Hello there, Victor! A glass of Zizi's demi sec?
That would go down well! How did you get your hands on that...the old bugger rations it!
Ah, well....I cut him in on that Rivesaltes that Jean Yves gets through the old railway comrades. There's some of them can't afford to take their share these days so I took it off his hands.....and Zizi has never been able to get in on the syndicate.
I don't get it. He makes a wonderful demi sec...why does he want to buy Rivesaltes?
Because he can sell his demi sec for more than the Rivesaltes costs and that way he's always got a wine for the ladies.
Any ladies. He's not called Zizi for nothing....
Yes, if you would...it's been quite a day.
I've had my nephew round...you know, Herbert, Agnes' boy.
Yes...she married Robert's son, Didier, from Ste. Connasse....runs the garage there...
That's right. Well, Herbert's been working in Paris, met a girl there, they've got a little boy and they wanted to come back to the country so the kid would have a good start and Herbert could help his dad with the garage.
Sounds a good idea to me...so what's the problem?
The flaming church...that's what!
What's the matter...the priest there hasn't refused to marry them has he...he's a nice old boy, Pere Jean Aymard, but a bit overworked with five parishes these days.
No...they married in Paris....it's not The Church...it's the church!
The church in Ste. Conasse!
What do you mean...what about the church in Ste.Conasse?
Well, Didier looked round and found a nice house....old, a bit to do, you know....with a little garden for the kid right in the centre, near the church, handy for the garage.
They came down, took a look and agreed to buy it.
We all said we'd give a hand to modernise it and all and that was that.
They moved in, Herbert started at the garage and we got down to doing what needed doing.
So what's the problem?
Well it all started out all right....we ran the toilets into the drain that goes to the river....
What about the SPANC? They couldn't have bought the house without an inspection of the drains...
Oh, Didier sorted that with the inspector....he passed it as A1 for the sale and Didier fixed his suspension.
Anyway, everyone on that side of the village is on that drain and SPANC isn't going to say a word...if over 15% of the houses aren't up to scratch with their drains then they'll have to install a sewage works and no one wants to start finding the money for that.
No, no problem there.
So where does the church come in?
I'm getting to that.
We did up the inside.....Herbert's good with wallpaper by the way......did the ceilings without a crease or a join showing...all the poppies matched up perfectly....and as for the doors!
Lucky he put on bright brass doorknobs or you'd never know where to get out. Lovely job!
But what about the church....?
Well we didn't know about that...
Didier fitted up nice new plastic windows with roller shutters - just the way the insurers wanted - and put some of that nice plastic grille - you know, the stuff they sell in rolls - on the top of the front garden wall to keep the kid safe.
All nice as you like....a real picture. Pity the others in the village don't do likewise....it looks really tatty except for the place the English have as a holiday home on the corner.
Mark you they spent a fortune...wooden windows - I ask you! Bought old tiles for the roof instead of something modern....more money than sense.
So where does the church come in?
It was on Thursday. Didier had nipped in for an apero after trying for a few partridges. He was a bit fed up because with this drought and whatever there weren't any to be seen.
No, I saw in the paper some bright spark in the Vienne shot a horse and said he thought it was a partridge...
Well, Didier came close! As he went out he saw this man lurking about - a foreigner - and asked him what he wanted. After all, what would a foreigner want in Ste. Conasse? Had to be up to no good.
Did he understand French then, this foreigner?
Of course he did...he was French, wasn't he, Didier could tell by his shoes...but not from round here.
Anyway he asked if Didier was the owner of the house and Didier asked him what business it was of his if he was.
Because, said the foreigner, if he was he was going to serve him with a proces verbal.
What the hell for?
Because the foreigner was from the STAP.....blasted Architectes des Batiments de France......wasn't he, and someone had denounced them for putting in plastic windows!
They were within 500 metres of the church and...you wouldn't believe it....that gloomy old hole is an historic monument! Something to do with the porch...
Anyway, they were supposed to have any works passed by the STAP and they hadn't.
Surely they'd applied for permission? They weren't that daft!
Well, of course they had...it's not like the drains where nobody can see.
The maire passed it through on the nod on his own responsibility, the way he always does. Nothing wrong with that and, anyway, what would bring those chair bound bobos out of their comfy offices to see anyway?
Yes, they were denounced.....and Didier found out later that this foreigner has an aunt in St. Supplice and he must have used this as an excuse to put the petrol on expenses to visit her.
He probably came back via Ste. Conasse after the aperos with her...his car was parked by the church.
Anyway, Didier said if that was the case, what about all the other places with plastic windows? They've all got them...except that English place.
And do you know what he said, this foreigner?
He said he wasn't bothered about them because they hadn't been denounced!
So what did Didier do...he must have been wild!
Well he had his gun....but no one would believe he mistook this foreigner for a partridge, not in the middle of the village, so he telephoned the gendarmerie.
Well they'd never come out....
No, it wasn't for that. It was to give old Claude the car number so he could get the patrol to breathalyse him on his way back.
Anyway, that must have got his back up because Herbert's been told to apply for permission and, in the meantime, take out all his windows...and take down that nice little grille too.
What about the maire? Old Alain won't like that, someone messing on his pitch...
No, he didn't, especially as he got a warning for not contacting the STAP.
Didn't take it kindly.
He's applying to have the church removed from the list of historic monuments and if that doesn't work then the porch will have to have an 'accident'.
Yes, I think another drop of Zizi's demi sec....