One of the possible reasons the mayor came round the other week was that, after two and a half years of living without an income, we are now – officially – Poor.

(The reason for the delay is that your rights to benefit in France are measured on what you earned two calendar years ago. I earned over €26K in the first half of 2007 – and was self-employed – therefore had no rights until this January, despite the fact that we spent all of that income buying yurts. This January, I got a letter from social services saying how poor we are, based on our 2008 income, which I was told to take it to the mayor’s office to see if they could help pay the kids’ school meals. The reason why I think it prompted the mayor’s visit is that the first words out of her mouth were: “Are you OK for money?” And: “Can you feed the children?” The implication here is that it’s OK for adults to starve to death – just as long as the kids are OK. Although what the kids do after they lose their parents is anyone’s guess. I reassured her, telling her were we eating our pigs.)

When I had my follow-up meeting with the mayor, she said I must go and see the CAF (social services) to see if they could help pay for the kids’ school meals.

I arranged an appointment and was told (apart from what a great idea a yurt camp is) it was nothing to do with the CAF and I should go and see the CIAS to see if they could help pay for the school meals.

I arranged an appointment and was told (apart from ‘school meals don’t cost very much’ – they do if you don’t have any money) to go and see the mayor’s office to see if she could help pay for the school meals.

Which brought us back to square one. A familiar square. (Perhaps I should give it a Proper Name. Square One has a nice ring to it.)

We went without an appointment and were told ‘lots of people are in difficulty – and look at what’s going on in Portugal and Greece’ – though not by the mayor.

Naturally, we could waste more time going round and round in circles. But we’re busy people. We decided to take the kids out of school for lunch after the holidays and went back to work.

I suppose picnics in the park near the school, next to the river, with our own ham and home-made bread, might be nice. Especially now the good weather’s on the way.

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