Sunday, 24 October 2010

Death in the street

Last weekend I was disturbed in the wee hours by a very peculiar noise. I've never heard anything like it before. It seemed inhuman and made me tingle with anxiety. I thought perhaps it was a dog run over but I hadn't heard any cars or impact from one. The sound went on and on; agonised yelping and despairing wailing. It really did sound like a cross between a dog and a woman in unimaginable distress. Very soon my room was filled with flashing blue/white light and the sound of male voices. It was coming from the other side of the street, just opposite my building but impossible to see from my studio. There was no need for me to intervene in my PJs because there were officials on the scene. With patches of quiet as people went back inside the affected building this situation went on for a protracted length of time. I figured there had been a fight or a domestic and tried to get back to sleep.

This week I read the free local rag and the mystery was revealed. A tragic accident had claimed the life of a young 23 year old man. He'd had an evening with his friends and at the close of this his friends decided he was in no fit state to go home so they took his bike keys and he slept. When he woke up he wanted to go home. He moved towards the window and fell three floors. Evacuated to a major hospital in Paris he died two days later. This would have traumatised a lot of people and I will never forget the sound of that trauma.

Yesterday, being a Saturday, was domestic chores day. It's nothing like my old Saturdays in NZ. I've accepted that it's impossible at this time for me to rush around doing a squillion things in my day. With no car I must follow the pace of town life at the slowest speed. That means taking at least two hours to do the groceries as I move through the markets looking for bargains, chatting to some of the vendors in very basic french, arriving at the supermarket and then learning a little more about the products, prices and positions. I usually get a 'hi' from my favourite security guard. Off to the bakers for some fresh bread, maybe locate a punnet of raspberries. Trundler in tow I arrive home, unpack and have lunch and head out again. Yesterday I found some gloves, a woollen scarf, a woollen jumper and, miraculously, Nicholas's wine shop near the Mairie had a bottle of Floc de Gascogne. I've been searching high and low for that since my dinner with Laurence. My friends, I've just purchased my first bottle of french wine.

What does one do on a wet, cold and windy afternoon with no entertainment? One catches a bus and goes to a Centre Commerical (mall) of course. Some folks plan for retirement. I'm planning for hibernation.

After a reccie in some clothes shops (buying nothing) I headed to the hypermarket Carrefour. Loaded up with some sheets, a huge duvet inner and a multiboard I then spent more than 2 hours in Darty. They were busy and I was always overlooked; men coming in to browse got attention. I got none. It never occured to them I might actually have money in my pocket and want to buy rather than chat about this model vs that. I got so fed up I interrupted a conversation a young assistant was having with a male client and asked if he was going to be finished soon. Yes, he said and voila, I actually had someone's attention. I pointed out the flat screen TV I wanted. He wanted to know if I understood all the techo stuff. Sure, I said, it's all on the ticket.

I bought a 107cm HD Philips, a basic DVD player (no HDD or blueray), a TV cabinet to stand it all on and a cable I need to connect my laptop to the TV to play my NZ DVDs on the big screen. I smiled to myself, because I had chosen the most genuine but least experienced sales person who was still in training. The order took forever to process but his cocky, chatterbox colleague was jealous of his sale.

Next Saturday my Telly will be delivered and installed for me so that it's working properly. Hopefully they will explain, slowly, how to use it all. It's very difficult making these purchases. I've spent hours in shops learning what's on the market, what vocab I need to use, what I need to ask, guarantees etc. I still don't understand most of what they say but if it's crucial I explain I need simple slow language and I eventually get there.

I just need some space to put it. The studio is still full of the boss's stuff so it will have to go in the middle of the room temporarily, alongside my damp washing. So, entertainment for the forthcoming winter, language immersion on the evenings and weekends and a warm and snuggly bed. Things are going to be so much nicer.


Alison said...

You will love having a TV. I didn't, apart from one on loan for a month, and I should have got one really. Look out for Wheel of Fortune. It is so sexist that at first I thought it was a spoof! The assistant primps and pouts, the conversation is full of double entendres and the cameraman just films the assistant's boobs. And when female contestants spin the wheel the camera focuses on their cleavages! It seemed like being trapped in another age.
I hope that things are going well and that you are feeling more 'at home'. :-)

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments, contributions and feedback.