Image via WikipediaYou have been spending the winter break planning home improvements for next year and one project that interests you, now the children are old enough, is to build a tree house in that big oak at the edge of the lawn.
You look on the net for pictures and ideas, then, as enthusiasm grows, for technical details and potential suppliers of materials.
You settle on a design and place your orders, still on the net.
In late spring your materials arrive and you get to work...there are unforeseen problems but by mid June the project is completed and you stand back, well deserved glass in hand, feeling proud of the results.
The children are delighted.
The summer visitors have been inviting themselves, as usual...the dates arranged by e mail...and the more adventurous want to sleep in the tree house. As the main house will be bursting at the seams all summer, you think this is a good idea and e mail back accordingly.
The first intrepid tree house lodgers arrive and all is going swimmingly until the arrival of the gendarmerie.
You have forty eight hours in which to take down the tree house.
Why? What's wrong? It's just a tree house for the kids!
Ah...but you have no planning permission, and anyway it is hazardous - just look at that rope ladder - and insalubrious - where is the loo? - and you are lodging people in it, Madame d'Enculade saw them through her binoculars yesterday, so it has to come down in the interests of preventing unscrupulous landlords from taking advantage of disadvantaged people.
Further, this is no last minute whim...you have been planning to set this up for months.
Yes, of course, I was sourcing stuff on the net.
And the so called lodgers are friends who wanted to try it out.
How do you know?
Pericles told us.
Who the hell is Pericles?
Let us leave the scene and ask ourselves the same question.
Just who is Pericles?
Well the one that first comes to mind is the Athenian politican of the fifth century B.C. who was responsible for enslaving the Greek colonies and lesser states under the yoke of his city in return for 'protection' from the Persians, responsible for the decline of his city by its involvement in the crippling Peloponnesian Wars against Sparta and responsible for the extension of voting rights in the city to the poorer classes.....just as long as they were not women, slaves or people with a foreign parent.
In other words, one of the fathers of democracy as we are taught to know it.
But he's dead, so it can't be this Pericles who is the gendarmerie's nark, their informant.
And it's unlikely to be Pericles, Prince of Tyre, as he seems to be all at sea and thus a most unlikely source.
So there must be another...and indeed there is.
Pericles is the information database to be set up in France by Loppsi 2.
Something to do with flopsy bunny?
No. More like Mr. McGregor.
Legislation to secure the internal security of France.
Whatever that might mean.
What it seems to mean is that, using the suppression of paedophilia on the net as an excuse, the gendarmerie can decide...all on its ownsome...to introduce spyware on someone's computer for up to four months before being forced to involve a judge in the process.
The opinion of the gendarmerie is all that is required.....and given their interest in Facebook (here) I wouldn't give much for the chances of objective analysis when deciding whose computer to infiltrate.
You can picture the scene...safe behind the never open gate and the net curtains, the gendarmerie gather.
Well, we'd better produce some figures...wouldn't do to look slack when the cuts are going on. Who have we got?
What about the ex senator...Sanshonte? With his interests you'd be bound to make a few discoveries....
Discoveries which we don't want to make. You're new here, you won't remember the job we had keeping that girl's father quiet....but if there's a chance of the Left getting into power in 2012 then yes...it might be handy....fine, go ahead but keep the reports in this office...no carbon paper in the typewriter either.
So who else?
I wouldn't mind keeping my eye on my notaire...he's been sitting on my money for a month now....
No, I see what you mean...good idea...that's the notaires then. But no carbon paper either...O.K.?
So what about the foreigners?
Good idea, Lamerde! They could be up to anything! Even logging on to that subversive site French Leave...!
Or worse...Maitre Eolas!
And while you're at it, check them all out on Pericles...see if the buggers are paying their taxes or fiddling their healthcare, or if their kids have been backsquadded at school....
Thus the gendarmerie.....
Meanwhile as always with modern legislative processes, there is a core Bill, to which expedient measures will be tacked at the last minute...and Loppsi 2 is no exception.
Given the government's need to attract the Front National vote, measures aimed at non conformity with the French norm have been felt to be necessary so, attached to Loppsi 2 are measures which entitle a prefect...Paris's man in the provinces....to evict people from housing which does not meet the norms....is hazardous, insabubrious, etc....which, while stated to be in the interests of tenants is actually aimed at squatters, travelling people and those who live in yurts.
I must admit that the latter are usually so self satisfied that I am almost with the government on this, but this is a purely subjective opinion and must be overcome.
So, when you are planning that tree house remember...Pericles is watching you.