… and also, we suppose, poorly dogs because our Kira is ancient and riddled with arthritis, lumps and bumps and rapidly fading black fur and brown eyes. Our Breaghah is not well, end of. Lucie, despite what the SPA claimed when mum adopted her, is the oldest surviving dog in France. And our puppies – selection of - are very poorly indeed because they are all incontinent. Our mum is tired, but not poorly, at least she doesn’t think she’s poorly, and our dad has a bit of a tummy upset, but seems to be rallying as he has just left a garbled telephone message from an Irish pub in Kristiansand in Norway where they sell Kill Kenny for massive amounts of Euros for a small glass. (Who’s Kenny?)
We must have landed in the wider world of blogging because we are now receiving spam in French, Finnish (we think) and Thai (at least we think that is what it is). Fascinating.
Our mum has had her fair share of dealing with doctors, nurses, counsellors, hospitals and clinics here in France. Not that she’s been particularly poorly, apart from her lacerated ankles, a few dodgy teeth episodes, several terrifying insect attacks and her frightening facial outbreak earlier this year. Our mum is a fairly healthy lump and long may it last. Sometimes, though, you don’t have to be poorly yourself to feel poorly about other poorly folk. She popped in to visit some friends a couple of days ago and knows that the husband of her friend has been very poorly. Usually, however, he is positive and tries to just get on with things, as you do. When she visited, though, he was quiet and quite withdrawn and it turns out that he had had to go to a hospital appointment earlier that day and the specialist he had seen hadn’t been very nice to him and had – is it possible to be polite about this? - given him a really hard time because he can’t speak French, although he does do his very best. Mum’s friend’s husband moved over here for a happy retirement around the same time we all moved over here. He was a medical practitioner himself in the UK but his heart belonged to wood. He loves to work with wood, to turn chunks of wood into furniture, into frames, into shelves, into cupboards and has a workshop full of anything and everything you could possibly need to fulfil a woodworker’s dream, an artisan’s dream, a genuine craftman’s dream of wood. Three months or so after he arrived here he had a massive stroke. Over four years later … what to say? What did he say, or try to, to the apparently-not-so-nice-but-perhaps-just-a-bit-fed-up specialist?
“I can barely manage to speak in English to my wife and family so am sorry about the French.”
This from his wife, whispering to mum in the kitchen as the kettle boiled for cups of coffee and home-made gingerbread. And when they returned to the sitting room with a tray of coffee and home-made gingerbread, her poorly husband had gone. He had gone into his workshop and was planing a length of wood, ever so slowly, with one hand.
This made mum very sad and she asked if this had happened often. No, it hadn’t happened often, not really. So that was good news of a kind, but not on that particular day. Yes, it would be great if all the foreigners, the non-native French speakers, who decide to come and live here could understand and speak French – decent French, get-by French, good French, intelligible French, even the kind of French that makes the French laugh but get on with the business of communicating in French anyway. Some can, though, and some can’t.
Our dad is not a French speaker and, when he does say something in French – e.g. Bonjour - he develops a strange squeak to his voice. We have no idea why, neither does he, it just happens. Mum thinks it’s a hoot but never laughs. Someone telephoned mum today and asked if she would accompany them to a vet tomorrow to try and get a feral cat spayed. Also, of her three kittens, two are poorly. So mum said that was no problem, asked if they needed a box for transporting the skinny, ever-pregnant or ever-feeding scrawny kittens cat and her poorly kittens. ”Yes, please,” was the answer. The lady who wants to help the feral cat is hoping that there will be no charge for spaying a feral cat. Mum thinks that sometimes there is a charge and sometimes there isn’t. She’s willing to give it a go anyway if the feral cat and her three babies can be caught.
This is potentially good, happy-ending translating and interpreting. But it isn’t always like that. Sometimes mum goes along to visit a Doctor, or a surgeon, or a specialist, or a clinic and is merely the voice and discovers that the voice has to deliver unhappy news. And when that happens, as it does, as it has, she wishes that she had a place to go and hide for a wee while, knit a few rows of a scarf that will never be finished, drum her fingers on her knees or read for a while. If she could read for a while, she would read a novel called “Deafening”, although she has read it loads of times. Us older girls are sensitive souls but the bairns have yet to learn when to, and when not to, bounce, jump, show such exhuberant love and welcome-home-where-have-you-been-joyous collective weeing and pooing mingled with mud. We are silent head-on-a-lap welcoming types when circumstances demand sympathy, empathy and understanding and the babies offer a welcome gift of puddles, piles of poo and pulled-up penstemon, pink, white and purple.
Oh no, here is the Pussycat Postscript.
No, the vet would not spay a feral cat free of charge – she would have to be taken to one of the local associations, who might, or might not, accept her if a donation were to be offered.
“Aye, right,” said mum, “those will be the local associations that are already bursting at the seams, popping out of their poppers, with unwanted cats and kittens. Thank you, but I’ll try my local vet.”
It had taken a couple of days to persuade the little feral cat, still a baby herself – and pregnant again - to let herself and her bairns be enticed into a couple of cat boxes. Such tiny babies, and so, so sick: eyes and noses oozing horrible gooey green stuff and their breathing like little trains struggling to get out of the station and up a big steep hill just outside.
“Shit, shit, shit, shit,” but silently, to herself and not her poorly friend, all the way to the vet.
“I can’t save the babies, but I can save their maman,” said the vet, who knows our mum and us, her pack, very well. “She can’t be spayed immediately, but we’ll be able to do it in 10 days or so, once she is feeling a bit better and a bit stronger. She needs to be isolated in the meantime, get her antibiotics twice a day, and eat well.”
Mum’s poorly friend can’t cope with a poorly cat just now so guess who has taken up residence in our nana’s unbelievably handy shower-room? That’ll be the one where poorly animals can be isolated but still have some freedom to move about, and jump around and where they can grow up, or just get well again, in safety.
Her babies have gone, sadly, and our dad, when mum came home and told him the tale of the little lost kittens – cat box still lurking in the boot of her car – then adding “P.S. I’ve brought their mum home, though, is that ok?” said, “That’s fine, no problem.”
“Thank you, dad.”
She’ll have her chance, the sweet little dark gingery, pinkish and black cat with the incredible green eyes, skinny little thing that she is despite her distended lumpy tummy. She’ll have her chance for the next few weeks. And, when it is all over with, and she is well again, if she decides she doesn’t care to stay with our pack and join our kitten sisters, Isabel and Sascha, and still wants to be a wild little cat, she can head off again and do her wild little cat thing but without having to have poorly babies every few months: a freedom of sorts for a poorly little feral cat.
We are all spread out this evening in front of the woodburning stove in the sitting room, telly on, dad snoozing on the woofer sofa with Ella and our old girl, Kira.
Thank you for not having a go at our mum for bringing in another waif and for just accepting that that is the way things are around here …