Alors, pour commencer…

Book of the day: David Copperfield

What causes a (reasonably) sane adult to start threatening imminent self-defenestration from a ground-floor dining room?

While I do not feel sufficiently qualified to speak for the downstairs-window-hurdling community in general, I shall endeavour to explain my own fall from grace. To do so, however, involves a brief jaunt back through some of my personal history, to where my story begins.

Where, though, do I begin? I do not intend to travel right back to the very start, as did Mr. Copperfield in his famously ghost-written autobiography, and announce to a spellbound public: “I am born”. My early history, unlike that of the gentleman in question, is not fit for publication, being spectacularly devoid of both Scandal and Sensation: my parents are both very much alive and well; I was never sent off to boarding school by a wicked stepfather and thence to work at a tender age; and I certainly never felt the necessity to traipse through the Kentish countryside in the search of estranged aunts. It was, in short, perfectly normal and happy (I blame my parents…).

Fast forwarding nearly three decades, however, and beginning with “He was born”, when my son decided to make his grand entrance (four and a quarter hours late, the little imp !) is not quite fitting either, as it fails to include the important role that our home of two and a half years, and its accompanying bricolage, have so far played in turning me into a mass of quivering frustration. The fact, for example, that we now have rough concrete for a kitchen floor instead of the former wooden floorboards, at just the moment when our son is beginning to crawl (he will not be persuaded to stay on his soft mat and drives me to distraction by plotting more escapes from his parc than “Big X”) could arguably be blamed on one slivovice*-inspired decision, late on Boxing Day night about a year and a half ago, to see what lurked behind the fake plasterboard walls in our kitchen. This started a chain reaction of ‘improvements’ on that poor room which has led us (via a gleeful midnight hunt for the chisel and a hammer) to deconstruct it to the point that it would not recognise its former self. Gone are three of four fake walls erected to hide the sloping and crumbling stone walls behind; gone is the wooden floor; gone, even, is part of the fourth wall altogether, where we had a hole punched through to access the library (a work in progress, currently comprising a few bookcases and two trestles with a board, in lieu of a desk).

No, I think that to explain myself fully I need to step back yet a few more years to my arrival in France half a decade ago, as a fresh-faced and naively optimistic au pair (an interesting three weeks of eagerly remembering my A Level french and trying to befriend my young charges, quickly succeeded by the horror of realising what I had voluntarily brought upon myself)…but that saga is best kept for another day.

*Slivovice – a devilish, but delicious, Czech firewater, capable of stripping the varnish off coffee tables.

Mots du jour:

commencer – to start bricolage – D.I.Y. parc – playpen

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