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.

Friday, 30 July 2010

It's all Carla Bruni's fault....

Carla Bruni dans "Travailleuses du Sexe"Image by blogcpolitic via Flickr
Now, several tax inspectors and prefects would be sleeping more easily in their offices if Carla Bruni had not accepted a bit part in a film directed by Woody Allen - what does she see in vertically challenged men, I wonder? - which seems to consist of buying a loaf of bread and getting it wrong thirty four times.

Why should this affect tax inspectors and prefects?

Because as his wife is filming in Paris, President Sarkozy has not yet been able to go on holiday, which means that the normal somnolence of July...those not already on holiday preparing to go on holiday...has been disturbed  by the Scourge of God's reaction to attacks on the police, following police attacks on the population, and to the perceived lawlessness of 'travelling people'.

Carla's consort has announced a crackdown....on foreigners.

Having tried and failed to knock out the right wing Front National with his ill fated debate on the nature of French identity, it seems he is having a second shot at the coconut following the violent reaction in Grenoble and in the Cher to the shooting of supposed malefactors by the forces of lawless order.

Let it not be supposed that the President is prejudiced against, indeed not. He started by sacking the prefect responsible for the Grenoble area, who was certainly not a foreigner, but, having thrown that sop to the idea of equality, he has turned his attention to scapegoats likely to be popular with the population whose votes he will be seeking in 2012.

French citizens of non-French origin will lose their French citizenship if found guilty of life threatening attacks on the police.
 That'll learn 'em.

Except that as the Conseil Constitutionnel  has just declared the current 'garde a vue' - explained here - process contrary to France's engagements under the European Convention on Human Rights the police will have quite a job  'persuading' foreign-born 'suspects' to 'help them with their enquiries' under whatever new regime is cobbled together, so it will be a race between getting the loss of citizenship legislation through and the introduction of something more compliant with human rights legislation which has to be done within twelve months.

Oh, and encampments of 'travelling people' already declared to be illegal will be closed down, while Roumanian and Bulgarian 'travelling people' will be expelled if found guilty of public order offences.

And while he's at it, a close eye will be applied to the situation of illegal immigrants in receipt of benefits. France is not obliged to welcome the misery of the whole quote a previous Socialist minister...

Well, that should sort it all out, shouldn't it?
The descendants of the French who sold Joan of Arc to the British should be able to go off on their holidays secure in the knowledge that the Mighty Mekon has things under control.

So why are prefects and taxmen shivering in their shoes?

Because the President has announced that he expects to see prefects - Paris's men in the provinces who see what local government is up to and tell it to stop it - to show more energy.
Prefects should be out and about with the police, patrolling dubious areas in the hours of darkness, and if they don't they'll get the sack.

Now it is not unknown for a prefect to be sacked...or put into a cupboard in Limoges...but until Sarkozy came to power it was for understandable things, like enforcing irrigation bans against the wishes of local farmers.
SS - since Sarkozy - prefects have found that they can be sacked for other not sorting out a septic tank problem for his mother in law, or letting demonstrators get within spitting distance of their master...but getting sacked for not putting themselves in danger is something else.

Because any attempt to visit an encampment of 'travelling people' is pretty guaranteed to be dangerous, which is why encampments declared to be illegal are still there, a blight on the areas surrounding them.
'Travelling people' whether French or foreign, have a certain view of life....and it doesn't include being disturbed by policemen looking for other peoples' property.

Thus the encampments are regarded - by policemen - as being no place for a policeman, although people living in their immediate area tend to think that they should be surrounded by policemen, twenty four hours a day, every day, to give people some relief from theft and intimidation and it seems that government has finally come down on the side of widely held opinion....that these 'no-go' areas have to be sorted out.

Well, that explains the unhappiness of prefects, but what has worried  the tax inspectors?

Sarkozy's sidekick, Brice Hortefeux, the Minister of the Interior who boasts the remarkable distinction of having been fined 750 Euros for making racist remarks without copping a criminal record, has finally noticed something which has been apparent to anyone travelling the roads of France.

'Travelling people' do their travelling in spanking new, enormous caravans drawn by spanking new enormous four wheel drive vehicles.

Non travelling people, watching these convoys pass unchallenged by the gendarmerie who are busy checking the papers of a couple of local pensioners, have a pretty good idea  how much these cars and caravans cost and suspect that the purchasing power which enables 'travelling people' to buy these toys is not reflected in what is declared on their tax returns.

Thus the terror of the tax inspectors.
Unless they are saved by the intervention of the their boss, the Finance Minister, they are going to be sent into encampments to enquire into the sources of the revenues of the occupants...and while I might be at a loss to know which line of a tax return covers 'proceeds of sale of stolen property', a tax inspector should fnd it child's play.
If he survives the reaction of the unhappy 'travelling person' that is.
Given that the warden of an official local site was chased through the camp by a 'travelling person' with a chainsaw, the tax inspectors have some reason to be worried and I doubt that these worries will be assuaged by the idea that the prefect will be running for his life alongside them.

What can save them?
Only an immediate improvement in the standard of acting of Carla Bruni, which will allow Woody Allen to wrap his film so that her husband can take her away to the sanctuary of the septic tankless family home in the south of France while all this hot air blows away.

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Friday, 23 July 2010

Taking advice....

Sunflowers in FranceImage via Wikipedia
I decided to try to organise some of the stuff on this blog into book form, urged on by the kind comments and advice on recent posts.

Thus has the night air been rendered hideous by a return to the old days of the projection of heavy objects and boiling of heads as I attempted to get a split screen on the computer.....finally did it but then couldn't remember how....then wondering how many goats I would have to sacrifice to get the brute to copy and paste when I wanted and not only when it wanted to do so....and hours trying to find double spacing on Open Office...and more hours wondering how to get rid of bullet points, as I think they are called....then trying voice recognition, only to find that I speak some variant of English not known to the machine, which must have been trained on Winston Churchill after three cigars and far too much brandy. I don't mind the brandy, but I draw the line at having to smoke cigars to please a computer.

It has all been very trying.

However, word having spread among friends and family, I have been the recipient of much sapient advice on the content of the much sapient advice that I think it best to record it all while it is still fresh in the memory for the benefit of anyone else thinking of writing any book about anything. Except childrens' literature.

Firstly, it appears that there has to be sex. Preferably with a hint of perversion....or more than a hint.

I foresee difficulties here....I never actually interviewed the three generations of prostitute who used to be the attraction of the main bar of St. Supplice on the details of their calling but doubt very much that elastic stockings figure in anyone's erotic repertoire.

As far as other sources go, the local ducks are not forthcoming.

I do know a great deal about the efforts at integration undertaken by some British immigrants...from having an affair with the local tourist boss to setting up an all-British partouze....not to speak of the nude calendar project with the local photographer.....but accounts of unorthodox but effective ways to get a three star rating from Gites de France might not be regarded as being of general utility while as for the intimate detail of the partouze I rely heavily on the account of the woman who was ejected from the group for promiscuity so there might be some slight lack of objectivity.

Secondly, there has to be something about high life to engage the other fantasies of the potential reader...frocks, champagne and luxurious living, with names like Moet et Chandon and Dior thrown casually into the text.

Frocks...forget it. Rural France is the land of polyester, acrylic and salmon pink corsets with steel reinforcements. Thinking about it, the corsets might qualify under the perversion requirement, but only for those keen on the Rubenesque.
I cannot imagine how I could casually slip mention of these garments into any text bearing on the high life unless some modern couturier has taken them for his latest inspiration....which is not, I suppose, impossible.
It has long puzzled me why women allow themselves to be made ridiculous at the behest of a gaggle of homosexual dress designers......but the women of rural France are immune to the infection.
They stick to Barbe Bleu and Defi Mode, and I Defi any Paris couturier to take any inspiration from their offerings.

There are the Parisian second homes...where I suppose you might find mention of Moet and Chandon.... but there is only one such in this area and the owner is a somewhat taciturn judge where you're lucky if you get a tisane and the sniff of a biscuit, so it seems we will have to forget high life.

Thirdly, food and wine must figure largely.

This seems all right until further enquiry reveals that this element has to feature 'little' restaurants where the owner takes a personal interest in you, his client.....back to the first requirement here, if we're not careful......and where the whole meal that you have ordered has to be discussed in detail between you, the owner and the reader.

I am not convinced that anyone wants to hear my reaction to piercing the carapace of an andouillette, nor my reaction to finding a living organism in a shell peering out at me from the plateau de fruits de mer.
Given the risk of food poisoning I do not often go to restaurants, nor, these days, to cafes, since they are dying out under the twin bans on smoking while eating and boozing before driving.
Sitting on the terrace watching the world go by is not what local cafes are for...they are for escaping from the wife and doing deals and smoking and boozing are essential elements in these activities.

I can do wine...but not all the swirling sniffing and spitting....Try that in this area and you'll get a reputation as a wimp.

Fourthly, there has to be mention of either sunflowers or lavender, depending on the area of France under discussion. No one will know the book is set in France without mention of one or other of these staples.
Too far north for lavender, I can certainly do sunflowers....the iniquity of growing them in an area where they need irrigation, while we get bans on watering the garden....but it seems people want to hear about the beauty of fields of the darned things instead.

Finally, I must deal with the French reputation for style and glamour.
Nix. Niet. No way.
All the men round here look like Depardieu after a hard night and are usually tastefully attired in vests and torn caps, while as for the women, suffice it to say that if Paris had come looking for Helen in rural France there would have been no Trojan War.

Analysing the advice and my reaction to it, it is clear that this book, if ever it leaves the confines of the computer, will be a resounding failure.....

And if by some chance it isn't, I will be bankrupt in very short order as the writs for libel fall like confetti at a wedding.

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Thursday, 22 July 2010

May you live in interesting times....

An early 20th century candlestick phone being ...Image via Wikipedia
In a British owned house in rural France one sunny morning in July.

The telephone rings.

'Bonjour....oh, Poppy! How are you? I wasn't expecting...'

'You're coming out earlier than usual this year?...Next week.'

Yes, of course the house will be ready, I'll just have to do the usual last minute things...
Yes, I can rearrange my schedule, though I might need to get someone for a few extra hours as I'm pretty committed at this time of year and I couldn't foresee you'd change the dates...
No, not a problem at all, all part of the service.'

'Yes, thank you, if I do have to get someone to help I'll do a time sheet for them ...just as I do for everything through the year.'

'Yes, e mail me your shopping list and it will all be ready for you, wine chilling in the fridge and glasses in the ice box.'

'Bye, Poppy...thanks for giving me a few days warning. 'Bye.'

A number is punched on the telephone memory pad.

'Howard? Oh, sorry, Will, I was looking for Howard.'

'His father's ill? Oh, I'm so he's in the U.K.? For quite a while to come...yes, of course, he'll have to wait and see how things go. Do give him best wishes when he calls.'

'What's happening with his gardening jobs? I know there's not much during the season, luckily...
Oh, you're doing them on your're you getting on with the strimmer?'

'Yes, Molly told me all about it..she wasn't too pleased about her plate bande, was she!
Border,'s French for a border...'

'No, if Howard's not there then I'll leave'll have enough on  your plate as it is. Give Howard my love. 'Bye.'

The address book is unearthed from under the cushions on the Roche Bobois sofa.

'Hello Mike! Yes, it's me...long time no talk...'

'Yes, you guess right, I have an emergency! Well, not exactly an emergency, but you know what I mean...I've got a client coming out without warning and I'd scheduled Howard for the garden tidy up, but not for a week and now he's in the U.K....'

'Yes, I know Will is carrying on, but after what happened at Molly's I don't really trust him on his own.'

'No, I don't think it's his green fingers which attracted Howard either!'

'Listen, seriously, can you help me out? It's the big place out at La Perriere...the grass needs going over and a quick deweed on the paths and terraces with a follow up to clean up in a few days' time. It's a bit of a job, I know, as Howard hasn't been there since Easter, but I know you've got all the proper gear...
You'll have to check with Annie? Don't worry, I'll ring her myself.'

Another call.

''Lizzie! Yes, it's me! I've got a job going if you'd like to take it on. At  La Perriere. Just a one off...but you never know what it might lead to...'

'Yes, I know you're busy with Annie's changeovers, but this is in the, not all week, you can still do her Thursdays as well as the Saturdays...'

'Well, something's come up suddenly,and I immediately thought of you and Jess. It can't be easy when your own gite isn't doing so well..not your fault the pound went down the chute...but a bit extra always comes in handy.'

'You'll have to check with Annie?'

O.K....I'm ringing her anyway, so leave it to me.....


Another call.

