All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Under the Radar, Under the Belt. Monsieur Pechenard takes the Piss.

French Police Taking A PissImage by wonker via Flickr
It appears that those speeding fines dished out by the police with their mobile radars could be illegal.

With all the intellectual brilliance for which the French claim to be famed, the form on which the details of your offence are laid out doesn't have a section stating how far away the camouflaged police car was when you were flashed.

With all the unthinking obedience to ticking little squares and writing in little boxes to which the French are accustomed from childhood, if there isn't a space, the information cannot be given. So the gendarmerie don't fill in what doesn't exist.

A court has found that the necessary information to make out the offence is incomplete, therefore the fines are illegal.

At least, they are in the Paris area, because in France there is no national jurisprudence until you get to the top of the system, so what might be illegal in Paris might be found to be legal in Provence.....all depends in which region you are verbalised by the guardians of what the French are pleased to call law and order.

Except that the French are growing less and less pleased to call it that.
The French are beginning to think that there is one law for the rich...and orders for the others.

Well, the French I  came to know when I first moved to France knew that...but they weren't the people with access to the media.
They were the 'brave gens'...that is to say, the 'little people', condescended to by their 'betters', the big farmers, the notaires, the guys who worked for the semi nationalised serivces like water, gas and electricity.
And, of course, the British immigrants.

However, there was no reflection of their lives in the newspapers..neither local nor national, apart from the obituaries and the photographs of the mechoui for the veterans of the wars in Algeria.
One had to get to know them at local events over a glass or six to get their view of life, which could be summed up in the oft heard phrase
'Nous sommes pour rien.'  We don't count.

Well, it seems these days that people other than the 'brave gens' think that they don't count either.

While their retirement age looks set to go up, they see the wealthy given privileged treatment by...not just the taxman, but the Finance Minister in person.
Madame Bettencourt, heiress to the Oreal fortune, even had the minister's wife to do her accounts, while Monsieur Wildenstein, personal friend of Sarkozy and fundraiser for the ruling UMP party in America, not only gets away with a lenient tax view on the value of the art collections he received from his father, but also collects the Legion d'Honneur.

While the government nibble away at peripheral tax advantages, they maintain the privileged status of gifts to organisations. You might, in your innocence, think this is fine...why should not gifts to charity be given recognition in your tax return?
Except that included in this category are the gifts to political parties...both the mainstream ones and all the starry host of little ones...who then contribute to the mainstream ones, thus evading the rules on the limits of donations.

The government is busy attracting international opprobrium for expelling Roms...while the major nuisance, the native travelling people....manouches, bohemiens, gitanes....continue to flout their immunity from tax or indeed any other control as they travel from one wrecked site to another as yet unwrecked in their top of the range 4x4s and caravans.

Send someone President Sarkozy's birth and you risk ending up in court......but Madame Sarkozy can have access to confidential police reports in order to feed her paranoia about possible rivals for the status of First Lady.

The draconian fines for speeding and the increased risk of losing your driving licence have been greatly resented, so you can imagine the public distaste when a newspaper revealed that a young man had escaped scot free when arrested for driving under the influence and threatening the arresting officers.

Was he Jean Sarkozy?..... here
Was he a 'travelling person'?
No, but someone with similar privileges.

The young man who, when called to book for drunken driving, threatened the police concerned with relegation to traffic duties, was the son of the national police chief, Frederic Pechenard.

And Monsieur Pechenard's reaction to the newspaper report?

The report is an attempt to upset him, and he is investigating how the journalists found out about the incident.

I have news for him.
The journalists found out about his son's little problem in the same way that Carla Bruni-Sarkozy found out about her rivals.....a policeman told them.
Only in this case the policeman was not called Frederic Pechenard.

I think it was the IMF warning of the risk of social unrest in France...and Europe the wake of the financial crisis caused by the lack of will of governments to make bankers bank rather than gamble with money which doesn't belong to them.
They might have a point.

Having to bite the bullet is one thing...having to pay for the bullet you're biting is something else, and it doesn't help matters when those at the top of the heap are seen to butter their bread in public while you eat stale cake.

Revolutions don't come from the 'brave gens' at the bottom of the social heap. They're too busy scraping a living to have time for such extravaganzas.

Revolutions come when those who have always thought of themselves as being a cut above the 'brave gens' find that their rulers lump them all together.....and treat them with equal contempt.

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  1. "Having to pay for the bullet you're biting"...

    Sure you're talking about France and not America? Not so different these days. Carla and Michelle, Sark and Obama. Very similar if you ask me- or the general public these days.

  2. Ah - there is no greater leveller than unfairness. The more people feel they have been wronged the more the desire for fairness grows...

  3. the guardians of what the French "imaginatively" call law and order.

    That's my experience anyway.

  4. Fly, there have been lots of reports in the UK press these last few days about various aspects of France and French life. Most have not been that complimentary. The comments by UK immigrants to France, often along the lines of 'the classless French society', how respected the workers are, equality, etc, made me choke on my cornflakes. How can people be so clueless about the country they live in? (Well, we know the answer to that one). Your blog should be required reading for all these people so they can get just a little bit of a handle on what REALLY happens in France. Chapeau!

  5. Another Day of Crazy, makes me think it's all run by the Mafia

    Steve, in the lust for loot from speeding fines, the French government have forgotten that the people they are fining are their natural supporters...the ones who align themselves with the 'haves' because they themselves have two sous more than their parents did.
    These people deeply resent being treated as cash cows. That's what the 'brave gens' are for.

    Sarah, yes, I wouldn't recognise it either!
    I thought your post on the PTA was an absolute gem...the comments served only to confirm and illustrate what you had written.
    A few hurt feelings? Nothing to what they inflict on others.

    P(V)LiF, people don't like it when you tell it how it is. They have this myth in mind and everything has to be made to fit to its criteria.
    They British immigrants should try asking a few of their neighbours ...but as they don't speak much French there's not much risk of having their visions overturned by a dose of reality.

  6. I do so like you and PVLiF...shining a light on things. I too get a bit fed up with the media thinking that all is well in other countries and it is all rubbish in the UK.

    I imagine there are good bits and bad bits in both places. Although somes of the UK drive me mad...I think, on the whole, it is not such a bad place to live...

  7. Hadriana's Treasures, I suppose it also depends what turns you on and what annoys you in general.

    The U.K. political correctness would get me down, but there's a different form of it in France which equally gets me down...the 'everything is best in France' mantra.

    I'd never pass the Tebbit test in France, so it's just as well they don't have a cricket team worth speaking of...

  8. Thanks Fly, every French comment confirmed my every word. Odd how they couldn't see it. Mind you, someone may have rallied the troops and told them to calm it because I haven't had any since going for moderation. Maybe they realised that every word written was providing proof of my criticism.

    I'm still intrigued as to why they give a shit what I think though.

  9. Sarah, I sometimes think the French suffer from a collective case of marcissistic personality disorder.