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, 30 December 2010

Take down that tree house....Pericles doesn't like it.

Pericles' Funeral OrationImage via Wikipedia
You 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 have been planning to set this up for months.

Yes, of course, I was sourcing stuff on the net.

We know.

And the so called lodgers are friends who wanted to try it out.

We know.

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.

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 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 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 might be handy....fine, go ahead but keep the reports in this 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 evict people from housing which does not meet the 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.

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  1. Big brother is everywhere!!! Your tree house would be warmly received in Costa Rica...

  2. e, our Belgian visitors stayed in a tree house hotel and on return were describing it over coffee to Danilo who runs things for us here.
    They were saying how marvelous it was...having monkeys running over the roofs and along the balconies...

    Danilo was wrath....
    And you mean to say you paid to stay in a place with monkeys running wild?!!!'

  3. So let's get this straight... provided you sought and won planning permission, installed a toilet, a fire escape, a safe ladder, signed up to yearly H&S checks, produced risk assessments and paid ground rent the tree house would then be legal?

    Hey - what price your kid's happiness?

  4. I once stayed in a tree house in Kenya which was pretty cool.

    So did you have to take it down?

  5. Steve, never mind the U.S. armed forces and 'don't ask, don't tell...that phrase could have been invented for France and planning permission.
    It's always a fine line between refusal of an application and denunciation for having done it anyway...
    What worries me under this new set of laws is the gendarmerie taking it into their heads to snoop about in your life via your computer without needing authorisation from a judge.

    Mark, not my tree house. They have no charm for me.
    I prefer to distance myself from our cousins the monkeys rather than to emulate them.

  6. I suspect the very idea of data protection is a complete misnomer to the powers that be and they have tabs on all of us. I frequently pepper emails with indendiary phrases and radicalized soundbites to see if I can get a day out at the local nick but they've can obviously spot a bullshitter when they find one... it hasn't happened yet. Joking aside though, it is very worrying. This war on terror seems to make the common man on the street, irrespective of his nationality, an automatic potential enemy of the "state". The divide between us and them has rarely been so openly wide. George Orwell must be shuddering in his urn.

  7. Steve, you have it exactly...for the state its ordinary, uninfluential citizens seem to be the enemy....they're certainly treated as such.
    Given the stupidity and ignorance of some of its operatives and the dishonest perversion of those who control them it strikes me that it is all too easy to end up being categorised as a 'risk' in these societies.
    But does the mass of the citizenry get up and complain or act?


    They think that none of it will apply to them....echos of 'first they came for the trade unionists but I wasn't one, so..
    And I suspect that the majority have an uneasy feeling that putting your head above the parapet will draw down upon you the measures which you think will not apply to you...

    There was a book on the concept of state terrorism out in the seventies...but I can't find my references for it....which laid out the very frameworks states are now using...but without the foreknowledge of the technical advances which would make the work of control much easier.

  8. I think this happens here too, well at least I was aware of certain foreigners having their phones tapped when I lived in Cappadocia, and no doubt they're being watched (hacked) on the internet too.

    I wonder if they watch all the Turkish blogs? One of my followers (Nomad) thinks they do. I suppose I should be careful what I say or do.

    It is a bit disturbing though isn't it? I hate the idea of being spied on.

  9. Ayak, what gets me is that this spying can go on for four months before a judge gets involved....perhaps if they turned their attention to what goes on in banking circles they might be doing something positive, but, no...they just have a paranoid fear that ordinary people might not be toeing the line....

    Horrible, isn't it?

  10. Happy New Year to you and L, Fly! Like the Pericles reference...I must brush up on the Greek stuff. Love your comment about the cricket over at mine. Chortles. ;)

  11. Hadriana's Treasures, and a happy New Year to you and the family too...hoping for a stuffed Australia to start the year off in the right spirit.
    Bet they're not singing 'Under the Southern Cross I stand' these days....nor doing the sprinkler dance....

  12. A hotel not far from me built a very fine tree house for its guests. For reasons that escape me, once it was built the mayor refused to give it the necessary nod of approval (it was just a fraction over 20 square metres so his approval was needed)

    Cost them a fortune in lost revenues, but I think ity might be open now.

  13. Mark in Mayenne, and I wonder which meanminded person went creeping about with a tape measure in order to 'denounce' the hotel....

  14. The rose tinted spectacle brigade love to sound off about CCTV cameras in the UK (they don't of course exist in France - well all except for the one road in the town next to us that had 21, yes, 21!)this takes government snooping to a whole new level though. Look forward to seeing you over at my new blog. WG x

  15. Wylye Girl, in my ex local town there's a rumpus because the council aren't charging the government rent for the wretched things!
    France is a real police state.
    I'll be over!

  16. I read this posy and I'm just agog. Big brother is right.
    Yes, I think you nailed it when you mentioned sticking your head above the parapet; you're too likely to get shot at first. Now it seems one cannot even be disgruntled in private, to one's own friends.
    I find that rather scary but I'm also rather at a loss as to what I can do to help stem the tide going in or out. Yes, rather powerless and inadequate.
    Being a Sarkyteacozy loathed 'furrener' as I am already...

    But... Happy New Year to you and yours regardless! Please enjoy a tamale for me, soon?

  17. Kitty,must be psychic, have already enjoyed several tamales....every lady has a different one!
    As Tati's was the best I'l nip back there and have another one for you!

    What does one do?
    Talk about it, make it known...people may not want to know, but they should.
    You do stand the risk of being shot at though.....

  18. The neighbours have a tree house which is a right eye sore. I wish someone would come over here and demolish it. We can hope!

    A Happy New Year to you.

  19. cheshire wife....with the way the EU is going you'll probably see the bold gendarmes on their way any day now....but not if it's the garden with the WAG's dog....there are limits to the boldness...

    Thank you...the New Year has stared wonderfully...sunshine, a nice breeze and, for the moment, no visitors...but it is yet early!

  20. Bet first, they'd have to get the spyware onto my PC. I wonder how they might do that. I'm running Linux that is less virus-prone than Windows, and I clean up my cookies fairly frequently.

    Perhaps than in itself is enough to brand me a subversive. That and reading Maitre Eolas, of course...

  21. Mark in Mayenne, I just don't know enough to guess.....but you're probably right, if you take steps to keep your computer cleaned up you're obviously subversive.
    And as for reading Maitre Eolas...well, it's the galleys for you...

  22. Happy new year you lovely woman. So sorry to be so late on here - for some reason I thought I had already posted.

    lots of love

  23. French Fancy...thank you!
    So far...January 2nd, 2011 has been great! It had better not let itself down....

    I became somewhat confused about New Year...between BIL in Perth and people in Europe I lost track of who was swilling champagne when....if I'd had any sense I'd have noted all the significant times and swilled champagne at all of them. Still, always next year...

    It's lovely to hear from you!

    Love and best wishes....