Vive Le Garlic (Long LIve The Garlic)

French Old Lady

The Porters have been making optimistic attempts to introduce themselves to the larger community and grasp every opportunity that arises.

There’s an old lady who marches past Kerry and Wayne’s house  each morning like a Gurka. Clad in a high viz vest and woolly socks rolled over her hob nail boots. She’s around 260 years old but stomps past like she’s off to war.

Kerry and Wayne had taken to sitting at the kitchen table waiting for what sounds like the next German invasion force coming down the street.  They then rush out to stand nonchalantly and fix her with mega watt stares until she wilts under the attention and acknowledges them. 

Much garbled French and arm waving ensues as they attempt to convince her they’re harmless, and frantic attempts at communication.

“Film?  4 syllables? Sounds like? Sounds liiiiiike? Chicken? Pig!! Wtf does it sound like??  FFS!!  She’s getting away again!!!”

And the well intentioned,

“Ayup petite vieille dame!  Voulez-vous un pot de conseils pg???

(Ayup little old lady!  Would you like a pot of PG tips???)

Would go unanswered.

So in what may appear like aggressive neighbour tampering, they have begun a clever strategy of picking a particular person to introduce themselves to, strike up a cunningly devised conversation and actually get on talking terms.

They actually practice their lines.

But with  Wayne’s,

“Une! Deux! Twat!!!  (One! Two!! And, well, Twat.)  Building site Fuckanese again coming out.

and Kerry all –

“Bon Le toot! Vive Le garlic!! Hooray!”  

(The good Toot! Long live the garlic!! Hooray!)

(You can take the girl out of Manchester, but…) 

Things weren’t going to plan.

The old lady would march past stoically. With a disconcerted wave and watch them from the corner of her eye till she was safely out of sight,  probably thinking,

“bébé Jésus doux et toutes les vierges! Ces deux fous sont ici encore! Wtf ne veulent-ils de moi??”

(Sweet baby Jesus and all the virgins! These two lunatics are here again!! WTF do they want with me??!!)

So when the Mayor threw a party for the village, it was with some relief that Emily visited and attended it with Kerry and Wayne. She was swept around like a bulldozer blade in front of  them, sweeping up targets to introduce the Porters to.

And eventually caught up to old mother time.

As it turned out the old lady had a healthy sense of humour, and saw the funny side of her persecution. Apparently she had No idea what Wayne had been shouting, but some clue as to what Kerry was trying to communicate. It was with some relief no doubt, that she realised  it was safe to walk past and pause to attempt a broken a conversation.

Also at the party were another couple, Claude and Annette, who had been attempting to entice Kerry and Wayne in conversation. Unfortunately language had been a barrier and a lot of what was being said was entirely missed by the Porters.

Emily translated that when they had been talking to the Porters, they had been telling them that Claude had been ill and was recovering from a serious illness.

(Hahaha… carrot?)

Which may have appeared funny at they’re initial interpretation of the conversation.

(House? Are They saying howhowhow..Haha..?. Horse!??)

But on retrospect wasn’t so side splitting to the Porters when faced with the reality of what was actually being said. And also it came out, that each time  Claude and Annette had been attempting to pass on a joke, it had fallen on a wasted audience, as Kerry and Wayne would be looking at them, eyes wide, smiling and straining for comprehension, only to realize there was a pregnant pause as Claude or Annette would be nodding, eyebrows raised,  trying to encourage them to get the joke.

(…Ha….Haha..ha???…)

(Aw Fuckit)

But again the real humour came to the front when both sides allowed Emily to translate to each party what the other was saying.

Annette was informing Kerry and Wayne that Claude had suffered a heart problem and had been recuperating. And now he,

“was sat on his arse in bed being waited on hand and foot the lazy bastard….”

Claude was also vocal in his explanation that,

The cow had driven him to the heart attack in the first place, and a bit of TLC was only his due…”

Emily had to stop laughing each time before she could translate

They were very obviously dedicated to each other, and have been together for some 20 odd years.

