommend that every pet owner buys a roll of No Chew bandage, after watching Dobbie make many attempts to pull it off, and give up in disgust.  All day long I kept my eye on him, as he licked tentatively at it and shook his head in disgust. Confident that this was a magical product, the answer to the eternal problem of keeping bandages on pets, I went shopping for an hour (mostly for dog food). When I returned, Dobbie was hopping around, bandage off, one staple almost out, squealing in pain, but wagging his tail as if he felt he had won the game.

Off we sped to the vet, catching them just as they closed. M. Audoux wasn’t around this evening; instead there was a new lady vet on call. When Dobbie explained to her that he would amputate both her hands if she touched his foot, she managed to dart him in the rump with a sedative, and after ten minutes of valiant resistance, he slithered and slumped to the floor, so that she could rebandage the foot with a very great length of extremely sticky bandage, topped off with the No Chew stuff. “Let me see you get that off,” she told her slumbering patient.

An hour later, he was back at home. This is how he looks now:

Monday morning melodrama

This morning’s events were triggered last night by a contretemps between Dobbie and a neighbouring dog, which resulted in what looked like a small puncture wound to Dobbie’s right front paw, into which I managed to squirt some antiseptic while his attention was distracted.

Two hours later the wound had expanded into a long, deep gash, which I tried to bandage. Dobbie does not like people trying to bandage him, and when he doesn’t like something, it’s most unlikely that it will be done. Despite a sock over his nose, and a cloth tied round his muzzle to prevent him biting, the result of my efforts was wall-to-wall Germolene, a sterile compress reduced to tatters, and half a metre of adhesive bandage stuck to his bedding. 1-0 to Dobbie.

Last night, from a small puncture hole to this:

By this morning the wound was still bigger and deeper, so off we went to the vet. Domestic animals are usually seen in the afternoon, as the vets do their farm visits in the morning, but they agreed to see Dobbie straight away. Normally the calmest of men, M. Audoux was stressed, because he had to catch a train to Paris in just over an hour and a quarter for a very important meeting. The railway station is a 40 minute drive on a good day, which means a day when the gendarmes aren’t enforcing the speed limit and there are no combine harvesters, roadworks or stray sheep on the road, and you can get into the carpark. He didn’t have much of a margin.

Even from a distance he could see the extent of the wound. “It’s going to need stitches,” he said. Déjà vu! I remembered when we were on holiday a few years back, and Dobbie had suffered a terrible cut to his foot. At the veterinary surgery in Besançon he had fought the vet, his nurse, myself and spouse to the floor before being sedated by the vet having to sit on him to keep him still long enough for the needle. I mentioned this.

It was a struggle to get his jaws tied to prevent him biting us all to death, as he was assuring us he would do. Four people holding him. It was a yet harder struggle to get the tourniquet around his leg, and even worse administering the anaesthetic. Dobbie hurled himself around so that the needle flew out of the vein, and the surgery and staff were spattered with blood squirting like champagne from a shaken bottle. The place looked like a slaughterhouse. When the anaesthetic was finally administered, Dobbie still wasn’t giving up. For twenty minutes he growled and rolled his eyes and tried to get to his feet. Time was ticking away, and M. Audoux had that train to catch. He began shaving gently around the wound, and as I saw the full extent and depth, the world swam before my eyes and started spinning.

I wandered into the waiting room, where I found a cricket covered with fluff, so I cleaned it off and took it outside onto the grass. Mme Audoux came running out. “You are going to faint?” she said, catching my arm. “No, just releasing a cricket,” I explained. “Oh mon Dieu, we thought you were going to fall down,” she laughed.

Back in the surgery Dobbie had finally succumbed and was being stitched up. But what about the dressing? How could he be prevented from chewing it off? Even the biggest collar would not stop him reaching his paw. They would try a bandage that has a particularly bitter taste, in the hope that he would keep it on. As M. Audoux snipped away a little more hair, he managed to catch his wife’s little finger with the scissors, causing her to scream. Luckily her finger was only pinched and not cut, and I thought she took it rather well. “Never mind,” said her husband, “we’ve already got an opened box of sutures if it needs stitching.”

By now there were just 50 minutes before the train would be leaving, but Dobbie was still fast asleep. One of the vets from another branch of the practice was summoned to wake him up, and the last I saw of M. Audoux was him running to his car with his briefcase.

Dobbie didn’t want to wake up. Having fought sleep so hard, he was now flat out, despite the wake-up medication, so the vet, a strapping fellow, carried him, all 40 kgs., and plopped him in the back of the car. “He’s going to behave very bizarrely when he does wake up, because of the morphine. But don’t worry, it’s normal. But I am worried about the dressing. He must keep it on. If he removes it, it could be very bad for him. I’ll give you another bitter bandage, and you’ll have to try and put it on him. But if he won’t let you, then he will have to come back and be sedated again.”

Back home, Dobbie managed to stumble from the car and stood whining, splay-legged and swaying for several minutes before I could get him into the house, where he is now fast asleep, praise the Lord.

So that’s a fortnight’s house-keeping gone. 😦

Sleeping it off: