After the Ball was Over….the European Elections

 

Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National
Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National

 

Hello, Clement! Quiet evening, thank goodness.

Do you mean the European election results last night…..or the ruckus you had in here this afternoon?

Oh, that….! You think you’ve seen everything when you run a bar, but this beat the band! What can I get you?

Zizi tells me that you’ve managed to get something from Antoine….

Yes, I was lucky. He had a client who let him down….there you are……what do you think?

A good drop….you had a bit of luck getting his grolleau gris now it’s become fashionable!

Well, yes…fashionable…but the fashionable bastard from the fashionable Paris bistro who ordered it couldn’t pay up front and Antoine doesn’t do tick; well not to Parisians anyway…

Ah well, his loss our gain…..it’s getting to be something when you can’t get hold of decent wine because some blasted journalist comes down here on his holidays and puts his ‘friends’ in the know…

Well, as it turned out it was lucky for me…that’s a nice drop he makes.

So it is! Hang on…here’s Victor! The gendarmes let you out did they?

Hello, Victor! Glass of Antoine’s?

On the house I hope…all the custom I brought you today!

Custom! Don’t talk to me about custom! After his gorillas carted you lot off that obnoxious pest Malfrat was here sinking it as if there was no tomorrow!
Mark you, I gave him that stuff you offloaded onto me…your- what was it – biodynamite stuff that you were going to sell to the English…

Serve him right…enough to kill an ox, that stuff, even the English wouldn’t drink it….I don’t suppose he paid you….

Pay! He’s a gendarme! Don’t make me laugh!

Well,  all that will change once we get into power! No more swilling for Malfrat…and he can keep a civil tongue in  his head while he’s about it….I haven’t been called names like that since my time in the army!

Oh, no, Victor, please! That’s how it started this afternoon!

What do you mean…’when we get into power’….didn’t see your name on a ballot paper!

Of course you didn’t, Clement! I’m not standing for office at my age, and anyway I don’t want my tyres let down…let alone be forced to go to Belgium with all those foreigners…….No, our party, the Front National! And our lovely leader, Marine Le Pen, next President of France!

Oh, come on, Victor! Your lot only did so well because people couldn’t be bothered to go out to vote…come the real elections in 2017  it’ll be a different story! No one’s going to vote for a party that blames everything on immigrants!

Ho! Don’t you be so sure! That’s what Theo said this afternoon; typical know all communist that he is – always knows best. Well, as I said to him then and I say to you now, just you wait! People didn’t turn out this time because they know there’s nothing you can do about the European Union…the parliament members are just so much whitewash for the crooks and madmen running the place on our money…but the Presidential is the real one and all the people who are sick and tired of being taxed to the hilt to keep a bunch of freeloaders in foie gras will be out in force! Then you’ll see…which is what I said to Theo, but he wouldn’t have it.

That’s as may be, Victor, but you didn’t have to push his wheelchair outside and set it off down the hill…

Oh, he didn’t come to any harm…and it’s hardly a hill, just a slope down  to the Place d’Armes….and there’s no point trying to argue with him, he’s always right!

Well it’s hardly an advertisement for your party, is it…pushing old cripples down hills if they disagree with you! What about the rest of your party’s policies?

Unbeatable, mon pote! And a surefire election winner among them! Out of the Euro…just think about it! We’ll be able to use the francs we’ve been hiding in the mattresses all these years!

You haven’t still got francs in your mattress! Not even you, Victor….

Yes…I couldn’t work out a way of converting them all into euros at the changeover without the taxman getting wind of it or someone denouncing me and, anyway, I was sure the euro couldn’t last…and now I’ll be able to use them again! That’ll get the people out to vote, you see if it doesn’t!

But what about the racism…all the anti immigrant stuff…people won’t stand for that, you know…

What’s racist about saying that you can’t come to France and expect a free hand out? And you can’t say we’re prejudiced…if we pull out of the European Union all those English can go back where they came from too unless they can afford to pay their way…not just the Arabs and Africans from the colonies…

Bit much, that, Victor…having a go at the English because they wouldn’t buy your wine….

Look at them! Come over here, buy places you wouldn’t keep a respectable pig in and think they own the joint! Even stand for local councils! No more of that, I can tell you….France for the French!

But that’s absurd….and trying to get out of being called racist by lumping the English with Arabs just won’t wash!

See, I give you a reasoned argument and you come back with rubbish! Just like Theo when he came back this afternoon with his mates from the old peoples’ home. Mob handed they were…I told them it just showed the weakness of their arguments if they had to resort to violence…

Violence! Old boys in their eighties!

In their eighties they might be, Clement, and so’s Victor after all, but most of them were on the railways when we still had steam trains and they can handle themselves! It all started peaceably enough, having a go at Victor over a few glasses, but then he took offence when  Jerome called him a capitalist lackey and things got out of hand…

Capitalist lackey…better that than a lackey of Moscow and so I told him!

So you did, Victor, so you did…..and then Lionel whacked you in the shins with his crutch and you grabbed Jean-Michel’s zimmer frame and laid about you until you got it caught up in the coat rack and they were on to you! Pity the national rugby coach couldn’t have seen them…they’d do better in the scrum than the current lot…

And which spoil sport called the gendarmerie, I’d like to know! I was just getting my second wind when they burst in and trapped me behind the door! Nearly put the false teeth through the back of my neck! And as for being manhandled down to the paddy waggon…! No respect, that’s what! You’d think we were a bunch of Arabs in the Paris suburbs…though they’d never have dared come the old acid with them as there’d have been hell to pay! Half the bleeding hearts who live well away from the suburbs writing to the newspapers and looking disapproving on the television…

I tell you, come the revolution – I mean when we get into power –  there’ll be changes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victor…A Word…

john-piper-mosnac-dordogne.jpgOn a wet afternoon in western France a gendarmerie van pulls into the farmyard…its sole occupant gets out shouting

Hoy, Victor! A word!

Hello Jean-Yves! What brings you here? I’m in the barn…just a minute while I shut the doors and we’ll have a drink…

No, don’t shut the doors, Victor….it’s about what you’ve got in that barn that I’ve come about.

On your own, I see.

Yes, I’m trying to do you a good turn….let me see what you’ve got there. Yes, just as I thought!
Victor, you’ll have to get rid of it…put it back where you found it…and quickly.
There’s all hell to pay.
Everyone’s out looking for it and they’ve even taken us off speed traps and breathalysers.

Must be serious then!

Yes, it is!
Apart from you having stolen property in your barn…what the blazes do you want with a bulldozer that size? You haven’t got enough land to make it worthwhile – and how did you get it here from the new bypass anyway?

Ah! Typical!
Us farmers are getting robbed all ways…..diesel syphoned off, animals killed in our own fields, tools stolen, irrigation pipes nicked – even whole crops gone!
Look at that poor guy who had his whole field of garlic nicked….and the forty hectares of grapes that went missing overnight….not to speak of combine harvesters vanishing into thin air!
And where are the Gendarmerie? Breathalysing some poor sod who’s been out drowning his sorrows!

Well it’s not my fault….only a few more years to the pension, thank goodness.
It’s not what I joined for I can tell you…

No, I know Jean-Yves.
When you started there were still bars in your stations – and you were a hell of a lot nicer for it! I reckon that the rot started when they closed down them down.
You turned nasty about then…applying the law to people you knew…
Still, what I mean is that us farmers can have our stuff nicked left, right and centre…but let some big roadworks contractor miss his bulldozer – you’d think he’d got enough, wouldn’t you? – you’re all on red alert!
No wonder we’ll all be voting Le Pen in the elections!

That’s as maybe…but I can tell you that a big firm like Crapule gets a lot more attention in high places than you lot. Might be different if you were cereal boys…in the big league…but you’re not!
The firm thought the ‘dozer had been whipped off to Germany….like a lot of other stuff. You boys are lucky you’re not nearer the frontier.

