As our regular readers know, this site has merged with the online edition of the local newspaper, ‘Le Quotidien de Faire-Le-Dodo (87)’. As a public service, we are reproducing below an article written by Jean Le Bidon, the paper’s chief investigative reporter, in which he addresses an area of major concern to the local expat population. We trust that you will find his message reassuring at this trying time.
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Worried local residents have been contacting our offices over the past few weeks as they have noticed that there is no vide-grenier scheduled for next Sunday in our commune or anywhere in the surrounding area.
Concern has been particularly acute among our expat neighbours. Mrs Doris Meanwell, from Cul-de-Nullepart, said that she had searched high and low for the characteristic handbills that advertise these events, but without success. She told me: ‘Listen dearie, what are we supposed to do this weekend? Going to the car boot – sorry, veed whatchamacallit – of a Sunday, well we look forward to it. We can meet up with our English mates from all over and have a laugh – mainly at the locals in their shell-suits, no offence.’
Our own research has confirmed that it is indeed the case that there is no vide-grenier scheduled for next Sunday within a 50 kilometre radius of our beloved commune. This is certainly highly unusual during the season, which runs from Easter to October, However, it is not unprecedented.
I spoke to one of Faire-Le-Dodo (87)’s oldest residents, M Didier Tremblotant, in his room at the Maison Ahuri Retirement Home for the Terminally Bewildered. He said he well remembered that once – ‘I think it was when de Gaulle was still President’ – there had been a gap in the calendar, ‘nobody ever found out why, but if you ask me it was the Communists. Sorry, what was the question?’
Mr James Beard is a former social anthropology lecturer now residing in Trouperdu and he shared Mrs Meanwell’s fears. “The vide-grenier is an important part of social life among the English community here. It’s particularly significant that these events traditionally take place on Sunday, because they can be seen as a substitute for a more formalised religious experience. Visitors to them derive great comfort from making their ritual responses, such as ‘why can’t they speak English?’, ‘do you think that rusty old scythe would come in handy for the garden?’ and ‘where are the toilets?’
It must be said that ‘the locals’, as the indigenous population is commonly known among the expat community, seem to be much more relaxed about the empty weekend that we now face. Boulangerie owner Mme Constance Hargneux noted that she expected greater demand for her own baguettes this Sunday ‘because the English won’t be off buying those fancy ‘artisanale’ loaves at the sales. I might even bake some extra ones. But they’ll still all be reserved’.
The good news for worried expats is that this coming weekend’s void is truly exceptional. We have collated all the available information from the surrounding region and can reassure our readers that there will be at least one vide-grenier every weekend until
kingdom come the clocks go back. Sunday will be difficult, but there is no cause for alarm, and the best advice we can give is – to borrow a quaint English saying – ‘keep calm and make a nice cup of tea’.