Monday, January 23, 2006

blue monday

One thing that is certain in life is that age makes you grumpy. I have been working on grumpiness for a long time now but it was only this morning that I discovered the real secret.

There I was at the small airport of Pierrefonds, from here one can travel to the “capital” St Denis, Mauritius and even Madagascar. It is here one can find also that magnificent specimen, alas not extinct, known throughout the DOM as a functionaire with a complex.

What is it that happens to an old man when you strap a pistol on his hip, give him a nice blue shirt and plenty of badges, and the power over his fellows. He becomes a miserable, bitter megalomaniac that is what…

…and all this because I got a parking ticket. This was a result of the never-ending development that neglects to erase road marking whilst painting new ones. The whole island is becoming a mess of public works graffiti which even those that have lived here for generations fail to comprehend. One moans about the vertical graffiti, the atomised vomit of delinquent minds but then that is nothing next to the rabid droolings of the public works functionaire. On driving through a town such as St Pierre it is not uncommon to become stranded in a two way one way no through-road by-pass , follow the markings on the road and you’ll soon be on the sort of trip only Kerouac could dream about..

Back to the airport, I park, I walk around a bit and return to my car to find a parking ticket. I am about to leave thinking what I could have done with the thirty five euros when all those French type feelings of equality, liberty, fraternity and justice spring to mind. I am not alone, the woman next to me has the same parking ticket and we share incredulity and decide to ask for some advice. Good move, the two women at the reception are most helpful – Go and see the ‘police aux frontieres’ – quite where is the frontier in question, that which demarcates my parking spot from that of my neighbours?

Bad move, it is Monday morning and the aging pistol toting functionaire has obviously spent the weekend wondering what, or where his life has gone. I utter the necessary ‘bonjour’ and he commences his, “I am a dalek, you shall be fined just because I say so” monologue. He just won’t shut up, my fellow complainee has more sense and leaves as she can tell that rationale speech is useless in such a situation. I try to speak to a more reasonable policeman but his colleague won’t shut up which leads me to question why the shiny new land rover next to me hasn’t got a ticket…

Things not to do in France or anywhere controlled by French functionaries:

  1. try to reason
  2. try to be funny
  3. try to Be.
  4. try to be equal

I have written a letter and shall probably have to pay twice as much now, but then such is the price of justice, liberty and thinking that one man can change, not the world, just a parking ticket.

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