Clever buggers, the Germans.

What do you mean?

Well, they worked out they didn’t have to have a war to get what they wanted this time….they thought up the E.U.
See, in the war they had to go round requisitioning…this way government – our government – does it for them.
They get cheap veg and flog expensive cars.
Bit like Vichy, really, but more efficient. Very hot on efficiency the Germans…

Come off it Victor! You’re not telling me the Germans are using the E.U. to nick combine harvesters and fields of garlic…

No, but they run the show, don’t they! Remember when Hollande got in and what he was going to say to Merkel?
Turned out to be ‘Jawohl’, didn’t it…
No, the E.U. lets these crooks from Transylvania in and they nick the stuff, take it to Germany and the Germans get it on the cheap…
Clever buggers, like I said.

Never mind all that! You’ll have to get it back there…or dump it somewhere…and sharpish!

Well, we’ve finished with it now anyway, so I’ll get Laurent to run it into Ste. Conasse tonight, dump it round the back where it’s dark. Just make sure you’re not out breathalysing between here and there.

No, all right…but who is ‘we’? You and Laurent?

No! There’s me, of course, and Jean-Antoine and Popaul…here, you’re not taking notes!

No, just interested to know what’s going on. That’s what policing used to be about…
So what the blazes were you three geriatrics up to? Put together you don’t have enough land to make that ‘dozer worthwhile…

That’s where you’re wrong!
It’s the eco tax…you know, the one on lorries that comes in in January. Going to be taxed by the lorry…tollgates going up all over the main roads…
Gerard over at the roads department in Benitierville put us wise! There’s going to be one between us and the abattoir! It’s only down the road…but we’ll have to pay as if we’d been coming from Normandy!

Well you weren’t thinking of using the ‘dozer to knock the tollgate down, were you?

No! We might be old but we’re not stupid!
We had a word with Olivier down at the abattoir and he reckons that we can get in on the back road from St. Ragondin round by les Deux Biscouilles without any problem.

But how are you going to get to St. Ragondin? You’ve still got the main road to deal with.

Ah. that’s why we wanted the bulldozer.
We’ve made a road across our fields to link up with the footpath that brings us out just this side of the village….where the old railway line used to be. A bit of hardcore in bad weather and we’re sorted.
So they can stuff their tollgate…we won’t be paying!
Eco this, eco that….just another word for tax!
It’s bad enough with their blasted windmills…electricity bill up through the roof…but a tax on going a few kilometres is a step too far!

Well, just get rid of it Victor…tonight! You don’t want anyone else knowing you’ve got it…the adjutant is up the wall!

Hang on a minute, how did you know to come round here?

Well, it couldn’t have been the manouches….they were having a face off with our boys with chainsaws at the campsite that night…..so the only other alternative was a totally irresponsible idiot…and that’s when I thought of you!

That evening, at the gendarmerie station, the adjutant answers the ‘phone.

Here, says a voice, I reckon you should know….

Know what?

Well, that windfarm at the back of Ste. Conasse…someone’s driven a bulldozer in there and there’s a hell of a mess….metal all over the place and the gyppos are carting it off by the truckload…….

The illustration is ‘Mosnac, Dordogne’ by John Piper.

Old Friends…..

I am shutting down my other blog…but would like to preserve some of the posts, so apologies to those who have read this before – although in terms of the Eurozone it still seems decidedly relevant!

all mARCH 13 235 July 23, 2012
Sunday morning in Costa Rica.

A warm hazy morning with a slight breeze lifting the humidity as I sit on my balcony listening t0 the Test Match Special team describing the annihilation of the England cricket team at the hands of the South Africans.

As Jacques Kallis thumps a ball from Ravi Bopari to the boundary yet again, I see on the laptop that Bradley Wiggins has won the Tour de France and led his compatriot Mark Cavendish into a fourth sprint victory on the final stage in the heart of Paris…..and turning to the French newspapers see with no surprise that while the journalists are fair, the comments on the victory articles are sour and jealous.

