It was most likely the holiday on which we discovered Villeneuvette that I began by facing the guns.
During her teens Jessica enjoyed numerous exchange holidays with a French family who will feature later; and after London University spent six months at the Sorbonne. As a result she was bilingual.
Which is what got me into trouble.
I’m a little hazy on the exact date on which we began our holiday in Montpelier, and how and why this was so. The event itself is more memorable.
My French is based on A Level qualification at school, and therefore not very practiced in conversation. In fact it is a miracle that I passed the oral exam. At that time it took me a few days to dare to open my mouth. Except when aroused, as I was on this day.
Jessica’s large shopping bag was stolen in the town square. Among other items, probably needed for Sam’s care, we lost all our cash and travellers’ cheques.
We visited the police station where we were sent from pillar to post – in different buildings. Naturally Jessica did all the talking. Eventually we were told to wait on a bench outside a room into and out of which streamed a steady flow of uniformed police.
We waited. And we waited. Until I blew a gasket.
Suddenly having mustered my best French I burst through the closed door and found myself looking into the barrels of a number of handguns. I had forgotten that these officers are armed.
But I had started so I finished. I demanded to know why we had been left unattended for so long.
“We thought your wife was French” was the answer. “What has that got to do with it?” I replied. My memory of the rest is purely visual. I do know they were not exactly pleased.
Needless to say, the bag was never recovered.