'Steve? Yes it's me. Can you do the Perriere place as soon as possible...the cow's just rung me to say she's coming out next week, and I don't want any problems with the plumbing. There'll be enough when their brat blocks up all the loos with toilet rolls again!'

'You can? Oh, that's great! I know we'd scheduled it for next week, so it's not too much of a worry.
Thanks Steve!'

The telephone rings.

'Bonjour...oh, it's you, Esme! What's the matter?'

'Yes, I have just rung Lizzie and Jess. Lizzie rang you?'

'No, of course you get first pick of the jobs...I've got you down for this one anyway, the Perriere house, as always, but the cow's coming over without much warning so you'll never get through it on your own.'

'Yes, she is picky, isn't she! I sometimes wonder if she's worth all the bother...I swear she counts the tins in the cupboard and she's never brought over a present in all the years I've looked after the place for her.
Anyway, I thought if I could get Lizzie and Jess to do the rough, then you could scoot through the rest...Steve is coming to check the plumbing and you know what a mess he always makes...'

'No, I hadn't forgotten we're using the Perriere bedding in Les'll have to get it first thing on the Saturday and make washing and ironing it a priority...that's why I thought that, thanks to the rush, you'd need a hand. It's a real nuisance because we've got that repeat booking the next week and I'd wanted to use the bedding for them...but not to worry, I'll think of something for Les Lilas.'

'O.K., don't apologise....just Lizzie doing a bit of mischief making.....she ought to watch it in her position. You'll go up tomorrow first thing, then?

After several failed calls to the same number.

'Hello Tom! Yes, it's me!'

'Oh....yes I've rung a few times this morning...perhaps Annie didn't hear the 'phone. Yes, please, I would like a word...'

'Annie, hi!'

'Lizzie rang you? And Mike? They're very loyal, aren't they!'

'Yes, it's the Perriere place. Howard's let me down and the owner wants to come out earlier than arranged so I'm stuck for the garden work...could Mike fit in in with his work on your houses?...The problem is having time for the weedkiller to work and cleaning it up before they arrive so I'd need him to go tomorrow.'

'Yes, I know I couldn't help you out with Howard at Easter...but you know what a hell that always is...all the winter catch up work to do and all the houses occupied just when you don't want them to be...'

''s a bit expensive...but I'm over a barrel here...O.K. it's a deal. You'll tell him to go up tomorrow them? Esme will be there with the keys and she knows what needs doing, so he can just get started.'

'Lizzie and Jess? Well, they only do two days for you, so it wouldn't be poaching...O.K., fine, that's great if I can have them. Just a word in your ear, Lizzie...too gabby for my liking. She rang Esme to warn her that she was being done out of a job.'

'No. I agree. I mean, without us they wouldn't get these jobs at all.....well, just keep an eye on her. Plenty more where they come from, after all, the way things are.
Thanks again, Annie.

Another call.

'Esme? I nearly forgot! Can you get Jim to haul all the flower pots up to the Perriere place once the visitors have gone? Yes, it's a nuisance...if only she wouldn't chop and change like this...

The telephone rings again.

'Bonjour...oh, it's you, Annie.'
'Oh, thanks...that's really good of you to ring Lizzie. She and Jess can go up with Mike, then to make a start. Esme knows where everything is.'

'Oh, while I think of it....I've got some really special clients coming out to Les Lilas next week....yes, those two....and I want to make things really nice. You're still minding the Americans' house down at Les Mousses, aren't you?'

'Yes, I thought I remembered you saying they weren't coming over this summer. Do you think you can let me have some of the nicer bedding from there - just enough for two doubles will do - and some good towels and bathrobes? Esme will keep an eye on them, she's so good with laundry you would not believe, and they'll be returned as soon as they've gone back. Oh, and if I send Jim, he could bring some of the plants in pots...I know they have some beauties...just for the fortnight.'

'Oh, fine, if you're using it over at Le Pigeonnier....I'll just have to think of something else. But I can have the plants? That's super, Annie! thank you! I'll have Jim go up on Saturday.'

Another call.

'Esme? It's me. Can you tell Jim to pick up the plants from the terrace at Les need for the key, the garden side is open...on Saturday? Oh, and Esme, better take a note of what he takes - you know how Annie is.....Yes, a bit on the tricksy side... Thanks Esme!'

