Or is it?
Every year at the start of the ‘hot season’, I am despatched down to the supermarché to get some mossie burner refills. These are the things that you plug in and hope they work, cause if they do, you’ll end up with few, if any mosquito bites. But if they don’t work because they’ve run out of foul smelling oil, or you’ve forgotten to plug it in, you’ll end up with loads of mossie bites and, if you lie naked, face down and uncovered in bed like me (I know - not a pretty picture) you might end up with a huge red blob on your bum like I’ve got.
And so, another annual ritual is for me to go down to Leclerc and get some refills before we start to look like victims of some plague or other. Now I’ve been in this situation before – they change the design, and hence the size of the refills with astonishing regularity and as I’m too stupid to take the old mossie burner with me, I invariably get the wrong sort.
We only bought the latest mossie burners we use last year so I was pretty confident that I’d be ok - but no. When I got home, they did not fit the model we had. I cursed myself for being a village idiot and next day, in 90 degree heat, went back to Leclerc’s and obviously had to go to the refund desk which is something of a misnomer in France, because you rarely get refunds, even for things which don’t work!
I took my old burners with me this time, showed them to the girl, lied that my wife had told me what to get and basically acted like a totally downtrodden husband who thought the Leclerc girl was just the bee’s knees (the best thing going). I even compared her to the life-size blow-up Pamela Anderson doll I’d seen in the sex shop in SanRemo the day previously but I don’t think she was too impressed by that comparison. Don’t know why!
Anyway, I’d glued the boxes I’d opened shut so she took them back quite painlessly, uttered something in French and gave me my money back (they don’t just allow you to change things in France – all the refunds and paperwork they do probably keeps 50,000 Frenchies in work) and I wandered off to the mossie burner corner.
This time I took my old refill out and compared it to every model on display, opening about 20 boxes in the process, but there was nothing of a comparable size. My look of frustration must’ve alerted a nearby Frenchie who came up to me and said that they’d changed all the models this year and that I’d have to buy new burners.
‘But I only bought these ones last year’, I said. ‘Ah – it’s for the tourists’, he said. ‘They change the design so they have to buy new ones each year.’
I muttered a few obscenities under my breath and bought three new burners complete with bulbs of foul, green oil - €4.34 each.
I was thinking of not only the injustice of it all but the utter waste of having to throw three perfectly good old burners away when I looked at the display again. You can buy a new burner, complete with oil for €4.34 as I said, but to buy a refill of oil on its own was €4.50! Absolutely crazy! In essence (pun intended), they were paying you €0.16 to buy a new mossie burner!
Only in France! And just in case you were wondering, the new model is on the left.Bzzzzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzz.