Friday 8 October 2010


The penchant for teenage vamp shows, all biting sex and dripping blood make tales of vamire bats seem positively tame these days. A word not usually associated with bats, tame. A "schoall of fish" and a "Tame of bats..." Put "tame" in front of any horrible creature you'd never normally want to touch, like a gerbil, we instantly feel compelled to protect them because they are cute little furry creatures. Children create a similar reaction. It's all a big con. My cynical view of modern societies' hierarchical values runs thus, childrens rights' supersede adults' rights which fall victim to animal rights. Adult humans are at the bottom of the food chain and unlike bats, we are neither feted or protected as an endangered species. Being on the "warped but savable in the future if the budget allows" rung of the species ladder means that self protection is paramount to my survival, so, when a frantic flying mouse is flapping round my head at 3am I'm afraid number one comes before numbers 45 to 50! We have shared many nocturnal adventures, my bats and I, commando crawling across the floor, encased in protective duvet armour and pillow helmet allows them to perfect their miniture red arrow display, kamikaze style. Having a minute brain seems unimportant when you can reach 20 miles an hour in an enclosed space while avoiding moving targets. Emergency braking is a skill honed in a short time by relentless vertical speed diving culminating in a sudden stop with just with a split second to spare before the desired target is either a. frightened to death or b.paralized by fear long enough for the intrepid bomber to regroup and scratch another notch on your limewashed A frame. Large ears actually deflect screams. This is a little known fact. Calling for help is futile. Their use of echo location as a means to test the vibe on a night out will work really well in your bedroom, especially if you have lots of wooden furniture. The reverberating sound is bat foreplay and the vibrations will start an orgy, but don't worry, lady bats, although voracious, have high morals and low expectations. The evolution of a facinating design feature allows them to store sperm until the warmer weather when they have an elective pregnancy on a date of their choice, followed by a comfortable and speedy delivery in their chosen equivalent on the Portland hospital. Wild arm flapping is also a useless deterrent as this is seen as a sign of cameraderie and high on your fear, will result in a bat fest to rival Glastonbury. Regardless of their enchanting display of petit press ups on my bedroom window as they settle to snooze the day away, I am not fooled! I am happy to co exist, if they exist outside. In Europe Bats do not feast on human blood or carry disease, apparently. On the plus side, they do eat up to 3000 insects each a night but despite their low carb diet and frenetic exercise regime they are, in many parts of the world, in decline. Quite a surprise given the current trend for this very regime among humans. Should we worry? is the low carb diet a government conspiracy in population control? I have my own theory however. Unchecked by years of census control, the missing bats of the world, simply, live in my house. I realise this may not be a popular theory among conservationists but given their ineffective tips on diversion and survival tactics, who sounds the most sane here? After all they have managed to avoid ownership of the term "batty" for years, when was the last time you thought "oh yes that person seems a bit like a bat expert to me." These Bat Experts (kind but deluded people who like bats)suggest several solutions and useful tips to encourage them to leave. Open the windows and doors, seems logical but impractical if you live in the uk where your fate will be rapid hypothermia. If you live in France you will be invaded by enough mosquitos to feed you hungry bats for a week. Once the doors and windows are open, and this is my absolutely favourite suggestion, they advise you to "Go Back To Bed". You now have either 30000 insects recreating the battle of Britain in stereo, or 20000 chilled ready meals with your best duvet as a tablecloth. The remaining intrepid fliers will nail the remaining sluggish mosquitoes as they bounce off the walls. Notoriously sociable, bats love a good all nighter with free food thrown in. A generous host can create a nice buoyant atmosphere by leaping about, maybe get a few friends in. However, like the drunk who won't leave at the end of the night, bats will persevere, despite attempts to get rid of them, till the last dance is danced and the final morsel is gone. Continual sleep deprivation will eventually win and you will actually consider letting the bats have the bedroom in lieu of a belfry. Over time you will learn to accept these harmless little creatures as part of your family, There may be more of them than your real children but their achievements, however small will impress you and unlike your children, they will sleep 12 hours a day and eat only insects. Toilet training, will, however, be an ongoing issue.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

