A Knight’s Tale (148: First Stage Of Repossession)

Every Friday evening throughout July and August Sigoules square is covered in long tables and chairs;

various food suppliers put up their stalls;

Les Caves and others produce the wine; and people swarm in from miles around.  There is a pop group singing a fair number of English songs.  With respect to those who want to sleep, everything closes down around midnight. Given my proximity to the square I’d best join in.  If I didn’t there would be no point in going to bed early.  In any case these are delightful occasions, and at one we met Judith and Roger Munns, whose friendship was to prove to be particularly helpful.

On our early morning arrival in Sigoules on 28th August 2014 I immediately visited the police and alerted them to the fact that I was about to reclaim my house. I had been advised that they would help me regain my property. This was denied by the officer on the desk who stated that it was a civil matter and not their concern.

Allowing a reasonable amount of time to avoid waking whoever was in the household, accompanied by Michael, I rang the bell. Having no response, I opened the door, which was unlocked, and confronted some of the occupants. These included the mother of the family, a teenage girl, two young men, and two small children. The conman who had groomed me was away.

Despite pleading from the mother and the two pre-school children clutching at her skirts I was adamant that they should leave today. The father was suddenly able to telephone me and ask me to retract. Naturally I refused.

The woman claimed to have no money, no transport, and nowhere to go. I did not believe her and would not relent.

Leaving them to pack up, we visited Garry and Brigitte next door. I spent the morning with my neighbours while Michael went off to make some work phone calls. Brigitte cooked a splendid lunch which consisted of a piquant tomato salad; sausages with fried potatoes, onions, and haricot beans which Garry had topped and tailed; and strawberries. We drank rosé wine and water.

An emergency locksmith reinforced the security of the front door. Obtaining that locksmith was just one benefit from the friendship of Judith and Roger mentioned above. When others had been unable Judith quickly tracked down a man to change the locks.

My unwelcome guests did actually leave at the appointed time. In truth, Michael had found the language – only Garry spoke any English – too stressful and had resorted to a café meal. This meant that my son was able to witness the female squatter using a bank card to fill a car with petrol before moving off – the significance of this being that fuel there was only available by card.

I began the task of reclaiming my rooms by making my bed which contained cheesy snacks similar to Quavers lodged between the mattress and the headboard. The bedroom itself had been taken over. My clothes had been removed from wardrobes, and an array of shoes were lined up on the floor. An enormous television stood on my chest of drawers.

That evening, although I hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours, I was still not tired, so I settled down to watch Prime Suspect 3. I got the gist of it, but some of the detail escaped me because I kept dropping off into deep slumber. I went to bed at midnight and slept soundly for six hours.

All was not over yet, because much furniture, many clothes, bedding, and personal effects belonging to the squatters remained to be collected.