Rural dwellers in France are feeling threatened by city slickers moving into the countryside.
Indeed, a series of court cases lately have pitted the traditional way of life in rural France against modern values which, country-dwellers say, are creeping in from the city.
It all started with Maurice.
Maurice was a loud, strutting rooster who was so cocky that he was the pride and joy of his owner Monsieur Louis Gaspard who extolled its virtues to all and sundry.
But Monsieur Sundry did not like the cacophonous cock. He had newly moved in from Paris, a civilised place where roosters did not frighten the daylights out of neighbours at daybreak.
A civilised city such as Paris would know what to do with the raucous rooster, thought the much maligned neighbour vengefully. Render it into a mouth-watering marsala perhaps?
Some hot fowl curry on a cold winter’s day is always nice, thought Monsieur Sundry wistfully. This shocked the prudish Monsieur Gaspard: he knew that fowl was a four letter bird.
And that was how it ended up in court.
According to Reuters, the case was heard in Soustons, 700 km south-west of Paris, which just showed how far Monsieur Sundry had fled to obtain some peace and quiet.
His lawyer said the piercing noise emitted by the cacophonous cockerel each morning exceeded the permissible levels permitted any rooster holding French citizenship. The ensuing bedlam, argued the lawyer, prevented the Sundrys from sleeping with their house-windows open.
In short, he wanted damages for his anguish and suffering.
The judge thought the barrister was talking cock and he said so. He ruled that the consequential cockerel was free to do what it did best which was to cock-a-doodle-do until the cows came home or the buffalo roamed.
He was not known as Monsieur Cliche for nothing.
Meanwhile, the legal cases have spread. Case in point: the ducks and geese on a small French smallholding may carry on quacking, a French court ruled on Tuesday, rejecting a neighbour’s complaint that the birds’ racket was making their life a misery.
About 60 ducks and geese had been kept by retired farmer Dominique Douthe in the foothills of the Pyrenees and the daily commotion they made had driven the neighbour, newly moved from Paris, to distraction, not to mention drink.
Madame Douthe felt compelled to defend her flock lest her goose be cooked. Her lawyer rose to heights of eloquence in court arguing that her newly moved-in neighbour was on a wild-goose-chase and Madame Douthe’s flock was no less than nature’s bounty.
Even their occasional trips to town were a treat, he argued. It was sheer “poultry in motion.”
The disgruntled neighbour is planning to appeal on the grounds that the judge was biased.
The judge was well known in his rural neighbourhood for his unrelenting dandruff. During the trial, he was only seen to perk up when a witness for the defendant – an expert on shampoo – testified.
The expert testified that his company only obtained its dandruff-resistant shampoo after a study on the dietary habits of geese. It showed that the addition of gluten to the final formula worked wonders on the scalp.Bread was good for the birds and so, what’s good for the goose was good for the dander.