The strangest thing just happened.
I was sitting at my desk, and I suddenly remembered my French teacher.
Not my first French teacher, the woman who introduced me to notre notre nos, votre votre vos, leur leur leur. She was quizzed by some of the class about where she was from. No, she wasn't English, no she wasn't French, Belgian, Swiss, South African, Swedish, Vietnamese, Sontaran, Inuit or Lett. I remember the way she stressed both syllables after they gave up. Scott-ish.
For my last three years of learning French, though, I was taught by the head of the department - another Scot, and one who had - well let's just say a certain resemblance to De Gaulle. This led to a string of unsubtle jokes and gestures and the drawing of unflattering profiles on jotters. I'd completely forgotten about him - even when I was re-reading l'Etranger a few weeks ago, he didn't cross my mind. It's a fantastic book, by the way. But I digress.
As I sat here, remembering this chap, a man probably younger then than I am now, I raised my hand to my nose, and recreated a gesture I haven't made in over twenty years. It brought back the smells of school, the feel of the space at the end of the Modern Languages corridor, the voice of a long-forgotten friend saying the name of the teacher, the warmth of summer light through the wire-reinforced shatter-proof glass, reflected off the cold marble floors. So much memory triggered from one small thought, and suddenly I feel like I'm seventeen again.
I went to school two miles away from where I sit as I type this. I've travelled the world, lived and worked on other continents. I've got some great memories, but it's odd how some are more potent than others, especially the ones that you think you've forgotten.
My life is ruled by lists.
I've got lists of work, lists of stuff to sort out with banks, lists of stuff to sort out about buying the flat, about redecorating, and about moving in to it. Mr Twinky has the same - we swap lists sometimes, just for the amusement of it all.
I now just want it all to be over - not because I am hating it, far from it. Because I can visualise what the end result is, and from here it looks very enticing.
I can't wait to start ticking off some final items. Yes, the flat is decorated and everyone is paid. Yes, we have sofas and curtains and knives and plates. Yes, I have my computer back, my study set out, my telephone connected.
I know there will always be plans for what to do next, but at this stage, I'm starting to think that maybe, by August, things will have settled down and started being the way I thought they would be when I started all of this madness.
Of course, the chap who is sorting out my mortgage thinks I'm mad. Brave and crazy, but mad. The chap I met at lunch time today thinks I am setting myself up for a lifetime of pain. I think of it as keeping busy.
Plan A was, of course, to write about it as I was doing it. I was going to turn this site in to a useful guide to how to move from Foreign to Here, with a useful list of tips and contact numbers. Plan A was, of course, nonsense.
Let's just say that things are moving along nicely, and I am managing to stay one step ahead of disaster.
My ever-increasing number of to-do-lists fall nicely in to a number of categories.
There's the stuff to do with money, which is my current worry. Not the costs involved, but the fun business of moving it from one account to another, and making sure that nobody thinks that I am an international money launderer.
There's the legal stuff, which is happily burbling along and under control.
As is the insurance stuff.
Then there's the tax stuff - trying to sort out my taxes Here and in Foreign, where both tax authorities owe me money, money which I intend to blow on sweeties.
Once we get the keys to the flat, we'll be getting it redecorated. This is Mr Twinky's main area of expertise, and he's organising it remotely with minimal chunks of help as required from his army of foot soldiers on the ground. By which I mean my long-suffering parents, who are both being fantastic although they probably don't think they're doing much apart from keeping me sane and keeping me company.
I'm whiling away my idle hours by planning what electronic gizmos I am going to buy, and working out the order of various calls that I have to make two weeks from now (in order - electric, gas, phone and broadband, ordering electronics, getting a television licence, getting satellite television).
And only after that do I think about getting a regular vegetable box delivered, or those lessons I've been talking about for years, or sorting out my National Insurance.
Through a combination of luck and more luck, I've not managed to screw anything up yet, but I know I'm just keeping one step ahead of disaster and I couldn't do it any other way.
Interestingly, it appears that web pixies have abducted my layout. This is called 'an upgrade'.
It's all my own fault, really. I should have thought about what I was doing as I gleefully clicked that yes, over-writing all these files was fine and no, I didn't want to back up.
And so it's gone, as though to outer space. Hours of hard HTML, hand-coded by a fumblefingered amateur, and replaced with uniform grey, bland and uniform, simple, clean, functional.
There is a lesson here for us all, I think. As we travel through life there will be times when we do stupid, illogical things. These may be small things like overwriting files or big things like rigging national elections. We won't always step back and think through the consequences fully and these may be minor, like the layout of a website changing, or major like setting the progress of a country back a century.
The test of personal character and integrity is how you behave after these mistakes. I like to accept that I screwed up, and hopefully learn and become stronger.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some elections to rig
We got back from France late on Saturday. It had been quite a trip - eighteen hours door to door, taking in four demonstrations, two trains, a ranting taxi driver and every French football fan on the planet ("this is like Beirut" said Mr Twinky) squeezed into an eight foot square area, and a departure lounge with eighteen children under ten playing hide and seek.
So we were tired.
It had been a good holiday. We had eaten well, we'd seen some art, been rained on and hailed at, we'd driven around a couple of industrial estates, and we'd stayed in an ice-box up a dark muddy lane near the water treatment plant fifteen minutes walk from the only village in Brittany that has absolutely no charm. We'd had one day where the absolute highlight was driving through a puddle. Quite fast.
So it was only natural that within an hour of getting home one of our radiators exploded a bit, leading us to spend half the night with sandbags and saucepans building dikes and dams to stop the flow of special radiator water, to prevent the catharsis of spurious morality, and to soak up anything that escaped.
The flat's quite cold now.