Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Home Town News

The other day, I was asked why I never wrote anything about the happenings in my neck of the woods. That’s not strictly true, since I have mentioned the odd incident from time to time, but basically the lack of verbiage on the subject is simply because there’s not much of anything going on in my village. And very pleasant it is too.

Even allowing for the fact that the median age here is boosted by having a retirement home in town, the locals boast a pretty good record of longevity. In spite of the French obsession with medications of various sorts, I would think that there is little call for tranquillisers from our local pharmacy.

So I checked back to see what were the high points of October in our village of some 1800 inhabitants. For this I had to consult my wife’s diary wherein she records this sort of stuff and remind me of various anniversaries.

The beginning of the month started off with the excitement of the opening of a restaurant. Chez Vero, who had taken over the old butcher’s shop when he retired, opened its doors to reveal a dinky little typical French restaurant even to the check tablecloths on half a dozen tables. Early reports from the local food critic, Joseph, our mail man, are favourable and I suppose it’s only a matter of time before Michael Winner, the Sunday Times obnoxious scourge of restaurants, shows up in his Rolls Royce. I hope they don’t let him in.

With prices for a three course lunch hovering around the €10 mark, it’s not surprising that business looks brisk. Looking at London restaurant prices, it's probably worth flying over. Our two moustachioed town maintenance men are regulars, a good sign.

Following this flurry of excitement, my wife’s diary is a bit skimpy and lacking in excitement.

Took the car into M. Baranger’s garage for its inspection on the 10th. It’s four years old and the “Controle Technique” is the equivalent of the UK’s MOT test. Walked back home, 2 kms., as it was a beautiful day, having stopped in the Bar Tabac for a beer and a chat en route.

Rained the next day, so didn’t bother to go and collect the car. Nothing to go out for anyway. My wife went the following day to collect it. M. Baranger gave it a thumbs up – the bill will follow in a month or so.

She noted that there was a surprisingly large gathering in the square on the 12th. and counted at least seven people. There were no riot police in evidence.

A note arrived from the Marie about this time alerting us to the fact that they were about to demolish the derelict building that has been leaning precariously alongside the church since the Vendeen wars. To celebrate, they placed a temporary traffic light there, brightening the place up no end.

It has just been pointed out to me that the gathering in the square on the 12th. was not a political one. It was just the walking group assembling before departing on one of their weekly treks around the countryside.

On the 16th., a Gendarmerie vehicle was spotted passing through the town about midday. This, we believe, was the first sighting for the year. It didn’t stop. Local opinion is that they were on their way to lunch and took a short cut through the town as they were late.

Went to our mini-supermarket, a Spar, on the 19th. and saw that Philippe, the owner, had purchased the next door property and was doubling the size of his emporium. I enquired if he was doubling his prices as well as it looked like an expensive project. He just laughed so I’m not sure. He’s learning English as his little boy has just started to do it at school. He hopes it will help with the tourists next year. So far he’s up to “Hello. How are you?”

My wife picked up the daily couple of baguettes and some croissants from the baker. He makes the best croissants this side of heaven but the kids waiting for the school bus in the morning usually snaffle the lot. The daughter is pregnant – just shows what goes on in a small town when your father’s a croissant genius, doesn’t it?

Spotted one of the little old ladies from the retirement home wandering around town on the 20th. She’s a regular escapee and seems to find her way back home without assistance. She stops in all the shops (all four of them) and has a conversation before toddling back to the home. Makes a break, I suppose, although it does tend to slow down service in the stores as they’re all very patient with her.

M. Gaudicheau, the vigneron next door to us, has bought himself a new white truck. And he’s had a sunroom built on to his house. Must have been a good year. And it’s not as though there’s no competition, the town boasts of no fewer that seven winemakers.

Saw that they have now finished demolishing the building next to the church and the road is clear. The traffic light is still there, permanently on amber. Maybe they’ll leave it as part of the Christmas decorations.

I hasten to add that these are merely the highlights of life in our town. Not every month is as hectic, which is just as well for I don’t think many of us could take it on a regular basis.

The weather is still very mild so we are hoping that, in November, it will turn a little colder and that the lower temperatures will curb some of this frenetic exuberance amongst the locals.

And now I hope you understand why I don’t often bother to report on events from my little corner of the world.

Oh, I forgot to add, they pick up the trash every Wednesday.


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