So why do small towns keep banning death? That is easy to answer – although the answer isn’t the one that we all want. When Guérin and his cabinet had finished drafting Cugnaux’s new law, the first thing they did was send a copy to the media. The legislation was itself soon declared illegal of course but, as Guérin puts it: “Everything was opened. We had press come from France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Belgium. I gave an interview to Japanese television … And three months after, I received a letter from the prefect. He had authorised the cemetery.”

The old “ban on death” manoeuvre, in short, is often the local government equivalent of a naked calendar – a good-natured way of driving attention to their cause. In Sellia, 100 people signed up for their health checks in the flurry of publicity that followed the prohibition of dying and, who knows, perhaps one or two did have their lives saved as a result. As for Cugnaux, eight years later, it still doesn’t have its cemetery. “It should be open in a few years,” Guérin insists. “In France, it takes a lot of time.”