When the idiot son was here recently he took with him many family items but of course left the interior as it was.
One wall in one of the bedrooms has five wartime posters of Winston Churchill.
On the kitchen wall is a picture of the Queen with on the frame written,
"British Railways 1967"
But perhaps the most striking element is that one end of the main sitting room has been decorated to look like an English pub circa 1976. Optics, lighting, an old wooden bar with beer pumps, a place to hang glasses overhead and even a poster for Watney's Red Barrel.
There are four bar stools standing there and even some of those branded towels on the bar top. I assume this means they would sit there of an evening pretending they were in an English pub while outside it's rural France.
I suppose this explains why we never saw them outside and why they had no garden furniture. We did sometimes speculate what they did there,
"Witchcraft ?" suggested my wife once.
Shortly after the potential buyers arrived. A lovely couple from Lille seeking a holiday home. I explained I was just a neighbour helping out and made VERY clear I was not involved with the sale beyond that. I did say the decor had a 'distinctive' look so they were prepared.
They were not prepared.
Upon entering they both, in tandem and with remarkable clarity caught their breath and said,
'C’est pas vrai !"
I saw the woman grab her husband's hand and stand a little closer to him.
I felt at one point I should say something, anything really in defence of this initial impression but no words came.
"They are English, these people?" I was asked.
"Indeed yes, very English" I nodded enthusiastically as if I felt that offered some sort of explanation.
"Do you want to see the rest of the house" I asked with what I hoped was a neutral expression.
"O yes, most definitely" they said with enormous enthusiasm as they were clearly remembering all they could of this monstrosity for a future anecdote that will start,
"We walked into this house that has been owned by an English family and.."
For several moments it was though they wanted to move but could not, they remained rooted to the spot drinking in this sight of a British pub.
"Do all the English do this, I understand you have lived in England?"
I assured him it was while not common also not entirely unknown.
"If they wanted an English pub why did they come to France to build one?" I'll admit I was baffled for an answer to this and suggested perhaps a reminder of home.
Their looks of incredulity where what my comment deserved. In time they dragged themselves away to view the bedrooms
They were also clearly surprised by the wartime style Winston Churchill posters. I could see them both mentally adding these details to their future story.
However it was the master bedroom that provided the biggest shock. The parents bedroom.
I had only briefly looked into the room when I had opened the windows so I had not seen then what all three of us could clearly see now.
Hanging on the back of the bedroom door were his and her full size Micky and Minnie mouse costumes.
The question was one I had not been expecting but was logical in the circumstances,
"Do you think they dress up in those and sit at the bar?"
I really didn't know what to say to that so I covered my embarrassment by suggesting we took a look inside the wardrobe so they could see the storage space.
That's when we found the Star Trek uniforms.
We all three tried to cover our embarrassment by leaving the room and it was perhaps the haste of doing that which resulted in the lady tripping and falling on the bed. This meant the full glory of the bed linen was revealed
The bed sheet was a picture of a giant cheeseburger
It was also clearly a water bed with a switch that was marked "Vibration - 1 / 2 / 3". I looked at it, they looked at it and I don't know why but I found myself saying,
"Shall we turn it on to see what happens?"
They glanced at one another and both nodded.
Well it did what it said on the tin and it vibrated providing a surreal image of lettuce, cheese and meat gently shaking.
None of us said anything until the lady said,
"If we buy this house we will not require that"
We returned to the living room. The atmosphere was tense, so when I was asked if the panel in the kitchen floor lead down to a cellar I was somewhat caught out. These properties often have a cold store area in the floor so I saw no harm in opening it up.
With hindsight I suppose I should have expected it but seeing boxes of Disney toys was still a surprise. When I say boxes I mean thousands of them. Figurines of all the principle characters.
What was there to say after that ? The couple thanked me but said it was not what they were looking for (I don't think it's what anyone is looking for).
The estate agent called,
"Did they seem interested?"
"Not in any way" He sighed heavily. "OK thanks"
The estate agent called me early today asking about the "unusual interior of the house". It seems the couple from yesterday had sent him an email thanking him for the "entertainment" but confirming the house was massively overpriced and not for them.
I asked the estate agent if he had seen the house and he said yes but only the outside because he knew the property was overpriced so he had not made much effort to market it.
Now he wants to visit
I asked why the interest, fearing the answer if it involved an interest in Disney costumes, but it was much worse than that.
He has another client, a British couple currently in France looking for a property. He asked if I would help.
Have received a nice text message from the Lille couple who viewed the house yesterday. Seems they had spent a week viewing properties throughout the region but the one yesterday with me was by far the most entertaining.
Apparently after driving off they had to park to laugh.
Estate agent called me, British couple would like to visit later this afternoon as they are looking at houses nearby this morning. Although not their names I shall be referring to them as Brian and Audrey
He will accompany them but has asked if I can give a local perspective.
