The cooker hood is to be installed before I leave.
It should have been installed much earlier in proceedings but we bought it when last in San Jose ....and The Men forgot to bring it back here.
We collected it today after a shopping trip for taps (didn't have the model we wanted);
bread (had to go to three bakeries to get enough to last The Men in sandwiches while I am away)
and wine (swept the decks clear of a super Argentinian Torrontes at the Chinese end of line shop).
After lunch, the box was opened and tradition flouted by deciding to read the instructions.
The box was labelled in English, Spanish and French....thus between them there shouldn't have been a problem, so I was unprepared for the despairing howl of
It's all in sodding French!
By the time I reached the kitchen the other sections, Spanish and English, had been found and the tension was subsiding, only to mount again as they made the discovery that the unit was designed to fit into an over-the-hob unit.
Which had not been in our plans.
This not being the ideal moment to remind them that I had wanted a different model I retired to the balcony...the French instructions in hand.
They were in line with most instructions...
Do not put the plastic bag over your head while inhaling;
Use an electrical line tester rather than stuff your fingers into the hole where the switch had been;
But had an additional element.
No spare parts would be available for the units...well, you ask yourself, when are they ever! Blame accountants and just in time stock management.
Not for that reason, ma petite dame.
No spare parts would be available because.....it is, according to the French instructions, too dangerous for a non professional to fit them!
The underlying message being that what you need in your cooker hood's hour of trial is.....roll of drums......
The Artisan Francais!
I have referred to the brute before, the glaring presence of his work....visible pipes...white plastic strips covering his cables...for when, not if, there is a problem; his will of the wisp tendencies where attention to your job is concerned; his total lack of flexibility...if he is mixing cement he will continue to do so until ten minutes before lunch and chip out the wasted materials two hours later, depositing it neatly out of sight under a shrub.
I would rather stick my fingers into the hole where the switch had been while placing a plastic bag over my head and inhaling deeply than employ the artisan francais ever again.
An attempt to book a coach ticket had not left me too well disposed to France either.
The ins and outs of a bull's arse having been typed into the spaces provided, the site proceeded to payment.
Only it didn't. It produced a page telling me that my French bank....for my own security...wanted me to ring a French mobile telephone number. From Costa Rica.
Ah yes, I remember it well.
When they tell you something is for your own security it will either foul you up completely or, as in the case of the roadsigns telling you that...for your security...the road is under the surveillance of the gendarmerie, cost you money.
And then I read an article Guy had sent over on the plight of the artisan francais.
No, he has not been outsourced to India - they have enough troubles of their own
Nor has he been downsized...no other artisan francais will take an axe to him.
He is suffering from a bad case of the coefficients.
Coefficients are the curse of France.
Their use in practice means that some clown will pull a number out of a kepi, multiply it by his mother in law's life expectancy and decide that the result is the amount of tax you have to pay.
And this is what has happened to the artisan francais.
He used to pay the taxe professionelle...as I did on our letting houses...the product of that tax went to the commune.
Then Sarkozy abolished it...only to replace it with eight different taxes, none of which went to the commune. They went to the conglomerate of communes which was supposed to apply economies of scale to local administration.
Of course, nothing of the sort has happened. Each commune has someone someone looking to roads and pathways...and the conglomerate has its own team doing likewise....French local government operating, as it does, on the principle of 'let not poor Nelly (or Francine) starve'.
No chance while there are taxes to feed her.
One of the new taxes is called the CFE....Cotisation Fonciere des Entreprises... and it is based on the rental value of the premises used by the artisan in pursuit of his business affairs.
Deft work with the kepi and calculator reckoned that, in our area, the base of imposition should be put at about 8%...multipled by the next number they just thought of...23.22%.
Then, so as not to exempt those who worked from a hutch in their garden, they imposed a minimum figure of 1,500 euros as a base on which to apply the 23.22 %
The lack of serious grumbles encouraged them to pick from the kepi again the next year.....and raise the base to 5,000 Euros.
The resulting furore on the receipt of tax demands forced the conglomerate to call a public meeting, where the president got off on the wrong foot by declaring that the packed hall showed the extent of interest in the subject ...growls from the floor....and that his staff's simulations showed no effect on the small business sector
He impressed even less when declaring that his staff thought that upping the minimum would only affect big businesses.
Even coefficients can't account for that hallucinatory judgement.
And what could he offer as a palliative?
He would ask the tax office not to apply penalties for late payment....
It was a noisy meeting.....unprintable language was employed....but no conclusions were reached.
I am just glad that I don't want any work done by a local artisan francais in the foreseeable future.
Those who survive this blow will be busy with the calculator, if not the kepi, sharing the burden of the new coefficients with their customers.