I hadn't met up with Raymond for ages when I bumped into him in the local hospital waiting room.
No he was not ill, he had brought his neighbour for an appointment.
No, I wasn't ill, I was waiting for my husband to emerge from a session of treatment.
We caught up with the news.....
Mme Lebon's alarming baring of her breast in the pharmacy was because she had a tick under her bra and the chemist was going to put ether on the beast to remove it, thus disappointing those agog for tales of illicit lust among the suppositories......
not surprisingly, knowing the maire concerned, the unexpected installation of electricity to a chapel out in the fields had resulted in the land between the chapel and the village, which belonged to a crony of the maire, becoming eligible for construction......
the travellers had elected the field behind the supermarket for their winter quarters with the result that no one wanted to leave their car unattended in the carpark and were decamping to do their shopping at Lidl in the next town.........
in short, life as usual in rural France.
Was Raymond going to have the swine 'flu jab? He gave me an old fashioned look and announced firmly that, as I should know, he did not believe in new fangled remedies. True, he had probably still been using leeches while modern medicine was only just rediscovering their value, and true also, he was a living testimony to traditional medicine, hale and hearty in his mid seventies after a life of hard work outdoors.
Not for him, either, the modern 'bio' or 'natural' products available in the pharmacy.....they cost money which was better spent on other things.
His neighbour emerged, and Raymond rose, ready to leave. We shook hands as he announced
'I'll give you a tip for keeping in good health, and' ....looking around him.....'keeping out of these unhealthy hospitals where you can pick up goodness knows what.'
'Remember, nature is best......just stick to the vine, barley, hops and tobacco and you'll live a long and happy life.'
He made for the exit, supporting his neighbour, a credit to his credo for good health and sublimely oblivious of the outraged expressions of the health professionals in his wake.