Our gardener has just been asked to stop walking around in our garden because he is, and I quote,
"Spoiling the shot" This from a woman who is filming a video segment where she is standing at my gates claiming she is holidaying at her "summer house"
My house !!!
I'm sure people will be pleased to know our gardener, a man of considerable sangfroid has simply ignored her and carried on with his work (planting a bamboo fence) but that has enraged her and her cameraman (boyfriend?) they are now shouting at him.
Time for me to become involved
Our gardener's day is ending but I'm not happy about the way he has been spoken to so I have made up a sign that reads,
"This is not her house" and I'm now going to hold it up in the back of any shot she tries to take.
She's not happy, her photographers not happy but on the upside I've been having a great time 😏
They were looking for one key shot, often taken by others which frames our house and one tower in the gates. Many take the photo but they don't claim it's their house.
Everytime they tried to take their video I held up the sign and started singing,
"It's not her house, she lying to you" while standing in the shot.
She tried several times,
"Hi everyone here I am at my summer home in France.....he's in the shot again!!!"
The videographer kept calling out,
"We're losing the light, we're losing the light" She kept shouting at me,
"You are being so mean, get out of the way. This is an expensive process you are ruining"
She tried changing tack,
"I am a major influencer, I can make or break you"
I laughed, she screamed and stamped her foot, which was a mistake as she broke off a heel.
She took off her shoe (make unknown but quite cheap looking) and threw it to the ground,
"Look what you've made me do !" I thought to make a useful contribution,
"Think of it as an opportunity to buy a nicer pair"
As this was happening the videoographer threw his hands up in the air and shouted,
"That's it, we've lost the light, it's all ruined, the shot is gone."
His head fell forward, his shoulders gave a small heave and I think I heard a slight sob. He called to her,
She fixed me with a look of venom,
"We will be back tomorrow, this had better not happen again or my uncle is going to be angry and you don't want that"
I gave them my customery cheery wave as they departed.
It seems the same woman has been a pain in other parts of the town. At lunchtime she made traffic stop so she could cross the road at least six times with a different walk on each occasion while giving a commentry on how she has being coming to the area for many years.
Earlier this morning she had herself filmed buying goods at a local shop and then took everything back and asked for a full refund.
I have been chatting to one of my staff and he has come up with a devilish plan that involves a large trailer, some hay bales and an old sheet.
It's late but we are off outside to get things started (Mrs A is away so I'm bored)
'Operation Influencer' has begun. We have placed six hay bales on a trailer ro form a wall and secured to them a large tarp on to which we have painted in large lettering,
"NOT HER HOUSE"
This has been positioned just inside the gates.
Now we wait.
Perhaps not unsurprisingly some of our neighbours are intrigued and have asked questions. One has made a lovely offer, he plays in a jazz band and has offered to come along with a few of his bandmates to perform some favourites to "entertain" the lady when she arrives. I accepted
Thierry (band leader) is certainly enthusiastic and is now back with some friends. We have a fine selection of brass and they are warming up with some Dixieland.
She's here !
The band is currently playing 'The Girl From Ipanema'
I'm not sure if that's relevant.
Yesterday's photographer is also here, he's walking around outside and taking various still photos while shaking his head. The lady has her hands on her hips and is reading the tarp. I can actually feel her blood pressure rising from here.
She called me on the intercom: I adopted a polite helpful tone.
"Good morning, how may I help?"
"This is very rude, very rude. I have a job to do and you are being deliberately difficult, why can't you just let me take my video without all this and I will leave"
It seemed important to be clear from the beginning so I said,
"No, go away"
I watched her physically recoil from the intercom as I said this, it's possible nobody has ever said no to her before. She called again
"Why are you being like this, so horrible? This is my job and lots of people are on my journey with me, you need to think about that"
By now the band had changed to a jaunty rendition of 'Mack the Knife' and I must assume the photographer is not a jazz fan because I heard him shout,
"Will you shut the hell up, we are talking here"
She once again stamped her foot (I get the impression she does this a lot) and has just returned to her car with the photographer. He parting shot was,
"I warned you about my uncle, you will be sorry, you will all be sorry"
The band all waved as she drove away.
I have been asked a number of questions:
She is an American judging by the accent which is surprising as we do not see many US visitors in this part of France and those we do are mostly older. She is I guess early twenties. I do not know her social media details.
To be clear, we have many people take photos of our house, it's very old and we see people often using it as a backdrop to a photo, we have no problem with this. What I objected to was the way she very rudely spoke to our gardener and how she was making a video claiming as hers.
The jazz band has decided to adjourn to a local bar for an early (probably liquid) lunch but they have promised to return if required. Thierry said to regard them as being,
"On stand by"
I thanked them warmly for their contribution and they took up a small collection.
