Proud as a Louse

Le Pou et le Coq

“Fier comme un pou”
“Proud as a louse”

This is one of my favourite French expressions, as mysterious as it is funny. Personally, I never had the chance to analyse the psychological behaviour of lice. But with a bit of imagination, I can figure a tiny insect, pouncing on the Capillary jungle and, swollen with pride by his new discovery, standing up like the first colonialist until the inescapable destruction of his species. Helped by much more imagination, I could figure a scientific community, bringing up a lice colony on their own heads and examining the different characteristics of this new society. I know this idea is not in accordance with the crazy scientific myth without hair…
In fact, the original expression was
“Fier comme un pou sur le fumier”
“Proud as a louse on the dung” .
But finding a louse in the dung, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, it’s not easy! The solution to the riddle of the derivation of this expression is based on the history of the word “louse” (In French, “pou”) : “pou” is a dialectal form of “poul “, which meant ” young cock “. Here we are ! The French cockerel of course! As the other saying goes :
“Fier comme un coq”
” Proud as a cock “.
Although, it’s interesting to note that the French symbol, this animal that makes the froggies so patriotic and proud, became, in the history of language, a tiny louse…But after all, and like a famous French humorist used to say :
” the cockerel remains the only animal that can sing with its feet in the dung .”


Coco… rico?


(please click on the picture to see it bigger)

NB: En francais allez voir au clair de la lune

The miracle of life, and of course what happens prior to it, represents one of the most disturbing and thorny subjects of discussion between parents and children. The majority of parents could never escape from that fearful philosophical question:

“Daddy! Mummy!, how are babies made? ”

A lot of images are welcome to make the subject more poetic. My mother wove a creative patchwork, connecting all the innocent legends she learned in her childhood : Daddy puts into the ground the pink or blue seed which is inside his willy, Mummy waters it with love, after nine months, a baby is born, a girl in a rose, a boy in a brussel sprout. I recognize in this last distinction my mother’s little jibe of feminism and a large part of her national pride. (She is Belgian!)

This patently unrealistic description of life’s mystery convinced Coco, for a short while, but had unexpected consequences too: haunted by the loss of his so precious seed, he didn’t want to go to the little boy’s room for an entire day. With the aim of testing the truthfulness of my mother’s explanation in an interested way, he kept blue and pink sugared almonds in a box, expecting for some kind of delicious multiplication.

But seeing that nothing happened, he finally decided to test another explanation he saw on television.In this experiment, over a few days, Coco remained seated on his bed, in an apparently deep meditative posture. As I have mentioned previously, any silence from Coco announces a problem, and this time was no exception. But the object of the catastrophic events was not so obvious: at least, Coco thinking in his room is not alarming in itself, maybe a new philosopher was being born.After all, these meditations would have impressed Buddha himself, Coco, maybe having reached nirvana, decided to return to his typical boisterous life.

Finally, one week later, my mother found the real story. As she was cleaning the bedroom, she was assailed by a very strong and horrible odour. After a meticulous inspection of the bedroom, she unfortunately understood that this son will be neither a great philosopher, nor an anthropologist: inside a little bag hanging from the sunny window, coiled up inside some welcoming cotton wool, two eggs were waiting…Coco confessed in a perfectly reasonable voice that he wanted to have chicks. He first kept the eggs stolen from the fridge under the eiderdown which he was sitting on in order to heat them. But in the TV programme he saw, it was made clear that it must be for such a long time! So, logically, he wrapped the eggs up in cotton wool and left them by the sunny bedroom window.


