Can the Fleas Come Too?

Why not take the whole family on holiday, insects and all? C’mon, you aren’t telling me you haven’t shuffled around a Super U in Northern France wondering what the difference between ‘shampooing’ and ‘apres-shampooing’ (apart from the apres) is. Given that the price of the latter is often double the former, you’d safely assume that the after gunk is conditioner. It is. But not as we know it.

I never thought I’d hear myself say how lucky we are to have the supermarkets we do in England, though you’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve made it a rule of life that I will never cross the threshold of a Tescos, even during a nit emergency. And for the French translation of that, read Carrefour – it even uses the same colours and now they have relaunched themselves, having eaten up all the darling Champions, they have unleashed the concept of 3 for 2 on the French public, where une was perfectly sufficient for centuries.

But we are lucky because we get a whole aisle of conditioners to choose from, whereas the French get precisely two bottles of apres shampooing. And the one you choose to put in your ‘chariot’ (I love that though – we should adopt it instead of trolley. Bring me my chariot! Or, crikey, she’s off her chariot..), is mysteriously inept at the business of de-tangling, ergo: aiding the business of removing nits and lice once you get back to the gite.

But then if you decide to go for the chemical route, who is brave enough to face those porcelain pharmacists in their spike heeled court shoes and laboratory coats that guard the pristine, minimalist chemist shops where narry a furry hot water bottle cover nor novelty baby bib can you find? What is French for headlice anyway? Do you mime it? Do you show them your child’s head? In front of the queue.. Voila!!

Once, in a Dutch town away from the perfect English speaking tourist route, I was forced into an apoteek to ask for something for kleine betjes. They all took a step backwards behind the counter. Though that could have been the shock of my accent.

And once the product is secured, do you understand the intructions? No, really? I have been that ‘soldat’ and at dix bleedin’ euros, the little blighters from blighty remained resolutely stuck in my children’s hair. In fact, I swear it increased their libido and the kids came home with a kilo of creatures in their follicular luggage.

Have comb, will travel. I have combed in restrooms, on boats, in courtyards and on beaches and you have to agree that nothing beats the thrill of NOT finding any live ones or eggs, with a large Campari in your free hand. Nothing.


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