At about 3:15 in the afternoon today, our doorbell rang. This was a surprise in itself, as we didn’t think it worked. However, having determined that we had, in fact, heard what we thought we had heard, I went to open the door. Standing before me was our village mayor and a woman. I assume she has something important to do as she was wearing a hi-viz gilet. The niceties were observed, accompanied by the obligatory shaking of hands, and M. Le Maire asked if they could look in our garden.
I have to say that my first thought was that we had contravened some bylaw or other and was anxious for a moment. When I asked why they needed to see our garden, he told me they were looking for guttering. Any particular guttering? I enquired. A piece about a metre or so long that might have been thrown into our property from the footpath that runs behind it. All was a little clearer although by now I was intrigued. Of course they could go and look, I responded, but I was going, too.
The mayor and his friend walked round the side of the house and up the drive. I changed my shoes and met them in the courtyard. The first thing the mayor said was that we should cut down the tree. Why? I asked. Because it overhangs the gutter of the outbuilding the other side of the courtyard from the house and the nuts would cause a blockage in the guttering. The mayor’s friend and I both looked puzzled. What nuts? I enquired. The nuts on the tree. It’s a hazelnut. More looking puzzled. It’s a magnolia, I stated, a sentence repeated by the mayor’s friend. Is it? he exclaimed. Yes, we both confirmed. Oh.
Moving on into the garden, his first comment was a whistle and a gesture which conveyed ‘Isn’t it big?’, something I already knew. He went down into the undergrowth behind the maple and his friend went down the side, looking for the guttering. Sadly, it was not found. On enquiring, I was told it had been stolen from the church. A piece of lead guttering that size wouldn’t make much, so it’s possible it would have been used to make lead shot. There’s a lot of hunting round here. Either way, I can’t condone the theft, regardless of what the intended use was. Oh well, village life has come to our door, this time in the form of the mayor and his friend.