I took a box of chocolates into the mayor's office to thank them for their help this year and to ask them to sign yet another form from a pension company to prove that I haven't died. The form asks for someone like a doctor or solicitor to sign, but I reckon the mayor's stamp looks pretty official and seemed to work last time. So hopefully the three pounds something per annum that BP sends me around the fifth of April will continue to arrive.
While the secretary was filling in the form we chatted. She and the mayor wanted to know whether we were here for Christmas. I told them it was our turn to host Christmas Day lunch for those of us who do French together - twelve of us will be round the table, everyone contributing to the meal.
We joked about my collecting the turkey from the itinerant English butcher on the nineteenth and if the world ends on the twenty-first that will have been a pretty expensive bird! The mayor reflected on the very real challenges for his counterpart in the village of Bugarach facing an invasion of New Age fanatics hoping to be taken off the planet in an alien space craft. Hard to believe that it's not just a joke and that the resources of a small village are likely to be stretched to the limit. (Mind you, rumour has it that those with board and lodging to offer will be making a tidy penny! A touch of no room at the inn, methinks.)
Nothing in the ten minutes of banter and chat seems like much. Just that even a year ago I wouldn't have done it. There are times I think I make no progress at all with my French. But even if my vocabulary and grammar don't improve much, my confidence does. And they graciously seemed to be able to cope with my Franglais.
This is our sixth Christmas here. It feels good to know I've reached the stage where I can now share a joke with the mayor.
Photo from yesterday's Daily Telegraph