She has returned.
No contact yet but she is standing there with a gentleman who seems to have arrived dressed as a basketball player. This is possibly the uncle or perhaps simply a passing Harlem Globetrotter in the area for a vacation.
Now the photographer is back. He has come equipped with a lightweight step ladder. Mr Basketball is doing a lot of animated pointing.
Our gardener (always a polite man) has raised his hat and given them a smile of recognition however he was rewarded with a look of disdain.
Mr Basketball has been on the intercom. He asked for what he called a "sit down" I told him I was already sitting down which I think confused him so then he said he wanted to "parlay"
"Like Jack Sparrow" I said.
He looks confused.
"We need to work this out man, nobody needs to be buzzed, we're all cool" I replied,
"We are about to have lunch here but we can talk again at 2pm" He seemed unhappy with this.
"You guys take an hour and a half for lunch?"
I gave it a moment and then,
"Welcome to France"
I thought he was finished but no, he just called me again and said,
"Considering all that's happened it would be cool if you invited us in for lunch, that's only fair man"
So we have finished lunch here (our housekeepers always lovely pâte à crêpe salée) and I can see our visitors are, surprisingly still sitting out by my main gates. I think it's time to stroll out and say hello.
I forgot to mention the jazz band are on their way back and adding a festive air to proceedings as they are walking up the hill while playing some Bossa Nova.
The band is here and Bacchus has really done his work. All the players are enthusiastically ripping through a great selection of classics, currently Alexanders Rag Time Band is delighting us all......
Well not quite all. The photographer really hates jazz.
Mr Basketball has demanded I get the band to stop playing. I have had to explain they don't work for me but are, strictly speaking, independent contractors. He asked me,
"They why are they here" I considered this and said,
"It's Mardi Gras week"
I should also say our gardener, a quiet, reserved, stoical man not known for displaying much emotion is very much enjoying the musical accompaniment to his pruning. I saw his foot tapping along and he gave a little skip as he went to the big barn.
Mr Basketball is now very angry. He is shouting to be heard above the sound of the band but I must admit I'm not helping things by saying,
"I'm sorry I'm rather hard of hearing, can you speak up"
The band has decided to take a break as the tuba player (an elderly gentleman and retired teacher) fell asleep during their performance of 'Take 5'. They promise to resume after some rejuvenative brandy has been taken.
This break has enabled Mr Basketball to once again propose a discussion. He suggested they all come into my garden to,
"push some ideas around" I said I was quite happy talking through our gates. He muttered,
"Dude is NOT cool"
I am currently sitting on one of our old stone chaise longue that surround the rose garden while they make up their minds what to do. I am projecting calm while sipping lime juice and soda water.
None of them seem able to comprehend the concept of me not doing what they want.
I can see her once again stamping her foot (no obvious shoe damage) and Mr Basketball trying to calm her, in the end he became exasperated and I heard his say, somewhat loudly,
"Babe, it's his house, we can't force him"
I knew it was coming, I have had interactions in the past with "influencers" and sure enough I had her scream it,
"I have 200,000 followers, doesn't he understand who I am!"
He has just gestured to me for a talk, I am typing this and then going to have a little chat.
The band are beginning to limber up for an afternoon performance, I understand they are now taking requests from the small crowd that has gathered.
An interesting conversation:
"So buddy, good news, in exchange for being able to take a clean video of your house with her talking about her holiday she will give you three mentions of your insta on her account"
"I don't have an insta account, I don't want an publicity"
"What do you mean you don't have an insta account"
"I can't think of another way of putting it, I..am..not..on..Instagram."
I swear he took a deep swallow,
"How do you live?"
"..rather well actually. As you may observe"
He was clearly struggling with this and I felt for him as this may have been the first time he had met someone without an Instagram account.
"How do you connect and update stuff?"
I felt it only polite to move slowly,
"Well, friends we contact mostly by phone calls (he looked aghast at that) and occasionally for business reasons I write letters." There was a small, strangled choke as he said,
"You write letters!"
Again moving slowly so as not to scare the horses I said,
"So as you can ascertain I have no interest in publicity of any form. Time for you and her to leave"
At this point the band struck up with 'Have You Met Miss Jones"
Now I should say that while we were talking Ms Influencer was standing on the opposite side of the road with a truculent look on her face, arms crossed and tapping her foot looking uncannily like when my eldest daughter was about seven and was sent to bed.
Mr Basketball has withdrawn, he is talking to the others in his party.
In the meanwhile the local crowd has grown a little and the band are again taking requests.
Our housekeeper has made a walnut cake so I am off to have a slice with a cup of coffee.
Cake was delicious.
I just looked out of the window and they have gone.
I trust everyone has a lovely weekend, I'm off for a swim.