# 305 Le Glitch – Out now!

Glitch in Sat Nav sends British tourists to desolate French village by accident!

Jean Marc Bulot is the Mayor of Crêpe. A deathly French village a million miles from nowhere. His only real companions: an alcoholic ex-miner, a pedantic village secretary, an idle janitor, a morose baker and his ageing ex-schoolmistress. It’s the stuff of nightmares. Only this is real. Welcome to France.

Then one day a car arrives. A family looking for a place to stay. They must be lost thinks the Mayor. Horribly lost! No one ever visits Crêpe. Why would you? You can’t even get a baguette.

Next day another car arrives. And another. Soon people are arriving from all over France. All lost. All hungry. All in need of a drink. Something very odd is going on.

But wait! Perhaps this is the moment the Mayor has been waiting for. To finally do something with his wretched life. And so begins Le Glitch. Will the Mayor of Crêpe grasp the opportunity? Or will he blow it?

Out now as a paperback or ebook (click price below to buy).

eBook
UK: £3.99
US: $5.20
FR: €4.50* 
Paperback 
UK: £6.99
US: $8.99
FR: €8.43* 

*Also available on all other Amazon sites. Search “Le Glitch”

**If you would prefer not to use Amazon, please contact me to arrange other options.

#304 Le Glitch. A Novel

In April 2018 I started writing a novel. My third.

In the film Sightseers, there’s a bit in which one of the characters boasts about being on his third book. Then gets killed by the guy who’s writing his first. Watch it, it’s funny.

I’m probably not going to die, because this is really only my first book. The other two sit in dark corners on a computer file marked “For later.”

As the title suggests, this novel is about a glitch. A sudden, usually temporary malfunction of electrical equipment, that in this story, changes a man’s life forever.

It’s a classic storyline I admit: Man down on his luck. Just about to throw the towel in on his silly life. When a miracle strikes!

So what about the setting?

How about a deathly French village in the middle of nowhere. Call it Crêpe. Why not? Short, easy to remember. Much shorter than some of those French villages like  Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont-Saint-Genest-et-Isson that take half an hour to pronounce. Plus Crêpe translates well into English: Crepe.

And the protagonist, this down-and-out joker? What does he do? Well, let’s make him the Mayor of this rathole. Call him Jean Marc Bulot. Bulot’s good. French for sea snail. Slow moving, idle , lazy.

Next throw in a smattering of useless friends. A drunk, a depressive, a half-arsed janitor, a retired English nurse, a crazed old school teacher. Suddenly we’ve got a cast.

What else? How about a rival village?

Ventrèche: A smouldering cesspit of hatred, bad blood and jealousy that’s been at war with Crêpe since the Middle Ages.

And the bad guy? Enter Michel Arnold, the Mayor of Ventrèche. A real slimeball who wears cowboy boots and a Stetson even though he’s nearly seventy (and French). What a clown!

So we’re all set for Le Glitch.

Available 1st November 2019
VISIT LE GLITCH to stay posted OR FOLLOW ME >>>>>

#303 Puffballs for Breakfast – How to Cook and Identify a Puffball

At around eight thirty after dinner I usually take a walk around the farm Elizabeth and I are currently looking after. Part of the fun is feeding the fallen apples to the cows. Over the past few weeks they seem to have got addicted to them, and pursue us across the fields, their mouths drooling.
It was on this occasion yesterday, as I was attempting to escape the rampant beasts, that I stumbled, quite literally, upon a giant puffball (Calvatia Gigantea) nestled under one of the many apple trees that litter the farmlands.

I had once eaten one at school. Rather bizarrely our physics teacher brought one into class and cooked it on a camping stove during the lesson. Apparently it was part of the laws of thermodynamics module, but I can’t remember the exact context – Everything is created: everything is destroyed (eaten), perhaps…?

Remembering Mr. Mitchell’s culinary introduction to Isaac Newton, I yanked the football-sized mushroom from the ground and carried it home via a trek up High Field, across a small river and down through the apple orchards. When I arrived home, it was still intact.

Despite its resemblance to a brain, it smelt gorgeous. Like a slightly peppered steak.

‘Breakfast tomorrow!’ I exclaimed to Elizabeth enthusiastically.

Her eyes rolled upwards as she recalled the near poisoning incident we had with some misidentified field mushrooms a few years ago. In that instance I picked yellow stainers instead of field mushrooms and needed the bathroom rather quickly after wolfing down a plate of mushroom stroganoff. I was alright in the end, mild gut ache, but I’ve been a little wary of wild mushrooms ever since.

This time though I was sure. Why? Because puffballs are probably the most easily identifiable mushrooms on the planet. They are big and when sliced lengthways they are white and spongy, and have the texture of soft suede leather.

Yes it is true that when they are smaller they can be confused with amanata which are deadly. However when a puffball is sliced open it will be pure white with no internal structures or gills whatsoever – it is literally like slicing through a large ball of mozzarella cheese. Plus when puffballs are this size, it is highly unlikely to be anything else.**

As you can see, it’s lovely white. (If it’s discoloured, don’t eat it as it’s no longer edible.)

