The Suitcase Lady

Maurice

September 10, 2019, 5:15 pm

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Amid the litany of horrors that is the daily newspaper, a delightful bit of news occasionally erupts. An item last week is surely one of these. It concerns a rooster and what roosters do best…vocalize.

This particular rooster is named Maurice, and he lives on the French island of Oleron. Like all roosters, he greets the dawn every morning with a cock-a-doodle-do, or rather his cocorico, the French word for a cock’s crow. This is what got him afoul of his neighbors, two urban dwellers who have a vacation home next door.

The neighbors complained to Maurice’s owner, Corrine Fesseau, that his vocalizations were “abnormal racket” disturbing their sleep. Being a good neighbor, Madame Fesseau tried draping his coop at night with a black cloth. Maurice was not to be fooled: he still knew when dawn was arriving and acted accordingly. Next, his owner tried sound-proofing his coop with egg boxes. Not satisfied with these efforts, the neighbors sued.

When news of the lawsuit broke, the French public rallied. There recently had been a spate of similar cases with noise complaints concerning cackling geese and ducks, cicadas, mating frogs in a pond and church bells. Maurice, apparently, was the final straw.

140,000 people signed a “Save Maurice” petition. T shirts were printed with Maurice’s portrait and the words, “Let Him Sing”. The battle of urban vs rural and permanent resident and holiday visitor had begun. And it dragged on for two years.

Before the trial, a court official stayed at the complainant’s house for three nights to access the severity of the noise. He reported that the rooster only crowed intermittently between 6:30 and 7:00 AM and was merely audible if the windows were closed.

Last Thursday was Maurice’s big day in court. He showed up in person (chicken) and was exonerated. In addition, the judge awarded him $1,100 in damages. Julian Papineau, Maurice’s lawyer, declared, “This is affirmation that people of bad faith don’t always win, and that we have to accept nature’s sounds”.

Tres Bon!

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