French Connections

WE HAD to return to Scotland for a funeral recently. Our first thought, whenever we go away, is what to do with Pinot the cat. Luckily we've established very good relations with Christine, who runs an excellent kennels and cattery on the edge of a tiny village not far away.

This village - more a hamlet, really - is called Lugné. Not easy for Anglo-Saxons to pronounce: it comes out something like 'lee-nyay'. (Maybe to solve this problem, my children - although both have good French - display the family inability to leave a perfectly good name alone, and call the place 'Lunge'. Much easier.) Summoned to don the black tie, dark suit and sober mien, and to brush up our waning acquaintance with Abide with me and The day thou gavest, Lord, has ended, we approached Christine to see if she had room to squeeze Pinot in somewhere while we headed north. By car, because there would be a lot of stuff to bring back.

IT'S NEARLY 21 years since I came to live in France. In all that time I've attended a mere four sporting events. A couple of village football matches. A now-you-see-it-now-you-don't flash-past of the Tour de France through the village. Once to Montpellier to watch an opening round match of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, a contest of excruciating dullness between Tonga and Samoa. No, I can't tell you who won, I'd have to look it up.

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