A first impression of Brian and Audrey.
Mid fifties, driving a green Jaguar XE, he favours the shorts and socks with sandals look, she Home Counties chic with a hint of Barbara Cartland.
Brian, despite being told I speak English is a member of the "shout at foreigners in English" school.
"GOOD AFTERNOON, HOW DO YOU DO?" I thought to surprise him, so adopting my best remembered RP accent from school,
"How do you do old boy, is this your memsahib?"
He took a step back,
"BLOODY HELL, YOU SPEAK GOOD ENGLISH FOR A FRENCHMAN"
I gave a small bow of thanks and asked after their journey.
"Appalling," said Audrey. "These people have no idea of how to drive. No idea do they Brian"
"No idea" confirmed Brian.
The estate agent gestured toward the house but clearly Audrey had not yet finished,
"We were nearly run off the road earlier today by some fool. The French cannot drive this is a known fact isn't it Brian?"
"A known fact"
"Alain Prost" I ventured, he was a very good driver.
They looked at me blankly, "Alain Prost, three times Formula 1 motor racing champion. He's French."
"Yes, well we haven't got time to discuss that now have we Brian?"
"No time at all" - he strolled off confidently in the wrong direction.
It was the estate agent who pointed him along the right path. Brian clearly felt the need to chat as we walked along,
"So been here long?"
"Yes many years" I said "although I have lived in the UK". Brian nodded,
"Wife and I are getting out, because of Brexit"
I was sympathetic, said I was aware of many British people making the transition before the 31st of December deadline and that Brexit had been a disaster for the UK. He stopped short and grabbed my arm,
"Disaster, far from it. Best think that ever happened to the country."
I was confused, I said,
"But Brexit has taken away your rights, this house buying process is going to be so much more complex than before"
"Only because the EU is making it difficult No need for it, no need at all. Now they don't get our money they are bitter, simple as that"
I pushed on,
"What about the Customs Union and trade arrangements, the UK will lose out on all of that" He placed an arm over my shoulders and patted my arm.
"Don't believe what you read in the newspapers. Take a look at the Brexit Party website, that's where the truth is"
By this point we had reached the house so I suggested they took a look around with the estate agent while I made some phone calls.
That is where I am now, sitting under the tree the idiot son fell out of and where EU bunting still hangs from the branches.
I will update later.
Apologies for the delay in the update. A couple of issues here had to be sorted. I left you with me sitting under a tree waiting for Brian and Audrey to complete their tour of the house, they took their time and it was about an hour before I spoke with them again.
Remarkably they absolutely loved the decor. Audrey called the fake British pub,
"A lovely addition to the house, something that we would do".
The estate agent and I looked at one another with a shared private look of bewilderment.
Brian suggested we all have a drink to,
"Talk about the local area and the 'natives'"
We drove to a local bar I know where there is room outside to talk.
Brian is what might be termed a committed Brexit supporter. He raised the issue almost immediately,
"Best thing we ever did, I've wanted out of Europe for years and so does everyone I know. We have run fund raisers for UKIP and the Brexit party at my golf club."
I said I assumed he was a fan of Nigel Farage ?
"Best politician in Britain, should of had a Knighthood years ago but those in power have kept it from him. They did the same to stop him winning a seat as an MP, he frightens a lot of powerful people because the tells the truth".
At that moment the waitress came and Audrey asked for (I swear this were the actual words).
"Do you have any proper food with no garlic or any stuff like that?"
I'm ashamed to say the waitress has heard this sort of request before and responded with,
"We can make you a chicken salad sandwich" Audrey was delighted with this. Brian was a little more adventurous with his choice of a cheese & tomato pizza.
Both drank Coke I had a Leffe
Brian returned to sharing his views on Nigel Farage,
"You see behind the scenes you have all these people pulling the strings who really run things, they are trained by Common Purpose and funded by Freemasons but Nigel has pulled the curtain open, he's opened our eyes.
Audrey nodded vigorously, and delivered the line which I knew was coming but inwardly I still died a little,
"He tells the truth about all the immigrants swamping the country and claiming benefits."
"It's one of the reasons we are moving to France, to get away from all the immigrants"
I choked on my beer a little at that point.
Brian chipped in at this point,
"Not that we're racists or anything"
"Of course not" I said, "The thought never entered my head"
"We're patriots, we love our country"
I must admit my patience did begin to run out at this point.
"Brexit is a bloody disaster, it's a ludicrous act of collective self harm and most of it was driven by racism, fear and simple plain stupidity"
Brian was somewhat put out by this and it took him a moment to recover.
It was Audrey who responded first,
"We are not racists, we just want Britain for the real British not all these Muslims and other people who want to ruin our country"
Then Brian chimed in,
"Remoaners all think they are so clever, that's what gets me. They superiority they all have about Brexit. We know what we were voting for. We love Europe but hate the EU. Nothing wrong with that."
