In my article of 29 October 2010 entitled Fitzroyal happenings [display], I included a photo of the big heap of firewood that I had I just received. Since then, I've started to stack it up under a corner of the roof of the house, so that it will start to dry out.
Moving the wood over an average distance of four or five meters is always a tedious and tiring task, which I often carry out by tossing each piece. This afternoon, I was pleased to discover that the job can be performed easily and tirelessly with the help of a hand truck… referred to in French, curiously, as a diable (devil).
I purchased this simple device back in Paris, just before leaving for the Dauphiné in 1993. I remember a mate at the Cactus bar (in the rue des Archives) looking at me with astonishment, as I wheeled it back from the BHV department store alongside the Paris city hall. "William, you're not expected to actually purchase that kind of device. You're supposed to find a friend who can lend you one." Fair enough, I explained, but I would need it when I reached the provinces with my belongings. My mate explained that, normally, you even have the right to forget to return the borrowed diable to its rightful owner… who would then be obliged, when he next needed such a tool, to borrow one from another friend. And so on. It's a fact that certain kinds of objects (particularly tools) move around between members of a community in that fashion. Books, too, often behave like that.
Here in the country, people rarely borrow things from neighbors. The only unexpected case I can remember is that of a friend who dropped in one day and told me that he had broken his glasses, which made it difficult for him to drive his car. "Would you happen to have a spare pair of glasses that I could borrow, William?" I did, in fact: old glasses that no longer corresponded to the current state of my eyesight. He tried on a pair, and was delighted. Afterwards, for years, I was happy to see that this friend carried on wearing my old pair of glasses.
Long ago, when I was still in Paris, a brother-in-law dropped in and had an unexpected opportunity of meeting up with my most recent lady friend, who was about to catch a train for the provinces. My brother-in-law was kind enough to suggest that he could accompany my lady friend to the train station. As things turned out, he "borrowed" her like a diable, and ended up accompanying her in the train to her provincial town. I never saw her again. So, I had to find myself new lady friends. Back in those carefree days, in Paris, life could be like that.