The only problem was that he chose hard-boiled eggs…

Coco and the Miracle of Life(Click on the picture to really enjoy it…)NB: En francais allez voir au clair de la lune When Coco, my beloved brother, was a young boy, he was very boisterous. He belonged to that particular group of children you must always keep an eye on : when you hear no noise in the house, you know that a catastrophe will surely follow the abnormal silence. Coco loved animals, all kind of animals, like snakes that he secretly brought back home, salamanders, rats, and tadpoles he tried to raise into wonderful frogs for competitions. His fascination with the animal kingdom aroused a lot of spiritual questions in his innocent mind. For example, he never understood how the battered fish which he liked so much were able to swim. But, of course, his curious mind was expecting realistic answers, particularly on the subject of the miracle of life.One day, we were waiting for one such wonderful event : a mare had to give birth. Of course, Coco wanted to see this miracle of life. The farmer gave him a very important role to play : stay in the stable, and call as soon as he saw the hoof of the foal appear. Coco, proud like a cock, played his role very seriously. Maybe too much…First round: He called„I see it! Come!“,the farmer came and saw nothing, even if Coco, sure of himself, tried to convince him :“I promise you, I’ve seen it!”.Second round: Coco screamed again:“It’s time, it’s time!”The farmer, one more time, came for nothing; but seeing that Coco was so sure of himself, began to understand that something had happened.Last round: Coco screamed again. Again for nothing…at least for the farmer…But Coco, proud of himself, said :„Ah! You see, I didn’t lie! You see the hoof!!!“.The farmer follows the admiring look of Coco, in the direction of a stallion! Big problem: how to explain to this little boy that what he was looking at was not the expected hoof! Trying to find the most educational and simple words, and playing his role of stepfather, the farmer said :„No! This is a boy, and what you are looking at is his willy!“.But Coco, sure of his knowledge about animal anatomy, answered :„No! You think I am stupid or what? I know the real size of a willy, I have one too, and I can tell you that you are wrong!Pfff…a willy….“.And now, every time that we have a family reunion or my little brother brings home a new girlfriend, we love to tell this true story. And every time, he says“Pfff…Again the same story”and becomes red. And every time I recognize my beloved Coco.

After a long time without writing, I come back with more true stories of which Cat Astroff will not be the hero : he has fallen ill and I decided to indulge him and leave him alone for a few days…Nothing serious happened to him, he was only wounded after fighting with a rival cat. In particular, his superiority complex was damaged, till the next round of course. Since we came back from the veterinary clinic, he seems to have improved a little bit, maybe because the beautiful woman who was treating him exclaimed as soon as she saw him :
« WOW ! This is such a beautiful cat ! You know that this kind of ginger cat has something more than the others?“.
I was thinking :
„Pff…Yes, I unfortunately know“.
Cat Astroff can walk better now, but I don’t understand why he never limps with the same paw… Drama to get more time inside my bed under the blanket or not? Anyway, I leave him alone until his total recovery, and in the meantime, choose to dedicate the majority of my next posts to that so-creative universe of animals. Maybe, seeing that the spotlight is no longer turned on him, Cat Astroff will recover quickly.

Cat Revolution

Cat Revolution

Cat Astroff entered my life two months ago now. Everyday it´s the same ritual:he edges his way into the flat, in the direction of the kitchen and waits in front of the fridge till I give him some food. Day after day he has connected deeper and deeper to Sven, the other male in my life. Of course, animal or human being, the same male solidarity! Anyway, even if Sven is ill-tempered, he never before had the incredible audacity to refute my decisions, at least not directly. And then Cat Astroff, alias Chat-Guevara arrived… One evening, like always, I asked Sven to put the Cat outside  for  the night. Under the amused and vicious glance of the Cat, the beast deeply hidden within my man´s big belly awoke. The beast drew himself up to his full height of 170 cm and declared:

“I am the boss now, I take the decisions and I refuse to put the cat outside!”

So Sven and the Cat spent the night together on the sofa, warming each other. In rage I locked the bedroom door and  spent the night alone there,  in a cold bed, dreaming that I was locked in The Bastille and losing my head… like Marie-Antoinette. The worst thing being that it was an English cat leading the Revolution to the sound of “Amazing Grace”!

(to be continued… or not, depending on the state of my head!)

The Cat Astroff

The Cat Astroff

I have something to confess: I have a cat.

Or should I say: a cat has me?

I found him -or he found me?- in front of my door. I suspect him to have planned this maybe unfortunately definitive encounter days and days before… I saw him for the first time two months ago in my garden, trying to catch my attention with that specific tremolo song which only cats can do. I first ignored him, but one day, I couldn´t resist and had the unlucky idea to put a caressing hand on him, hoping to stop his miaaaou miaaaou.

This is when the Cat Astroff began…

(to be continued…)