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, 20 April 2012

As France goes to the polls....

Bingo Card SampleBingo Card Sample (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The rate of abstention is predicted to be high in the first round of the Presidential election, and the two candidates to go through are predicted to be Sarkozy and Hollande...representatives of the main stream right and left parties respectively.

With a choice like that you begin to understand the reluctance of people to turn out on Sunday - neither Mr. Bling nor Mr. Blobby will even start to crack the mould that has made France a dispirited, morose country where the radiance of the Siecle des Lumieres has waned to a nightlight in the financial morass that is the Eurozone.

If the France d'en bas'....the little people.....are to recover their enthusiasm, their faith in their society, then things have to change.

An example, involving charitable effort, shows what is wrong.

Since Mme. Pompidou at least, the wives of  French presidents take on a charitable cause and Carla Bruni has been no exception.

She accepted a role as ambassador for a charity - the Swiss based  and U.N. backed Global Fund - aiming to fight killer diseases in developing countries and, in particular, she accepted a role heading the Global Fund's Born HIV Free campaign, set up to help mothers and children whose lives have been devastated by AIDS.

Money from the Global Fund was directed at the request of Carla Bruni to companies owned by a musician friend of hers to provide publicity for the charity.
We are not talking peanuts here...but millions of euros.
Very little has been done to improve the lives of the women and children supposedly targeted by the campaign.
The Global Fund is supported by public monies contributed by the countries belonging to the U.N. - including France.

It's not only the wives of French presidents who undertake charitable work....the network of charitable associations in France is impressive....and particularly the local efforts.
I remember the campaigns to get a proper wheelchair for a paralysed child - where was the famed medical system  when it was fund medical treatment unobtainable in France...any number of local efforts over the years.
No public money here.

Two grannies in the north of France have organised bingo sessions in aid of charity for years.
Neither they nor their friends have ever touched a penny of the proceeds.
People in their area trust them implicitly.

They have been hauled into court for not observing the regulations on games of chance - effectively, not jumping through hoops at the Prefecture.

In three years, they raised over 450,000 Euros for charity...nowhere near the sums directed to the friend of Carla Bruni......and the court has condemned them to pay just under 50,000 Euros representing the tax due on the money raised, a further 20,000 odd Euros in Customs penalties, not to speak of assorted fines.

Clearly, the grannies cannot pay. All the money they raised, from private purses, went to the charity it was aimed at.

The contrast between the two charitable efforts exemplifies the malaise of French society...and, I suspect, many others...virtue reprimanded, vice rewarded.

In all the clamour of the rival election campaigns I see no mention of the factor vital to the resurrection of France....that the decency of the majority of ordinary people is reflected in those who lead the country.

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Sunday, 8 April 2012

Experts at your service...

Prostitute waiting for customers. Español: Pro...                  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Yet more lawless lawyers on their way!

Provision has already been made for failed politicians to practice law without passing the Bar exams.

People with 'equivalent qualifications' can be accepted as at the discretion of the ruling body - not just politicians but trade unionists, in house lawyers, top civil servants etc. who can show eight years experience in a legal milieu.
I suspect that the legal milieu might be a restaurant where failed politicians, trade unionists, in house lawyers and top civil servants congregate, but let us not be cynical.

Not yet.

Elections being in the air, the National Assembly has been getting a bit worried about the fate of some of its members.
Given that they are accustomed to having cheap housing loans, cheap rents for top rate properties, little brown envelopes of the folding stuff to do with as they wish and whopping pension entitlements how are these poor devils to live if - horror of horrors - they lose their seat?

They could become lawyers under the existing provisions?

Well, no, not all of them. There are some for whom finding the existence of an 'equivalent qualification' would stretch even French smoke and mirrors too far.
Somehow I don't think a BTS in bribery and corruption would count.....

So, to accommodate these poor souls, further provision for access to the legal profession has been made.
Anyone who, for the last eight years, has exercised public responsibilities related directly to law making (i.e. a politician) can now be a lawyer too.
Without passing an exam.
Even an exam so simple as that imposed on Argan in Moliere's Le Malade Imaginaire.

And lest we forget their hard working staff - also out of a job - they can now practice law as well - but they have to have  an 'equivalent qualification'.

Thus neatly marking the line between the buffoon and his backroom.

Time to be cynical yet?
Not quite.

Looking on the positive side, if this could be widened to include politicians from other countries, think what expert lawyers we would have to advise us...

You are accused of plagiarism? No less than two ex Presidents - Germany and Hungary - could come to your aid.....

Under declaration of your income for tax? An ex Finance Minister of Costa Rica knows just what he should have said....

The authorities class the fee you received for advising on a public service contract as a bribe? No less than three ex Presidents of Costa Rica will know all about the problem...

Illegal telephone taps? The spin doctor of the British Prime Minister is at your side....

Overstating your expenses? Half the House of Commons will be in the thick of it with you.....

But, of course, this is France, so you'll be stuck with a French politician as your brief.

Still, should you be accused of aiding and abetting the organisation of a prostitution ring you would be relieved to know that you could call on the services of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who has the essentials of the matter at his finger tips.

Of course you did not know that the ladies with whom you were cavorting were prostitutes.
In their birthday suits all indications of social distinction vanish and you would not be such a cad as to enquire into the source of their income.

So it follows that you would treat any woman present at these little soirees as sex objects - as borne out by accounts of your behaviour in lifts with women who were definitely not filles de joie.

And thus your references to women as objects, the 'wherewithall' to be brought along like luggage to the venues appointed, could not possibly indicate that you knew them to be prostitutes as that was your attitude to women in general.

Your lawyer will then advise you to indicate to the court that, indeed, you bought your own Viagra and that you are happily married to a rich woman.

If he gets away with it, so will you.

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