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My French Life: The sounds of the French countryside at night


My friend Debbie started me off thinking about the sounds of the countryside at night here in the middle of nowhere in Pas-de-Calais. She was, as ladies do from time to time, moaning about the snoring of  her other half and the fact that she couldn’t get any sleep.

My dog Bruno snores so loudly we have to turn the volume up if we’re watching TV and he’s in the room asleep. Anyone who hears it for the first time can’t help laughing because it’s so thunderous and deep. The other two dogs don’t snore. Churchill has dreams that make him twitch and squeak a lot. And Ella looks like sleeping beauty and is perfectly still and calm.

Loulou the cat snores – it sounds like she’s blowing little bubbles and it’s really quiet sweet. The other cats are quiet sleepers. ‘Enry Cooper goes into a deep sleep and nothing disturbs him, Winston the paranoid neurotic cat wakes if someone opens a door six houses away and bolts.

But, back to Debbie. As it happens I was able to give her some advice on this matter. It was passed on to me by my Mum, who was a very special lady and had lots of wacky and wonderful ideas about life, sometimes she experienced things, other times she dreamed them and sometimes she just imagined them and somehow they became bits of advice!

On the subject of snorers. She said that if my Dad snored at night, she would put a bar of soap in his mouth. She felt it did no harm, sometimes stopped him snoring but more than anything she felt quite happy he snored because the sight of him blowing bubbles in his sleep made her laugh so much. She said that he never knew…

I used to have a boyfriend who was a snorer. He told me once that every night he dreamed he was either:

a) In the SAS

b) A Ninja assassin

c) In the Foreign Legion and taking part in an attack on a desert fort

d) Genghis Khan

Although at times I longed to shove a bar of soap into his open mouth in the middle of the night. But the thought that he might be half asleep and imagine that I was attacking him while he was in full on attack dream mode put me off.

Here in the country I sleep like a baby. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air, the darkness. It’s pitch black at night except when there’s a full moon and a slither of silvery light peeps through a crack in the curtains – or because I’m getting old!

It’s not always quiet at night here though. I hear tractors going past and on harvest nights the farmers work all through the night and there are owls in the barn next door and they hoot and call to each other. The worst thing for noise though is the cockerels! All four of my closest neighbours keep free range chickens and they wander about in the street, in and out of gardens if gates are left open and onto the village green at all hours. The new neighbours who bought Trumper the Sheep’s house opposite us, have three cockerels and they roost in a tree in the garden which is level with my bedroom window and only about 20 yards away. I always used to believe that cockerels only cock-a-doodle- doo’d when the sun come up. This is not true – these creatures crow at the moon, a car with headlights – pretty much anything and everything – all through the night. I have got used to it now and sleep right through it but we recently had a visitor whose London morning alarm clock wake-up call was … a cock-a-doodle-doo. You can imagine her delight on stumbling out of bed at 3.30 in the morning when the real things across the road decided to start up!

A bientôt
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