Every now and then, in among all the banns of marriage and planning notices on the information board at the town hall here in Laroque, there’s a poster about a stray dog that’s been found. Not cats or hamsters. Just dogs.
Last week, though, my eye was caught by this:How does anyone lose a donkey? And what do you do with it whilst you put out an appeal for the owner? ‘Oh he’s fine’, said Thierry, our Community Copper, ‘We’ve put him to work in the office in the Mairie’. I decided against saying the obvious, that he would be bound to be doing a far better job than the Mayor.
It took a week for his owner to show up. He – the donkey that is – had an exciting time. First of all he was rounded up by the three blokes who first spotted him in the road just outside town, but who had no idea how to set about the job. Then he was frisked for tattoos or identity chips. None. Next he was sent to stay with our friend Henri’s donkeys (Thierry was fibbing about the office work). That had to stop when Henri’s female donkey got all excited at the new arrival and came on heat. Then he went to stay with the vet’s partner. He escaped. Amateur detectives all over Laroque and Lavelanet tried to find out where he came from. Eventually, after a week, his owner showed up, really rather cross. ‘Why didn’t anyone think to get in touch with me?’
There we are. That’s our excitement for November over.
For non-British readers: Little Donkey is a Christmas song much favoured by UK muzak producers at this time of year. One reason to avoid shopping there during November and December. Whereas ‘an everyday day story of country folk’ is ‘The Archers’, a daily radio soap opera full of story lines such as the one above. It’s been a permanent part of the BBC schedules since 1951. You could join the fan club.