Next slice it into cubes like you might do with tofu or pieces of steak or courgette.

Slice 3 cloves of garlic and fry it all up with butter or oil for about 5-10 minutes. Like this:

Et voila, breakfast, with toast of course.

What does it taste like?

It’s clearly a mushroom. But it has a distinct meaty taste, almost like veal. Or even monkfish. It’s hard to describe. It’s certainly not chalky like tofu. Neither is it succulent like fish. It’s a bit slimy – like chicken legs – but it is filling and mildly satisfying.

When I was eating it, I imagined it roasted. Or even made into soup. It’s more of a camping food I guess. Pitching a camp and foraging for a nice puffball, even though it’s availability is limited to late summer/early autumn. Plus they are not that easy to find. While not rare, finding one this big isn’t common.

Best thing is to try it for yourself. It’s out now in a field near you!

Giant Puffball – Calvatia Gigantea

 

(** P.S. I am not an expert. This was my own personal identification using my own knowledge and research. Please do the same if unsure. Thanks.)

#302 The Swimming Lake

Hello.

After spending six months back in the UK, I’ve finally come back to France. To Normandy to look after a farm. How long I’m not quite sure. Maybe enough time to finish a novel?

Yesterday was hot. Very hot, so I spent it in the small lake we have here. More a large pond. Later I made a short film accompanied by music someone recorded in a street in Nantes. Where I am is about 300 kilometres from Nantes so there’s very little connection. Except that it’s in France.

For those of you who’ve never read this blog, it started out in Lyon in 2011. Then it was called BLOGLEY and was about living in Lyon. Since then it’s become a general platform for stories, travel articles, short films, audio pieces, and general pieces about nothing in particular.

So if you have a few minutes of your life to waste you might want to browse some posts. Or you could even buy the book: A Man in France by clicking on the photo of bottles of wine and cans of beer opposite —->

If not, this 60 second film with music from Nantes pretty much sums it all up.

#301 Smokers World

A SHORT STORY FOR NON SMOKERS

‘It’s illegal NOT to smoke on the premises,’ the sign read on the wall as Paul walked inside the building for the first day in his new job. Must be a mistake he assumed. Or an office prank, seeing as the smoking ban had been in place now for years.

So it was a surprise when he got to the reception desk and saw the two ladies behind it smoking to their heart’s content.

‘Didn’t you read the sign?’ said one.

‘The sign?’ squeaked Paul.

‘The smoking sign!’ the second announced fiercely.

‘Oh, I thought it was a joke.’

‘There’s no joking here. It’s illegal not to smoke. That’s what it says. Can’t you read,’ she roared taking a cigarette out of her packet and thrusting it violently at Paul.

Unsure of what to do, Paul took it, put it in his mouth, accepted a light from the outstretched receptionist’s arm and inhaled weakly.

‘That’s better,’ said the first as Paul started coughing. ‘Take the elevator to floor eight, Mr. Grey is expecting you. You’re Paul, I assume.’

‘Yes,’ he spluttered and walked towards the lift wanting to throw the cigarette away, but scared to do so after his telling off.

When the lift finally opened Paul saw that everybody inside was smoking. Three men and two women all sucking on cigarettes and full of smiles. Paul looked at them, smiled back, took a belated drag on his cigarette and joined them.

‘What are you on today?’ the man standing closest to him asked when the door closed.

‘What do you mean?’ replied Paul innocently.

‘What are you smoking?’

‘Er,’ said Paul desperately trying to remember what his dad had smoked before he died. ‘Marlboro.’

‘Nice,’ said the man approvingly. ‘Great brand. Strong and satisfying I always find. Great morning cigarette. Really gets the lungs moving.’

Paul nodded in agreement and tried pinching himself a few times wondering if perhaps he was dreaming. But as he choked on the smoke filling up the lift like a gas chamber, he realised it was all real.

When the lift got to the eighth floor he leapt out barely able to breathe and desperately hoped his office would be non-smoking like every other one in the country. But it was not. The 8th floor was as smoky as the lift.  A yellow fug hung over the desks and computers like smog.

‘This is insane,’ Paul muttered to himself as he gazed around and saw that everyone was either putting a cigarette out, smoking one, or lighting up a fresh one.

‘Hello Paul,’ a voice behind him said. Paul looked round and saw a middle-aged man walking up to him offering his hand.

‘I’m Al Grey, sorry we didn’t meet at the interview but I was in hospital with a lung infection, but I’ll be your manager,’ he said taking a deep drag of his cigarette between his yellowed fingers.

‘Pleased to meet you,’ replied Paul. ‘Ermm, I was wondering if I could have a word before we start.’

‘Of course, let’s go to my office where we can talk and smoke in private.’

The man showed Paul into a spacious, heavily nicotine stained office and offered him a cigarette.

‘What the hell’s going on?’ Paul demanded refusing the man’s offer.

