Let me make this clear. I am NOT talking about Claude (female) of Blogging in Paris but of Claude (male) our one time gardener and (usually inebriated) purveyor of eggs, vegetables, farm meat, champagne etc.
Some time ago I left him and his mate drinking beer while I went to the garage to look for some glue that he had asked to borrow.
The next time I went to my purse i found it empty. Now I know at times I can be a bit forgetful but I was certain sure than there were 40 euros in that purse. Yet I couldn’t believe that Claude would steal from me.
Neighbours had warned me that he wasn’t totally honest but I prefer to trust people unless they give me reason not to.
Well, today, I had that reason.
Since the 40 euros went missing I had taken the precaution of keeping an eye on Claude. He turned up yesterday evening (smelling of pastis) with a couple of dozen eggs and I put in an order for some strawberries and six bottles of champagne for when my sister comes next month.
But today he turned up with another dozen eggs.
“No, I don’t want any more thank you. You brought me 24 yesterday.”
He sat down expectantly and I found him a beer. While we were talking the phone rang. It was one of Bear’s daughters but he was outside. I was about to take the phone into the garden when I remembered my policy of not leaving Claude and handbag unguarded. I turned back just in time to catch a fleeting glimpse of him returning to his chair from the direction of my bag, CLUTCHING MY PURSE!
Of course I told M her dad would call her back and then I went over to Claude.
“Is that my purse?”
He looked sheepish and handed it over.
“Leave my house at once,” I said, “and don’t come back.”
You won’t believe his response:
“Can’t I finish my beer first?” !!!!!!
“No you can’t” I shouted.
He tried to babble what may have been an apology but I was really mad by now.
“It was you who stole that 40 euros wasn’t it?”
His eyes widened and he burbled something incomprehensible.
“GET OUT AT ONCE!”
He still seemed reluctant to move so I yelled and pushed and threatened to call the police if he didn’t leave.
At the front door he went down on his knees but I was still shouting angrily.
When I eventually got him outside there were several neighbours looking on. They must have heard me screaming at him. I rarely lose my temper and become that angry (and it’s usually with Bear) but when I do let fly I can make quite a din.
Claude left with his tail between his legs and me shouting a final “Voleur” in his direction as neighbours watched open mouthed.
I rang his mate, whose wife is the champagne producer (she’s part owner of a vineyard run by her brother) and explained that I would still like the champagne I had ordered but because of what had happened I did not want Claude to deliver it.
Both Bear and Whale thought I should ring the police but he didn’t actually get away with anything this time and I have no concrete evidence of past thefts. However, I’m pretty certain he has been helping himself for some time and I’ve just been wondering why money seemed to go so quickly.
Suffice to say, Claude is absolutely persona non grata from now on.
UPDATE Monday evening:
The “champagne couple” came to see me this morning to find out exactly what happened. Later I heard that the wife had telephoned Claude’s cousin and together they had confronted him. He confessed to taking the 40 euros and they are going to make sure he pays it back. It’s too much to expect him to own up to any previous pilfering but, even so, I’ll be very pleased to have some money returned. All the same, he will still not be allowed in my house ever again.