I Wish To Register A Complaint.

Over the years this weary village where motion is slow and time appears to stand still has had as many monikers as I’ve had jelly beans, from the ‘Chestnut Capital of the Observable Universe’ to ‘Sustainable Development Is Us’, even ‘Collobrières, Sod the Euro, We Like Francs’. Just to name a few. Recently though, their Department of Cunning Stunts truly surpassed itself by proposing that they will no longer respect the ridiculous notion of energy saving time, but would remain resolutely on Standard Collobrières Time all the year round. One full hour ahead of the rest of France for five months of the year. Come late October time will actually stand idle, as the other idiots reset their clocks and watches!

The decision was passed by a unanimous vote, as no councilman or woman could come up with any compelling argument for why anyone would want to do something so pointless and stupid. To do anything just because everybody else does cuts nothing at all in this town.

The Lady Mayoress, Christiane ‘Birdy’ Namnam 49, explained that this was “a win win win situation”, and that without further ado. I suspect she meant that once this little titbit was out in the wild, even more visitors would be heading to Provence’s oddest and most eccentric destination.

I wondered what the locals would make of this latest act of reckless irresponsibility, so I decided to find out. I donned my beret and went walkabout in the chilly maze of lacklustre streets that is Collobrières. I was looking for a representative handful of the said locals, easily distinguishable from throngs of tourists in shorts, by their heavy overcoats and unsteady teetering gait. I was not unduly surprised to discover a general air of indifference; unemployed Gerald Lupin, 63 a drinker with a writing problem told me it was just another trick by “The conasse” with a knowing wink. Others. like the brothers Aggoon, Pierre and Lucille just shrugged and said it would make little difference to them as they didn’t have a job, the television reception in the village was “La merde”, the shops never opened on time and the bus service was erratic to say the least. So why should anyone care? Rabba O’Riley, hunter gatherer 37, shrugged some more.

“The sun.”

He said pointing accurately although the sky was overcast, “that’s how I tell the time.” Imbecile!

On a brighter note Florian “Luftwaffe” Biaggio 22, unemployed, was a hugely enthusiastic supporter of such a bold and practical decision.

“It’s the first time in years our administrators have actually done something for us. Why, now I can sleep in ’till midday and still have time to nip to Lidl and buy me some brew for breakfast before they close for lunch. Bloody blinkin’ marvellous if you ask me”.

A spokesperson representing the two grocery stores, three bars, seventeen restaurants, two bakers and a pharmacy stated unequivocally that none of them really gave a fu#k and the bank and Post Office would continue their policy of opening and closing as they saw fit, or simply decide to close down permanently, for our “convenience”.

So until the last Sunday in March, Collobrières will be one hour ahead of everybody. Blinking bloody light years ahead if you ask me.

It serves you right to suffer, serves you right to be alone. That’s as maybe and entirely my own decision, but what about this bit of news to brighten up a lonely chill winter’s day?  On my instruction Steve had skilfully pinned neat little posters head height on every tree in the village:

“Coming soon to a town near you, super Rough-Cut Tuesday, but Wednesday December 12, don’t touch the knobs, I think we’re gonna have a little fun with this one, it’s J Geils day!”

(More accurately I would say, J Geils late afternoon and early evening.)

This year ‘Birdy’ Namnam and her disreputable corporation finally agreed to my suggestion to outlaw all instances of Father Christmas. Ho! Ho! Fuckin’ ho! I believe they even instructed the elves to fuck themselves, but that is by the way. Great news though anyway, not one single fat bearded bastard to be seen on the streets this year, not one, and all this in favour of (according to Steve), the the greatest rock and roll band of all time. So here’s a special word for the very wonderful and distinguished harmonica player from America, Mister Magic Dick.

For days now, at wanton expense to the ingrate taxpayer, a massive team of highly trained yet strangely strange and incompetent municipal work-persons have called a truce on their war against dead leaves to devote their time to stringing up, no not gaudy Christmas knick-knacks and glittery tidings of untold joy, none of that for 2012 folks. Nothing but hefty public address speakers all around the town and all hooked up to Birdy’s very own Red Hat workstation with Mp3 playback enabled! The lady makes demands.

The things she wears at work they hang off her kinda loose. Her blouse don’t fit, the pants ain’t right she ain’t no front page news but when her work is done and the night time turns to day, the headlines flash in neon, that the girl has taken flight. She’s a Leafblower! Oh yeah, oh ah yeah ho hey, ouh!

J Geils day in Collobrieres? You think I’m kidding right? Wrong wrong and wrong again. Statistics prove over and over and beyond unreasonable doubt that there are proportionally more J Geils fans here than in Boston, Detroit and Clovis NM put together! Even Birdy herself could not refute my awesome logic and refreshing common sense. J Geils day it is!

Wednesday 12/12, from 3pm Collo Coordinated time, shoot up the town and treat yourself to an uninterrupted hi-fidelity stream of J Geils magic. Roam the streets, point, lick and listen up. In a word, enjoy, and all this, courtesy of our very own angel in red white AND blue.

Okay I understand This ain’t no never-never land I hope that when this issue’s gone I’ll see (her) when (her) clothes are on…..And the lesson we learn from this story is, next time you come to town don’t forget to say,

“No anchovies please.”

Whammer Jammer, let me hear you dig you!

