Friday, 1 October 2010

I witnessed.....

My 40th birthday party was fantastic. The three day birthday festival started fantastically on Friday night with a meal at my favourite restaurant, the Bay Tree in Cheadle with Mel and her family. I love spending time with her parents and her sister. It may sound trite, but I feel so safe, secure and loved and Pat and Fred always make me feel really special and Friday night was no different.

The food was lovely (belly pork and Black Pudding is a winning combination especially when combined with Dauphinoise potatoes which are like culinary crack to me). We laughed and drank like it was my 40th birthday the next day, which was lucky.

Saturday started amazingly, presents (Panasonic Lumix G2 camera) and top notch bacon sandwiches and a cheeky early morning drink fired me up for the day ahead. A totally unexpected Manchester City victory against Chelsea put me on a triumphant roll and I returned to get ready for my party. Seeing old friends that I haven't seen for years who had travelled significant distances to be there was a bit overwhelming and the presents and cards began to pile high. My friend Robin bought me a City shirt with 'Leishy 40' on the back, which I changed into immediately. He is one of those people that always get things right and his presents were absolutely perfect.

My dear friends Paul and Sally had made a book called 'the Legend of Leishy' documenting my life through photos and witty comment which choked me up a bit. A centre pin fishing reel from them finished me off and by the time I stood up to do a speech I was in pieces, though that could have been the two gallons of Jack Daniels I had already polished off.

My speech went OK but I misjudged it slightly, drifting into mawkish sentiment about my late mum and not really properly acknowledging the love and support I have had from Mels family over the last five years. I would like to state here and now that the optimism and purpose I now feel is entirely down to their encouragement and effort in getting our France Project off the ground and towards fruition. Meeting Mel was the best thing that has ever happened to me and I feel genuinely lucky and privileged to be a part of their family.

We stayed at the party until 1.30am and then returned home where I accidentally stayed up drinking until 3am collapsing into a heap and needing to be undressed by my patient wife. Naturally, Sunday was a write off though I managed to stay alive long enough to open all my cards and presents which were all brilliant.

Two very difficult days at work led up to our France holiday and we arrived here in the Limousin on Wednesday afternoon, shattered and ready for a break. Unfortunately work meant that I spent most of the next 24 hours on the phone to work whilst Mel slept and relaxed. My holiday only really started yesterday evening but I can now relax for a few days.

Every time we come to France something bizarre happens, like last Christmas when two local hunters showed up late at night to sell us a recently deceased deer. Anyway, yesterday whilst Mel slept upstairs in our farmhouse, I was working downstairs. our house is a 10 minute drive from the nearest town and really is in the middle of nowhere. Passing cars a major event and if we see two go past then inevitably one of us will say 'T-O-T-A-L Gridlock' in a comedic Jamaican accent.

So as I was finishing off the latest frantic and stressful work call, I noticed a middle aged couple approaching the house. they knocked at the front door and I prepared to converse in my rudimentary Cod French that I have adopted. It always takes me three days to even begin speaking French and I didn't feel ready for it. I answered the door and stumbled through a few basic sentences, introducing myself and apologising for my poor linguistic skills.

"it's alright, we are English too"

My sense of relief was palpable. I was just about to invite them inside, assuming they were a near neighbour when my spider sense began to tingle.

"Can I help?" I said whilst noticing pamphlets in their hands. In my experience, pamphlets are never a good sign.

"we're here to spread the word and we'd like to talk to you about God. We are Jehovah's witnesses. May we come inside."

"As a lapsed Catholic and a devout atheist, you most certainly may not. I have read about religions extensively and I'd like to say that yours is perhaps the most bonkers of the lot. When is the next end of the world day, you seem to hold them pretty regularly"

"there is no specific day, but the world will end soon and we can offer you salvation"

"No, your alright. I'm not in the market for salvation right now. In fact I've been stocking up on damnation recently, have you got any of that?"


"never mind, bye then....."

I closed the door staggered that they had walked all the way out to our house just to peddle their own special version of shit.

I love our house in France, always throwing up challenges and surprises and seemingly the odd nutter too.

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