Cutting Crew

In recent days we’ve been contacted by a number of expats – especially newer arrivals in our lovely commune – concerned by an apparent spate of intimidating threats to their property perpetrated by a very large man in a very yellow jacket, driving a very large tractor around, and in some cases almost into, their houses.

For example, Mrs Doris Meanwell, a resident of Délabré, feared that British expats were being targeted because of Brexit  – although whether because of the vote to leave or because we hadn’t gone yet she wasn’t entirely sure.

Retired London taxi-driver Mr Ron Gorblimey, of Trouperdu, took a rather more robust view however, and wished it to be known – on the basis that the frogs never lasted five minutes in the war – that he at least was not going to be cowed by a bunch of yokels who can’t even speak English. For gawd’s sake.

As part of our remit to keep the local expat community apprised of relevant developments, we are happy to set the record straight about this potentially troubling phenomenon.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just the fauchage.

And what, you are probably asking, is the fauchage when it’s at home?

It’s the council and they’re cutting the grass. They do it three or four times a year along all the communally-owned roads and verges. And you may not have been aware that just because you own your house, it doesn’t mean that the ditch ten feet from your front door belongs to you as well, because it probably doesn’t.

Although you will doubtless have realised that when it seemed that the said tractor was about to park itself in your fireplace without even having the courtesy to knock first.

The first fauchage of the year is always in early February and it’s also the most radical one, because they prune back the previous year’s growth in the hedges.

Over the last few years this exercise hasn’t been as rigorous as perhaps it could, or should, have been. That was because the operation was traditionally conducted as a solo exercise by familiar local character and commune employee M Jerome Jaunegilet. It’s fair to say that old Jerome worked at his own pace, which was about the same as that of a comatose tortoise. However, as a civil servant having attained the ripe old age of 52, he’s now retired of course.

His replacement on fauchage duty is young Thomas Morttête, who some may remember as the office boy at the old commune newspaper, Le Quotidien de Faire-Le-Dodo (87). Since the sad, albeit somewhat dodgy, demise of that august journal he has obviously had to retrain. Unfortunately, this formation, as the French call it, included learning how to drive a tractor – albeit not very well.

What he lacks in skill, however, Thomas more than makes up for with the enthusiasm of youth, as illustrated in this photograph taken by Deaders himself – who also experienced the alarming view of a reversing tractor no more than a yard from his front window.

This year, the hedges have been cut back to within an inch of their life. Moreover, some bits of the commune have been given the number-one-all-over treatment for what may be the first time in living memory. Presumably those out-of-the-way parts that Jerome could never be arsed to get round to before it was time to knock off and instal himself in the corner of the Bar-Tabac L’Effrayant for the evening.

Be reassured, dear readers, Thomas will soon grow out of it.

As will the hedges.



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