French Maids, Marijuana and the (Wo)man from the Ministry

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Hello, Alain! You look a bit harassed!

I should think I do…yes, a glass of Claude’s rose, please; that should lay the dust.

So what’s the problem?

Zizi.

Zizi?

Yes, he’s down at the gendarmerie….under arrest…in the clink.

Not Zizi! He wouldn’t hurt a fly! What happened?

Well, old Mme. Turbine called me when I was having my coffee….she said there was a horde of gendarmerie running about over his vines and a lot of shouting inside the house, so I went over to take a look and she was right!
There was some woman there I didn’t know pointing at him and calling him a pervert, and he was calling her a liar – among other things – and there was big Jean Paul between them to keep them apart while there was a vanload from the station at Benitierville tramping through the vines and rummaging in his barns and outbuildings…
They told me to clear out but I saw them take Zizi off in the paddy waggon with the woman following in her car.
And then some other woman in a car turned up and they told her to clear off too.

So what did you do?

Well, I ‘phoned Clement….being a notaire’s clerk he knows what to do and he knows Zizi…and asked him if Zizi had a lawyer and he said he didn’t but that he’d get on to it himself and so I went back and the gendarmes had a load of plants and were taking photographs and they told me to clear off again, so I thought I’d better and then old Mme Turbine came round to see what it was all about and you know how she goes on….

Yes, like an old fashioned dentist’s drill…yes…

So I thought I’d drop in for a glass or two and a minute’s peace and then go to see Clement and see what he’s found out.

No need, he’s just coming up the street.

Hello, Clement! Busy day by the sound of things! What’s happening to Zizi? Claude’s rose?

Yes, please, and another for Alain….though why I’m standing you a drink after all the trouble you’ve given me, I don’t know!

Well, I thought you’d know how to get to the bottom of things better than I could…and Zizi’s a nice old boy…

No, it’s all right! Take no notice…it’s been a bit wearing, that’s all.
I telephoned the gendarmerie and was lucky enough to get the Adjutant, LeBoff. Not bad for a Breton, and you can talk to him.
Anyway, he said it had taken quite a time to sort out, what with Zizi shouting and the woman shouting but the whole thing started with a mix up.

Some mix up to have Zizi in the jug!

Well, you know that though Zizi sold his vines to those young chaps he kept his arable land…brings in a fair bit with the subsidies, after all….and he keeps his own seed from year to year.
Well, to be legal he has to pay a voluntary contribution..

You mean a fine …

Well, yes, it is really but it’s supposed to support crop research and you have to pay it if you keep your own seed. It seems that the European Union now want to ban anyone from keeping their own seed and the woman you saw, Alain, was from the Agriculture Ministry who was making a tour of all those in this area who were declared as keeping their own seed to put them in the picture.

I bet Zizi liked that! I’ve heard him on the subject of the E.U….he can give Mme Turbine a half kilometre start and still pass her in minutes when it comes to them and their high jinks!
He must have given the woman an earful….but how come she was calling him a pervert?

Ah! That’s where the mix up comes in!
It seems that Zizi was expecting a visitor…but not this one.
He’d signed up to a service that sends women round to do your cleaning…

Whatever for! He gets a home help three times a week from the council and I know Monique who goes to him: you couldn’t criticise her work…

I don’t think Monique would be too chuffed to do what these women do…

What, you mean sort out his washing? Those coms of his are a disgrace: have you seen them on the line?

No, not the washing.
There’s a new service set up called ‘Z Maids’, run from Belgium I believe but operating in France, which supplies their clients with women to do the cleaning dressed in anything from ordinary clothes to nothing at all via latex and leather….and Zizi saw this in the paper and signed up.

She’s right! He is a pervert!

Well, you’d have to be to sign up for something like that! But he thought this woman was the cleaner he was expecting and told her to hurry up and get her clothes off…he was paying by the hour and he wanted his money’s worth… then she started screeching and he poked an old feather duster at her and told her to get on with it or he’d complain to her office at which point she called up the gendarmerie.

Well, there’s nothing that couldn’t be sorted out, was there?

No, not if her call hadn’t landed on that idiot Malfrat…you know what he’s like and he’s had it in for Zizi since that near miss with the tractor…so he calls out the boys and decides it’s a good opportunity to give Zizi’s place a going over…learn him as it were.
So while Jean Paul was trying to keep the two of them quiet, Malfrat and his boys were turning the place over…and what do they find in one of the outhouses?
Electric lights and pots of marijuana plants!
So he comes in and accuses Zizi of producing drugs, Zizi swipes him with the feather duster and he’s hauled away for drug dealing, sexual harassment and rebellion and outrage in that he swiped Malfrat.