Another call

'Bonjour Monsieur Cot...oh, it's you Jeanne-Marie!
Look the people from La  Perriere are coming over..could I pick up the usual order in a couple of days' time?'

'Yes, that's nice of bag in the box of rose and a dozen of rouge will be lovely.....well, it is nice to be appreciated and I suppose I do bring a fair bit of custom your way.'

'No, the Americans aren't coming over, according to Annie.....and anyway she took them to Trichet for their wine last year ....apparently Trichet gave her a case of his champagne.... '
'Yes, that's Annie, I'm afraid, not very loyal.'

'Au revoir, Jeanne-Marie!'

Some days e mail is sent.

Hello Poppy, just me!,
Looking forward to seeing you next week....everything is in order, as always.
I'm attaching the worksheet I told you about on the 'phone.....there are all the usual monthly worksheets, Esme, Jim and Howard, but you'll also see one for Steve, to check the plumbing and another for Lizzie. You'll remember I told you I'd need  a hand as I was fully committed and wasn't expecting you to change dates.
I received your shopping list and it will all be waiting for you on arrival.

Saturday morning...the telephone rings.

'Bonjour. Oh, it's you, Esme. Everything O.K.?'

'You're at Les Lilas, yes....'

'No! They can't have! Not lipstick on the 12000 thread Egyptian cotton pillowcases!'

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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Of mattresses and men

Coins before Euro - European Coins In CirculationImage via Wikipedia
When it comes to eggs and baskets, the French state likes you to leave all the former in an easily accessible model of the latter, so that it can dip in its' hand whenever it is a bit short of ingredients for the omelette.
It knows what you have in your bank account, it knows what property you own and it knows which shares a bank is charging you an arm and a leg to hold on your behalf as you are not permitted to hold such dangerous things as share certificates yourself.

Unless, that is, you happen to be extremely rich and fond of subsidising major political parties by way of the folding stuff handed over in brown manilla envelopes, which, given the amounts concerned, need to be the size of indian restaurant takeaway bags for a party of ten.
If you are in this category, you can own an island in the Seychelles 'unknown' to the authorities, can receive a thirty million euro rebate on your tax and have the wife of the finance minister to manage your money.

Among other advantages.
I am willing to bet that you never thought that investing in race horses could be classed as support to small and medium business enterprises - with the appropriate tax refund.

Now, for all the gory details of the Woerth-Bettancourt affair and what the butler heard you can go to any newspaper for better and more up to date information than you will find here....just remember, Sarkozy's days are numbered and you saw that predicted here first.

Not that the demise of the Sarkozy regime will bring any relief for the two or three taxpayers left in France once you discount those sectors of the population excused boots for being either too rich or too busy producing children.

His party, the UMP, which realised with a shock that he was intent on replacing their traditionally privileged group with his own group - the blingocracy - have abandoned him already.
If they had not, you can be sure that the lapdog French press would not be circulating stories about Sarkozy attending Madame Bettencourt in person to collect his doggy bag.
Once in command again, the UMP will carry on in the best French tradition of obliging the population to carry out the requirements of Major Dennis Bloodnok's government loyalty oath...

'Open your wallet and repeat after yourself.'

Which explains why, traditionally, the French keep their money in mattresses.

The mattress does not impose charges for holding your money.
The mattress does not dish out your money to someone without your permission and shrug its' shoulders when you discover the anomaly.
The mattress is never too busy discussing its' aunt's digestive problems with another mattress to respond to your demand for access to your money.
The mattress does not close down for the week end and the holidays.
The mattress can keep its' mouth shut.

The only way of attacking the mattress is to set fire to the house - in the case of mattresses stuffed with paper money - or change the currency.
I wasn't around when de Gaulle devalued the franc, though the older people even now speak in terms of millions of centimes when discussing property values, but I was around when the euro was introduced.
The world of the mattress was shaken to its' foundations.
What to do with the money?
How to change it for euros without going near a bank?

Well, for the savvy British with francs they did not want to acknowledge, there was an easy answer. Nip over to the U.K. and change it for pounds sterling, wait for E day, nip over again and change it for euros. No passports, no formalities, and back to the warm embrace of the mattress with minimal loss.

This was not an option for the heartland of the mattress, rural France.
It did not know many savvy British and if it had it would have been convinced that putting your francs into the hands of Perfidious Albion was tantamount to lighting the fire with your banknotes, but without the accompanying warmth.

