I’ve been spending time in the company of fellow journalists lately as I’ve been travelling around France and also to Belgium.
It’s a great chance to catch up with people from the UK and get all the gossip.
Gossip in my village is a bit sparce – there are only 146 inhabitants here in my little hamlet in the Seven Valleys and the OH and me are the only Brits in the village and the average age is… old. People seem to thrive here in their twilight years, my neighbour Mathilde for instance swears by a glass of cider and a slice of pork belly for breakfast. I don’t know if that’s really the reason that a woman of advanced years has so much energy – she is well into in her 8th decade but hops around like a spring chicken, grows her own veg and is a fabulous cook. Sometimes I see her pushing her aged brother up the hill in his wheelchair. When I offer to help she always says “non merci” she tells me she needs the exercise. (Read more about Mathile in “French Super Grannies“)
Anyway, back to gossip. There was a story doing the rounds last year in the village about an arsonist. It was very big news when the man-round-the-corner-who-never-speaks had his barn burned down. “Oooh” everyone said, “He upset people because he walks his cows in the road to the field next door leaving a trail… retribution”. For an entire day the dry straw stacked in the barn burned fiercely. The local fire brigade closed the main roads into and out of the village while they struggled to control it. The barn and its contents were completely destroyed. The gossipers whispered that a certain Monsieur did it. He is the butt of much gossip. He has several children by his first wife and his second wife – they are sisters. The rumours got wilder and wilder; Monsieur was accused of all sorts of nasty things until – the police caught the arsonist. A man from another village who had a fascination for setting fire to barns and watching them from a distance.
Gossip with journalists is somewhat more off the wall and sometimes juicy and I can’t possibly share it all with you – I may get done for libel! But I can tell you one of my favourite stories…
A group of journalists went on a press trip to Paris. It was only for one night so they all had small overnight bags for their stay in a very luxurious hotel – except for one journalist who joined them lugging a huge suitcase. Sweating and swearing the man dragged the mighty case up to his hotel room. The other journalists sat around surmising what was in it over several glasses of wine naturally. They concluded he had murdered his wife and bought her body in the case to toss in the Seine in the dead of night.
They completed their two day Paris visit and in the evening went back to Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar back to London. To their surprise, the suitcase murderer joined them with his still very obviously heavy suitcase. Was he taking his wife back to London?
Later they discovered that he had in fact removed every curtain from his house in London, packed them into the suitcase and taken them to the hotel in Paris where he put them in the laundry bag for dry cleaning. They had been returned clean and fresh smelling to his room the next afternoon where he repacked them and took them home to London to hang back up!
Sometimes truth is much weirder than fiction isn’t it…