For the past ten days I have kept quiet about a stream of electronic communication between me and people in France concerning my house in Sigoules. This has been most distressing, and the silence difficult to maintain.
A family I had agreed to let the house to, and had thought were friends, moved in ahead of the drawing up of a contract without letting me know. The first I knew of it was when I received complaints from neighbours about noise throughout the night. Texts and e-mails to male partner of the couple who seemed to be in possession gleaned no response.
Having had very little sleep during this period, I set out on a long journey today to attempt to remove my squatters. The first step was Jackie driving me to Michael’s home in Sanderstead. There, we were greeted by Emily who scanned my passport and proof of ownership documentation and e-mailed this to a solicitor Michael had researched on the internet and engaged on my behalf. The police were aware of the situation. I would not have been able to manage all this alone.
When, in the 1970s and ’80s, as a Social Services Area Manager, I had been responsible for my staff going out on potentially difficult and stressful visits, I had always insisted that they had all the necessary help to have administration, relevant forms, and potential back-up in place, so that all they had to worry about was the job in hand. I now have direct personal experience of how necessary this was. Without the support and practical help of my friends in France; my lady and my son and granddaughter at home, I would not have been able to carry this through.
An hour after Michael came home from work, he drove me to Sigoules. The only respite he had from more than ten hours at the wheel was the 35 minutes on the Eurotunnel train. I am known for falling asleep as a passenger. Remarkably, however, I remained awake, except for momentarily dozing on occasions. Having arrived in Calais from Folkestone, we set off into the night, taking the faster toll road route skirting Paris.
Thanks are due to the American playwright Eugene O’Neill, for today’s title, taken from his acclaimed drama.