Monday, October 20, 2008

Gens d'armes and Scrumping French-style

With my Ma Chère Voisine complaining that she's disappearing under a huge mound of unused tealeaves because her dear neighbour (that's me) never has the time to pop round, I promised that I'd be there over the weekend, come what may.

When I arrived there were two gendarmes sitting on the terrace. Knowing my history with the local constabulary I assumed they had come for me. I thought I'd grab the taureau par les cornes and cut to the chase.

Bonjour, monsieur, madame, enchanté. Je suis la voisine de MCV. Je suis sûr vous me connaissez bien. C'est moi que vous arrêtez toujours.

Hello, pleased to meet you. I'm Ma Chère Voisine's neighbour. I'm sure you know who I am. You're always stopping me.

Je veux te faire savoir, par contre, que mes phares marchent bien, que j'ai pas de pneus lisses, que l'addresse de ma carte grise est à jour et j'ai mon gilet et mon triangle dans le coffre

I just want to let you know that my headlights work, I have no worn tyres, the address on my vehicle registration document is up to date and I've got my high visibility vest and warning triangle in the boot (apart from the last one, all recent misdemeanours for which I have been alternately warned/told to report to the gendarmerie/had to pay a fine.)

There we are. That should sort things out and save them getting up from their cup of tea. I consider standing up against a wall with my legs apart so they can frisk me but maybe that's a step too far.

Bah non. On est venu pour les balles.

Oh no. We've just come for the bullets.

MINCE ALORS. Je suis foutu.

Good gracious me, I've had it!

I thought guillotining was the French way? They've been practicing if for centuries. Even Anne Boleyn requested the services of a French executioner when she was to be beheaded. It's the firing squad for me apparently.

But no, of course not. Ma Chère Voisine had found a load of live bullets in her barn so they'd come to collect them for the démineurs (bomb/bullet disposal experts). Should you ever find live ammunition, just give me a call because I now know what to do with it.

Apparently old bullets, particularly if they've been lying on damp ground can become quite unstable so what you have to do is half bury a bucket in the ground, put the bullets in and cover them with another bucket. Then call the Gendarmes.

Me, I'll be legging it down the road screaming 'Run for your lives'. Sod the buckets!

I returned home looking like Waynetta Slob. I'd already gone out with my top on inside out, much to the chagrin of DD, who doesn't accept my plea of 'but this is the SouthWest, we shop in our slippers!'. Now it was liberally splattered with tomato pips from her delicious tomatoes, raspberry juice and clutching some strange spaceship like vegetable, the like of which I've never seen before.

On the way home I met J-P, a local farmer, who was scrumping. Of course scrumping French-style in October means lots of figs, big, black and juicy! There's a communal fig tree in the hamlet so (now clad in a thick cardi which I'd left at MCV's at an earlier date) we stood underneath it, passed the time of day and munched on as many as we could reach. I was probably the only person in the area wearing a heavy cardigan in 26 degree heat but while I don't mind looking like Waynetta in front of close friends and neighbours, J-P is on the village council and I didn't want to be an item on the agenda.

It might go something like this......

Numéro 5. L'habillement de nos voisins anglais (the dress of our English neighbours)

Tu connais Mme VLiF? Je l'ai vu hier. Son tenu était déguelasse?

You know Mme VLiF? I saw her yesterday and her clothes were disgusting.

Beh oui. Je le connais bien mais elle est normalement déshabillée.

Yes, I know her well but usually she hasn't got any clothes on !


Lehners in France said...

Oh, dear! I freeze when I see the Gendarmes, maybe it's their tight trousers or maybe it's just that I couldn't argue my way out of a paper bag with them.

I think you are readying yourself for Blighty. I will send you some websites, Norfolk/Suffolk!

Have a great week. Debs x

(Very) Lost in France said...

I must admit, I generally lose my ability to talk French when confronted by a gendarme. It's the legacy of PC Dillon, our old village bobby, who was at least 9 feet tall and terrifying. Pleeeeese send websites. Norfolk/Suffolk - just another idea. Have you seen how cheap the houses are there? But, it's also flat. Not sure I could do flat. Just noticed this post has no name. Must quickly think of something suitably drole. VLiF x

Stew said...

I had a similar experience with old ammo here:

A few months ago I was stopped by the cops with bald tires and the IMMOBILISED the car! Made me change the tires.

Les salauds

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh at the husband turning everything off.....I too live with a turner-offer, my dear old Dad. It's not unknown to be sitting reading quietly, for him to pass and plunge you into darkness. He has a thing for water too. As you know, it is all metered here and he's so stingy with it!
We put it down to his war-time upbringing, but it can be sooo annoying at times!
Great blog!