« I’ve come to tell you that I’m selling my land” she said as she stepped carefully through the front door. She followed me into the kitchen, her gait slow and stooped. My husband stood to greet her, bending down to plant the obligatory 3 kisses on her soft, hairy cheeks, as she repeated her opening sentence. “I’d sell it to you, mais mon pauvre, you could never afford to buy it.”
I caught my husband’s eye. We had heard the rumours of course that the field was up for sale, but it was simple farming land and no building would be permitted. I wondered who would want it, but I already had my suspicions.
My husband had worked the field for years and by rights he should have first refusal, but she must have read my mind “They’re offering me three times what it’s worth. Three times!” she said “and what with Marcel in the nursing home now, I need the money to pay the fees.” Her voice trailed away and I gazed down at the floor.
“It’s the Parisians, the people who own the house next to the field. They don’t want any neighbours you see…” I looked up. Suspicions confirmed. Reading between the lines, I knew that they would be buying it as an investment, in the hope that one day it would become building land and that the price would soar.
“You might want to check with them, to see if it’s worth sowing or not this year” she continued. I glanced at my husband as he nodded. I knew what he was thinking. We probably wouldn’t have been able to buy the land even at the original agricultural price, but that was beside the point. “It’s people like them that are pushing the prices up and farmers out!” he said. The old lady nodded in agreement, turning to leave, her eyes tinged with sadness “I don’t like it either” she said “but I’ve got no income of my own. I’m sorry but I don’t have any choice.”