All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Friday, 1 January 2010

A one sided conversation in rural France

Penny In Action.Image by Runs With Scissors via Flickr

Late morning in a British owned house in rural France. The telephone rings.

'Bonjour...oh, it's you, Judy! How're things?'

'What, they've signed! Tim lowered his price, then?'

'Well, thanks, I did put a fair bit of work in on them in the time they've been staying in the know, kept telling them how your agency would get them the best price and all that.'

'Well, when you get your commission out of the agency, drop a little bit my way, won't you....for keeping them on message.

Yes, I know, it's difficult for all of us at the moment, making ends meet, but if we all give a little and cooperate, we all gain.'

'O.K. Judy, thanks for the good news.'

Skype is activated on the computer.

'Hi, Tim! It's me! Isn't this Skype calls computer to computer!'

'I've just heard the good people bought your place!'

'Yes, I kept them up to the mark and I'm so pleased that I was able to help you, I know things have been a bit difficult.'

'Mmm. But now you can get a new start in the U.K. with no worries. I know it was a bit less than you wanted, but it's not easy...I'm sure Judy did her best for you. She's such a nice girl.'

'What are you doing about moving your stuff? It's just that I know someone with a van who does a regular run...he could help out, but he couldn't take big stuff like your two sofas.'

'Well, think about would save you worrying about it if I fix it this end and put you two in touch. And, about the sofas, don't think I'm being pushy, but if he can't get them in the van, they'd be really useful in the main house here as the ones in the gite are getting a bit shabby and I could move what we have over there. It's so difficult trying to keep up in the holiday market...people want everything top notch, but it all costs money.'

'Yes, I know, they're Roche Bobois...well, let's see if they can go in the van and if not it I would really appreciate having them. It's difficult for all of us at the moment, making ends meet, but if we all give a little, we all gain. After all, at least you managed to sell.'


Back to the telephone.

'Hi, Steve, it's me! Tim's place is sold.'

'Yes, the pair who've been staying with me.'

'Listen, Steve, I don't know where they are - Judy didn't keep tabs on them, unfortunately - but if they make contact I'm inviting them over to drinks tonight and just want to make sure you're free.'

'Well, they may not get back 'til evening, so just be available last minute if necessary, yes?'

'Much better if you meet them socially...Tim's been using Mark for his building and plumbing, and there's a chance they'd just carry on with him, but if they get to know you...'

'Yes, Mark's a real shit. He won't co operate at all. Annie said she recommended him to someone and he refused point blank to pay an introduction fee. I mean, it's not the end of the world, ten per cent, and it's not as if you lose out, is it, Steve? It all goes into the bill for the client.'

'O.K., I'll ring you once I know. Can you ring round Howard and Jim and Esme for me?'

'Well, it's a chance for them too with a change of owner.'

'Right, I'll get back to you. Nice to be able to help.'

'Bye, Steve.'

Another call.


'Yes, fine. I forgot in all the excitement...are they using Maitre Plouc as their notaire?'

'Oh, that's great. Did you talk about the translations?'

'Oh, Judy! No! I know he thinks his French is good, but it's always best with a translator.'

'Well, probably best you ring him and get it sorted. I can be free whatever date and Maitre Plouc is used to me, after all. You got him a good deal on Tim's place, so he can afford the translation fee!'

'Fine, need to apologise...we all have blank moments!


Early afternoon, the telephone rings.

'Bonjour...oh, Tom! You and Angie have signed? I'm so pleased! I knew you'd do all right with Judy...I bet she really got a good deal for you!'

'Oh, that's a lovely idea, I'd love to go out to dinner with you to celebrate! I'm just glad I could help you.

Oh, but I've got a few people round for drinks around six...just catching up. What about you joining us for a drink...they'd be pleased to welcome you to the area and you'll get to know someone else other than me...'

'Yes, the Moulin would be lovely, such a nice place, almost as if you're in someone's private dining room. It's such a French atmosphere, but with London type dining...incredible! I know Sophie gets booked out sometimes, but I'm sure she can squeeze us in...would you like me to ring her? She knows me, after all, so she'll find an extra table if she has to.'

'Lovely. Are you on your mobile? I'll ring you if there's a problem and, thank you again. Dinner out will be such a treat!'

