les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Keswick, Hothorpe Hall and the rive droite

This week is the week of the Keswick Convention and also of the UFM Summer Conference normally held at Hothorpe Hall in Leicestershire. This year both have gone online, as did the Bala Ministers' Conference in June and the Evangelical Ministry Assembly, also held in June.

The advantage of this is that I have been able to attend at least parts of all four conferences.  The disadvantages include that we don't get to go away, we miss out on all the informal conversations and we have to fit work in around everything. Makes life busy! Busy but blest.

Meanwhile we continue to meet on Sundays, masked and distanced. It's OK, but only because we hope for a better future! After the service we adjourn to the local park where there is an ice-cream kiosk and we sit and chat under the trees.

We're currently allowed up to 10 people in a home at any one time. When we get together in homes we are careful to wash our hands on arrival and to avoid touching each other. It's all a bit distant.

And this amidst successive heatwaves. Today we're in the high thirties. Pat spent her day in the bookshop. I spent my day at my desk. Keswick continues all week. UFM finished yesterday, so this afternoon was a catch-up time getting ready for the weekend.

On Saturday morning I have a mini-message to give for our sending church in North Wales, then the Company of the Preachers is meeting here to work on Colossians 2. Afterwards it's all hands to the pumps ready for Sunday afternoon in the latter part of Colossians 1.

Next week Pat and Sally are due to spend a few days in San Sebastian as a farewell outing. I'll have rather too much peace and quiet. I might be able to check out some of the new cafés that have opened recently!

Monday, July 20, 2020

We're havin' a canicule... a tropical canicule... the temperature's risin', it's hardly surprisin'

A heatwave in France is a canicule, and is defined as a period of three days or more where the temperature does not fall below 20°C, even at night. And that's what we've got just now.

It isn't THAT hot, to be honest. Today it's been at 34°C and we've certainly known 38°C in the past - Patricia is sure it has got to 40°C - but it's unrelenting. The sun is very strong. There's no cloud cover. 

You get up and it's hot, you go to bed and it's hot. 
We have fans on all over the flat, our windows closed and the shutters down, and it's hot.

First thing in the morning I run around opening all the shutters and windows to change the air in the flat, but by 9 or 10 everything has to be closed again against the heat.

The government puts up posters telling you to drink enough. You need to drink lots of water.
The posters remind you to eat enough. The temptation is to not eat, but if you don't you don't replace the salts you lose through perspiration.
The posters also tell you to avoid physical effort. Everyone moves slowly. 

The temptation to stay in your flat and not move is strong, but we think you need to get out, so we go to walk under the trees. The refrigerated sections of supermarkets are also very pleasant, as are air-conditioned shops and libraries.

The canicule is forecast to end on Thursday with temperatures under 30 for next weekend.


Friday, July 17, 2020

At the hospital

I'd never been the the centre for hepato-gastro-enterological surgery before, so I let Waze guide me. Big mistake. It told me to take two entrances that were gated and locked - I can't imagine what the driver of the van behind was thinking, thankfully he didn't tell me - and once in the hospital complex it had me driving round in all directions. Eventually I saw a building that looked like the one on the map I'd looked at previously so I parked near it and went inside.

Incidentally this hospital has a beautiful free car park and also a nature trail through its grounds. Maybe a idea for another time.

In France you go to the main reception, take a number, wait to be called and they enter you into the hospital database. Then they tell you where to go. Everywhere is colour coded. Even the reception desks. I stared intently trying to distinguish the yellow and the green, the blue and the violet. Anyway when my number came up I chanced upon the correct desk. "Go to the orange waiting room" said the guy. "I'm colour blind", I said. "OK, waiting room number 4, it's the second one you come to on the left." I found it easily.

I waited in the waiting room. It seemed the right thing to do. I was very early, as usual. I could see the door with my doctor's name on it. Other doors opened and closed, people came and went, but my doctor's door never moved.

A lady came in concerned that she was not getting her fibroscopie. She discussed with the reception desk. "Look, it's the right date". It was, but it wasn't in the system. Some more discussion ensued, then she got another date that suited her and went away happy. 

I wondered what a fibroscopie is. Whatever it is, they had a room for it, or at least a door labelled "Fibroscopie".

