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The end of an era...

Last night, 9.30pm. I was making a milk in the microwave before going to bed.
A car drives up, and parks around back.

I go out to see who it is, and, well, basically it's a bloke that looks like Mickey Rourke (as he did about 10-15 years ago). Well, a skeezy Mickey Rourke.

"Do you have any metal?", he asks. Okay, so he's one of those gypos that comes around using metal collection as a pretext to casing houses. I mean, the last guy at least came in a pickup truck. This guy was driving a non-descript white car that looked like it had a boot.
(and yes, I am well aware that "gypo" is a derogatory term, keep reading)

No, I replied. There was a guy here two weeks ago asking the same thing.

"How about that car? I'm looking for a car for my daughter." He was referring to the C1, which was kind of green as I've not washed it since last year (or was it the year before? I forget).
I tell him it isn't for sale.
"I'll give you a thousand euros for it". Alarm bells were already ringing, but this was a giant honking klaxon. Nobody would offer a grand, and nobody would do so without knowing anything about the history of the vehicle.
"I'll pay you first", he said. I said, basically, no means no.

"Who are you? Do you live here? I've been here three years and haven't seen you before."
"Yes, I live here." I wasn't going to justify myself to this guy. But, also, I wasn't going to be sarcastic or facetious because I would bet cold hard cash on him carrying a weapon (think butterfly knife) and him having used it. You lead a certain sort of life...

"I have loads of English friends", he said.
Oh? "Yeah, I know Hazel" (not her real name). Now, this woman was infamous in town for being a bit of a busybody and being involved in pretty much anything worth being involved in. Plus, he's also given himself a way a little, as it's been more than three years since she went back to the UK. Closer to a decade, actually.

And? I asked. He was stumped for a reply, so, yeah, I guess he's not on first name terms with that many English people after all.

Getting the idea that there was no metal or car on offer, he got back into his car and his wife (who I didn't notice before as her skin was darker and she was keeping out of the way) offered a wicker basket. Again, no thank you.
"Well, bye bye", he said in English.

I said goodbye and walked off. Popped out my phone to see what time it was now, and absent-mindedly flick through my emails.

Bloody bloke pulls up beside me and accuses me of taking photos of his licence plate.
I tell him I'm looking at my emails because, well, I was. You see, I don't lead the life of an arsehole so that really wasn't the first thing to come to mind.
He said "oh, meh-meh-meh-meh" in a really patronising tone and floored it, shooting away before I even had a chance to consider taking a photo of his licence plate.


I spent the next hour and a half moving all of the garden equipment (except Marte, too damn big) into the cave behind the kitchen, it's a dirt floor back-kitchen sort of place where Frenchies store wine and root vegetables. It's locked. Not very well, but he'd need to bust a lock to get in.

I had, in the past, left the centre barn doors open. It was a convenient way through, and nothing ever happened.
Well, I went and closed them. Which meant closing them from the inside, then wedging them shut with bits of metal pipe, garden tools, whatever. They were fairly solidly shut, but it was not at all practical as I needed to climb up into the grenier, then exit by the loft door beside the satellite dish, down a ladder, and then stash the ladder in the house.

Just wedge this in here...
Just wedge this in here like so...

The problem is, they are big sliding doors that weren't designed for security, they were designed for function. Mainly being easy to move out of the way to herd cattle.

Built for utility, not security.
Built for utility, not security.

Now, many many years ago a bloke mom knew who liked to claim he had an HND in engineering (I think his actual qualifications were some unimpressive O-levels and degree in bullshit and gaslighting) installed a bolt latch. This thing.

How not to do it
How not to do it.

The problem is, when the bolt is in the locked position, it just about touches the door. In other words, useless.

I spent a while not sleeping going over ideas in my head. The doors are not particularly safe - a crowbar would bust it away from the wall, but I wanted something that would require actually breaking something to break in. So the doors would need to be immobilised. Like I'm doing with the bits of whatever, but without all the annoying faff.

Then, I hit upon a solution. A simple but effective solution. A very Rick solution.

This solution.

Ger in there ya bastard!
Ger in there ya bastard!

I used a narrow (4mm?) metal drill to make a trace hole. I used my battery drill for this.
I then used a wider (6mm?) drill bit on an electric power drill to widen the hole. I don't think it was a metal bit, but it cut into the metal when I applied some pressure to the back of the drill.
Finally, I used a wide (8mm?) metal bit on my battery drill.

Now, the reason I was using a battery drill is because the power drill was ancient old and one of those ones that had that little key to undo the chuck. A key that I didn't have.

This is the result.

There, now the door isn't opening.
There, now the door isn't going to slide open.