The voice of France.

But not the only one as, turning to the politics reporting I find with delight that old friends have made their reappearance.

Sarkozy? Chirac? Mitterand?

No! Much more interesting….

pumping_shadoks2
The Shadoks. Birds with vestigial wings, long legs and big clumsy feet. Heroes (?) of a television series.

They were a cult in the years in which I first stayed in one place in France long enough to watch television….and even then those series were repeats of the early stuff which I think came out in the 1970s.

They lived on a two dimensional planet from which it was easy to slip off into the void and their aim was to colonise the more stable Terra, inhabited only by retired dinosaurs and an obnoxious insect…but their plans went always awry.

Harmless enough you might think…sort of a French version of The Clangers….but it roused passions, even on second and third repeats, because it was felt that the Shadoks were being used to represent the French people by their creator, Jacques Rouxel.

And the image presented was not to the taste of all.

The Shadocks were ruthless….and stupid.

So stupid that all of which they were capable was blind obedience to orders: whereas the other group in the series, also seeking to move from an unstable planet, the Gibis, were presented as intelligent and cooperative, capable, efficient and peace loving.

They even got along with the obnoxious insect.

thumbnailgibis
Rumour had it that these Gibis – whose collective brain was housed in their hats – were meant to represent the British!

Outrage!

The delight in the Shadoks rested in their perversion of those qualities on which French culture prided itself….logic and mathematics.

What was the nature of a colander?

Anything could be a colander which had an exterior, an interior and some holes.

The holes were not very important.

It didn’t matter how many holes there were, or if you reduced the number of holes by a half, or even if there were no holes at all.

QED…. that the notion of a colander was independent of the notion of a hole and vice versa.

In the same vein, there were three types of colander…

One which let through neither noodles nor water.

One which let through both.

One which sometimes let through one or the other and sometimes did not.

A colander which did not let through water or noodles was a saucepan.

A saucepan without a handle was a bus,

A bus which did not move was a saucepan (slang term for an old banger).

The use of language too was subversive with its twisting of common phrases and proverbs….

Everything which is not clearly authorised is strictly prohibited….

If it is hurting, it’s good for you….

Why do something the easy way if you can make it difficult…

If you don’t know where you’re going you have to get there as soon as possible….

The only way the poor Shadoks could escape to the stability of Terra was by building a rocket…..but the fuel was a substance floating in the air and their leaders told them that the only way to succeed in trapping the fuel was by pumping…..and so the Shadoks pumped.

shadock4_s

And pumped.

And were told that it was only by pumping that they would get somewhere….and if they didn’t get anywhere at least they hadn’t done any harm….after all, better to pump even if nothing happened than that something worse happened if you did not pump.

So why have the Shadoks…under the radar for so long…emerged in the political columns of Le Figaro?

Because the German ambassador must be a fan…he was expounding on the problems of the eurozone recently and delivered himself of the well known Shadokism…

If there is not a solution, it is because there is not a problem…..

shadock3_s
Which led the author of the article, Jean-Pierre Robin, to consider the attempts to control and master the crisis in terms of the two dimensional world of the Shadoks.

In which context the phrases cited above may take on a new resonance.

As may these…..

shadock1_s
In a parody of probablility theory, if something has only a million to one chance of succeeding the sooner you try the 999,999 attempts doomed to failure the better….

While remembering that to finance the said attempts, there are less malcontents if you always hit the same targets…

shadok2_s

And that our self proclaimed leaders have a similar capability to the leaders of the Shadoks….

shaddock hollande
Who speak so intelligently that they fail to understand what they are saying.

Acknowledgements.

Le Figaro July 22nd 2012. Article by Jean-Pierre Robin ‘Quand les Shadocks eclairent les paradoxes de la zone euro.’

The first illustration comes from this article.

Wikipedia on the Shadoks…the French version.

http://www.archimedes-lab.org/shadoks/shadoks.html for the other illustrations.

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