on surviving the scottish winter

From autumn till December many scottish women will be devoting themselves singularly to the pursuit of adding a layer of protective fat to insulate them from the arctic winds and permafrost. Unlike the famous "yo yo" diet plan, this is rather a more sophisticated celtic survival technique which has contributed to the world recognition of the quest for culinary supremacy by the Scottish people. It is vital to begin this process in good time for winter. Consuming copious amounts of home made soup packed full of pulses and lentils is essential despite what your partner may say. Huge bowls of steaming porridge will soon buffer you from the wind produced by the Atlantic gales and the lentils. You will benefit from the added bonus of being your own pre inflated life jacket should the "wind" carry you out to sea. Popular winter protection schemes also include stockpiling non perishable foods such as lion bars and malteasers. These are high in essential nutrients and it is possible to store more per square foot than, for example, potatoes and being an instant ready meal is an added bonus as expelling extra energy through unnecessary food preparation could deplete your added protective layer fairly rapidly, thus endangering your winter survival.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

The Effects of Alcohol on Endangered Species

All the best parties entail a certain amount of loss, either emotionally or financially. This is expected and tolerated as a minor fee for one of the pleasures of life. I host a lot of them and feel qualified to say this. Parties in this house are relished by all of us, however, it will soon cost me more to throw an all nighter for the creatures who live in my garden rather than the ones who live free gratis in my house, ridiculous as that may seem. I have 4 adult children at home and 400 adult snails in my garden. Both come with numerous friends and hangers on. The similarities between the two are boundless, both nocturnal, they venture out only at night under cover of darkness leaving trails of sticky surface rotting evidence, but only after after devouring everything in their wake. I do emphasise the "everything" part. Those of you with teenagers and snails will be nodding furiously at this point, muttering through gritted teeth. While I don't actively encourage my kids to get drunk, I don't have the same moral compass when dealing with my snails. Beer has the same effect on both, imbibing them with false bravado and a bit of a death wish in a face off, enabling them to "speed eat" at a ferocious pace. Infused with super strength enabling them to upend an object 200 times their body weight with no apparent damage to themselves, they happily create the maximum amount of mayhem, then it's straight back into those shells! Although neither of them are discerning drinkers, preferring cheap Lidl beer, they share a delight in eating only the most expensive gourmet fare available, carnations rejected with a sniff in favour of delicious purple basil, budget price ham ignored while whole packets of imported parma ham are squeezed between 2 slices of roast beef between, well another two slices of roast beef, a few cherry tomatoes and half a tin of foie gras. I realise the snail-teenager idea may be a revolutionary concept to some of you, but, as with all good revolutions, it's time to declare war. Neither Snails or Teenagers are currently listed as an endangered species.

Saturday 22 May 2010

The calorific value of a good fright

I am very tired today as I have started my new exercise regime. How many calories are burned off by jumping 10 ft in the air at 3am while shrieking? If you want to try this I suggest you contact Pierre Mondary who will be happy to do a home visit for a cup of tea and sympathy.
My regime started unexpectedly at 3am this morning when Hamish laboriously inched his ear off the floor and woofed "think someone just came in and I can't be bothered to move!" As top dog at chez Scobie, I thought I should see if we were being burgled..... the apparition which met me in the hallway was worthy of the Tate modern.. Still life With Wheel....
After we'd both stopped screaming, it transpired that his bike had been chained, by the wheel to a pole outside a friends house, but someone had simply removed the wheel and nicked the bike! Poor Pierre had no way to get home so decided to pay us a visit instead as he'd heard I wanted to loose a few pounds. My gratitude surprised him today when he came round to apologise. If he was a 46 year old woman he'd understand the value of a good fright!

