The phone rang. ‘Hi! This is Holly speaking. Your furniture, all the stuff we were going to deliver to you from England on Thursday….could the lads come now, they’re ahead of schedule?’ A quick summit meeting, and we decided that no, they really couldn’t. We simply weren’t organized enough yet. But we’d settle for Wednesday morning.
I put the phone down, and something at the back of my fuddled brain told me I really ought to tell them at the Mairie (Town Hall) that we were having a removal van the next day. So I did. Thank goodness. Not telling them would have been little short of criminal, it turned out.
For more than half an hour, they filled in documents for publication outside the Mairie itself and our house, and sent copies to the Fire Brigade, the Police and Technical Services, among others, for their information. The mayor came out of a meeting to sign the documents. Staff told me we needed to take responsibility for placing the barricades they would arrange to have delivered, so that nobody could park in our part of the street between 8.00a.m. and 2.00 p.m. We would also need to talk to all relevant neighbours and ask them not to park in the street between those hours.
I came home (we live 2 doors away from the Town Hall) and as I fished around for my door keys, I saw a council delivery lorry already putting 5 barriers at the end of the road for us to erect later. Malcolm commented that this was a tale worthy of that unmissable 1970’s children’s programme ‘Trumpton’, with its vignettes of a way of life none of us could quite believe had ever existed.
It turned out the fuss was worthwhile. When our removal van came, it was a ‘road train’, 2 waggons long, and mopped up every bit of space in our little parking area. It had left the UK nine days earlier, and spent all that time roving all over France: Alps, the coast – anywhere the English settle over here – delivering from the UK to some, and collecting for transporting to the UK for others. Paul and James, in the manner of removal men everywhere, tossed sofas, chests of drawers, huge boxes of books over their shoulders and trudged up and down our narrow stars for two hours till the wagon was almost empty. Almost, but not quite. Next stop Perpignan, before they head back at last, to be home just in time for a weekend in England.
Ooh, and by the way. They told us that removal vans sent to Europe are almost always unmarked, as ours was, because they can attract the interest of the Mafia in Italy, and even in parts of France. Paul had a close encounter himself not so long ago, and had to shift himself quick, never mind that his tachograph said he’d done his hours that day. Luckily for them, we had no such excitement here. Just a pile of paperwork for the municipal records.