Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Immobilised

Overnight, the car radiator had haemorrhaged alarming amounts of water, so that for the first time in four years my classes were cancelled, owing to the prof (me) having no transport to get there. None of the students I rang seemed unduly distressed at the prospect of an English-free Tuesday.
As I scrambled dog and personal effects to make the trip to the garage and walk the couple of miles back, and as Tom refilled the water, it became apparent that my mobile phone was not in its proper place and I couldn't find it. I kept this to myself, as misplaced objects (I being inevitably the misplacer), especially when found to be so on the point of hurried departures, are the scourge of our marriage, that and Tom's refusal to eat pasta in any form, and now would not have been a good time. Using one mobile to ring and thus locate the missing other was not possible, as I have been keeping mine switched off for the last few days.
It started the other morning when the mobile went in the Spar shop. We have a minimalist attitude to the use of mobiles; ours are the simplest available, no pictures, nuffink, we have a deal with Breizh mobile, a local outfit who buy airspace or time or whatever commodity it is from Orange and resell it extra cheap, so network coverage is not always guaranteed, and we buy a card for 10 euros every two months which is enough for our needs, which are few. It's usually only ever Tom who's ringing me, and then only from necessity, so it's always a little unsettling when it goes off unexpectedly. The muzak and other background racket and poor reception in the shop made it hard to catch, but it was something to do with an advert on the internet. No, wrong number, I said, and rang off.

As I arrived at my friend's house it rang again; the advert, the caller said, on the website. Was it you earlier? I asked. No. After a few more I had the reply rehearsed, no, not me, and could they inform the website of the error.

I am very slow. Several calls later it had barely dawned on me that all the callers were male, their tone varied between inarticulate gruffness and a decidedly self-conscious bumptious suavity, none of them had mentioned what the advert was actually for, and they all pushed off sharpish without a query when I told them of their mistake. Nevertheless, I was still half-consciously assuming it must just be a good deal on a Bosch sander or some such. It wasn't until about the seventh call in the space of an hour, when Fi was already on the computer to find out about the website, that I got around to asking what was being advertised. A garbled response which I had to ask to be repeated three times; the second sounded something like 'skart', so I still had some kind of notion of electronic equipment and peritel connections.

When he finally got through to me by shouting 'escort girl!' loud and clear, the caller joined in with my hysterical laughter, despite the fact he was the sad person trying to chase up a prostitute. When she's finally picked herself up off the floor, Fi found the relevant page of the website, an otherwise quite respectable one advertising everything imaginable in free small ads, including presumably Bosch sanders and peritel connection cables. It was soon evident, though, that we would have to open up every 'escort girl' ad to find the one with my number in it, a prospect neither feasible nor appetizing, so I never did find out exactly what they thought I was offering.

So I turned off the phone and finished my coffee in peace. Fi's parting words were, 'now take it easy, Luce, don't wear yourself out...'. I contacted the website when I was home, laying it on rather thick with the 'I am a retired schoolteacher living quietly in the country...' line, and they were back to me within an hour or two to say they had suppressed the ad. The poor call girl must have had a very quiet day.

However, I've rather become accustomed to keeping the thing turned off. Fi's husband, our kind and constant gardener, begged her to give him the number so he could call me and wind me up. It might have worked, as I say, I'm terribly slow. Tom raised his eyebrows when I said he wouldn't be able to reach me during Friday morning, as I didn't want to be disturbed at work, saying far be it from him to interfere when I was busy with clients. But, as he remarked, the chances are someone would just scribble down the number and use it later, not aware the ad was no longer there. When I repeated this to Fi, she asked tartly (oops) now how would Tom know a thing like that? When another friend, trying to arrange a shopping matter with me on Saturday, suggested calling me while I was out, I explained I had been keeping the phone off, and why, adding that I had just ruined a perfectly good anecdote by telling her the whole story in one sentence.

So, that was why I left without my Starfleet link yesterday morning, but by the time I reached the swimming pool, I remembered that I'd put it into the bottom of the tie-dye cotton haversack I took to walk along the old railtrack, along with the big sister camera, a scarf and the book I was dropping off at D and J's, and that that receptacle has an uncanny knack of swallowing objects and rendering them invisible. Thereafter I was able to enjoy my walk, and even take a few pictures with the small camera of the swimming pool,

and the rising sun on its wooden walls,

and the vegetation around it.


