During the three to four months before we left the house, we were plagued by nuisance events. The events started within a couple of weeks of Monsieur MA informing us that our Case would be heard in a Grande l’Instance Tribunal in Aurillac, in “about one year’s time because you are in the fast track system”. The nuisance events were not merely unsettling and intrusive, they became extremely worrying.
One morning, Tom answered a telephone call from France Telecom and almost immediately passed the handset to me. The France Telecom Customer Service caller sounded quite confused as she asked me what was wrong with our telephone line. I assured her there was nothing wrong with the line, to my knowledge, and she asked me why I had reported the line as being faulty. During the course of the ensuing conversation, it evolved that “a young woman” had reported our line as being faulty. I requested the name of the young woman and was told that could not be divulged to me because it wasn’t me! The France Telecom caller ended the call.
Barely a week later, I answered a telephone call from a young woman who said she was the secretary to the avocat who was representing Monsieur and Madame T, our sellers. She asked me if we were prepared to “settle out of the Court”. I replied that her employer should be speaking with our avocat. The young woman ended the call. I immediately telephoned our avocat, Monsieur MA, he wasn’t in his office, but the secretary told me she would ask him to call me back when he returned later that day. Monsieur MA returned my call and I told him about the call I had received from the secretary to the avocat representing our sellers. Monsieur MA was adamant that the other avocat would not be so unprofessional, the call was “clearly a hoax, it happens in cases like yours”.
A couple of weeks afterwards, a young man came to the house and asked us to show him the areas where we had pests to be exterminated; he was from a “Public Health office” in Aurillac. Tom and I immediately thought the young man had been given the wrong address. But, he hadn’t! He showed us paperwork that clearly stated a telephone call had been received from Madame Baxter to report rodents in the loft and other areas of the house. I asked the young man for the telephone number of the female caller, he told me he didn’t have the details and the office would not divulge the number as that would be a “breach of privacy”!
I telephoned our avocat, Monsieur MA, and I asked him what we could do about the increasingly disturbing hoaxes, he replied, “You can do nothing, you have no proof.”
That was the last hoax, we left the property two days later after putting our possessions into storage. It was a relief to get away from the insidious skullduggery, hand-flushing of the toilet, long, dark nights with only candles for light, cold water washes and tepid water showering by bucket!
It was May 2008 and, already, daytime temperatures were sliding into the low to middle twenties. We decided to hold onto our savings, buy a tent and camping gear en route, and head for the Mediterranean coast. A friend and neighbour, Madame ZC, had offered to take in our mail on a daily basis, we had no idea how long we would be without a solid roof over our heads.
We spent a week in a Premiere Classe B&B hotel in Rodez, purchased our camping equipment, and continued travelling south. Later that day, we booked into Camping Manjastre on the outskirts of Toulon, just 15 minutes drive from the sparkling, blue Mediterranean Sea.
How did we feel at that time? We felt sad, frightened, disappointed, abandoned, cheated, sickened – we felt like hobos in France.