By the third door, the battery drill died partway through putting the narrow hole into the metal (that was a good centimetre thick). So I tried to finish off with the power drill. The probably-not-metal-bit gave up and snapped.
I was not having that. It would be finished this evening. So I put the broken end of the bit into the hole and powered up the drill. It didn't do much, so I switched the drill to percussive mode and pressed hard on the end as I rammed it into the hole (feel free to bring your own subtext ☺) and let it messily chew it's way into the steel.
Finally it made it through, so I then used the edge of the bit to slice away at the sides to widen the hole enough to the padlock could pass. It wasn't easy, but it was done in the end. That one didn't need to be as good as I rarely open that door.

So, now, I'm going to have to be like a townie and lock everything up all the time. That sucks. But, alas, people like him are why people like us can't have nice things...


I set up the has-a-server-in-Russia camera, and it dutifully recorded what happened today to its SD card. I wondered about purchasing cloud storage so events would be stored off-site, however it quickly became clear that the motion detection uses some sort of PIR sensor rather than anything to do with the image. This is because I got an alert every time the sun went in/came out (138 in the time I was at work!) but it completely failed to notice a huge great yellow post truck and it's occupant even though it was looking directly at where they'd be.
Suitable for indoors, not so much otherwise.

After work, I went and said what happened to the Mayor's sister. She will pass the word around town to keep an eye out for this guy. The person who was with her, somebody from the village, said that he has a security monitoring system from the bank. It might be something worth looking into - Arkéa Sécurité (in French) which looks like it protects a home for about €45 a month.

If this guy should return, or anybody at such a weird hour, my first response now will be to grab the phone and call 17 (the police). Time to be a little less liberal and consider that anybody who turns up without a rendezvous that isn't an expected service (post, parcel, etc) is quite likely not friendly, no matter how they might try to pretend they are.

Sadly, this is something I do have difficulties with. Having to work with the reality that a person that talks to me doesn't necessarily want to be my friend; and also not being at all good at reading other people's intentions...until loads of thinking time later. I've said in the past that I think that I am autistic and this is one of the times when it sucks, having to deal with... ugh... people.

Nothing happened today. But, sadly, there's always tomorrow.


Oh, and his batshit crazy licence plate nonsense played on my mind. I woke up at 3am with a little glowing light bulb. I'll bet you that is why he was interested in the car. I'd get a cheque that would bounce higher than the Mesosphere, and he'd say a lot of nice words while filling out the change of owner documents, and then he'd probably offer to post them all for me, which of course he wouldn't. Some place with a good return would get hit, the car would probably turn up on video, and likely get dumped someplace, and guess where the police would start asking questions... yup...

Get a job like the rest of us.



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David Pilling, 24th May 2023, 13:37
I'd be investing in comprehensive CCTV. A neighbour has a Ring brand security light which has built in camera, he showed me the results, it covers half the street, wide angle and good quality too. 
It will not be the only one, round here they have "smart" doorbells which also feature cameras. 
I've never thought about it, but these days in this sort of area you can't move without being on video. 
Someone (a business) set up, sort of a neighbourhood forum, meets Facebook. Anyway online discussion for a locality. I try to avoid it because mostly it consists of people posting video of people tampering with cars in driveways, or other tales of horror. 
Yesterdays was why has a BMW been parked with the engine running for a couple of days - yes the Police have been and looked at it. 
The CCTV system could feature dummies, box with flashing light as well as concealed cameras. Trail cameras like they have for photographing animals - no connections to net/power. 
Anyone worried about their number plate being photographed is living in the past. ANPR cameras all over. 
But then again some people are just outgoing or touchy feely, can make you feel uncomfortable - but they are harmless. 
David Pilling, 24th May 2023, 13:42
Signs "Ticks carrying Lyme disease in this area", "Wild Boar", "Really Big Dog", "Cat descended from Sabre Tooth Tiger", "Anglais!". Round here "Bird flu control area". 
Zerosquare, 24th May 2023, 23:52
> A neighbour has a Ring brand security light which has built in camera, he showed me the results, it covers half the street, wide angle and good quality too. 
Beware -- this is illegal in France. Private citizens are not allowed to install cameras that cover public areas (including the street in front of their home) or their neighbour's homes. And the penalties for noncompliance are quite severe (up to €45,000 in fines and one year of jail time).
David Pilling, 25th May 2023, 01:23
"Auditing" goes on in the UK... 
"First Amendment audits are a largely American social movement that usually involves photographing or filming from a public space. It is often categorized by its practitioners, known as auditors, as activism and citizen journalism that tests constitutional rights, in particular the right to photograph and video record in a public space (a right normally covered by the first amendment)." 

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