When we lived in our previous house, it was an eight mile round trip to our nearest supermarket but driving through the forest, means I could shave nearly three miles off. The track was passable in all but the very worst weather but was full of ruts and pot holes. So I very rarely met other traffic. Although there was one famous occasion when we came across a shagging couple, much to the kids delight.
Another time, I decided to take a different short cut through the same stretch of woodland. I left as dusk was falling and set off home. The forest is quite spooky, even on a sunny day and for some reason, as I turned off the main track and went deeper into the woods, I felt a bit uneasy. I put this down to driving along an unfamiliar track in rapidly fading light. I’d also been reading my daughters collection of vampire novels all weekend. Despite telling myself firmly, not to be so silly, I still felt the need to lock the car doors.
When a man appeared two minutes later, pointing a gun, apparently at me, I nearly shat myself. He was dressed from head to toe in camouflage clothing. This meant that he was more likely to be a hunter than a demented survivalist psychopath, but even so I was slightly freaked out.
He looked surprised too. Maybe he wasn’t expecting some house wife to come tearing past in her Land Rover in the dark. Maybe the local commune had asked him to patrol the area and look out for fornicating couples. Maybe he was hunting small furry animals. But in any case, is it really sensible for hunters to be wandering around the woods in the dark, armed with a potentially lethal weapon?
During last week’s strikes, there was a huge increase in the amount of gunfire coming from the woods behind our house. There was no way I was going to walk the dogs or take the kids out riding. One afternoon we heard what sounded like semi-automatic fire. I can’t even begin to imagine what you might be shooting at, to need a weapon like that. But I suppose it makes hitting the target slightly easier. And given how French men love to spend their Sunday mornings wandering around the countryside, terrifying passing cats, before returning home half pissed and empty handed, it’s probably surprising that there isn’t more machine gun fire to be heard. At least that way, they would be able to triumphantly hand over a corpse and ask their long suffering spouse to cook it for dinner.