Saturday, 21 November 2009

How to meet the neighbours

We've had two events recently where we have been meeting neighbours.

November 11th is Armistice Day and a public holiday here. We had been invited by special posted invitation to attend a ceremony at the war memorial in the village and then for a drink in the village hall afterwards. (Always and drink/meal afterwards.)

We duly turned up at the stated time to find a few people hovering around. Much nodding but we hadn't set eyes on any of them before and we were obviously foreign so that was it. Then a little procession arrived from the Mairie headed by the mayor in his sash and including some school children. We knew half a dozen people, but far from most of them.

The mayor read out a little piece about how he had had the memorial restored and then each child read out the name of one of the deceased and how they had died. All this was interrupted by cars passing through the crowd as we were gathered in the road. Everyone spoke into their papers so I expect it was the same as you would expect but I didn't hear well enough to be sure.

When all was done we progressed to the mairie for kir and nibbles. On the wall was a display of the death certificates of the people on the war memorial, most very very young and died on the field of battle. I asked if there were any second world war deaths and was told that no one from the commune had died in the second world war.

We had a little chat to the deputy mayor and her husband who we have met at every occasion and exchanged a word with another man and that looked like it was going to be it. I constructed my sentence to another lady about had she got any of her family killed in the war and she said no and turned away. As did the next person - is my french that bad?? Then I decided that I wanted to meet the old man who has a garden up the road and went over to the deputy mayor and asked to be introduced. Another drink all round and we ended up actually communicating with someone! Not that I could understand a lot of it, but we did at least get to socialise with 4 more of the locals. As is always the way, some of them are delightful twinkly people, happy to talk once you get them started but it is sooooooo hard to get them started.


We had another occasion to meet the locals this week. We had decided to pollard the lime tree that was starting to get in the electricity wires. Don't like the french way of cutting all the trees to death but it would let more light in, had obviously been done before and it was getting muddled up with the wires.

Started wonderfully. Him Outdoors cutting carefully by hand to avoid the dangers of chainsaws and ladders. About half way through amazing crackles and flashes. Oh ... my ... God. It was the tree that was holding the wires apart. Fortunately at that moment lovely local man passes and I explain. He says that we should stop (good idea) and he would see the mayor because if the electricity board was called it would be expensive. So all stopped for the day and await the mayor.

Eleven thirty the next morning and there was the most almighty sizzling and banging, rushed outside to see huge flashes and the wires split and the electricity went off. Oh b+++er.

Went to see nice man - a little later because it was lunch time. He rushed off to get the maire who appeared with mobile phone and rang the electricity board in his official capacity explaining it as if he had just found the wires in the road (still not sure if these are live wires or not but wasn't going to risk it). Lovely people, much humour and goodwill.

We decided to run away for the afternoon rather than explain the situation to the EDF and reappeared at dusk to find that we only had one wire instead of four but we had power and all is well. Finished the pruning next day and all seems fine. (And the computer didn't get blown up by all the surges and cuts.)

1 comment:

  1. You must be fitting in more than you know if the maire was willing to help like that.
    Questions about who did what in the second world war can be a tricky field....coming from a country which was not occupied it can be difficult to appreciate what happened, what the pressures were, in one that was.
    Just as long as you don't sing
    'Marechal, vous voila' at the war memorial though, you should be all right!