Eventually at about 4 the door opened and two people came out, one obviously a doctor. There followed some to-ing and fro-ing and scuttling about, then a moment of calm, then "M. Davey"

I went in. She started at the very beginning. Checked pretty much everything there was to check. Then said, "So, it will be a colonoscopy. This is what is entailed (ha - geddit? en-tailed !), these are the risks, this is what you need to do, and this is when it will take place."

I said, "In England there's no general anaesthetic. They give you a cup of tea, then hop!"

"Yes, in France we do a lot of anaesthesia."

So my appointment with the anaesthetist is for the 29 September. The colonoscopy will follow between 3 days and three months after that appointment assuming the anaesthetist is happy.

To prepare I have to eat a low residue diet for a few days, then use a preparation called "Moviprep" (I laughed) for the la purge. "Vous allez passer une nuit ... perturbée !" said the doctor, somewhat too cheerfully for my taste.

I thanked her, we said goodbye, but did not shake hands, and off I went to read the many sheets of A4 she'd printed off for me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

First an apology

As I come out of the pain and fatigue filled torture chamber of a weekend I feel immediately that I owe you an apology, gentle reader, for some IMMODERATE LANGUAGE in the last blog entry. Specifically when I may have appeared to threaten to give my doctor a slap for prescribing the vaccinations that plunged me into the gulf of hopelessness. It wasn't meant as a threat; merely an observation of the temptations to which I was prey.

Anyway after a weekend in the crypt of despair I at last feel that I am emerging into the sunny plains once more. Yesterday Mrs Davey and I even attempted a visit to a promising pizzeria not far from our house - alas too far for even the lure of a proper italian pizza to coax me onwards - we ditched and bought a French one from the nearest supermarket instead.

French food is excellent. Even the bad stuff is good. It really is. But like, I suspect, every nation under the saun, the French pizzaïolo has adapted the sublime staple of Neapolitan peasants to make it a sumptuous treat for the bourgeois Bordelais. 

So the thin and crispy economical crust? Thick, with big bubbles and moelleux - moist.

Toppings? Juicy and luscious, gooey with emmental and rich with duck breast, potatoes, apple and truffles.

Pizza is always good, but that one time I tasted a genuine italian pizza has made my whole pizza experience like searching for the holy grail and finding a cup of builder's tea in a chipped mug in a cafe on the Old Kent Road. Wonderful, ecstatic even, but not quite the same.

Where was I?

Anyway, I'm feeling better. But on Thursday I have an appointent to arrange another of my doctor's bright ideas - an internal examination by camera to seek and destroy any budding cancers that might conceivably be lurking in my innards.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Ee I am vexed

I feel ill-disposed towards my doctor just now. If she were here right now I'd be sorely tempted to give her a good slap.

The thing is, she's decided that it's her responsibility to keep me alive and in the best health possible for as long as she can. Which this week meant anti-pneumonia vaccinations. Two. One in each arm.

There's a nurses' surgery right opposite our pharmacy so on Wednesday when I picked up my anti-histamines I popped in to make an appointment. Thursday at 4. I knew the pharmacy had the vaccines in stock so all I had to was pop in the pharmacy first, get myself well-stabbed and voilà, it's all sorted. Ha! Poor ignorant sap!

So at 15:40 precisely I left the house. At approximately 15:48 I arrived at the pharmacy and said, "Could I have the vaccines, please?" 

Well, this being France, I said, "Good day, it's for the vaccines."

"Good day. Do you have an appointment with the nurse?"

"Yes. At 16 hours."

"OK, so will you being going home first?"

"Um, no, it's right opposite."

"Silly me, I didn't realise it was 16 hours."

We laughed, I picked up the vaccines and skipped off to see the nurse. After a few minutes he arrived on his motorcycle.

"Have I seen you before?" he said.

"I don't know. Last year a nurse here took out my stitches after an operation. He was on a motorcycle, too, but I don't think it was you."

"No, that was my colleague."

An injection in each arm. I wasn't sure it was necessary for the nurse to show me the length of the needle before driving it into my upper arm, but there we are. 

I went home and that was that.


