It was an e-mail from my friend, Brigitte who lived next door to my Sigoules house which alerted me to the fact that the house had been occupied the day after I left on 11th July.
After managing to remove the squatters and their clothing, their furniture and other material were still to go. After a few days I returned home, never to visit there again.
Mark Vick, the husband of the Estate Agent who was to sell the house, was engaged to supervise the removal.
My kitchen was filled with white goods and other items presumably belonging to the infiltrators.
Before I left for England on 2nd September, I turned off the electricity supply.
Late on the afternoon of the 12th, I received confirmation from Mark, who had supervised the process on my behalf, that almost everything belonging to the people who were living in my house had been removed that day. Exceptions were the contents of the cellar and an additional freezer that was in the kitchen. This was not mine, and I was unaware that it had been connected and filled with food. It had been lined up against a wall with other white goods, and couldn’t be accessed without moving the table. It was now crawling with maggots because I had disconnected the power and thrown the huge amount of food that had filled my own large fridge freezer into the local refuse dump. There seemed to be a certain poetic justice in this. Mark had turned the power back on to freeze down the contents. All these items were to be removed the next week, as indeed they were.
It was to be more than three years before a buyer was found. Although, after numerous delays and errors that held up the process, a completion date was set for 31st March 2018. I wasn’t even confident that this would be met – which turned out to have been sensible, because it didn’t happen.
The elements intervened. France had experienced even more rain than we have. Such weather makes the house a little vulnerable to an underground stream. For that reason an electric pump was installed in the cellar. A rounding off of my Sigoules residence which had begun with a far more serious flood before I took possession.
On 12th March the estate agent and buyer discovered that the cellar was flooded up to the fourth step, and that there was no electricity in the house.
The agent’s husband undertook to pump out the water. He used his own generator. The electricity company couldn’t investigate until after Easter. They established that there was a fault on the line outside the property. Needless to say, the insurers wriggled out of my claim.
There had been more rain. The fuses kept tripping. The power points in the cellar needed drying out. This was done with a hair dryer. On the evening of 5th ApriI I received the information that all was well and that completion would take place at 7 p.m. that day. This did happen.
There followed a barrage of e-mails from the male squatter and phone calls from the decorator who had allegedly been unpaid. This lasted for some weeks. I am not sure they were not in cahoots. I cannot be bothered to go into more detail.
Anyone who has been burgled will understand why I felt that No 6 rue Saint Jacques was contaminated, and never even went back to collect my belongings. I sold them with the house for a third of what I had paid for it.
Given that, since 9th May 2012, my WordPress blog has been a daily diary and we are now settled in comfortable twilight years in Hampshire’s New Forest, this seems an appropriate time to close the pages of “A Knight’s Tale”.