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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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* One exception: short stories.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Unmeltable ice maidens

FRANCE: MEDICAL MATTERS OK, I'm over here to talk to the natives. But who are the best talkers? That's an easy one – the custodians of others' health. But a word of caution: such conversations need not necessarily be enjoyable.

Pharmacies, identified by a flashing green cross which, I'm told, is an analogue for putrefying flesh, sell perfume and make-up as well as medication. A quick glance at most pharmaciennes (ie, female chemist shop employees) will tell you which side of the business they prefer. Immaculate hair that would shatter if struck, mouths outlined with architectural yet passionless precision, blusher which passes through a dozen gradations. These women are like beautiful statues and are about as useful. Their function is to withhold information. Ask for a multi-toothed device used to regularise hair (“of which I have forgotten the French word”) and they will refuse to identify it as a comb. But persist. The answers may not be helpful but they are fruitful examples of saying no. Also these women are uninsultable. One comes away exhilarated without recourse to drugs – which these women would not, in any case, supply.

Doctors are best. I spent two minutes with a GP near Nimes describing a boil on my bum and how it was preventing me from embracing France's delights. After courteously complimenting me on my French (roughly the equivalent of saying “How do you do?” in English) he told me it was a cyst. Ten minutes ensued on cysts-I-have-known and I was in seventh heaven. He recommended attendance at a clinic at Narbonne and I eagerly accepted, willing to endure the scalpel in furtherance of more outré experience. Alas, the surgeon turned out to be German and we glumly discussed Rupert Brooke – in English - as he hacked me about..


  1. How about sign language? Or, you could have combed her hair with your fingers. We know that a man wants a comb when he does that.

  2. Ellena: I'm in France to practice ny French, not to prepare for deafness which, admittedly, is increasing day by day. Combs are of secondary, if not tertiary importance. Comb the hair of one of these gargoyles? It would be as rewarding as doing it to a floor mop.

  3. So the remains of the cyst were left in Narbonne.
    "there is some corner of a foreign field....."

  4. Avus: Exactly that. After I'd been sewn up I got off the operating bed, looked behind, and saw a bloody charnel house of stained swabs. Striking a pose I delivered Rupert's line and the German doctors drew his wife's attention (She was his op nurse) to my expansion of the dialogue. I fear it was all a bit too pat.