I felt I had to ask,
"What do you hate about the EU?" They were both momentarily quiet.
"O you know" said Brian, " all the rules and regulations they force on us, making Britain do things their way instead of ours. Like the beef they stopped us selling"
The beef ???
I thought there was an obvious question here,
"What EU rules do you think the UK should repeal now?"
"All the bad ones" said Brian
"Such as..." I said
"Well" said Audrey " we all know they have been keeping us down with special rules for the UK"
I felt I had to pull a little further at this thread.
"Is it the health & safety rules, the clean air regulations, the road safety specifications for cars ?"
Audrey jumped forward in her seat and cried,
"Fish ! The fish, all the fish ! They stopped us fishing"
I asked Audrey want she meant and at this point she delivered the line I suppose was inevitable, it was predictable, it was tiresomely, shoulder sagging sad all the same,
"It was in the Daily Mail, they stopped us fishing and let the French take all the fish. Special EU rules"
I thought to change the subject.
"Do you see any issues with buying a property in France after December?"
They looked confused,
"What happens in December?" they said.
I tried to explain how UK citizens will be regarded as third nation people for that point.
"Scaremongering' said Brian confidently, "nothing will change because"
"The EU needs us more than we need it"
I said they really should take the time to check because come December it's a whole new world.
Brian was very confident,
"No need, everything will just carry on as before. It's just project fear like it's been from the beginning."
I took the time to try and let them know the reality of their position, the income and medical cover requirements for example but I was dismissed with a wave of a hand,
"Typical EU red tape, the Italians never follow any of that so we don't need to either"
I must admit I did take the time to formulate the right response.
"Well I hope you get it all sorted out in time. Here in France we don't like illegal immigrants"
I thought Brian was going to explode,
"We are ex-pats not bloody immigrants." Audrey gave her view,
"We are not claiming benefits and grooming school girls"
I said I was pleased to hear they planned to integrate with the community although they subsequently admitted neither spoke French and had no plans to do so. They were also concerned about regular availability of "proper British food".
"Like curry?" I said
"Exactly" said Brian
I replied that this was something they needed to be aware of. "For example" I said, "there is not a Chinese takeaway near here"
I thought Audrey was going to cry at this point,
"So you have to live on French food all the time?"
I sighed and said,
"Yes, most French people do"
The conversation moved to the area and Brian asked,
"So what are the locals like, any weirdos ?"
"Well" I said, "of course we still have the annual witch trials but that's mostly just tradition. It's rare for any witches to still be drowned. I assume you both swim ok ?"
They did at first look concerned but then realised I was joking. I was clear,
"This is rural France, very traditional, very conservative, very French. If you integrate, respect our way of life and become part of the community we will embrace you but you must learn French"
Audrey in particular was not happy about that,
"Why do these people always insist on us learning their languages when we know full well they all speak English, I think it's very rude."
"English is the language of the world, they would do better realising that"
I particularly enjoyed Brian's follow up which was not just the death of irony but irony was given a good kicking while down,
"That's the problem with all the immigrants flooding into England, they refuse to learn English. I have no time for people who can't speak English"
I mentioned that might be a problem here as although most younger people spoke good English it was far from universal and in addition all official communication was of course in French. Audrey was not impressed,
"That's just typical of the EU, always putting the Brits down"
It's probably worth me making clear that people like this are in the minority here but they are here. People who have had second homes here for many years, planned to retire here and yet voted for Brexit and continue to support Brexit. They are amazed Brexit will impact them.
I realised I never concluded the story of Brian and Audrey. Our conversation continued for a little while after but I began to lose patience and left them to their drinks. I have subsequently heard from the estate agent they do indeed intend to bid on the house.
It was amazing to realise they simply expect to ignore the post Brexit EU immigration and residency rules. Their sense of entitlement is absolute. Ending FoM in their minds does not apply to them. They will buy the house and do exactly what they want.
My experiences with both of these families has made me realise that there is no hope
The extent to which people have willingly allowed themselves to be fooled and manipulated means that the full horror of Brexit is now inevitable
I have never been more grateful to be European
I am aware of numerous cases of people like my daughter, abandoning the UK to make a life elsewhere. I hear everyday of companies cancelling contracts with UK businesses. I see major corporations moving out of the UK
All of this happening with barely a murmur in the UK media
I simply do not understand why the British population is not more angry, there can no longer be anyone who is unable to find out the truth of how the country was sold down the river by a tiny group of corrupt charlatans yet so many seem comfortable to sit back and let it happen.
Members of the British government lying on a daily basis, awarding multi million Pound contracts to their friends, taking decisions that have led to thousands of unnecessary deaths and the biggest worry for many in Britain is when will the pub open again.
I despair for the UK