My neighbour (the French, not the Portuguese side) stops me in the street to tell me about a recent meeting at the mairie 'concerning our road.'
He points to the Portuguese house. 'The mayor has well noted our complaints about the noise,' he says, and then patting me on the arm, 'it must be very distressing for you.'
'Um...yes,' I say, not looking at all distressed and feeling very treacherous (to both sides.) Does my French neighbour know that I have been fraternising with the enemy, I wonder?
'And another thing,' says my neighbour, 'which concerns the parking.'
'Oh yes?' I say, recalling how, within days of arriving in France, my neighbour called the mairie and arranged to have big yellow lines painted outside my house so that I couldn't park there. (Despite this, we have a cordial relationship and I have been invited in several times to admire the ancient flagstone floors, said to have been stolen from the ruins of the chateau).
'It's very important that everyone parks within the white lines,' he says, pointing to the two parking spaces on the hill, that to my neighbour's chagrin, the town hall workers painted at the same time as my yellow lines. 'Otherwise, you might find yourself with a very big fine.' He fixes me with a very grave expression. 'Or worse.'
'Bien noté,' I say, but, as a former London dweller, I do not appreciate his lecture on parking, as the one thing I am absolutely brilliant at is parking within white lines.
The following day I notice that the large white van belonging to my Portuguese neighbours is protruding from the white lines of the parking bay at an angle of 45 degrees.
What will my neighbour have to say about that I wonder?