Friday, 31 August 2012

M'sieurs Little and Large

Well, it's that time of the year when M'sieurs Little and Large pay us a visit - the chimney sweeps. In French, a sweep is a 'ramoneur' and it is an important job as records have to be carefully kept by them in case our house burns down: their role in keeping our chimneys nice and clean has to be proved to the insurance company.

We have had them for 10 years now, except one awful year, when an imposter knocked on our door and implied that he was a nephew, sent to do the work instead of his uncle who was sick (and I could believe that as the boss, M'sieur Large, is fat, breathless and has diabetic ulcers which vary from year to year - he loves to show them to me ...yuk). How embarrassed was I, when M'sieur Little - the one who does all the work and is about a third of the other's size - knocked and asked when could he start, especially as I had believed the imposter's story, had the work done, and paid for it too...

We have two chimneys to be swept - we only have two working fireplaces out of a total of seven and thank goodness, as it would cost us a small fortune to have everything done - and they do a good job of pulling out the wood burner, showing me the pile of soot and debris to prove they've done something, then putting everything back again.

The thing is, the cost has never risen in 10 years; M'sieur Little just carefully copies what was written on last year's receipt, but it was only a year or two ago when we realised that neither can read or write properly. We have introduced them to several friends and neighbours as new clients, and I have to write the names and addresses out for M'sieur Little to copy out - he writes as though he were drawing a picture of the shapes of the letters. When I tried to verbally spell out a name, he was totally flummoxed, so now, we go through a pretext of my writing it out as he 'can't understand my accent'...

Still, times must be good in the chimney sweeping world - they have a brand new van, new vacuum cleaner and for the first time, both wore blue Marigold rubber gloves instead of using bare hands.

When they left, they cheerily said they would see me same time next year, then they shot off, probably to find a quiet country spot to dump the soot in the ditch...

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