The Start To An Annus Horribilis

12 Feb

January 2010, the beginning of what was to be our worst year as hobos in France. As we waited for news about Tom’s progress in the UK, I received an email from Alexandra to say the Bureau d’Aide had not accepted our 2008 income tax assessment that consisted mainly of capital realised before we moved to France. The Bureau insisted on having our 2009 assessment. I quickly replied, reminding Alexandra that the 2009 figures would not be declared until May 2010, in accordance with the French income tax system, and the 2009 assessment would not be with us until August 2010. She telephoned me and became quite upset that I didn’t have a 2010 tax declaration form on which to record our 2009 income, telling me to “go to Aurillac and get one”!

Eventually, and after much logical persuasion, Alexandra realised that I was physically unable to provide the Bureau d’Aide with our 2009 income tax assessment form. So, she advised me to write to the Bureau d’Aide, and to send all the evidence I could find to prove our income and any savings for 2009. A taller order than she could ever have envisaged, bearing in mind that we could not carry our household filing cabinet – but, we did it, with a struggle!

However, everything was bounced back at us a few weeks later, the Bureau d’Aide bureaucrats did not believe that four of us had survived the year on a total income of just over €8,000, net of taxes, bank charges, and the last of the EDF and telephone bills relevant to the house in Champagnac. Of course, that €8,000 didn’t include the cost of running the car all over France, but I had sent receipts for all vehicle repairs, fuel, insurance and toll charges. But, the €8,000 did cover the cost of camping site fees and a couple of B&B bills, receipts also sent to the Bureau d’Aide. It’s amazing what one can do when somebody says, ‘You’ll never be able to do that.’ Hobo Stew is a favourite dish in our household!

Tom was discharged from hospital after five days, but he was readmitted a couple of days later, another toe was infected, more surgery was necessary, Tom’s right leg was infected from toes to groin. Tom now has three and a half toes on his right foot, and he responds with a grin to being called ‘Tommy Hobbit’, Bless him. His brother, Martin, came through his medical emergency and has since undergone surgery to implant an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator).

Alexandra was at a loss as to what to do next, we had received a letter from the Bureau d’Aide telling us we were out of time to apply for Legal Aid. We spoke on the telephone and I asked her to help me to apply to the European Court of Human Rights, we could not let this go. Alexandra was clearly horrified at my suggestion, and she told me we had no Case to take to the ECHR at that time, but it would be a consideration after the Cour de Cassation judgement was made. Catch-22. We couldn’t file at the Cour de Cassation without paying the cost, up front, of two avocats. Paying those fees would have left us with no money on which to live. We had to secure that Legal Aid, but Alexandra had backed away, that was the last contact we had with her. Although, we did receive an emailed new year message for 2011, and again for 2012, with a brief assurance that she remains at our disposal.

As Tom was heading back to France from the UK in February, I was hand-writing our nineteen pages of application to the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg. Computers and printers don’t work in a tent, the plugs drop out of the holes in the walls!


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4 responses to “The Start To An Annus Horribilis

  1. fly in the web

    February 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I use to wonder whether it was a tactic but ended up thinking it just another example of French ‘tick the box’ mentality.
    Ask for something impossible to provide within their own system…and Gallic shrug when you can’t come up with it.

    And as for your lawyer backing off…!

    • hobosinfrance

      February 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      The (original) insurance agent was possibly in on the fringe of the fraud, too! I only recall his name being ‘Pierre’, but the Immobilier showed him around the property “to help” us, due to our “little bit of French only”. During the months before the Appeal in Riom, it emerged that the Immobilier had told Pierre not to include certain areas of the property in our property insurances – the only evidence we have is included with the resident locataire’s evidence! But, when Julia (second avocat) attempted to dig into that aspect, Pierre disappeared from the agency, probably sacked to get him out of the way! We haven’t delved further down that avenue – yet! Warmest regards, Chrissie

  2. Sarah

    February 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I’ve come across “we don’t think it’s possible so you can’t be telling the truth” attitude before. You send all the right papers, exactly what they ask for and they STILL tell you ‘no’!

    • hobosinfrance

      February 12, 2012 at 6:10 pm

      We have been there so many times, Sarah, we expect it these days!! Likewise, every copy document that we send to bureaucratic offices, including to the Bureau d’Aide, we send twice, registered both times! It would possibly amaze people just how many letters we have sent that have “not arrived”! In fact, if La Poste gets wind of those many allegations made by bureaucrats, relevant to our Case alone, France might end up with another revolution on her hands!! La Poste is not to be trifled with, but bureaucrats are putting the boot into La Poste to avert suspicion from their own incompetence – and, dare I say it, their own lies and attempted cover-ups. Warmest regards, Chrissie


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