Do I Cause an Allergic Reaction?

I’ve always thought that we have fitted in quite well around here but now I think people are developing an allergy to me.


Normally on Bastille Day we toddle off to Saumur where we eat a gargantuan meal in one of our favourite restaurants and then afterwards watch the firework display over the Loire. We then retire to the square in front of the theatre where we dance a bit or, at least, Sheila dances a bit, whilst I twitch and jerk for a while, waiting for someone to come along and ask Sheila to dance. This always happens and I then promptly retire to a nearby bar when I normally fall into some esoteric conversation with someone whilst keeping an eye on Sheila in case she is dancing with a holidaying Belgian mass murderer, (even psychopathic killers need a holiday).  Incidentally, last year, I passed a pleasant hour or so trying to convince a local gendarme who had once holidayed in Cardiff, that it was situated in Wales and not near Edinburgh as he was insisting.  I think I agreed with him in the end, he had a revolver!   

Anyway, this year, Bastille Day fell on a Saturday.  This is always difficult for us as we have to prepare our gîtes for new guests arriving and welcome them with aperitifs, thus we are never quite sure when we can get away.  Not that we normally do want to get away you understand, we quite like our guests.

By coincidence we had, in the village, for the first time in twenty years, a Bastille Day Fête, held alongside the Church.  It was quite late when we got there, together with Gemma and Nick, our two guests from Manchester.  Whilst they were sitting down at one of the trestle tables enjoying a very talented live band, I was standing by the bar talking to one of my acquaintances in the village.  I first became aware that there was a slight problem when he was telling me about the difficulties his parents were having in the nearby village of Chavannes because a neighbour had moved in with seven dogs. Or, as he continually put it, his seven parents had a problem with dogs that had two neighbours.  He then promptly fell over and collapsed at my feet.  I helped him to his feet, told him the bar was closed and gently pushed him in the general direction of his house.  He staggered off through the crowd, receiving helpful support and slight corrections to his course, rather like a billiard ball bouncing off the cushions, until he finally disappeared down a side street.  Ah well, I thought, C’est la vie, after all he had been drinking for about ten hours,…. On reflection,  in his particular case, make that about ten years!

A minute later I was joined by someone else and, as I leant forward to emphasise a point; he simply fell over backwards, as if I had displaced a mass of air which had rushed up against his body and propelled him backwards.  I helped him to his feet, gently pushed him in the direction of home etc. etc.  I was getting quite good at this by now.

I then started to get a bit worried, was it me?  I even sniffed under my armpits, they were reasonably OK, in fact a rather fetching odour of Brut I thought (Special offer from SuperU, 20% Extra, just on that one variety, it was obviously one that they were not particularly proud of and were trying to sell off).  But, being that all deodorants smell the same to me, I was quite happy to take them up on their largesse. Now, if they did one, like, for example, essence of ‘Cabernet Franc with a hint of oak’ perhaps…….  

I had a bit of a wander round and passed a few words with various friends and neighbours. I was pleased to note that no-one keeled over again at the sight of me and eventually finished back at the bar.  There were three young lads there who I vaguely knew through my perambulations through Doué la Fontaine. We shook hands, and the lad in the middle immediately started to wobble, spilling Calvados everywhere and, in what was an obviously well rehearsed move, was grabbed by the other two before he hit the ground.  He we go again, I thought.

They half carried their friend out of the square to the car park and returned in a few minutes.

“Is he OK?” I asked.

“Yeah, he’ll be alright, it happens all the time”

“Two glasses of wine and that’s it’, said his friend.

“Will he be OK in the car?”  I asked.

“Oh, we haven’t put him in the car, it’s new, we’ve left him alongside it.”

“We put him in a big dustbin the other week”, added the other, matter of factly.

“A dustbin”!! I said incredulously. Sounding disconcertedly like Lady Bracknell saying, ” A Handbag”!!!

I was really starting to enjoy this conversation.

“Yeah, and then we lost him”.

“In the dustbin?!

“No, not in the dustbin, he just wasn’t there when we went back for him”.

“He was alright though; he was back home before we were”,

“How did he do that?”  I managed to splutter,  in between gusts of uncontrolled laughter.

“They emptied the bins and one of the bin men knew him and gave him a lift home”.

I couldn’t bring myself to ask whether being found in a bin was a regular occurrence.

Given that by now I had laughed so much that I was in danger of collapse myself I shook hands, wished them good evening and started to head back to Sheila.  Suddenly, a thought struck me. I returned to the bar.

“If he collapses after two glasses of wine, why was he drinking Calvados”?

“Well, it happens whatever he drinks; wine, beer or spirits. So he says he may as well drink the good, strong stuff and enjoy it”.

And we all sagely nodded our heads in agreement at the incontrovertible logic of this statement.

à plus


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