A trial in Rochefort, south-western France, which could literally cost Maurice his head, has been postponed until July 4. But Bruno Dionis du Séjour, the mayor of a tiny hamlet called Gajac en Gironde (400 inhabitants), is furious and is determined to save not only Maurice but the sounds of rural France. Maurice is a rooster.
The problem began a couple of years ago when a couple bought their secondary residence next door to Corinne Fesseau in Saint Pierre d’Oléron, an island off south western France. Little did they know Maurice would wake them every day at 6:30. The retirees want the rooster silenced.
This is just the latest case of urban elites trying to silence the countryside when they buy a secondary residence. Mayor Dionis du Séjour is counter-attacking by calling for the sounds of the countryside to be declared a “national heritage.”
It was one of the worst experiences of my life. The room in my Moscow student dorm was infested with bedbugs. After two painful and sleepless nights, I was taken to a Soviet hospital to face a doctor with a needle as big as her hat, and made for horses, full of something they said was supposed to calm my suffering.
“You are testing new weapons against us Americans!” I told them. They just shrugged their shoulders. For some societies, bedbugs are a given.
But not in France where Cimex Lectularius was driven out in the 1950s by chemicals that are now forbidden. “Invasion!” “The Plague!” “End of the world.” The French press compete in hyperbole to describe their return: “Bedbugs!”