Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lay Down Sally

Every time I hear that song, the title translates in my head from "Lay Down Sally" to "Get Under, Sam". When the world and I were young, I was in lodgings on a farm in Staffordshire. It was a big building with many rooms, most of which were occupied by young men like myself. Mostly we were new to the area and were staying on the farm until we found some more permanent accommodation. We were all very well looked after by the spinster daughter of the family, the very amiable Eunice.

But there were one or two longer term residents. One of these was Tom, a man of a certain age, probably a friend of the family, who was what they used to call, in those days, "simple".

Tom was quiet and unagressive but obviously felt that he was pretty much the bottom of the heap. Every now and again he would rise up to demonstrate that this was not so by asserting his authority over the dog, Sam. Sam was usually doing nothing to offend, but would calmly stroll under the table, as instructed by Tom. And everybody was happy, especially Tom, but Sam as well, who probably thought he was doing a great public service by helping Tom to feel good.

In the previous posting I said the band in the picture was playing "Take Me Home Country Roads". As soon as I turned up for my guitar lesson on Tuesday, Santiago told me that he had seen the blog and that we were not playing that song at that point. He could tell by the configuration of players on stage at that time (there were 20 or more guitarists involved in the concert, in total). So I am happy to post that correction, if only to let you know I can play more than one tune.

On Monday, the day before my lesson and a couple of days after the concert, there was a knock at the door and a woman from the local authority delivered a cardboard box, addressed to me. I opened it to find that I am now officially an old codger. It was a food parcel, delivered to all people of in the commune aged 67 (the official French retirement age) or over.

So there I was, basking in the youthful afterglow of playing in a country music concert, planning and preparing for a very extensive walk which would at least tax most of the much younger people I know. Suddenly, there is a solid reminder that I am in many ways not at all a young man.

But are we downhearted? Only by the fact that the food parcel consisted almost entirely of such items as foie gras, rillettes, cassoulet and other very expensive but also very meaty items. I am sure that all the other old people of Puivert were delighted - as in some ways I was - by the gift. But they will also relish the consumption thereof, while I have to confess to being a vegetarian.

The last week has been a total wash-out, walking-wise, because of the continued awful weather. Yesterday was the first fine day for a long time, but we were in transit to Italy, where we shall now be for a few days. Better weather here? I think, if anything, they have had more rain than we have in the past few weeks. We are just outside Rome, where a few days ago, for the first time in 75 years, the River Tiber burst its banks. There has been much flooding in the area and in the rest of Italy. Much of it is still visible. The forecast is not good.

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