As usual around here it was a fairly heterogeneous lot: the usual mix of French-only and bi-lingual folks. A surprising number of the kids were chatting away in English, so we must be doing something right. Although a couple of the bystanding adults were a teensy bit surprised, to judge by the way wine was spurting from their nostrils.
Monumental heaps of salads, steaming mounds of merguez, chicken parts and pork chops ... if anyone actually went hungry it was only because they really wanted to. And I'm absolutely certain that no-one died of thirst. Especially after Stéphane authorised the littlies (and not so littlies) to have a water fight.
The less resilient guests started to drift away about 20:00, but we didn't manage to get rid of the last torpid stragglers until after midnight. And to my eternal surprise, we were left with only four chipolatas and half a smoked chicken on our hands, which is much better than it could have been. (I'm not counting the salads, of which there were gallons. Don't know why, either people make far too much salad or there's something about a barbecue that turns otherwise normal persons into carnivores who sneer at greenery. Or perhaps the phenomenon of miraculous multiplication is especially active around tabbouleh and rice salad. Haven't yet worked that one out.)
I'm ashamed to confess that I got rather lamentably cut - something to do with the way people kept filling up my glass, given that I myself didn't really have the time to occupy myself with such minor details, what with scooping bucketsfull of chipolatas and things onto the grill and then trying to turn them so as to brown but not burn without removing all the hair on my body ... not an easy job, especially when generously lubricated. And in any case, I was not the only one - not that I'm going to point the finger of shame or anything.
And I managed to pick up Malyon from Geneva on Tuesday. Not that it's any great problem getting there, and as she'd actually taken the trouble to send me a mail the day before to remind me that it needed doing there was no actual organisational problem either. Of course she'd come with only hand baggage so as there was no way they could make her wait for hours around the baggage carousel they decided to delay disembarkment by half an hour or so. Bloody typical.
The eating part is understandable. Mal has explained that none of her Scots friends seem to actually like food. It's a bit like petrol really, you put it in the car because if not the car will not in fact be much bloody use, but you don't bother putting truffle shavings with it or try to make it look appetising. So, she said, she has a hard time trying to explain a) that food is a glorious, sometimes many-splendoured thing which is to be enjoyed for itself, and b) why we tend to invite people over for a meal rather than out to go clubbing. OK, I can understand that the idea of the barbecue is totally alien to the Scottish zeitgeist (I mean, who wants to stand around in a light drizzle burning chunks of meat over smoking peat), but that's hardly a reason to basically dismiss civilisation out of hand. Whatever, when she comes over she sort of dives into the smelly cheeses and will do tricks for a decent curry.
(Just as a matter of interest, did you realise that I actually had to go and edit the HTML to do the underlined text up there? Something to do with it's being rarely used, 'cos easily mistaken for a hyperlink or some such lame excuse. Does that interest you? Doubtless not. And another thing - sometimes, for its own inscrutable reasons, the text edit box will double my line breaks. And I can't stop it. And placing photos can be a bit of a hit or miss affair too. Perhaps I should learn HTML.)
Where was I? Oh yes, getting rid of Mal. We also get rid of Jerry on Sunday: he starts his month-long stage in the kitchens of a hotel-restaurant in Aix-Les-Bains. As it's cooking, he'll be much pleased. They had a big meeting at the lycée today to talk about this, and about the choice of specialité (choice of cuisine or service) for the next two years - typically enough, what needed to be said could have been said in ten minutes, which is probably why the meeting dragged on for an hour.
As a parting shot, may I direct your attention to this article? The first paragraph says it all, really -
"In a development whose importance it would be difficult to exaggerate, scientists have produced research answering one of the great questions facing humanity in the 21st century: what happens if you get snails hopped up on crystal meth and poke them with sticks?"
Thank you for your time.