The world cup is on its way so I thought I’d take the opportunity to introduce my own team -one which will probably win no plaudits outside of Ste. Colombe but is nevertheless a winning team for me.. This is my “artisan” team, a FrAnglo mix each of whom has contributed in his own way to the rejuvenation of the Old Lady of Petite Rue and no I don’t mean me.
First on the field is Daniel, artisan mason from Normandy. Short, stocky and in possession of a fine head of streaky russet hair almost worth suiciding oneself for, or so Lydia the local hairdresser tells me. Unfortunately, in the photo he’d been cutting stone and turned temporarily grey!He has an impish sense of humour and, apart from working with stone his other passion is “Calva” (calvados) which he lugs back with him in huge plastic vats after a foray to his native county. “It’s probably illegal “ he says with a wink, “made in small stills in barns and outhouses across Normandy.” Whatever. It’s rich, strong and leaves a fire in the belly. That other famous Norman, William the Conqueror, probably supped it for breakfast before popping across the Channel in 1066.
Next on the field is Tomas the charpentier whose specialty is… yes you guessed it, woodwork and specifically roofs.Single-handedly, he has defended against rain, rot and the egregious woodworm beasties. This player hails from Berlin although his ancestry is Croatian. A perfectionist, he never takes his eye off the goal of a watertight, insulated roof. He will climb into his 30year old Mercedes bus and turn out in the fiercest thunderstorm when rain stops play to check that not a drop gets through his defences.
After Tomas we have Richard, the only local lad on the pitch.
Thin as one of Tomas’ roof laths, dark and quiet, he glides in and out of the game as the fancy takes him. He is the sparkie; his long fingers weave together skeins of red, blue, black and white wires, curbing their wayward tendencies and taming them into the fuse box. Sometimes he’s here for the day, sometimes for ten minutes but he has the uncanny knack of showing up at just the right moment to weave his magic, usually when the rest of the team are getting anxious about a possible delay.
Finally there is Eric the Giant or Eric the Viking or Papa Noel as children call him owing to the magnificence of his facial hair. He grooms his long beard into a “chin tail” and ties his greying hair into a ponytail. A philosopher, a lover of nature, a devoted dad, he is one of those rare signings…a plumber…and one with both brain and imagination neither of which he is afraid to use. There are no problems for Eric. ”A solution will be found” is his mantra for any apparently intractable plumbing difficulty. He mulls it over and next day, voilà the solution has presented itself.
To this quartet we must add the English contingent- Matt who toiled for five weeks in atrocious living conditions but cheerfully mixed in, learning a few French phrases and cracking jokes which even the non-English speakers seem to find funny. His hippo-sized appetite made me resuscitate my culinary skills since I couldn’t get away with cheese on toast.
Finally big bro, who despite marching around like Captain Mannering from time to time, ranges all over the pitch, checking here, supporting there; fills in when necessary and directs play (when I let him). His forte is coming up with weirdly creative ideas usually in the middle of the night which actually do work (now and again).
So that’s my team, cup winners if ever there was and, as their work is almost finished I’ll find a large glass, fill it with the local Sauvignon and toast them.