Friday, August 26, 2011

Perfect Peace shattered by Drink & Dial

"How smoothly did your move to France go? What about logistics? How did you organise your furniture? What was the reality of those early, first weeks?"

On being asked some questions about how we made the move to our tiny village in France (over eight years ago), a story about the night we finally got our own bed delivered sprang to mind. It still makes me laugh.

What an evening we had planned? Here was something to celebrate. Almost the end of May; the last time we had slept in our bed was back in January. We had thought it would be a huge joke to pretend we were eighteen and use camp beds until our container arrived. But it wasn’t a joke at all. It was perfectly miserable. Due to circumstances beyond everyone’s control, our container was delayed for weeks.

So hideous had our ‘camping arrangements’ been that we ran out and bought a splendid sofa bed. Even so, when our container arrived, we just wanted to get into our wonderful, large, wooden framed bed with its super comfortable mattress and stay there.

After a heavenly meal and many, many glasses of wine, with not a care in the world we snuggled into the old familiar comfort, with full intentions of having a long lie in next morning. The utter tranquillity of the hills of southern France...

Ringing. Loud, bloody awful ringing.

Some loud bell thing was making a hideous sound. In the room with us. We jumped up, Larry shouting, both of us unused to the horrible sound.

It was definitely the phone, making an unbelievable din. It seemed unfair, cruel beyond belief to be awoken on such an important night, back in our beautiful, comfortable bed.

My mind spun with possibilites. Who could it be? What time was it? Middle of the night, early hours of the morning? How long had I been asleep; minutes or hours? How come anyone had our number?

The shrill sound could only mean a crisis; clearly someone must be dead.

My interest and concern as to whether my kith and kin lived or died may be interpreted by the following exchange.

‘You answer it; it won’t be for me...’ I said, pulling a pillow over my ears, which did nothing to dull the noise.

‘No! You get it; it will be one of your friends...’

Larry, furious at his sleep being interrupted, weirdly assumed that one of my cronies was ringing for a chat. I knew it had nothing to do with me and stuck to my guns.

‘I haven’t made any calls. No-one I know has this number. We've only just got the thing! I hardly know the number myself!’

A little change seemed to come over Larry and I noticed he was looking at the phone intently as if willing it to stop. It didn’t. Eventually my hero leaned out and gingerly picked it up.


‘Hi Larry!’ screamed a female voice, ear-splitting enough for me to hear.

The woman on the line had obviously downed a drink or ten before dialling. A very one-sided chat followed, Larry making faces, rolling eyes and jabbing a finger at his temple, (indicating a nutter?) as he muttered;

‘No, no. We are not eating out in restaurants permanently; just getting used to everything here…you know...’

Pause, more shrieking.

‘It’s very beautiful, yes. No, not at all like the Mediterranean. No yachts. What? Well, it’s about three hours drive to the sea. No, we don’t have a pool.’

The fiasco continued with Larry eventually trying to finish the chat by telling her how great she was to have called us, politely saying we were exhausted, in bed and it was three am. The voice on the other end just continued; she was at a party and well, you know...Larry was soooo missed.

More faces made at me, coupled with a little 'what can I do?' shrug.

I responded by making violent stabbing actions at him and at the phone.

After about twenty goodbyes had been said and the phone replaced, Larry began, with a certain attitude, to re-arrange his pillows, shake the duvet and with a massive yawn, prepared to lie down.

I began the enquiries.

‘How did she have our number?’

‘Well, um, I must have left a message, or something -’ was vaguely muttered before disappearing under the duvet with a sort of mad grin. I continued with my investigation.

‘When, exactly, did you leave a message?’

Painful groan in response. Eventually I dragged the answer out of him. It was simple. The day we got our phone installed, while I was once again out exploring the village, Larry had spent the afternoon happily downing Gins &Tonics, flicking through his phone book.

And leaving messages with our new number for friends, neighbours and ex-work colleagues, connecting us with some people I had hoped never, ever to come across again.

Marvellous early days memories - always much funnier looking back...

View from quirky village house - to the Pyrenees

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure I'd have been willing to use that bed with another occupant for a week or so after finding out the truth ;-)!