Molly loves her new car. She raced round when I brought it home on Thursday evening, jumped in and bounced around on all the seats. She was more than usually wild with excitement when I came in, and in the garden kept running round to the fence and looking at it on the drive. Now and then she wanders up to the end of the front terrace and sits looking round at the drive, giving the occasional plaintive woof.
When I was arranging the stuff I'd taken out of the BX (essentials like leather work gloves, the thing you wipe the windows with, extending dog lead, dog drinking dish and bottles of dog-drinking water, dog blanket and towel, doggy bags...) into the new one, she trotted round with me and installed herself in happy anticipation.
I felt a slight lump in the throat when I went to empty all the junk out of the old car, but not too much. In the end it's just a thing, a thing that has reached the end of its useful term, and can now go and be recycled into other things. The memories are as they are, they are not inextricably attached to the thing. I couldn't quite bring myself to leave the old British license plates which were tucked into a pocket of the boot though. We got a little bit all-our-yesterdays when I showed them to Tom: 'We had those on the car when we got married!' he sighed wistfully. I put them in the cupboard under the stairs, I don't quite know what we'll do with them; I imagined them mounted over the garage door like the horse's old brasses in the stable or something, only we haven't a garage. Memorabilia is a tricky matter, you can drown in it.
As I was going about this business, M Turbin, our illustrious and level-headed garagist, called out
"Have you found anyone to take care of those shingles yet?"
Both doctors we saw made a point of telling us, their tongues somewhat in their cheeks, but also with a tone of 'well you might want to know...' that their were magnetiseurs, unlicensed healers, who were supposed to have an ability to relieve the pains of the complaint. The garagist, who had suffered a bout of it himself, after a bit of male-bonding type joshing with Tom about unfortunate places in the male anatomy where shingles could erupt, said that he had had his sorted out by such a practitioner. Later, I mentioned to him that old Hélène in our village, who is now largely blind and nearly ninety, had a reputation for the laying on of hands, but that Tom was rather leery about having her lay them on his bottom. However, that is for the healing of burns, and I was assured that burns require a different gift from shingles.
"You should get onto it. It's a bad thing to have going on too long. I'll call the one in Plérin, he knows me well."
He did so, and almost made an appointment there and then. But I said I'd need to speak to Tom, and that he might need some convincing.
"Well, if he doesn't want to be convinced, that's his choice. He can go on suffering."
In fact Tom turned out to be quite open to the idea. He can sometimes make leaps of faith about the big cosmic stuff I have problems with, but is perhaps more inclined to scepticism on a smaller local level, where I often say 'why not?' (I am, of course, aware that for true believers there is no real difference between the two, the cosmic and the parochial, but that's another thing I struggle with...) I suppose that pain and illness are conditions where, in desperation, one is more likely to be open to possibilities.
I rang the man this morning. He sounded gentle and kind, and also busy. Country people, it seems to me, may be superstitious and credulous, but they will not continue readily to part with their money for something which they don't perceive to be working. The visit should not, as far as we gather, cost much more than one to the GP, but will not, of course, be reimbursed in whole or part by the health service, the practitioner being unregulated. Looking in the Yellow Pages under 'Soins hors d'un cadre réglementée', there are all manner of services on offer, as well as magnetiseurs, who are by far the majority, there are water-diviners, bone-setters, and the more modern arrivals, acupuncturists, etiopaths, geobiology, shiatsu etc etc. Some of them boast hereditary gifts and decades of experience. As with many things here, there has been less of a break between the old traditions and the revival.
So, we made an appointment for this afternoon. It can't do any harm, except we were both a little reluctant to make the trip; it's a relatively busy road and a time of day which I wouldn't perhaps have chosen to drive so soon in the new car, and for Tom, protracted sitting in the car is fairly miserable. But, we'll give it a go.
I don't know if I'm just an incurable Pollyanna, but I have to say how blessed I feel through all this. I want nothing more than to see Tom getting well, but I feel in terms of the kindness of others we don't lack much at all. Everyone we've had to lean on has been marvellous. Friends pitched in without hesitation: the Quiet American dropped everything when I called on the mobile after the accident, not wanting to get Tom out, came and loaded my shopping and Molly into the back of his car without being asked, hung around patiently while I exchanged details and filled out forms, then chatted soothingly about the fledging blue tits and kestrels in their garden, the seal he and B had seen on the mudflats, and gentle gossip about mutual acquaintances all the way home; A. and C. made no complaint at having their evening totally buggered up when C. came out to see the new car with me, which turned out to be most of the way to Morbihan, then back again so Turbin could check it out, on C.'s urging, then back to the sellers, then home again after much unavoidable form-filling, all of which took about four and a half hours. C. turned out to be a really good person for this mission; he too chatted at just the right level, keeping me alert and positive without being hard work, and though modestly avowing he knew little about cars, he came across as very knowledgeable without being a smart-arse, and being a part-time antique dealer and former probation officer, he cut an impressively 'don't mess with me' kind of figure. Which wasn't really necessary, as the people selling the car were dead nice and straight-up anyway, but it made me feel more confident. In fact when I told Tom I'd tried to knock them down a bit on the question of the cam-belt he was downright embarrassed.
The woman I ran into and her husband who she went and fetched in case the car needed a strong arm, were incredibly good about it, let me leave the car in their yard, and took time to make sure everything was sorted out properly, without any recrimination or aggro at all, though she was shaken and inconvenienced too.
And all the professionals, the doctors, the pharmacists, Turbin, Simone at the insurance, have all been lovely, and even people who don't know there's anything wrong, like the lady at the Presse where we buy our Radio Times when I apologised for not coming in as usual but we'd been busy; she's sometimes rather brisk and terse, but she said that was quite all right, I wasn't to worry, they'd always keep it by for us anyway. And Jos the painter, who we'd not heard from for a bit, delighted Tom and made him laugh with a circulated e-mail funny which he said he thought Tom would particularly enjoy, which is always rather nice. I'll post it soon, as it's worth sharing.
And none of these people read here, as far as I know, so I can't even hope they'll see this honourable mention. I'll try to find a way to thank them though.
So, in appreciation at my happy lot in life, I thought I'd just show you some pictures of home, which is at last turning into something like it should be, and I love it very much. Despite its general shagginess and unfinished paths and other bits, the garden is looking delicious. I often take detailed photos of things in it, I don't very often do wider shots. This is what the kitchen and living room lookout onto.
And below is the new red dining room. It won't always be quite so empty and tidy-looking of course, but we're doping our best to keep it fairly uncluttered.
This is more normal, rather messy living room and bureau zone, adjoining red dining room (strip of wall to the right). Molly's bean-bag cushion next to the desk, so she can feel included.
And this is the hub from whence cometh this blog and more. I've left this one full-size and not moved it, so it should enlarge, in case any of you are nosy buggers like me and want to know what's on the shelves. You'll have to work it out for yourselves, as I must be off to Mappy now to find the route to the hocus-pocus man's house. The top left shelf is Tom's, the rest are mine.