Country Life ; 1. Patric le Facteur (moins son chat, noir et blanc)
It’s a clear, still morning and other than the low rumble of a tractor tilling a distant field, all is calm. Then over the horizon a small custard colored van appears, travelling at warp speed and kicking up a trail of dust – c’est la poste. Your relationship with monsieur (or madame) le facteur is going to be governed by three things; first your dogs – more specifically their collective views on anyone in uniform, how hungry they are and if they consider the postbox at the end of your drive part of their territory.
And how fast Patric can run. Second, the effort you’ve put into welcoming him over the years - including taking him on occasional tours of your newly renovated house, partly to assuage his curiosity but mainly because his second cousin used to live there. Probably. Finally – and most importantly – whether you bought a calendar from him last Christmas. Each year, as the season of goodwill approaches, he’ll grab a stack of these (a selection featuring kittens, tractors or geese – the latter being marched to their doom by some cheery looking farmer’s wife) from the local sorting office with a view to foisting them upon his customers. €5 can be viewed as a minimum price (and may still be received without much enthusiasm), so unless you’re feeling especially flush, better to invest in a cheap bottle of plonk (but with an expensive looking label) and leave it on the letter box.
Get it right and you’ll find Patric endlessly helpful and a prime source of local gossip. But as with his colleagues, unless his van’s on fire – or he wants another grand tour – he won’t actually get out of it. Ever. So if he’s got a parcel for you, expect a wheel spinning blast up your drive and a heavy palm pressed hard on the horn, regardless of the hour, sleeping infants etc etc. This will drive your dogs insane and any suggestion that it’s a teeny weeny bit irritating will be greeted with a good natured shrug (and if you persist, the possibility of future packages arriving in an even more mangled state than is the norm).
And even if Patric seems hermetically welded to his seat, is puzzled by your reluctance to buy probably the tackiest calendars in the world, regularly wakes the baby and turns your dogs into a slavering, baying pack, always greet him with a smile. Remember, he’ll get to you in all weathers – regardless of icy, ungritted roads, will wax lyrical to his friends about the fab job you’ve made of your house and always have time for a chat. And he knows where you live.