J’en Suis Bouch Bée

Ah if only I was multi lingual or even lingual. But actually I looked it up . It means in French I am flabbergasted . Why am I in French when i was moaning last week about my Italian. Well our French neighbours have returned from their winter sojourn in Paris.

Regulars will remember from last year that we live in Petite France as it were. There are by August some 8 families in residence in our area and more arrive each year as properties become available. They are all younger relatives of families who were friendly with an Italian and his wife who came from this area and he went on to become something big in the Embassy in Paris. It seems that we were lucky that the widow of the Italian guy didn’t know our house was for sale when we bought it or it too would form part of Petite France.

We saw lights come on a few nights ago but apart from one party last year we do not really know them as they profess to speak no English unlike all the other French families around us who not only speak it but are fluent.

However I was up checking out a wall that was being built further up their small road (I’m very nosey and am also planning a wall at the back of this property) not to keep the French out I hasten to add and was invited in for coffee later that  day.

It was apparent we were still on the ” speak noEnglish” kick which meant we conversed in heavily french accented Italian on one side and heavily English accented Italian on the other. I think an Italian listening in would assume we were speaking Esperanto.

My French never really got going at school. At infant school there were a few very nice French girls and I had a smattering of French but by 9 years old it had gone even though our French Master was called Mr. French until he was replaced by Mr. Cornwall   ( I think the headmaster had a thing about apply named masters) as Cornwall was the geography master but was pressured in to helping out in French and never left. By boarding school French had regressed further and was a complete mystery.

I briefly tried to resurrect it at 16 years old when I discovered I could get into the Curzon Street cinema in London to see French X rated films. The problem was the French films always seemed to be filmed in motor cars with the windscreen wipers going and the two actors in the front wearing white shirts so I couldn’t read the subtitles. But I soon found the films dreadfully boring anyway and was never sure why they were X rated.

and often they just said nothing at all !!

So there we sat with our coffees and they told us that while they had been away in   Paris ( driving a car in the rain I bet) their house here had been robbed. Now this was a shock as these guys are old Pugliese hands. They built their house in 2002 and seemingly know the area well and have not only a guy that comes to look at the place but a load of burglar alarms as well. And hey we are right opposite them so the thieves would have been looking down from their place straight into ours while they were busy forcing windows and doors and being deafened by sirens and blinded by flashing lights.

Wow, I said J’en suis bouche bée. Well I didn’t of course but boy I wish I could have done. Instead I said terribile in Italian which doesn’t sound as good does it ? Anyway the thieves broke in through a window and took bits and pieces but nothing worthwhile other than the spare car they keep in the driveway for when they are here. Bouche bée.

But that wasn’t all, three months later they were robbed again. This time the thieves brought their own car and broke into the places they hadn’t managed the first time using huge stones they lifted from  the big stone wall that surrounds the property . Bouche bée.

French ad time

maybe their ads are like their films.

And what of security I asked them. Well the company responded but they weren’t sure how long after the event and had merely told them the car had gone and the gates were open . They drove down from Paris to find the forced windows. The second time followed a similar pattern but this time the security company called the police as well when they found the broken doors.

Now it’s a small world sometimes isn’t it. Yesterday at lunch we are recounting the story to the 7 lunch guests and one of them was the policeman that responded to the call. Not only that he told us that the car had been used in two further robberies one in Ceglie Messapica and one in Villa Castelli and then was burnt out in a street in Grottaglia a few weeks ago.

But, everyone, the even more exciting news is that , you remember yesterday I said we were taking apple crumble as a “british” dish that the host had asked for. Well this self same policeman ate three portions of it and then asked if he could have the bowl to get out all the crumble and apple stuck to the sides. So a man also of impeccable taste as well.

Now I  was going to show you Nigella’s recipe here, but in Hong Kong of all places we watched a UK TV  programme called Gogglebox where members of the public critique TV shows from the comfort of their homes. This is their take on her latest show.

Great fun isn’t it ?



About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
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