Les Pompiers......Aidez nous!
'Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring!' from the two doorbells, one electric, one 18th century brass bell........It's 19.00 hours, dark outside except for the Christmas illuminations along the street......Philippa and I look at one another, bewildered.....'Who can it be, ringing so incessantly?' It continues 'ring ring ring ring': we are obviously at home as the tree lights twinkle colourfully in the first floor window. We turn off the television. Surely it cannot be anyone we know with such an insistent tone?
'Bang bang bang bang!' at the old oak front door! We MUST go down to see as the ringing and hammering indicate an emergency. We turn on the lights for the ground floor hallway, gingerly descend the wooden stairs, shuffle along the stone flags to the door.........hearts beating.......unlock................
Two fluorescent jackets against the hall lights almost blind me; two 'pompiers'! In an instant many thoughts race through my mind: disaster, death, flood, fire..........
'Le calendrier!' I hear as a glossy thing is waved enthusiastically at us from two rather handsome faces. I blank. Calender?? I try to gain some composure but fail. 'Nous avons peur,' I stammer, probably inaudibly, then try again: 'Combien?'
'Ce que vous voulez!' I leave Philippa stranded at the door as I rush back upstairs to find my purse. A ten euro note: will it be enough considering I called them out earlier in the year to try to rescue Stumpy from the 'bouche-d'egout'? Perhaps they remember and this is their humorous revenge! They accept gracefully, advising:
'La prochaine fois ouvrez la fenetre et regardez!' I will certainly do so, especially next December when they call again. I live and learn in Aubusson.