The first thing that happens after Christmas in supermarkets in England is that Valentine’s cards take over from Christmas cards, and Easter eggs fill the shelves in place of Christmas presents. The first thing that happens after Christmas in supermarkets in France is that the cleaning products take over from chocolates and bleach fills the shelves in place of champagne. It’s like the whole country goes on a spring cleaning purge.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure of the point of this. When you have a wood fire, you are knee deep in cinders and ash until your last fire burns out (and then a few more days as the dust settles) and when you have dogs, you are knee deep in mud until, well, your dog is no longer. Anyhow, I’ve taken advantage of the national fervour for cleaning and I set about giving everywhere a right old clean. Well, I began to. It was either that or taking advantage of the local fervour for hunting.
That long autumn term does drive me a bit crazy. I’m so entrenched in school calendars that I get wearier and wearier as the year draws to a close and yes, I get lazy. I get all crafty and cosy and fall in love with my fire. Come January, I’m so deep in dirt that I can’t see what photographs I have on my fireplace any more. So yesterday I breathed in that whiff of cleaning fluids and set about cleaning.
When I was obsessively house-proud, I used to use flylady as inspiration. It’s kind of like you have a cleaning secretary who organises all the jobs you need to do, and all the jobs you don’t usually think of doing, and puts them in a neat little reminder for you, along with a couple of annoyingly upbeat motivational quotes our American cousins seem so fond of. There are soundbites a-plenty, like ‘it didn’t get dirty in a day, so it won’t get clean in one’ to inspire you. Believe it or not, I find this actually quite useful. Cleaning is… well… such a chore. Having someone make you a to-do list is very helpful. 1950s submissive housewife it might be, but some days, that’s what you need to be.
Anyway, I had a bit of help from Gene. He’s looking a bit dusty himself, but Flylady doesn’t have a column that says ‘Clean Gene. Give him a good wipe.’
He’s standing in front of a stack of books – now neatly tidied away. He wasn’t very useful. Okay. He was quite useful, since I stuck on Kiss’s first album and then Destroyer which made those spring cleaning tasks all pass a little faster. Thanks Gene.
Those dogs were no use though. Heston just wants to play the whole time and Tilly just lies on the sofa like a princess.
This is his ‘play with me’ face.
This is her ‘leave me alone, I’m napping’ face.
Today, I am back at the refuge with les dames V and R and we are going to walk some more doglets. If the weather is as disgusting as it was this afternoon, that will not be a pleasant chore. It was quite foul yesterday. Plus, every idiot with a rifle likes to go out during the Christmas period and whatever usual rules there are go out of the window. I say usual rules because you can shoot something on any day you please. There are supposed to be rules about not hunting with a shotgun on Tuesdays and Fridays, or some other such regime, but nobody seems to adhere to it, except in the forest, where there are very clear hunt guidelines and rules. Plus, those hunt guys are efficient. The ones who stumble up the hill to sit in a coppice by a field… not my flavour of the month. Heston found one guy in a thicket in full camouflage gear without a fluorescent jacket on. He got really angry and came out of his hidey hole to try and shoe Heston away and tell me off. Unfortunately, he had not bargained for the fact that I know who owns the land, who owns the fields, what game there is out there (one hare) and whilst a big part of me wanted to go mental at him, I remembered not to piss people off who own shotguns and who might say at a later date “oops!” when they’ve shot you in the arse. I said I walk that way most days, which I do, and that apart from the odd marten and a handful of crows, there’s no game to be found up there and he might be better off going over to the woods a couple of kilometres on, where there is quite extensive damage from various wild boar. I mean, for God’s sake, I know every single route that is a nice, quiet, calm trot for Mr Heston and if there were even a whiff of game, the red mist would descend and he’d be racing round like a maniac. I even pointed out the rabbit field to him in case he felt like hiding out over there.
In any case, I shall be glad when people are back at work and the festive season is over. All the occasional hunters go back to whatever they do and the lanes are quiet again. This is why it doesn’t really surprise me that the number of hunting accidents is so low. I imagine most of the idiots with guns couldn’t find their own derrière without assistance, let alone find an actual animal or game bird. On the other hand, frustration and stupidity are a poor combination and it’s probably the occasional hunters who cause most of the problems.