Willy Poole column.
M. saillard has been amongst us. When we decided to move to France we also decided to sell most of our "good" furniture ( rather than try to squeeze it into a small hovel in France.
We would buy solid local furniture at solid local prices. This was a mistake. Our "good" furniture failed [on the whole] to achieve the valuation prices and solid local furniture in France is not ( solid that is.
It comes in flat packs. It is hellish altogether to assemble and even more hellish to keep assembled.
One of the reasons for the high rate of un-employment in France is that businesses are reluctant to employ people whom it is virtually impossible to get rid of ( incompetent? Forget it ( the unions won't stand for that.
I know that many people in England have forgotten or never know what it is like in a country run by the trade unions and to have manufactured goods that come to pieces as you use them.
However, you are likely to be sharp reminded if the unions have to bail out New Labour ( their help will come with a usurious rate of interest.
In France the unions still wield considerable power. So the answer is not to buy flat packs which will revert to base as quickly as possible, the answer is to call in a M. Saillard.
M. Saillard is a self-employed carpenter who will build things in for you. There are a lot of skilled craftsmen like him.
His work might cost a bit more than a flat pack, but it stays up. He is a huge bearded giant of a man and he has filled our little house for the last three days.
He works alone and talks to himself all the time.
Not that he will not talk to you ( he is a genial and charming giant. What I like is that he comes to a job and stays with it till it is finished. Then he takes his money and goes. French carpentry leads on neatly to French plumbing. French plumbing is... eccentric. I have an aged Scottish friend who has been travelling in and around France ever since he captured Brussels by mistake in 1944 or 5 ( I know Brussels is in Belgium, but I did say that he captured it by mistake ( he had his map upside down.
If you are very good, I might tell you the story one day.
Anyway my old Scottish friend stoutly maintains that the French never go to the loo. This is probably because of French plumbing. We have a boiler which is supposed to heat both water and house.
By its size and the complexity of its pipe work it might have been fitted to the Titanic and quite possibly was.
It was running with great, Gallic, enthusiasm, but if you had hot water you had no heating and if you had heating... Three different French plumbers came to look at it and each said something completely different and totally incomprehensible.
Also it has to be said that, on the whole, French plumbers lack charm. It is possible that there is a blockage somewhere in their systems. So in the end I got fed up and got Dick.
Dick is an English plumber who has settled over here. He came and had a look and said that "blind him! did it come out of Noah's Ark? Never seen one like that, mate. I'll get my mate, mate".
He came back with his mate, Keith. You can tell that Keith loves boilers. He tweaked it, tickled it, drained a bit of water here, let some steam off there, sucked his teeth and said that there was nothing wrong with the boiler except that it was bloody lethal.
It seemed that the exhaust pipe was a sort of loony tunes of wire, tape and twisted piping that went half round the house in the loft then came out in the entrance hall. So we might wake up one morning and find ourselves dead.
So Dick is coming back to sort out the pipe so that the carbon monoxide exits the house instead of collecting inside and he has promised to do it in English, because I do not know the French for carbon monoxide.
Now you may understand why the French are reluctant to go to the loo.