Monday, 28 June 2010

No such thing as a free lunch?


One of the occupational hazards of my job as a property finder is that I spend a lot of time in cars with strange men. Not the clients, I hasten to add, but estate agents. So far, the only time I have been scared is by the way some of them drive, but last week I was nervous for a different reason.

There is a nice old man who lives opposite me in the ground floor apartment. He has a large terrace and he spends much of his time tending to his many potted plants. From an initial ‘waving’ and ‘calling out greetings’ acquaintance we are now at the stage where we occasionally invite each other over for coffee. Although the chances of him reading this are slim (as he does not speak a word of English or possess a computer), to avoid embarrassment (mainly mine!) I shall refer to him only as JC.

Soon after noon last Friday JC telephoned to ask, if I hadn’t already started my ‘preparations’, would I like to join him for lunch? As my ‘preparations’ had only so far extended to getting a rock-hard slab of Brie out of the fridge that didn’t show any signs of being soft enough to eat that day I replied that I would be delighted to join him. He then informed me that we would be going in the car and we agreed to meet outside the garage entrance at 1pm. To be honest I was quite pleased at the thought that we were going to a restaurant as he didn’t strike me as being a gourmet cook!

When we set off I asked where we were going and JC replied ‘La Boucherie’. My heart sank – we were obviously going to choose the food, take it back to his apartment, he was then going to cook and it was going to be a long afternoon! I then wondered (to myself) why we were driving to the butcher’s when there were so many in our own locality. JC continued to chatter about his family, his heart condition, Sarkozy etc. etc. as we drove and I watched where we were going and worked out that it was probably to Porte d’Espagne (on the outskirts of Perpignan) where there was a large shopping mall that stayed open all day. But no, we turned left at the island and ended up on the ring road leading westwards towards Spain! I was beginning to quietly panic by now - how could I have been so stupid, this man was obviously not a friendly old pensioner but a psychotic killer, bits of my dismembered body would be found scattered over the Pyrenees, I would never see my family again, nobody knew where I was etc. etc.

I was brought back to reality by JC tapping my arm and pointing to the left where to my great relief I could see what was at that moment the most beautiful sight in the world – it was a building with enormous model chickens, cows & pigs on the roof, and best of all, a large sign in front of it saying “Restaurant – La Boucherie”!

....and by the way, despite the outside decor, the food was delicious!

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