With the pigs in the wood and Pepito in a field full of grass, we took a morning off hard labour to take care of some unstarted business in Bergerac – armed with nothing more than a file of birth certificates, proofs of residences, and Plenty of Potentially Pertinent Pieces of Paper.

Unstarted Business 1: E106s

Before we left the house, I read this in a letter that came with our E106s (which I think stands for Important Document to do with Healthcare Provision): “We have completed both forms at Part A… Do not fill in any part of the form yourself.”

If you were me, you’d enjoy reading that again: “Do not fill in any part of the form yourself.”

That’s the sort of paperwork I can deal with (although not immediately – the letter is dated December 11th).

After this auspicious beginning, Unstarted Business 1 continued like this: Walk into building, taking a numbered ticket at the door; sit in reception – for just over a second – until Receptionist asks why we’re there; a few seconds later, the number counter on the wall jumps to our number and we go into Room 1; the woman asks us our situation (and quickly regrets doing so), then takes half our Pieces of Paper away for copying; the Carte Vitale will be on its way, she says. She is charming and lovely throughout. The receptionist then draws us a map to…

Unstarted Business 2: the Job Centre

Even though we have a potentially blisteringly successful (and I’d like to think, international award-winning) business sitting in our garage, there’s a chance we’re going to need some kind of job. For money. Soon. I tried registering online the other day, but you need a social security number. And not an English one. (Bring on the United States of Europe.)

We walked into the empty waiting room of the Job Centre and explained our situation to another very nice woman. She told us exactly where to go. (Not far, as it turned out. She showed me on the map.)

Unstarted Business 3: ASSEDIC

The car park of the social security number place is one of two halves. The first is full of spaces for cars driven by people who might want to use the service. The other is filled with actual cars, driven by all the people who work there.

Here we waited for what must have been over a minute, then explained our situation to yet another lovely woman (where are all the men?). She gave us an appointment on Monday, wished us luck with the mayor’s meeting tomorrow – and that was it.

Three lovely experiences with government offices – before lunch.

Which was also nice.

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