Ten o'clock on a stormy Saturday night. Three police cars with their blue lights flashing pull up in front of the church. Another three park by the village pond. Lights are turned on in the Salle de Fetes. From our drawing room window the new mayor can be seen deep in conversation with a group of gendarmes. More cars draw up. Villagers congregate by the church porch. More police cars arrive .... this time big powerful ones from Toulouse. The rain gets heavier. The man with anger management issues arrives at the front gate. A little six year old girl has gone missing from one of the new houses down by the 'T' junction. Everyone is drafted in to search outbuildings. The tracks that lead to outlying farms are checked. The wind picks up. Villagers pair up and set off in their cars to expand the radius of the search.
Then, as if a bubble has burst, the tension and the frantic activity stop. The little girl has been found on the side of the road, two kilometers away, drenched and frightened but safe. How she managed to get so far a mystery as is the reason she's wandered off. Smiles of relief. Laughter. The police cars and the flashing lights disappear. By midnight the village is silent. We can only imagine what the parents have gone through. Doubtless, we will hear more of the story today.
Perhaps most memorable was the way the quiet, nothing ever happens here, village sprang into life. There is, despite what some politicians would have you believe, such a thing as 'society'. The lines from a Philip Larkin poem, taught for 'O' level English suddenly swim into focus from a long forgotten place ' We should be careful of each other, We should be kind while there is still time'.