Monday, 27 July 2015

An open letter to the mosquito that bit me on the arse

Dear Madame,

I am not a mosquito hater. I recognise that by sucking my blood you are simply trying to support your family. It is true that I think you could perhaps choose other more constructive ways to make your living - air ambulance for injured ants for instance, and yes, if I am lucky enough to spot one of you fuckers buzzing around me ready to strike then of course I will crush you between my hands, paint my face with the blood of the animals you have already bitten and dance round a bonfire chanting 'death to all of Satan's winged vampires' - we are animals are we not? War is in our blood. But we are not enemies. We may not see eye to eye but we can exist alongside each other as long as we have respect for each other's dignity. And here is the issue.


You maggot in a rotten maggot.

Bite me almost anywhere (not the crutchal region obviously) and I will shout a little, swear to destroy your family maybe, but I will eventually move on. These pain au chocolat's won't eat themselves, I'm a busy man. I'll have forgotten about it by my second bottle of breakfast wine. But bite me on the arse? Oh no. Not acceptable. It is this attitude of putting your own base desires ahead of other peoples dignity that is destroying this world. And it won't do. And because of this it is with much sadness, but ultimately with a nobility far beyond what you, a stupid mosquito, could comprehend, that I am going to set fire to my garden, and I suggest everyone else does the same. #setfiretoyourgarden


TR Barnes

Monday, 20 July 2015

A beer in the Loire

On Friday we paid the deposit on a house in the Loire valley. Rose says it's the perfect house to put down roots and start a family and I completely agree. It also has a barn big enough to house a small brewery. And a distillery. And I've found some grape vines in the garden. Why stop at making bad beer when you can make really bad wine.

Since we moved to France I've been sitting in caf├ęs, drinking beer and trying to work out how I could earn a living. And then it came to me: the answer had been in front of me the whole time. The answer had been giving me wind and making me think I was funnier than I was. The answer was beer. The answer is always beer. After all, the inhabitants of one of the finest wine regions in the world must be crying out for the homebrew of a man who lives by the motto 'Is there any way of cutting some corners because I don't particularly care about the quality of the end result'.

All going well we move in in three months time. Other people in my position might spend those three months reading books about brewing beer, but I intend to cut out the middle man and spending my time drinking beer, thus for all intents and purposes jumping straight to the end of the book. By the time we move in I will effectively have jumped to the end of every book ever written on beer, several times over.

The theatre of dreams:
Pretty sure I can incorporate the bidet into the brewing process. Or it might just be a handy thing to have around.

Friday, 17 July 2015


If you have been wondering recently where all the children aged 11-14 have gone then worry no longer, for I have found them. All of them. They are on the Dover to Calais ferry.

Doused in duty free perfume, parading endlessly round the decks, shouting, laughing, crying, trails of highly charged but as yet directionless hormones like the vapour trails of unpiloted jumbo jets left in their wake as they speed from one lounge to the next, experiencing for the first time the thrill of being stared at by 11-14 year olds from different schools, maybe even different countries. The more advanced ones will be found at the bottom of a stairwell energetically snogging an exotic French teenager, the two of them joined at the mouth like the nozzles of a couple of rogue vacuum cleaners, before declaring their undying love for each other and wandering off in separate directions to over-exaggerate their achievements and potentially find someone else to face-hoover, this clumsy, self conscious dance of pubescent love taking place in front of an audience of surly, tattooed, Estonian lorry drivers.

For everyone else the ferry from Dover to Calais can only be a sophisticated attempt by P&O to reimagine hell.

We've been to London and then the Lake district for a wedding. It was a nice trip. The thing I miss most about London are the pubs. Of course the French have lots of cafes and bars that it's perfectly easy to get drunk in - they sell the same beers, the same wines, but for some reason it's not like being in a pub. This perplexed me for a little while until I realised the big difference between them is French cafes and bars aren't designed with the sole purpose of getting you shit faced.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

A visit to the bank

When attempting to open a bank account in any country, the first question one must always ask oneself is: if I was a bank manager, would I give a bank account to a man who has only done his shirt up to his navel?
On the one hand he's confident. He's got something about him. He's going places, a game changer, a man who makes things happen. On the other hand, although he's clearly the kind of guy all men want to be, is he too much of a loose cannon? Will he write cheques his butt can't cash?

I decided to go with the 'shirt done up to below the navel' option, revealing a tantalising glimpse of what I had to offer as a new client – a gamble that I felt sure would pay off with the offer of a huge overdraft and several credit cards, but then Rose said she'd refuse to leave the house with me unless I buttoned up my shirt so I did that instead.

To open a french bank account you need proof of identity (passport/ driving license) and proof of address (utility bills). This can be a problem as often to rent properly (and thus get utility bills in your name) you will be required to have a French bank account. In our case we are in a long term holiday let, so we didn't have any bills. Our landlord wrote us a letter instead, which did the trick.

Opening a French bank account is like opening an English bank account in that they ask you lots of questions you don't understand and you sign a load of papers that you haven't read. After half an hour of watching our bank manager fill in forms on the computer he handed us a wad of print outs and shook our hands so I think we opened an account, but for all I know we might have just signed up to the French foreign legion. It will be interesting to see what arrives in the mail, a bank card or orders to depart to the Sahara for basic training.