The ever cheerful and often cheeky garagiste informs us that the radiator leak is significant but not serious, and it will be ready today. Being carless here is rather like being snowbound, quite cosy and fun ans long as it doesn't go on too long or incur any real inconvenience or cost. I spent much of the rest of the day trying to bring my photos on the computer into some kind of order, one of the many jobs I had pledged to do during next weeks holiday, a sieving process of apparent endlessness worthy of the Danaides. I wonder if a Flickr account would make matters better or worse...

This glorious false spring continues on its halcyon way. Molly overcame her fatigue after such a long morning walk and was up for another by the afternoon, and we visited the hens in the orchard, who meandered towards us nonchalantly, and the foals in the paddock, who nibbled at the zips and cords of my jacket. The unexpected day off was an un expected treat. Life for a (semi-)retired schoolteacher living quietly in the country is far from unpleasant.

12 comments:

zhoen said...

We both lose stuff about equally, D is better at permanent misplacements, though.

marja-Leena said...

' a perfectly good anecdote', provoking the first chuckles of the day...

julie said...

Those photos are gorgeous, Lucy - and the anecdote is hilarious. I've gotten on some annoying call lists (a time-share company called so much I changed my message to tell them to leave me alone), but that one would have made me laugh.

Granny J said...

I try to imagine just what an 81-year-old granny would say to those gents! BTW, I'm with you about very selective use of a cell phone. The vision of all those people whose always have a hand at the ear is a disturbing one...

Isabelle said...

A lovely anecdote, beautifully told.

When I first read you, I thought you were young. Why is this? Somehow your writing sounds young -I mean in a good way (enthusiastic, sparkly, rather than inarticulate with a minimal vocabulary).

And now you make yourself sound old (" retired schoolteacher"... white haired old lady with apple cheeks and sensible shoes).

I take it you're somewhere in between? And what did you teach when you were a completely unretired schoolteacher?

Lucy said...

Thank you all.
GJ - next time I get one I'll put them onto you!
Isabelle - I laid on the 'retired schoolteacher' bit for dramatic effect. I am 46 and only retired by virtue of the fact I'm not doing it any more! I was trained and worked for a while as a primary teacher. I suppose I am sort of living in retirement, though I teach English language part-time. I'm very gratified to know I sound young!

Rosie said...

I bet you wont be cooking any tarts for a while

meggie said...

You do sound young Lucy. I was surprised when I first worked out about how old you are. I mean, compared to me, you ARE young, so hope you are not offended.

I just love your writing, & seeing things through your eyes.

Jan said...

Your way of life is lovely, despite having a man who doesnt eat pasta !

leslee said...

Gorgeous photos (from here where we are month away from spring). Hope you find your phone (minus the rude calls)!

Dave said...

Beautiful pics Lucy and a great story. At the risk of being boorish and perhaps stepping outside of blog etiquette (apologies all round if I have), and also at the risk of starting a thread of mobile phone stories, I have one that happened recently at home.
My dearly beloved wife rushed in recently after playing tennis and found an urgent message on the (fixed line) phone, requiring her to go out again straight away. She was in a great hurry. I was not in at the time and she is always concerned about security. There being a small amount of money in her bag, that she did not need to take with her, she looked round for somewhere secure (?) to put the bag. Being in the laundry removing tennis shoes etc, she dropped the bag which included the mobile phone, into the (empty) washing machine. (No burglar would ever think to look in a washing machine!!). She went out and completed the urgent business, came home, not needing the bag (or the phone as we are also mobile phone-aphiles)and got tea.
The next morning was a washing day. It being a top loading washing machine, the lid was raised and the machine was filled. Full wash and rinse cycle. And the rest is history. Actually it is good that in Australia we have plastic money notes.

Lucy said...

Rosie - hee-hee!
Meggie - it's interesting these images we have of one another, including age. I'm quite often surprised when more details emerge...
Jan - it'll do, we all make our compromises!
Leslee - the phone had indeed been swallowed by the haversack, and is now back on most of the time, with no more seedy calls forthcoming!
Dave - not a bit, from what I know of blog etiquette it is most acceptable to add personal anecdote to a comment thread! And it's very nice to see you here again! I really liked that washable money you have, I suppose for a nation that spends large amounts of its time in the water they're particularly sensible. The washable mobile phone has yet to be invented, however!