A curious state of affairs.

Added on Wednesday 20 Dec 2006

Photo: barry. What an interesting 6 weeks we have had recently. Fiona has been fighting a bad bout of bronchitis; we have seen the departure of our lodger without his paying us for the month of November, the arrival of a client for one of my workshops, the renewal of our bank cards and the ongoing work at the local Mairie. Firstly, the bank cards. As both our bits of plastic had expired we had to go to the bank and re-instate them, this took over half an hour of form filling with multiple copies of everything. Being told that it would take about three weeks for them to arrive we were somewhat surprised when the following week our new PIN numbers arrived and after a couple of days the cards arrived in the bank. Simple we thought, just go and collect them and we are up and running. My first attempt was on an afternoon; “yes they have arrived, but no we can’t have them,” I was told. Asking why I was informed that it was because it was an afternoon and they could only be given out in the morning. Our local branch has this very curious policy of only giving out money in the mornings even though the bank is open all day and the staff, and presumably money, is all there. One can pay in and do any other transaction but not withdraw money in the afternoons. They also have this month just introduced a policy that they will not allow any withdrawals at all!  You have to enter he bank, tell the teller that you need some money; they issue you with a piece of plastic, which you then take outside, and put into the ATM. All to do with security they say. The necessity of having our cards has now become obvious! In addition the bank has just spent a fortune on refurbishing this branch and had removed the hole in the wall from the outside wall to inside the foyer without telling any one, with the result that several people I know, on seeing that the machine had gone away, have had to drive a round trip of 36 kms to the nearest one in Sarlat. And they call this customer service?

Photo: bank.
The other week I had the joy of doing one of my documentary filming workshops for an Englishman who lives in Tours. This was thoroughly enjoyable as we both shared the same sense of humour and love of filming while at the same time I am trying to give him the benefit of my 40 years of experience in 5 days. No easy task I may add!

Unfortunately that good week was followed by a rather bad one, for the last 5 months we have had the son of a friend of ours staying as a lodger as he is an apprentice baker at the local boulangerie/patisserie. He has always been rather tardy about paying his rent but this time he left to go to an apartment locally leaving us with 5 weeks money due. Despite a few phone calls to his father and his son’s deliberate attempts to avoid us in the village nothing has been forthcoming and it leaves us no option but to speak to his employer whom we know very well. A rather sad way to start out life as a sixteen year old and it leaves us both with a rather bad taste in the mouth!

 Meanwhile, as the Christmas decorations are going up, the village is looking rather pretty, even the work going on at the old post office and the mairie is progressing well. The two buildings stand side by side and they are transforming them into one large complex with many more municipal offices inside. Even the weather has been extremely clement recently and it is only in the last week have we felt the need to fire up our wood burning stove, but only in the evenings, there are even flies still around in the house….in the middle of December! Who would have thought it? We are extremely fortunate in this part of the world, as we don’t fall victim to the rampant commercialism of Christmas that seems so prevalent in so many other places, the decorations are subtle but pretty, each house has their own discreet display with nothing too garish thank God! I read recently that people are put off buying a house that has ‘over the top’ neighbours decorations, I had never really thought about it before but I do completely understand that. Now that Fiona’s bronchitis seems to be improving (after nearly two months), although I am still suffering a few aches and pains (just my age!) we are hoping to have a quiet and peaceful time with maybe a meal out locally and a few chats with some friends at the bar. Very sadly for our neighbour, Valerie, her father died the other day so she and family have gone to Picardy to be with her mother for Christmas so we won’t have their company this year which is a bit of a loss as we always enjoy their company. We at least have the cats (still only 8 and NO more) who come up to the bed in the mornings and the two little ones will be having their first Christmas with us. Should be fun!

Rural France? I love it.

©Barry Paton December 2006.