December 2007


There’s someone I haven’t told you about. But to save being accused of introducing them at the last minute like a character in a bad detective show, I will tell you a little bit about her now. Her name. Alex.

Alex works for a French government organisation that is actively supporting our project. She is, as I write, working in the Corridors Of Power to help us find the “Oui” we so desperately need. And not as a janitor.

Yesterday she sent me an email, urgently requesting a copy of a document I did not have.

Almost immediately, I drove to Bergerac and spoke to the Woman in Planning. She took out the document. She turned it over in her hands. She made a phone call. And she told me I couldn’t have a copy.

It was masterful.

Apparently, the Maire (mayor) made some comments on the form that I am not allowed to see until after a “Oui” or a “Non” has been issued.

Me: So it’s not a “Yes” or a “No” right now?

She: No.

Me: (EMPLOYING THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING) And I must wait until after a “Yes.”

She: (SHORT PAUSE) Yes.

After a slightly longer pause, in which I discovered the social security office was already closed, I drove to our excellent estate agent. Although snowed under with work (the price of excellence or estate agency – you decide), he dug out a copy of the document, which I scanned and emailed to Alex last night.

So now I wait in hope.

It’s the same kind of hope you experience while waiting for a response to a script/treatment you’ve sent to an agent/producer. Although if you’re the one writing all those bad detective shows, please stop.

So we saw our Notaire (French solicitor) yesterday.

He loves the project – especially with the new angle. (I’m beginning to see a pattern here – it’s only the bureaucrats who aren’t wildly enthusiastic.) He says the Maire’s objection is groundless, but it’s probably worth waiting until the new Maire is elected. In March. He said he will fight for us, and is happy to present our case to the Senator, who has an office just round the corner (of course). He also said there is nothing in law to stop us putting our yurts up on the land right now because… a yurt is not a caravan.

So we left the meeting feeling a little better and went to Kathy’s Place, overlooking the square in Beaumont. After a stressful few days, we could relax. We could just get on with our lives. They were nice, relaxing, coffee-filled minutes. Albeit without a biscuit.

Then we saw our excellent estate agent, a few metres (yards) away. He also wants to fight for us and took us to the Senator’s office to make an appointment. While we were in reception, the Senator came in. He likes the project. He said we should wait until the elections and get the new Maire on our side. And he said that if we put our yurts up on our land, the Maire could have us arrested.

You know, the irony of all this is that I’ve always wanted to open for business in April 2008. And despite all the objections officials are trying to put in our way, that could still happen.

We’ve been taking it in turns to have a crisis.

Clare went first, around the time of our meeting with our estate agent. Which inspired two evenings of focused discussions, culminating in a brilliant development of our original idea that, in an ideal world (which let’s face it, is exactly what we’re trying to create), should have the authorities begging us to accept their permission.

I don’t want to tell you too much right now.

In fact, I may have already said too much.

After a couple of days and a meeting with our architect, it was my turn. Which inspired two evenings of focused screen watching (Part Troll by Bill Bailey and Part Uruk-Hai by JRR Tolkien and Peter Jackson), separated by days of listlessness, despondency, negativity, a slight cold and some tractor yoga.

It’s a female-male thing.

I think I’m getting over it now, just in time for our next and probably most important meeting. With our solicitor. Which is tomorrow.

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