So, It was at this party that Kerry and Wayne had found out that they were actually unintelligible to most of the rest of the community. It was here during their mingling, that they discovered the majority they had been smiling at, waving to and generally trying to speak pigeon French to, had no idea what they had been saying.  

Most meetings had been like scenes from “Allo Allo”.

Which finally leads to the current situation where Kerry has enrolled in intermediary French lessons twice a week in a near by town called Pons. Then re-enrolled in the beginners class. Then re-en-re-enrolled back in the intermediary class because the tutor, although felt Kerry’s French was very basic (think the airmen in Allo Allo), She could however make leaps and bounds with a concerted effort on her part by attending two classes a week. (Tres Bon!) 

Which she has been doing on a regular basis.

Upon one of these lessons Emily and Vinny went with Kerry to potter around the town whilst Kerry took part in her language lesson. They were waiting outside as the lesson ended watching the students leave. Two that caught the eye were a middle aged man and woman, the woman who was wearing a striking red Beret who had obviously embraced French fashion with a passion.

They passed Em and Vinny deep in conversation flashing them a smile as they went by. All Emily and Vinny caught was,

“That new girl is awfully nice! Splendid lady!! By Christ she’s a big “un!”

Kerry followed shortly after oozing excitement. It had obviously been a little daunting, but also exhilarating. Going in as a new enrollee, meeting all the ex-pats already there all learning French creates a sense of unity. But She was just so excited by the new challenge and couldn’t wait to tell them about the new people she met. Two who struck her as particularly enthusiastic and welcoming.

“Kenneth and Penelope! Very well-to-do!! But so nice to speak to!”

Kenneth was a retired major in the army, a marksman by trade, married to the energetic Penelope. They had decided to settle in France 2 years previously, doing similar to Kerry and Wayne. They had taken to the life style with a vengeance that was spectacular in its enthusiasm. Embracing everthing about it and nothing was insurmountable in their view, and they welcomed every situation as a new exciting experience.

Kerry upon meeting them had found their enthusiasm hard to resist.

they had requested Kerry’s details and address, saying simply,

“If we call and your busy, Just tell us! And We’ll go!!”

The whole thing about living in France had been about embracing new experiences. And this was one of them. This couple, who had so kindly sought out Kerry, and invited the Porters into their own established existence were hard to resist. How could you not extend a similar welcome and open house?

It took a matter of days before Kenneth and Penelope managed to turn up at their home. A bit of a shock at first, and Kerry greeted them in the middle of working on the house, the shock of the visit must have worked both ways. Kerry normally of pristine presentation, was mass of explosive hair. Probably unrecognizable from the French lesson.

It must have been an,

“Oh mon dieu! Ses cheveux ont explosé!”

(Oh my God! Her hair has blown up!)

moment for Kenneth and Penelope.

But although they were the visitors, they proved the perfect hosts. Kenneth had a passion for classic cars and the renovation of them. Wayne was sold immediately. So when they were invited to their home prior to Kerry coming back to Blighty, they didn’t hesitate. And as it proved it was a great decision.

Kenneth and Penelope proved the perfect hosts and couldn’t be more inspirational in confirming to Kerry and Wayne, it was the right decision to move. They were Dynamos of enthusiasm for what Kerry and Wayne were trying to achieve. Anything the Porters had to say about their hopes and dreams of their future in France were met by quivering, edge of the seat attention. How can you not persist in your dreams in the face of such enthusiasm??

Personally, for me, once a month Kerry is back to visit and stays with me. So I get to see her. Wayne’s presence is intermittent and I still miss him. But I see him via Skype, or he takes the time to phone. And the pleasure I get out of seeing them having made the right move is immense. Because it is a huge move, and it is a leap of faith.

So, much as I miss them, and I surely do,

I couldn’t think of a better couple to face it together.

Kerry and Wanye

There will be plenty of people looking at this picture, getting up the next day for work thinking, I wish…

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