To be brutally honest, J Geils day turned out to be very much of a non-event, weren’t much more than a house party in the end. Taz and Maurin turned up of course, ready to get crazy before actually getting down to it, then Luftwaffe, Rabba, Pierre and Lucille, plus a couple of skankos, by the names of Forty-Six and Thirteen And A Half, who always show up wherever particular people congregate and the drinks are free. Then Steve, replete in an afro wig, holding a shiny diatonic harmonica which I immediately confiscated,

“Gimme dat harp boy!”

He made no mention of Pammy, but dressed a lot more like Steve Jobs than the usual Milliband scruff, I guessed he had jumped out of the chestnut stump straight into the fire, luckily he had brought his seventeen disk vinyl collection of J Geils albums as a sign of his instinctive doubt that Red Hat systems could in fact play mp3.

So there, me included, ten of us. J Geils freaks to a man. Out of a population of under 2000, my statistics speak volumes, you would need at least 40,000 in Boston or Detroit to match that show of cultural devotion. Although it was one of Steve’s, I had proposed this J Geils day idea to the mayor sometime last year and she had said:

“yes Melvin, of course, I will give it my full and proper consideration.”

So I took it to be done and dusted and invited my little world. If you had seen those speakers going up you would have jumped to the same conclusion, I’m sure! Bloody Good job I don’t do Facebook or Tweet things or I would have ended up looking like a real chump. Fuck-you very much indeed Mrs. Mayoress! What exactly are the purpose of tweets by the way?

The town speakers were mute for most of the day, but here at Yendor, the sanctuary, there was no escape, no salvation, it was actually much too dark for revelation. The party started at 12:12 12/12 and went on and on and on, the beer flowed like beer and the music, well to be honest was a bit monotonous, they’re not exactly The Broughtons are they? At last the Gendarmes showed up, demanding in a most unfriendly tone to turn it down. Thank heavens!

A little later though the darned public address system did burst into life. Hark! The Horrid assholes sing, Slade, John Lennon, Wham! and Jona Lewie of course! After a while I was beginning to wish I was at home for Christmas always in the kitchen at parties. This is an outrage. Crappy old British Christmas hits blasting out in France, in Provence no less, a land so steeped in Yuletide tradition. What has happened to the nativity plays, santons, thirteen desserts, logs soaked in mulled wine and the Coupo Santo? I decided there and then to go to the ‘Mairie’ and tell them what for. It was J Geils day, not Christmas, so indignant is as indignant does, I was hotfoot to the town hall ready to deliver a piece of my mind.

I got there spot on three thirty, their eccentric afternoon opening time, only to find that their clock claimed it was only half past two! Not to worry, brass in pocket and an hour to kill, this will be time well wasted, heading off to the nearest bar.

The Bar de la Mairie, wherein I found as usual the unlikely named but far larger than life and redoutable duo, Ludo and Magnetto, both behind the counter miming dreadfully, gnamgnam style to an even larger than life pretty lady wearing only boots and an umbrella on a shapely outsize television screen, and all the while plying their one unsuspected customer with a variety of odd concoctions and strange brews.

Hans Goertz, the notorious Pizza geezer, a man who had quite clearly not been home for lunch for several days, had before him glasses of white wine and banana liqueur with a slice of gherkin, rum with carrot juice truffled with fresh rabbit droppings and aaargh! Whiskey and coke.

Instead of asking for a pint of what the kraut was drinking, I ordered a snakebite. Deadpan. Once I had explained the ingredients and their invaluable short and long term noxious side-effects, King Ludo managed to find a bottle or two of inexpensive cider and announced that “snackbeets were on ze ‘ouse.”

From the Bar de la Mairie, to the Mairie itself is but a stone’s throw, but after a happy hour with Ludo, Magnetto and Hans, I felt like I was going transmetropolitan, reformed and with hardened resolve. And when I’ve done those bastards in I’ll storm the BBC, look out baby, here I come!

I positively swaggered into the municipal building, straight up the stairs to the imposing double doors of the boss’s office. Without hesitation I banged on the door roughly.

“It’s me Melvin and I wish to register a complaint.”

‘Melvin’s not here.”

Came the shrill reply from the hollow chamber within.

“No, it’s me Melvin, and I’m really pissed with this Christmassy music playing out there and your crappy apologies for Christmas cheer and tribulations, bloody waste of money it is. Why can’t you spend it on something useful like dishing out free beer and pizzas to the needy, give us free WiFi or employ a community policeman to give out parking tickets, deal with dog shit and properly investigate those  dreadful murders?”

“Melvin’s not here!”

“No man, It’s me, Melvin and I’m trying to tell you nicely that all your Christmas crapola is a gross extravagance, in horribly bad taste and wholly inappropriate, it’s me Melvin.

“Melvin’s not here!”

Undeterred and still on the wrong side of the door I asked her politely, since when had plump and white hirsute bastards in comfortable red leisure suits been part of the Provençal Christmas tradition and what is that Tannenbaum thingy all decked out in Chinese lanterns in the village square? Aren’t there enough evergreen trees to delight you out there in the forest? The truth knocks on your door and all you can say is, Melvin’s not here? Shame on you! Well I won’t go away, and while I am here what about all those that don’t actually do Christmas?….

…..What have you got to say about The Kamels, Abdallahs, the Fatmas, the Rodneys? Huh? What about them….? Go on, you’re here to represent us all…”


The bitch replied calmly,

“or should I be calling you Rodney? You don’t do Christmas? Are you a flaming terrorist or wot? And by the way, you can keep your magic dick to yourself, sauceboat!”

“Oops… Err… Rodney’s not here! Last time I saw him he was speaking German and getting sloshed over the road with Ludo, Magnetto and their pet duck Jurgen. Bitte eine Bit.”