I don’t want you all getting the feeling that my life in France is a complete bed of roses. Living in France is a dream come true for me but it’s not all entente cordial, vin rouge and patisseries, there are some aspects that aren’t so great.
I thought I’d make a point of telling you about something once in a while that I don’t really like – not necessarily about France but about my life in France, and I’m starting with the neighbours.
I have great neighbours – on the whole. I live in a very rural community, lots of farmers and farmworkers, down to earth people, salt of the earth. Living here though is no different from living anywhere else in that you get good neighbours and not so good neighbours.
Just a short walk down the road from me there’s a house which is owned by the commune and rented out by the Town Hall, it’s a maisonette and the family who live in one half are lovely, the family who lived in the other half are not. When they first moved in they seemed pleasant and friendly enough, there was a Dad, Bruno and his two sons and the girlfriend of one of the sons and their baby. The youngest son, Albert was about 13, full of himself but with one of those appealing faces that chubby cheeky kids have.
It started with a flat battery – I don’t know what it is with the people round here, they’re always getting flat batteries and no one seems to possess a set of jump leads – except us. Anyway, we gave Bruno a jump start and off he went to work. We then got a knock on the door every morning for a week. I think it only stopped as the second week when the knock came on Monday morning I didn’t answer the door and finally they got a new battery.
This was followed by requests for lifts – they were forever having accidents and driving into ditches and then having to arrange for the car to be hauled out and onto the road – as nothing happens quickly here they’d somehow get home and then need to go back later for their car. One time Albert arrived and demanded that we give him a lift straight away to pay some money to someone as his brother was in prison and it was important to sort a problem out.
I think the final straw though was the mouse tossing.
One evening Albert and the other son’s girlfriend knocked on the door and asked if they could borrow a mouse trap or two. This took some working out on my part, although my French is pretty fluent I couldn’t believe that I’d heard right and I was used to their usual requests for sugar, coffee and bizarrely – jam. But, it turned out that their house was overrun by mice and they were desperate for a mouse trap. Quite why they didn’t buy one at the local supermarket like everyone else is beyond me but anyway, we didn’t have a mouse trap – we have three cats.
The next morning we left for our daily morning walk with our dogs and Churchill the German pinscher got very excited because he found a dead mouse in the road outside the neighbour’s house. The morning after, there were about 6 dead mice in the road, the morning after that there were more – it was a mystery and we just couldn’t work out what was happening – were dead mice just dropping out of the sky into the road outside our house; was it a place where mice went to for their final resting place like elephants?
This went on for days, walk the dogs, dead mice, walk the dogs, more dead mice. One night I was late doing the evening dog walk and as I walked past the house across the road, something hit the ground just in front of me – a dead mouse. I looked up and the top window of the house where Bruno and his family lived was open and … another dead mouse came out of it.
I was astonished, what sort of people just throw dead mice from their house into the road below without even looking to see if someone was there (they couldn’t have seen because the window is very high up).
I have no idea how this would have panned out in the end as the family decided to move very soon afterwards – they said there wasn’t enough excitement in our village …