Until the end of 2008, although I could not afford to buy another house in London, the interest on my money from the Newark house was earning c£1,000 per month. Suddenly this almost disappeared. The global financial crash had happened. I had paid a deposit on the house in Sigoules back in August, and, of course, the French solicitors unnecessarily delayed proceedings so that completion was not reached until mid-December.
I had a choice. I could cut my losses and accept the loss of my £10,000, or I could continue with the purchase and hope for the best. I also felt obliged to the friends from whom I was buying. I carried on regardless.
In December 2008, just a week after completion of my purchase of No. 6 rue Saint Jacques, S.W.France was hit by the greatest storm in living memory. The gales were even worse than those that had buffeted the U.K. in October 1987. The consequence was that Maggie had had to telephone me to tell me that my recently acquired house had been flooded. I had not even had time to take possession. The cellar was full of water and there were several inches of it in the ground floor. Multiple disaster had struck. The gales had thrust water under the French doors at the back, and the local underground stream had strayed into the cellar, completely filling it. Because of a three day power cut across the entire region the auxiliary generator installed for just this eventuality failed to function and had to be replaced. The trapdoor into the cellar was swollen and had to be forced, breaking some of the tiles laid over it. To make matters worse the inferior plastic piping distributing water throughout the house had sprung a leak and burst. Now I have a copper system which cost a pretty penny. Maggie and Mike had managed to get emergency help to pump the place out, and obviously I had to come over to organise repair work. The house was freezing, damp, and full of soggy mats and plumbers. I stayed with Maggie and Mike.
The English representative of the Insurance Company managed to wriggle out of responsibility for the consequences of the tempest, and I was advised to pay the plumber in advance. Much against my better judgement I stumped up. The plumber never finished the making good and it took 18 months for Mike to recover my keys from him.