Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Moi, francais comme un autre

We assembled, your typical Gaulois family – we got our warcarts, our cattle, our dyepots and our spears together – and made it down to Roquette, where I was to be interviewed, examined, and finally issued my visa for a year. First, I watched a film that told some white lies about liberty, equality, and fraternity (illustrating the latter, to the sound of Robespierre turning in his grave, with scenes from a football match), and then was called out to have my lungs xrayed, my eyes examined (the examination card, in a nice touch, contained, in its small print section, what seemed to be a prose poem about beauty), and my personal history and that of my family extracted: I claimed that there was no inherited schizophrenia, hebephrenia, pyromania, nymphomania, or anthropophagous warts in my family tree, and that I had never had a serious illness, never drank alcohol (except when I could find it – I added this silent codicil in my own mind), and was as healthy as a horse.After which, I was called into the office of the nicest case officer ever, who said that my record showed that I could skip the classes on logement, typing, woodwork, sheepherding, and abbatoir science, but that I would have to assist on a program on French civics, including the dread explanation of how the French elect the senate. In preparation for the latter, the case officer gave me a textbook on logarithms and another on non-Euclidean geometry. We were about to rise in our chairs and sing Ca ira when she noticed that I had made a gross blunder on my application sheet. Normally, I would have been quartered for this mistake, but instead, I was showered with such courtesy and understanding that I swore to make encore un autre effort and like rillettes, or die trying. An excellent day. I  am in!

The ethics of integrity or the Baker at Dachau

    Throughout the 19th and 20th century, one stumbles upon the lefthand heirs of Burke – Red Tories, as Orwell called them. Orwell’s inst...