Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Update on Injury

I would like to begin by saying a big thank you to my brother – who, even after all these years continues to delight in finding ways to embarrass his sister.  No I didn’t know he was taking the photo, yes it was a windy day, as usual I am wearing the dog’s lead and carrying her tennis ball (surely that is her job?), and I didn’t spot the ‘Access Handicapes’ sign until later! 

So a brief update on my foot.  That photo was taken one week ago and as you can see, I could manage stairs and get around without the crutches.  Today (4 weeks after the accident) I can at last wear proper shoes again and just need one crutch if I am on stairs or uneven ground.  It has been a very frustrating month – no driving, missing several telephone calls (as I could not run to answer the phone), but at least for me it is temporary and I can see an end in sight.  It has made me much more aware of how difficult life must be if you have a permanent handicap.  La Poste in my village is a particular case in point; it has recently been completely renovated and they have installed a long and winding ramp for wheelchair access.  Once you get to the front door there is a button and a notice which informs you that to gain entry you need to ring the buzzer and pull the door towards you at the same time.  Difficult enough when you are on crutches but completely impossible if you were in a wheelchair! 

But for me I can see an end in sight – particularly after something which happened today.  We were in the town of Amelie-les-Bains (a thermal spring resort where many old people go to ‘take the waters’) and I certainly didn’t feel out of place hobbling around on my crutch.  We were there to view a new property for sale and in fact the 90 year old owner was more speedy on her crutches than I was!  After the visit we were walking back to the car when an old man in a café started chatting and he asked me what was wrong with my foot.  He then asked me to have confidence in him and gestured for me to put my foot on his lap. He waved his hands over the affected area and asked me if I could feel anything.  Apart from ‘embarrassment’ I have to admit I could feel a certain coolness and it was as if the pain was being sent away and he said he practiced ‘biomagnetic healing’. Despite the fact that my partner has not stopped laughing and muttering things about ‘old men and women in short skirts’ I actually feel it might have worked!  Watch this space – you may yet see me on Strictly come Dancing!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Can I have my pocket money please?

With so many different passwords and pin numbers to remember it is always a relief when the words ‘Code Bon’ appear on the payment machine at the supermarket.  The pleasure is greatly reduced when it is followed by the words ‘Paiement Refusé’.  This is quite a regular occurrence and I can assure you it is not because the account is overdrawn.  No, it is simply that, according to the lady at the bank, I have spent enough money for the month.  Seriously!  I have the money in the bank and yet somebody has decided that I can only spend a certain amount each month!  And this is ‘normal practice’ in France.  To be fair, the bank  did explain that I could continue to use cheques and also to draw money out of Cash machines but the debit card would remain ‘blocked’ until a certain period of time had passed.   Obviously I am not going to starve but given that I don’t have a cheque book for that account, and there is a daily limit on the amount you can draw at a cashpoint, this is a problem.

To be fair, in normal daily life, having a monthly spending limit isn’t a problem.  But when is life ever normal?  The first time I came across this problem was when I was furnishing our first apartment.  My shopping spree ground to a halt on day 2 because I had already reached my limit for the month – ‘frittering it away’ on beds, sofas, appliances etc!  You can (and I did) telephone and ask for a ‘temporary increase’ on your limit but I find it very annoying to have to ask somebody for permission to spend my own money – and also to have to explain why.

Apart from the monthly spending limit, the bank has now come up with a new way to attempt to govern my spending.   My brother has bought a holiday home here in the region and has asked me to oversee the renovations.  As he doesn’t yet have a French bank account he is transferring money into my account and I am buying materials and paying tradesmen on his behalf.  Simple?  Apparently not.  When the first transfer arrived the bank lady actually rang me to complain that I hadn’t warned her that some money would be arriving in the account.   I did mention that, although I am not greatly experienced in the world of banking I believed that it was perhaps normal practice for banks to expect occasional deposits into accounts and accept them without being surprised.  I don’t think she appreciated my sarcasm and we have a ‘rendez-vous’ next week....