O.K., see you for drinks about six. I'm nearly as excited as you are!'



'Drinks at six, O.K.?'

A further call.

'Sophie, it's me.'

'Yes, hi, it's been a time since we met up. Listen, the guests at my gite are taking me out to dinner...hopefully at your place...'

'Yes, just the three of us.'

'About eight? Fine. Listen, Sophie, I've persuaded Izzy to have the engagement party at your place..if she doesn't call you in the next few days get back to me and I'll sort it. O.K.?'

'No, that's fine, glad to help.'

'Well, I was thinking more like three per cent...I don't want to be greedy, I know how things are. Still, it's not bad for a bit of PR work, is it? Have a chat to Adrian and see what he thinks.'

'O.K.,Sophie, see you later.


Six o'clock.

'Hi, Steve! Howard, how's the landscape gardening business going? Jim, Esme...good to see you! Your house management thingy is going strong from what I hear....I could do with a clear out here myself if you ever have the time. Oh, that's nice of know I like Monsieur Cot's wine.

'Oh, look, here come Tom and Angie..and they're bringing champagne!'

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  1. Pueblo girl, at least vultures wait until you're moribond.

  2. Gone are the days when people would do favours without expecting to be paid for it. I've seen it here makes me sick!

  3. Er - we need new sofas.

  4. Ayak, what gets me is that the people who behave like this act as though they are doing favours, while creaming off their percentages from all angles.

    nodamnblog, you won't get this particular vulture to part with them if she gets them...I wouldn't mind a new sofa either, but I expect I'll have to buy one!

  5. That did make me laugh so much and just makes me glad that I do not mix in expat circles out here. I know that some of them must be lovely - and actually we know two couples that are just that - but the whole Big Expat Circle where what you just illustrated happens as a matter of course - well, it's not for me - and I guess not for you either

  6. You paint a lovely picture of sharks circling :)

  7. French Fancy, I do have non French friends, but I think we all try to keep out of the reach of this pack. Though I do have moments when I think I should do more to try to keep people out of their clutches...but how?

    Cogitator, you're so right. 'Sharks' describes them beautifully. I should have looked for a shark attack photograph.

  8. How odd? Another world to mine - thankfully

    Hey - my word verification thing is GROTS - seems appropriate.

  9. Mark, how wonderful....GROTS!
    I keep well clear...but the innocent Tom and Angies walk straight into it.
    I didn't meet people like this when I lived in the U.K. and I do wonder which particular woodwork has been harbouring them.

  10. (Nostalgic sigh) Reminds me of the happy times in my old job. Always someone there just so willing and able to help for half-a-cent per barrel. Which can be an awful lot of half cents on 250,000 tonnes of oil and a very rapidly erroded profit margin.

    Not my circle, but I know it goes on. Very funny.

  11. Jon, when you were working, everyone knew what the agenda was. Everyone was in it for a buck.
    The poor innocents who come out here are just not expecting this to be part of their agenda.

  12. True, true. I knew to count my fingers after shaking hands.

  13. Perhaps there should be an article in one of the 'Come to France' magazines about counting fingers.

  14. We said when we came out to live in France that we would not be friends with anyone we wouldn't be friends with in the UK.
    Everyone we count as friends in France would drop everything to help each other if they had the need. We are so lucky. It doesn't have to be like that!!

  15. Roz, you had the right attitude, but I think you two are pretty independent. For the unwary, not looking for problems, these leeches can be a real source of problems and expense, feeding off the natural insecurity of people moving into a strange environment.
    What is needed is an honest website on which one could name people who should be avoided...but with the law as it is, no chance!

  16. If you want "leeches.....feeding off the natural insecurity", there are some perfectly legal financial advisors I might think of.

    Not wishing to cast aspersions on the good ones, of course.

  17. Cogitator, goodness, yes! How right you are! Pension advisors, retirement advisors, you name it, they've got their hand in your pocket.
    Half the problem is the state of the law, that prevents you from doing what you want with your retirement pot...when such things existed...

  18. Fly, you hit the clou right on the tete! Although I was lucky with most of my circle of expats, I can absolutely recognise quite a few from your post. Still, nothing like leaving France to find out who your real friends are, and I've been in for a few surprises I can tell you!

  19. PVLiF, well I hope they were nice surprises.