Friday morning I had a meeting with two of our likely lads to plan a day of evangelism. We met in a new-to-me coffee shop. It is adorable! Good coffee and a sublime terrace with little tables under the trees - the essence of France, but in the wrong place. It's way up by the fire station where I never ever go! Pity.

Afterwards we met some of the other for lunch in our friend Grace's café near the church. They had a special menu on with really good burgers. Some others were going to join us afterwards for a coffee, but Grace's place was really full with huge queues, so we went to our third coffee shop fo the day!

And that's when it started. We were sat drinking our iced coffee when I realised I had sweat trickling down the back of my neck. I felt OK, but I was sweating profusely, so much so that I decided to high-tail it home. The cool tram helped and it was not crowded. I had a early night and slept better than usual.

Notwithstanding all this rest today, Saturday, I have felt absolutely exhausted all day. We had folk round for lunch, but after lunch I sneaked away and eventually went to bed.

Pat looked up possible reactions to pneumonia vaccinations on the interweb. "Fatigue, sweats, muscle pains, aching joints, 'flu like symptoms".

Rotten doctor! I bet I wouldn't even have got pneumonia anyway! 

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

If it ducks like a quack

My six-monthly doctor's appointment fell this morning. I got the 8:30 slot and someone was already in with her before me, so I went in on time and was out by 8:41. Ace. It means leaving the house at 7:30, but the tram takes me to within a 15 minute walk of her surgery, past building sites and car dealerships.

She pronounced herself content with everything, wants me to get vaccinated against pneumonia (to ward off the old man's friend?), to get blood tests done again and we chatted about confinement, trams, masks and stuff.

Monday, July 06, 2020

A night at the opera

At the weekend the Opera National de Bordeaux Aquitaine held a series of free concerts - at lunchtime performances of Peter and the Wolf, at tea-time some dance and then in the evening the Fauré Requiem, some movements from Beethoven symphonies and a couple of arias from Florian Sempey. We went along for the evening.

Marc Minkowski opened proceedings explaining the rules for entry and exit and telling us we could remove our masks while seated. (Hurrah!). Salvatore Caputo, the charismatic chorus master, introduced and conducted the Fauré, then gave place to the Musical Director, Paul Daniel, to conduct the rest of the programme. 

The concerts were held in the amphitheatre that is formed by the Eglise Sainte Croix and the Conservatory, the Square Dom Bedos, as a tribute to the healthworkers "who gave their lives to save ours". The sound is surprisingly good, especially with some amplification. All sang well - we had some lovely moments in the Fauré, an excellent time with M. Sempey and the Beethoven.

I'm usually too slow off the mark to get tickets, and sure enough, on Wednesday when the tickets went on sale I was busy with someone and something important. But when I looked later there were still seats. Not only that but we were told that many people reserve places but then don't turn up - so there was plenty of space.


When bank robbers go to church

So we were back together yesterday.

The brethren have removed all the cushions from the benches and arranged them a meter apart for proper physical distancing. They have done all the hard work of putting up signs, indicating the capacity of the room, organising one entry and one exit and so on.

We arranged to meet up early to disinfect - I got confused about times and so we arrived 30 minutes apart - oops - but we swiftly disinfected the varnish off the benches and remembered the door handles, light switches and so on.

Even though everyone was masked, it was great worshipping with the windows and doors wide open to get air through the place. I am told that if the preacher is 10 feet from the nearest person he can preach without a mask, but I would not have felt comfortable being the only unveiled person in the church so I persevered with it. It's tiring.

Afterwards we cleared up and locked up and went to the local park where we sat in a circle, ate ice-cream and sang unmasked.


Friday, July 03, 2020

Living near the river

has advantages and inconveniences.

One inconvenience is the way that mayflies, having completed their complicated journey through the stages of life and accomplished their great task of perpetuating the species, seek refuge in our living room where their ultimate ambition is to go towards the light of our beautiful white ceiling, there to expire - and remain - all dry and light and insubstantial and as permanent as the river, stuck forever to its emulsioned brilliance.

So this morning I had to find the right implement to sweep them all off. There must have been about 20 of them as well as one small living fly who wondered why I was persecuting him as I incessantly poked him from his resting places. The mayflies float down, gossamer flecks of down, and disappear on the dark tiled floor where we hoover them up.