Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Where did the day go ?
'The Font' has been nagging me to go to the Prefecture and apply for a Residency Permit. Angus believes in the healing powers of procrastination but last weeks events give this chore an added urgency. Bob and Sophie get walked at seven and I'm in the car and on the motorway by eight.
By ten to nine the lobby is already full with people waiting for driving licences, insurance forms and all those pieces of paper needed in modern life. Residency Permits are in the same department as asylum seekers. I get ticket number 423. The digital sign at the reception shows that applicant 401 is being seen to.
Off across the road for a coffee. When I return the queue has progressed as far as 404. Time enough to go sightseeing. In the peculiarly ugly cathedral yellow ribbons have been strung from the dome. No one seems to know why.
A quick check of the queue. They're at 407.
To the book store. I buy a book on local history. The man behind the counter tells me I've made a commendable effort at speaking French with the local accent. Angus takes this as a compliment but it could just as well be waspish humour.
Back to the Prefecture. They're now seeing applicant 411. Five chapters of the local history book gets me through to 418. An attractive young lady hands out leaflets advising families on how to recognize Jihadists. Angus being an unlikely looking Jihadist isn't offered one.
Finally, it's the turn of 423. 'The Font' had warned me to be prepared for a frosty reception from the ice maiden behind the counter - a doughty lady with a bun and an orange knitted cardigan who greets applicants with unsmiling formality. ''Why do you want asylum ? " she asks. I explain that I don't. A residency permit would suit me just fine. '' Don't you believe it. You English will all be asking for asylum soon ". With that she laughs, says the referendum shows the English are mad, gives me a pile of forms, tells me what to do ( this is done slowly with the words '' are you sure you understand ? " repeated three times ) and makes an appointment for me to come back for an interview next week. She smiles again when I thank her with that particular effusiveness used by those who have had unexpectedly pleasant dealings with bureaucracy.
While Sophie and 'The Font' experiment with a new Bouillabaisse recipe in the kitchen Bob and Angus walk to the end of the ridge. We sit and watch the four adult donkeys and the young one eating the bark off a fallen oak tree.