Wednesday 12 May 2010


Teenage travel arrangements should be approached with caution, advice should be dispensed from behind a bulletproof screen and your escape route planned for no later than 10 minutes after the haggling begins, but before teenage snorts of derision chokes any good sense you thought you possessed. I imagine most parents want their offspring to experience the world, enjoy the cultural diversities other countries can offer and hopefully mature through the freedom of travel. Do you honestly believe this is what actually happens? My own recent experience is a still frequently regurgitated, raw reminder of the reality which frequently occludes the parents of intrepid virgin (in the loosest sense of the word)travellers. Sticking to the original plan becomes the suffocating "ties that bind" and with mobile phones turned off, they and are enthusiastically experiencing everything they agreed not to in their eagerness to escape. Without keeping to any of the fervently agreed on conditions which precluded their departure, their travel plans will have changed beyond recognition, whole continents passed by in a delirious haze of freedom, with companions they have known for no more than the regulation 48 hours which makes you BFF's. Last autumn my son decided he absolutely had to see his sister, who after an absence of 2 months, was so etched in his heart he simply couldn’t bare life without her for another moment. In reality, he saw her new found freedom as irresistible, her student flat as a free place to crash after a wild night out and her endless source of female friends as challenge to his masculinity. The ensemble was a tantillizing, ready made harem. This 19 year olds idyllic holiday abroad was a disaster waiting to happen. Children brought up in a foreign country really adopt their resident countries attitudes and ideas, therefore while we think our kids are going home for a holiday they are, in fact being released into uncharted territory as a loudly ticking bomb. The differences between Scottish and French children are far greater than I imagined and I have to take responsibility for not knowing this and ultimately sending my children out unprepared and ill equipped for life in the UK. Here in rural France they are not exposed to mass commercialism of the UK, sure we have the same reality obsessed television that exists around the planet but we don’t actually have a tv in our home so my children's exposure to this has been limited to reality tv overdosing at friends houses and as parents already know, reality is absorbed in moderation and translated loosely by teenagers. On the up side, French children are extremely polite and mindful of their manners in your presence. They are socially adept and well used to interacting with people of all ages and are happy to spend time talking with parents and grand parents. The family is very important and although French media reports the fabric of French society is breaking down, where we live strong family values are still very much in evidence and streets ahead of what seems to exist in the UK. However, don’t be misled by what the rose tinted “living the dream in France" faction would lead you to believe. French kids drink and smoke hash. Aquitaine has the highest incidence of marijuana smoking in France and it shows. Apathy among teenage boys is rife, exacerbated by a general lack of ambition in French children due, in part, to an incredible class structure which pervades all aspects of French life. Ordinary French children appear to expect to achieve as much as or little than their parents have and will be content to live near their parents for ever. This may seem like a sweeping generalisation, but it is my experience of Rural France. As a direct result of being spoon fed and discouraged from any form of free thinking at school young French adults do not travel as frequently as their European counterparts and are therefore much more insular and innocent. They seem to me, incredibly naive, unquestioningly trusting of the authority and knowledge of their elders and generally clueless about anywhere out with their region. While this innocence is, in many ways a charming quality, their relentless conditioning by parents and teachers mean they are predisposed to completely disbelieve anything a non French person tells them. The friends my children have made in our 9 years in France have been without exception, really nice kids, extremely well mannered, friendly and tenacious in their drive to understand my fledgling French. The same teenagers who have eaten dinner at my table for years, happily tried food alien to them and absorbed the Scottish culture of our home without question will argue for hours with me over situations inconceivable to them in their French life. It's "impossible" that you can open a bank account in 1 hour in the UK. Unbelievable that you must book the megabus well in advance to secure a really cheap seat and despite your reasoning they will leave booking their ticket to the very last minute. Using all the charm of a newly born fawn to enlist your help 3 hours before their flight, they will be be utterly incredulous that the price has gone through the roof and will complain loudly with much huffing, sighing and flailing of arms before kissing you with genuine affection and spending 10 minutes making sure they have not missed one of the numerous phrases used to bid you farewell! Their flight will then be delayed by some inconsiderate Icelandic emissions and they will spend the next 3 days enjoying the sights of Bordeaux while punctuating the delay with frequent trips, by bus, to and from the airport for updates rather than simply checking the website. Depending on your outlook on life this last sentence will have made you either sigh with frustration or purr contentedly. I'm purring.

Saturday 12 December 2009

pretentious poems

Wash Day Rules
Strung in defiant nonchalance
a vengeful pastel banner of fluttering, enduring wit
her knickers proudly flew all week,
a symbol of her revolution
displaced by age, yet, not so meek
her final pegged out resolution
would certify for all to see
that she could "hang out" as she pleased.
Poor sweeping, scrubbing, ageing crones
who gleamed and buffed and puffed and groaned
and kept their lines in good repair
to show how much they loved and cared
their eagerness to primp and please
no longer done with so much ease
their antiquated attitudes and guiless,
dripping servitude
which lacks the merest recompense
so strengthened her resolve.
She ventured out, with book and chair
found a place and settled there.
Refusing to conform or fit
she much prefered to read and sit.

pretentious poems

I would like to sever your outstretched hand which professing love
my soul
with its relentless lust
for control.
Unable to breath
in the cage of your arms
struggle to reach