Image by wonker via FlickrIt 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 certificate....here.... 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'?....here
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 generally....in 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.