You have to love the French, don’t you? Sure, they make great wine and Paris is apparently the most romantic city in the world but then they go and blot the copybook by putting garlic in their food and eating snails. The country is full of beautiful architecture and beautiful women who know how to dress both seductively and demurely at the same time, but then they all light up cigarettes and fill the decorative rooms with plumes of carcinogenic smoke. Travel from one end of the country to the other and, within just a few days, you can visit picturesque vineyards, learn the art of making cheese, go skiing in beautiful mountains and then relax on the sun-drenched beaches of Saint Tropez.
They like to stick up for themselves, too. If the politicians introduce a law that the French denizens don’t like, they simply go on strike. The farmers will block the motorways and the truckers will block the ports and the pilots will taxi out to the runway and then sit there, with the air conditioning switched off, so all the passengers start to sweat. Pretty soon, Nicolas Sarkozy will have to prise Carla Bruni’s lips from his underpants and repeal all new laws introduced and the country will go back to doing what it’s always done. It reminds me a little of that old joke about which body part is in charge…
And yet they still allow Citroen to go on making cars.
Best of all, though, they’re great for mad laws. Whilst an Italian mayor might once have grabbed the headlines for banning ladies of a larger stature from bathing topless on his beaches, Gerard Lalanne – mayor of Sarpourenx – has this week banned people from dying in his village.
The tiny community in France’s Bordeaux region is home to just 260 people but apparently the cemetery is overflowing with corpses, leaving little or no space for new graves. In a desperate attempt to resolve the graveyard’s overcrowding issues, Mayor Lalanne posted an ordinance in the council offices that stated that anybody who did not already have a plot reserved in the village cemetery but who wished to be buried in the village was forbidden from dying.
To add hilarity to the amusement of such an edict, Lalanne also added that anybody who disobeyed this new law would be severely punished. Sarpourenx’s mayor turned seventy this week and, whilst his odd commandment might not have the truckers and farmers blockading France’s main trade arteries, he has apologised for not finding a more positive way of dealing with the matter. He’s also hoping to stand in this month’s elections for a seventh term in office.
Whilst immortality might not necessarily befall the residents of Sarpourenx, Gerard Lalanne’s threat of severe punishment might make them think twice about dying on his territory. He hasn’t stated what the penalty will be for disobeying this new directive, but surely it’s a fate worse than death…