‘I’m sorry,’ said the man taken aback. ‘I don’t quite follow.’

‘Smoking! Why is everybody smoking for Christ’s sake. What is this place? A laboratory. Some experiment gone horribly wrong.’

The man took a long meditative drag on his cigarette. ‘I’m not sure I follow you at all Paul. And by the way, you need to light a cigarette.’

‘Why do I need to light up a cigarette?’ cried Paul. ‘I don’t even smoke. I came here to work not smoke.’

‘What do you mean you don’t smoke?’ The man paused, crushed his cigarette out, lit another and looked directly at Paul. ‘I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Everybody smokes. It’s the law.’

It was then Paul realised something very bad was happening to him and without saying another word left the room and started running back down the corridor past a giant cigarette vending machine. Paul got into the lift and was immediately confronted by a middle-aged woman thrusting a cigarette at him. Paul wasn’t in the mood to start explaining himself. He just wanted to get back to the real world. He looked at the woman as the doors shut. ‘You’re insane, you’re all insane.’

Once outside he took a huge breath of air and started walking towards the station to get the train home. But something was wrong. The smell. The air was different. And then he realised, just like in the building, everybody was smoking. Either lighting a cigarette, smoking a cigarette, or throwing a cigarette away into giant ashtrays lining the street just like in the office building.

People suddenly started looking at him and tutting. ‘You’ve got to smoke,’ he heard somebody say. ‘Smoke-up!’ said another.

And then he saw them. ‘Oh my God,’ cried Paul when he saw two uniformed thugs racing towards him. On their jackets were the words Smoke Police written in bold red.

‘Oi, you in the suit. What’s your game?’ they shouted as they grabbed Paul.

‘Get off, you’re insane,’ cried Paul.

‘We’ll see who’s insane m’laddo,’ said the first one taking a packet of cigarettes out of his jacket.

‘No,’ protested Paul. ‘Please no more. Why are you doing this to me?’

‘Because it’s the law,’ shouted the second policeman forcing a cigarette into Paul’s mouth.

‘No, please,’ wailed Paul. ‘Let me go, I don’t want to smoke.’

‘Shut up and smoke,’ they both said in unison. ‘You know the law. Everybody’s got to smoke. Everybody’s got to smoke in Smokers World.’

‘But I don’t want to,’ pleaded Paul. ‘Please! I don’t want to smoke. It’s not good for you.’

‘We’ll decide what’s good for you,’ said the first policeman shoving another cigarette into his mouth. ‘Now stop squealing and start smoking,’ he finished booting Paul hard in the ribs.

‘OK OK,’ said Paul. ‘I’ll smoke, I’ll smoke. Give me a lighter for God’s sake.’

The second policeman handed Paul a cheap plastic yellow lighter with the image of a skull and crossbones on it. ‘Here. Now smoke up before we arrest you.’

Paul sat wearily down on the curb, lit the cigarette and took a long deep drag.

‘That’s better, isn’t it?’ they said.

Paul slowly nodded. ‘Yeh,’ he said taking another long pull. ‘Strong yet satisfying,’ he mimicked the man in the lift.

The policemen put away their truncheons and prepared to leave the scene of the crime.

‘But one thing before you leave,’ asked Paul.

‘Yes,’ said the first policeman curtly.

‘Why aren’t you smoking?’

They looked at each other. Their minds seemingly unable to process the question. After a few seconds the second one replied. ‘We’ve never been asked that before.’

‘I thought so,’ said Paul standing up and facing them, flicking his cigarette away in defiance.

‘Well,’ said the first. ‘We don’t smoke because we don’t have to.’

‘Why not?’ asked Paul.

‘Because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do our job as we’d always be smoking.’

‘What about everybody else,’ demanded Paul. ‘All the people in the offices and the shops and the factories smoking all the time.’

‘I’ve never really thought of it like that,’ said the first.

‘If you let everybody do their jobs without smoking,’ ventured Paul boldly. ‘Their jobs would get done quicker and more efficiently and the country would be richer and stronger.’

The two policemen looked at each other and Paul saw a small imaginary coin drop somewhere in their brains.

‘But,’ started the first one realising the seriousness of what Paul had just said. ‘Then what would we do. We wouldn’t have jobs.’

‘Yeh,’ piped up the second looking angry again. ‘I’ve got a family to feed. And a house and a car to run.’

‘Too right!’ said the first. ‘And look, he’s not smoking again, looks like we’re going to have to arrest him,’ he finished whacking Paul to the floor with his truncheon.

Paul did nothing as they started tying his hands behind his back. There was no point in struggling any more. ‘Get in the van,’ said the second hauling him into a blue army style truck that had appeared from nowhere. ‘You know the law,’ he started saying again. ‘Everybody’s got to smoke. Everybody’s got to smoke in Smokers World.’

Copyright 2019 Philip Ogley

(Taken from The Sunbed of Malcolm Todd and Other Stories by Philip Ogley buy here.)