Sunday, February 15

Death In The Afternoon

15th February
I am not sportive and I’m certainly not competitive about anything that requires me to freeze, get sweaty or wear unflattering clothes in public.

While the weather was pleasant I enjoyed the weekly pétanque games at the local bar, I viewed these events as a sort of themed cocktail party. Kitty and I set standards in the hat, eyewear and daft shoe departments, the men talked about lawnmowers and concrete and we all poked fun at each other. The French club members meanwhile made moves to get the club registered so that we could become sérieux. The rest of us joked around and failed to forsee the consequences of all their activity, or at least I did until today when I found Courtney and the club captain on my doorstep and discovered what signing up for a French pétanque club really means:

The first interclub tournament of the season was starting this afternoon, if we didn’t put up a team for the first match, our club would be disgraced. It is cold outside and the interclub boulodrome is distant. No-one had turned up for the rendez-vous at the bar – Courtney felt sorry for the captain and volunteered hers and my services, I tried pleading ill health, lack of interest and incompetence but was battered into submission and found myself climbing into an unroadworthy ashtray of a vehicle that tipped us out, semi-kippered, at the ‘boulodrome’ .

A boulodrome is like a big car park with a shed in the middle. Hundreds of people were milling around, wearing ill-fitting jeans and lurid sweatshirts blazing dayglo slogans declaring allegiance to their club. During the drive we had been lectured on our comportment: it is forbidden to walk around during a match, we must be quiet. We were also warned that there are a lot of rules about clothing, our appearance for this first match would be overlooked but in future we must all be dressed in a team uniform, like the other participants.

Serious pétanque matches involve a lot of heated discussion and the measuring of spaces between boules. It is like being trapped in a statistics conference in a walk-in freezer. We lost every game, by the time I was returned to my house I was so traumatized by the experience that I had developed one of those stupefied Frankenstein Monster walks.

I’ve had a bath and thawed out, but the house is still filled with the odour of pub carpet that is emanating from my coat in the hallway.

37 comments:

  1. If we didn't have wars, religions and sports, what would we do? I guess there's sex ... but what else?

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  2. How sad that you had to waste an afternoon with these humourless and officious people. I wish you had done something outrageous with their precious boules.

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  3. oh well done you for having a go!
    i think you should tell them that you've recently taken up darts, and that the training schedules are going to clash.

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  4. Would it be "helpful" to say something to the effect, "I really am enjoying this Bocce Ball," to Courtney in a loud stage whisper?

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  5. Hurray, I'm glad that they at least managed to get this thing off the ground! A boulodrome, though? Has it got a covering of synthetic, al-weather Gauloises ash?

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  6. Bill - well I always left the first 3 things to the guys, when not having sex I cook and have parties

    GB - Now I'm warm again, I'm really glad I did it (not that I'm planning on repeating the experience) I had no idea about this aspect of La vie françause

    TP - Darts would involve getting a large belly and more bad clothing

    xl - Courtney and I were almost overwhelmed by the desire to do something outrageous.

    Gadjo - I'm actually very impressed that they got it going too. The Boulodrome was very worn out and the chain-smoking pétanquers (who possibly have a lot in common with the British darts player) keep a nice ashy surface on everything

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  7. Oh dear, you've not officially joined the team now, have you? Anything that makes me bend and show my bum in an unflattering postion is completely out of the question. If it were me I would refuse to bend until there was nobody standing behind me. They'd then probably put me in charge of making the drinks or something.

    Get out of it while you can.

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  8. Well, making something "official" always comes with some consequences. Madonna ruined "Truth or Dare" for me years ago and I still haven't recovered.

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  9. Frenchie - I thought being completely bloody useless would excuse me. But with you on the fat arse thing, I try and disguise mine with voluminous skirts or shift attention to my head with stupid glasses

    Katrocket - I have an allergy to anything official - it just crept up on me

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  10. But what a start to the season! From which you can only improve, surprising and shaming those who may have written you off. Just tell them your real sport is Spoof, or Shove Ha'penny.

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  11. It still sounds at least 100,000,000,592 times more interesting than the times I was dragged to the local lawn bowls club to watch my father and my brother trying to hit jack or something. They did ends too. I felt it best not to ask.

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  12. Somebody should bring back lawn jarts and you can exact revenge on the ill-fitted jeans wearing boules space measurers. Nothing quite like the excitement and dangers of a potential dart in the noggin.

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  13. Brother T - I love shove ha'penny, it is my game.

    Hello Mr Fan how lovely to see you - I suspect boules is only interesting because of the foreignness, and that is wearing off.

