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Ok, so. The last time I sat in this very chair attempting to guide you all through the chicanery of life in France, I left you with the perhaps distressing thought that I was about to impose my ‘unclehood’ on my poor sister’s baby, right? Well, things didn’t quite turn out that way, and for many & varied reasons, my gorgeous sister and her equally gorgeous (in a back-slapping, lager drinking, manly way of speaking) had to make a heart-wrenching decision to terminate their pregnancy due to a sequence of tests that left them in no doubt of their baby’s chances of surviving and leading any semblance of a normal life. Baby Connor had Spina Bifida to a quite alarming degree. Coupled with multiple defects, this meant that the less cruel option was to give him the dignity in death that he would never have had in his probably very short little life. It was a very sad time for all the family, and my two sisters and their husbands, already very close, have been brought even closer together if at all possible by those events.

Anyway, as sad as they were, the whole family came out to France for a long weekend of fun, laughter, tears and love in September. They’re all fine and although baby Connor may never have drawn breath, he certainly didn’t lack for love. In the pictures of him that I was privileged to see, he was beautiful, just like my sister. Although it may seem to some that it’s strange, to give a name to a child never destined to live, it’s really not. It’s bestowing a personality upon him, and ensuring that his memory will live on. He’ll always be a child, my sister’s first child, and no less special for not having cried, suckled, made a sandcastle on a beach, nor never known his uncle.

I’ve actually struggled for some months with creating a form of words to explain the situation here within the Blog, because believe it or not, I do get folks visiting us all the time who tell me they read it. I’ve opened up the software and sat at the keyboard attempting to tell you all of the past few months of hell. It always ended the same way. I’d shut down the program and go play scrabble on Facebook instead! Or, I’d disappear somewhere to shed a few tears myself. Not this time. This time it’s just flowed, from my heart and I like the way it looks. I hope my sister does too. By the way, she and her husband are expecting again, so, this time – everything’s crossed. Which makes it kind of difficult to pee straight!

Right, we’re often invited to John & Mary’s for a few beers and a laugh and one night they’d decided to invite a few folks ’round to have a bit of a BBQ and a bonfire. So Syb & I decided we’d go on the bikes with her mum following on the shopping trolley. Actually, when I say ‘shopping trolley’, it’s not actually one of those steel things often seen at the base of canal bridges, in an attempt to create a natural reef, or even sometimes in Asda; no, it’s one of those electrically powered things that are a complete menace on the roads in the UK. There was a story on the news the other night about a lady who was mown down by one at a terrific speed of almost 4 miles an hour, causing a broken leg when she stepped into the road to avoid it and was hit by a passing car doing 40! I think I’ve mentioned mum and her off-roading antics before? This night was no exception. She has the road sense of a baffled hedgehog caught in the glare of a 40 ton truck at the best of times. We have quite a busy main road at the end of our 2 mile lane. There must be, oh, at least 20 cars and lorries per day that use it. Have you ever noticed the similarities between the words ‘stop’ and ‘go’? No? Neither had we until that evening. Stop plainly meant go, and vice versa in the parallel universe between mother’s ears. The look of sheer horror on the face of the driver of the huge 4×4 as he bore down on this mad, grey haired old lady driving something across his path that he’d previously only seen in the adverts at the back of ‘Saga’ magazines in the doctor’s waiting room was quite something to behold. All Syb & I could do was close our eyes and practice calling the number for the Sapeurs Pompiers while waiting for the impact. As luck would have it, the car swerved down the road in which we were traveling, and missed mum by a few feet! Thank God the French are such crazy drivers!

Even as we were just getting over the shock, a few miles down the road, mum swerved into John & Mary’s drive and almost immediately scattered half a dozen plastic patio chairs, coming to a halt just inches from mine host, clutching a gin & tonic with his eyes closed. Now I think about it, he and the 4×4 driver looked painfully similar.

Anyway, we proceeded to have quite a good night. Tales were told, jokes were shared and much drink was drunk. It came to going home time and we all saddled up for the ride home. Mum set off in the lead with lights blazing. Syb & I brought up the rear. We’ve figured it out that it’s safer for us if mum’s in front, as it’s just too stressful having her going off-road behind us all the time. I’d just stopped for a mo to adjust my posture, and wave goodbye to the hosts. As I put my foot down, the verge disappeared into the fossé running alongside the road. I completely lost my balance and ended up arse over tit in the ditch, laughing uncontrollably with the bike trying it’s best to force me further into the dyke! People came sauntering urgently from all angles to add further insult to my indignity when all of a sudden, lights came blasting down the road, and a horn sounded.

Whenever Bernard passes John’s, or our house, he hoots maniacally on the horn, and we, it has to be said do the same. That’s how I knew who it was. Even though it was gone midnight, the horn still called out it’s plaintive song to John….then it stopped, just a few feet from where I was still on my back giggling. If you’ve ever suffered a Frenchman taking the piss out of you, you know what it’s like to be humiliated thoroughly, and completely! In the most friendly, and companionable way imaginable. We just can’t take offence at Bernard. His smile is infectious, the gleam in his eye is wicked and we love he & Mauricette dearly! Anyway, Syb & mum wobbled off back to the farm, while Bernard, Mauricette, Mary, John & I laid waste to some more good French wine!

So, good & bad and sad also to report in this update. I promise I’ll be more on the ball from now on as I appear to have found an impetus again. I still haven’t told you about the duck. Or the boar, or the night of the rugby semi-final…

Until the next time,

Au revoir.

TBC

All content © Le Chant d’Oiseau, 2006-2007

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