So what’s with the drugs? I can’t see Zizi planting dope…not while there’s wine.

Neither can LeBoff. He reckons it’s something to do with the young chaps who took over the vines and he’s looking into it – as he says, they’re using the outhouses and they pay the electricity bill which is on a separate meter. As he says, you can’t see Zizi forking out for electricity like that…

So he should be all right there, then.

Yes, and with a bit of luck Plouc can sort out the rest for him.

Plouc? Your boss? But he’s a notaire, not an avocat, even if he is a big wheel in politics….

Yes, and if he wants to stay a big wheel he’ll get this sorted….
He’s also signed up for the services of Z Maids, and charged it to his office expenses!

How do you know?

His bookkeeper told me…Zizi’s neice, Dominique.

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43 thoughts on “French Maids, Marijuana and the (Wo)man from the Ministry”

  1. He’s banned from keeping his own seed but has run into trouble hiring a nude maid… there’s a joke in there somewhere…!

  2. Still wiping my eyes from the laughter, Helen: fantastic! Malfrat, Zizi, Le Boff, Plouc… Brilliant names for the characters! You had me hooked; I’m sure it’s really happened somewhere in deepest, darkest France. Now I’m off to find that bottle of rosé Claude left me…. once I’ve hidden my pot plants….

  3. What a brilliant tale Helen – I loved it! Poor Zizi, but knowing some characters in rural France I can see this happening all too easily. I recently did a post about sex toys being sold in our old village in France for goodness sake.
    How can you possibly not want to live in rural France any more? Oh wait, warm relaxed days in Costa Rica, I retract my question your honour.

    1. You know those posters they used to put up on the approach to a town or village….I can imagine the one for your village

      Bains les Partouzes: visit its thirteenth century church,chateau ruins, bakers, butchers and sex toy supplier…..

      The parking would be in overflow in hours….

  4. Ha ha! Love it. Any idea if DSK uses the mail-order facility. 😉

    I wonder how many people are aware that if legislation goes the way Monsanto are steering it, the use of unpatented seeds will actually become a criminal offence?

  5. Perfect timing, as usual, and so well done. Always enjoy your wit and the ability to keep the words rolling as if I was standing next to them with a glass of rose myself!

  6. Too wonderful. I have no trouble imaging the character; I know one in this day and age, transplanted from a rural area and blustering and obnoxious about his own importance and understanding of the world.

  7. The things that go on in villages. I’m sure there are equivalents everywhere, perhaps it’s cider or beer rather than wine which keeps the juices flowing elsewhere on the continent. Farming folk are crafty and know more was than one way to milk a cow.

    Every time I drive to Ludlow I pass a big sign: ‘Farmer’s own Seed’ and every time I see the sign my imagination turns somersaults.

    Love your stories of everyday country folk.

  8. As i chortled my way through this, I kept thinking of our elderly neighbour in France and realising I could almost imagine him in the role. 🙂 Film this and you’d do well next year at Cannes!

  9. There may be a record here for the number of times I’ve recalled “Clochemerle.”
    It would quite easily be worked into a short play…

  10. Wonderful, Helen. These characters rise out of your words and take shape in my mind and I can see them still – though it seems through a rather purple haze!
    As a soundtrack, I suggest the outrageous and very French ‘Les Negresses Vertes’ whose music always puts me in such a good mood. It’s what I hear when I read your stories.
    Thank you! Axxx

    1. You must know similar types in Spain….I didn’t come across Les Negresses Vertes, but they have to be better than a funeral march for accompanying the housework…

  11. er, this Belgian company, do they have a web address……?
    It’s just that the ironing….

    1. I hooted when I heard it….and there have been developments since as some bright spark in the gendarmerie thought it more interesting to check the car registration of the mysterious second lady in the scenario than to bother about what was obviously a complete muddle…..I suspect she’ll be doing a lot more housework than she expected in the near future…

  12. Poor man must be confused, faced with fines for keeping his own seed and for attempting to spill it.

    Last year, my neighbours noticed a small path trampled into one of their fields of sweetcorn. They followed it and found a perfectly manicured patch of marijuana growing in the middle, safe from prying eyes and accountability.

  13. OMG, Laughed so much I nearly “spilled” myself, so to speak…You are a masterful storyteller, Helen. Enjoy the weekend.

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