A Bunch of Pheasant Pluckers

Not content with simply living on a building site, my Dad has now decided to go and work on one as well.

Of course the regular wage provided by the French company has given him a little stability and a chance to improve his French dramatically, but the domestic DIY (or desperate house-building project as we prefer to call it) has had to slow its pace a little as a result.

However, it has been a real eye-opener in terms of highlighting a few key differences between cultures.

Firstly, the working day is long and VERY hard. Though dad does get an hour and a half for lunch, he is working by 8 and doesn't finish until 6.

And boy, do they work!

The most they ever stop for will be one very small cup of coffee, if there's time and even then it's only for 5 minutes. He hasn't had one cup of tea or a bacon buttie since he started two months ago. Plus, I haven't seen a single bum crack hanging over the top of ill-fitting trousers, not once! And no one has ever requested I display my mammeries or wolf-whistled as I approach.

But the most significant difference has to be their conversation and driving habits. I would like to illustrate with an example:

On the way home from work the other day, Dad suddenly found himself within an uncomfortable proximity to the windscreen (in spite of wearing a seat belt) after the driver of the transit stood on the brakes.

Before discovering the cause of such an alarm, he was being ordered to "allez vite, allez vite! Et doucement!" Quickly and slowly? What on Earth was going on?

In one swift movement, indicative of SAS training, the two other guys had armed themselves with whatever blunt objects they could find and were scouting the field, weapons raised, in a scene reminiscent of something you might expect to see in a Vietnam War movie.

My Dad had taken refuge by the side of the van by the time the others started beating a yelling in a frenzy of war-mongering insanity.

The cause of all the excitment?

A pheasant.

Yes, a simple, brown, feathery bird with a brain the size of a gnat's kneecap had warranted the launch a military-style campaign that could have resulted in at least one, if not three, mildly bruised egos. The builders were on the search for dinner.

Unfortunately, the great flaw in this death-defying feat was in the inclusion of wings in the design of the prey. Had my Dad's companions taken the Spitfire to work that day instead of the transit, they might have stood a better chance.

The pheasant got away, but this did not prevent the two men wistfully conversing about how they would have cooked it, which sauce would have best accompanied it (I think Bordelaise came out as the favourite) and which wine would have brought out the delicate, gamey flavours of the slightly rare meat.

My Dad simply smiled as he listened to the energetic chatter. He couldn't once remember or imagine a similar incident or follow-up conversation happening between builders back in England; and he had worked with a lot.

Just another example of how they do things differently I suppose and another anecdote to share with the expats!