    Wow - I have never heard of Lawn Jarts, but it sounds deliciously dangerous

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  14. I have experienced the passion for pentanque. I find it baffling and was monumentaly useless at it when I tried it. I'm impressed that you had a go. More power to your elbow. Or whatever you need to hit the conchon.

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  15. Madame D - I'll give most things a go (except Morris Dancing obviously) - elbows are definitiely useful in this game

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  16. I remember playing with them as a kid. They are against the law in the U.S. Giant heavy darts you'd throw high in the air trying to get them to land in a hoop set a distance away. Apparently some jarts really did land in skulls. Guns are still okay here, but god forbid we play any dangerous lawn games.

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  17. I absolutely adore you! I am thrilled that I have a back log of posts to read.

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  18. My word, despite living in such splendid seclusion away from the hobnobbery of civilization there seems to be an awful lot of rules to follow?

    How much fun can one experience pès tancats? It all sounds rather Puritan and proper.

    Perhaps you should start your own customs and establish something with a greater work to fun ratio? I certainly hope that they appreciate your compliance.

    Chin up.

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  19. wow - I'm off out to find me some jarts

    Alphawoman - nice to see you, your place is pretty cool too.

    Donn - pètanque was huge fun - until I discovered the version with rules

    TP - Miniscule is funny and very popular in France, do you have it in OZ?

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  20. i hadn't seen it before today!
    but it's delightful - the children love the spider character with his goofy little face.

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  21. Come to Canada and try snowmobiling.

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  22. I am in the same ridiculous boat with bell-ringing. How can something that seemed so innocent end up being so important to so many people. Let's run away from it all together, I'm sure there are no such team sports on the Cook islands.

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  23. TP- I'm pretty sure that all kids love bugs; My mission is to keep it that way

    MJ - Snowmobiling sounds like much more fun, better opportunities to model cool eyewear - and I bet the guys are fitter

    Hi Dooder - glad you like it

    JoeyJo - I was thinking of you while I was shivering out there. How do we get into these situations? - I'm all for running away, Cook Islands - perfect

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  24. what a delight you are, sugar! thanks so much for stopping by. i do so hope ya'll will come, i will surely visit again!

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  25. A streaker would have livened things up, I bet. Maybe you should wear a jumpsuit next time - with a zipper to make shucking it off quicker. And a mask, of course.

    Do it! The old biddies would talk about it for the next hundred years!

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  26. Savannah - you're most welcome darlin'

    Pru - I'm gonna do it, watch this space...

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  27. So I've heard Scarlet - are you saying that you like to come over here and play a round with our local talent?

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  28. I loved the phrase "stupefied Frankenstein Monster walks.

    It sounds like fun...if it were warm weather.

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  29. Okay, I'm going to hold you to it. I recommend painting your bod with some psychedelic body paint first before you shuck the clothes. That way even the blindest old villager won't miss out.

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  30. Well what did you expect, you goose? If some Frenchman were to pitch up in the Fens he couldn't expect to take up potato-rustling with the casual and half-hearted attitude that you display towards boules, he'd have to get stuck in and do it properly.

    Nice typesetting of those accents aigus, though.

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  31. BB - The sun can make everything a lot better - I might go back when it warms up

    Pru - I will daub myself with fluorescent arrows pointing at my rude bits

    Inkspot - Nice to see you, you're right I was a bit of a twit, sometimes I don't think things through properly

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  32. Of course what I should have asked you - and it struck me in the middle of the night, saddo that I am - is what Julian Barnes said back to you.

    Do tell.

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  33. Hi Frenchie,
    The JB story is quite good, although it does make me blush.

    I was sitting having a coffee in the village of Lourmarin where Camus is buried. JB and wife were wandering down the street then came to where I was sitting and asked me for directions to the cemetery and I said that I had no idea before blurting out
    Ooh are you Julian Barnes how I loved your book Around The World in Ten and a Half Chapters
    despite getting the book title wrong he thanked me very nicely and absent-mindedly, then he said
    'Ah I see - it's down the road and to the right'
    He was peering at the bit of wall I was leaning against where there was a large map of the village pasted - a bloody great arrow pointing to the cemetery and the words'CAMUS BURIED HERE' were stamped in red on it.

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  34. I bet he had beautiful diction. I'm a sucker for those posh sort of voices. After you told me Pat K had died I found quite a lot out there about her affair with Jeanette Winterson. Poor old Julian-it's one thing your partner 'playing away', it's quite another when it is made so public.

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