A lot of money went into the purchase of nearly new cars, where the cash transaction reflected the differing positions of buyer and seller as to ownership of mattress money.

Money was distributed around the family to be fed into the banking system, with the consequent feuds when it was returned discounted for any tax liability incurred by the family member, plus a little more for his or her 'trouble'.

Property purchase at the time was remarkable for sums of 'under the table' money changing hands while the notaire retired to wash his hands.
This again, needed detailed calculation of the relative mattress positions of buyer and seller and took a great deal of hammering out before the actual date of transfer.

Despite their best efforts, though, a lot of mattress money leaked back into the banking basket at the changeover to the euro, and was thus available to the government by way of tax.

A situation that mattressland has been trying to remedy ever since and with increased vigour now that 'austerity'  is upon us thanks to the sublime folly of banks and the governments they control. Mattressland knows that governments, when desperate, take desperate measures, and the less money you have exposed to their thieving claws the better.

I can remember an earlier government initiative to extract money from mattresses which took place when I had not long begun to live in France.
My French was not all that good at that stage, so I might well be mistaken about some of the details, but I do know that a lot of elderly people had been seduced by high interest rates on savings accounts into disembowelling their mattresses and taking the contents thereof to Credit Lyonnais, Credit Agricole and the Post Office.

All went swimmingly for a while until, locally at least, disaster struck.
As I remember it, there was a problem with payments to the MSA - the farmers' insurance firm into which you were obliged to pay if you held any land classed as agricultural in nature. Payments had been withheld and the MSA was showing its' teeth. I could be wrong about this, but that is how I remember it.

Jules, normally a quiet, slow countryman, turned up on my doorstep one morning panting in agitation.
'You've got money in the Credit Lyonnais, haven't you?'
The ability of the French to know all about your private business has never ceased to astonish me, but I answered in the affirmative.
'Then there's no time to lose! The bastards are freezing the accounts! Get your coat and come on!'

I took my coat and cheque book and joined the group packed into Jules' car which groaned and rumbled its' way into town, parking in the main square. Luckily it was not market day,when the square was taken up by stalls, as the place was packed with cars.
'Word's got out! Quick!'
We all spread to our various banks, where the queues were outside and lining the pavements. At intervals, customers emerged with handbags clutched under their armpits or small satchels hugged to the abdomen depending on sex and hurried away with their booty.
I had no idea what was going on, apart from not wanting to risk losing access to my money, so in my turn I went to the desk and drew out all except a few francs to keep the account open.

When I emerged with my handbag clutched under the armpit, I was a bit less flustered and as I looked around for Jules and party, I was able to take in the atmosphere.
For a small, quiet town, it was humming. There were the queues outside the banks and Post Office, but the streets and squares were full of people too, chatting and laughing now the worry was over...they had managed to withdraw their money and the relief was palpable.

There were, of course, those to whom the possession of actual money in the hand and the absence of their wife to control use of same went to the head.
Jean's wife telephoned him from her place of work in the town, from which vantage point she could see Papy making the tour of every bar on the square, to get him to come and collect his revered parent before he could spend the lot.
Alain was discovered by the council street cleaners draped over a bin outside the market building.
Michel came home the day afterwards. No one, including himself, had any clue as to his whereabouts in the missing hours.

It dawned on me that evening that what I had been participating in was a run on the banks....that horror of the nineteenth century when savings would be lost and families ruined as banks went down....but in this case, everyone had got their money back. What had been going on?

The postman had the answer when he called the next afternoon.
The Post Office had got wind of whatever measure was to be taken and had ordered up massive reserves of cash, then, being the fine local organisation that it was, had warned the other banks as well, so that all had managed to fill their strongrooms before the mad rush of the mattressmen began.

I compare that to my last visit to the Post Office when I wanted to withdraw two thousand euros without giving any warning of my intentions. The clerk did not turn a hair, but the new 'financial counsellor' was walking through behind the desk and asked me what I was planning to do with it.
That's something else about the French...very uninhibited in asking about your private affairs in a public place....but I digress.
I replied that I was planning to hire mercenaries to overthrow the French government - well, stupid question, stupid answer - and a voice from the queue said
'I'll do it for nothing.'
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