At the End of the Day

Today I toddled along to a local town’s Gendarmerie here in order to complain about a crime against the person (aka me) and various threats that added up to demanding money with menaces. Some of what follows is, bizarrely, connected to the UK General Election….and the lawless nature of the ghastly forces now running the EU.

The first thing that struck me was, on arriving at this quite large market town – and realising I didn’t know the exact location of the copshop – how few local residents had the faintest idea where it was. To be precise, I had to ask eleven people before somebody finally told me where it was. Common sense suggests that this was a law-abiding town where few residents had ever been anywhere near the police station.

On the gate outside the building I observed the opening hours: 8 until 12 noon and then 2 until 7 in the afternoon. How many provincial English towns have a police corps open even four days a week any more, let alone 9 hours a day?

The reception area was spotless and empty. In my English home town of Manchester, one would be greeted by run-down premises and harassed police officers dealing with a Tsunami of lowlife and frustrated citizens trying to get someone – anyone – to pay attention to their complaint. In the last Devon town I inhabited, the police station was open three days a week for four hours a day…and your chances of getting any complaint, theft, attack or aggravated violence acted upon were close to zero.

But not here. A charming female gendarme listened patiently to my problem (it concerns a braindead cockney thug insisting on payment for work he hadn’t done, when the work he had done was sloppy) and stood wide-eyed as I described the physical and verbal abuse to which I’d been subjected in broad daylight.

There was no messing about. She took the details and explained the action they’d take. Not only that, she took my phone number and promised I would be rung by her or another directly involved officer once the action had been taken. Further, she then promised that if there was any recurrence, the suspect would be arrested wiithout further ado, and a formal investigation begun.

There are several germaine points I wish to raise here tonight about these events.

1. In France, any form of violent threat is regarded as very serious. I’d assumed it wouldn’t be, but I was wrong: even relatively benign threats in one email or letter will result in the perpetrator being given a severe warning. That is not so in the UK.

2. The gendarme with whom I dealt had clearly been well-trained in dealing with the public: her patient sympathy was exemplary.

3. France is having all kinds of difficulties dealing with British migrants who bring with them assumptive attitudes of legal entitlement which are (quite rightly) alien to the French. In my own little corner of Lot et Garonne, the impact of spoiled UK Underclass is already becoming a serious problem for a hitherto largely crime-free region.

4. I think all those voting in the UK General Election two weeks from now should give serious consideration to why a “kinder” society has bred such people, and how the new neoliberals are on the one hand demonising them, while on the other seeking their support for casual racism.

5. Not a single substantive political Party in Britain shows the slightest interest in community ethics, and policing that protects the vulnerable citizen as opposed to the politically privileged. In short, policing has been a non-issue in the 2015 electoral farrago of fluffy indifference. Every politician now evades questions about law, order and the protection of the individual, because a quasi-liberal hegemony in the media have decreed that such issues are illiberal and ‘not progressive’.

There are no quick-fix, short-sharp-shock, target-driven answers to these profoundly (albeit unpopular) questions. But sooner rather than later, the British political class must address them in a way that goes beyond five-year-term facile solutions. Failure to do this – from either fluffy Labour or fanatical Tory – will inevitably lead to revolutionary nastiness.

That may seem like extremist exaggeration, but it isn’t: the Westminster Bubble is now so woefully out of touch with real people, it is in imminent danger of making the same mistakes as those in the EC/ECB/eurogroupe cocoon. It is a cocoon inside which the changelings exist to insist that their reality is ours.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

11 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Permission to come aboard chez “Lot et Garonne”, mon Capitan? Thinking seriously about cashing in the meagre Caratacus pension piles and doing precisely that … je suis, malheureusement, toujours anglais … but I’m willing to have a go.

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  2. The reality is that the locals don’t want to know where the cop shop is. They see the flics as a dark gloved extension of the state who work at night and sleep in the day. Their main role to make sure that all possible taxes are being extracted by all citizens, with show us ze papiers please at every opportunity with dawn raids, spot fines and confiscations to match. They speak from both sides of their mouth, wear jackboots and are as one in personality.

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  3. We live in rural Normandy and have had to deal with the Gendarmerie twice. Once when a stray cow appeared in our garden (It was taken very seriously!) and the second time when we were burgled. On each occasion the Gendarmes were friendly and helpful. We have lived here for close to ten years and have travelled widely in France. I have never been stopped for either a vehicle check or a papers check. Our experiences with the Gendarmerie echo JW’s. A French friend who lives in Paris, however, echoes Uncle Robs take and is very dismissive of the Police Nationale. The policing structure in France is different to the UK. Major cities are policed by the Police Nationale while the rural areas, small towns and all transportation, roads, airports and ports etc.are the responsibility of the Gendarmerie:

    Just before Christmas we had to travel to Oban for a wedding. We broke the journey at Carlisle for an overnight stay. The main street was closed to traffic and heavily patrolled by Police to control the bands of roaming drunks. The hotel bar also had a bunch of loud mouthed non resident drunks behaving badly who had to be asked to leave by the hotel staff. At breakfast the next morning we were again treated to a display of bad tempered swearing by a bunch of hung over/still drunk women.

    Drunkenness and bad behaviour have always been a part of British behaviour. It was remarked upon by ambassadors to the Tudor court. It is a prominent theme in 18th. Century literature and art (See Hogarth) and my Grandfather used to talk about it when he was young around 1900. It is my belief that the the blood baths of WW1, the depression, WW2 and the discipline imposed on late teenagers by National Service suppressed this behaviour. Unfortunately it has now reappeared and our politically correct, fluffy minded politicians have not recognised this. Emasculating the Police by imposing these “Kinder, fairer, more equal” strictures on them is encouraging this resurgence. Tragically the ease of travel has also enabled us to export this behaviour either through behaviour on holiday or, worse still, in the way JW has encountered.

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  4. I don’t know quite what it is about the British administrative services. My experiences with the tax authorities – the Inland Revenue – was of lost letters and disinterest. Here in the Netherlands, it’s a different matter. A letter to the Belastingdienst (NL’s inland revenue) has to be answered within two weeks, by law.

    By law.

    Only… the belastingdienst have the funding to do this, and means officials are not under pressure of work as they are in the UK. I guess that funding of essential services is as good in France too?

    Mind you, getting a Dutch bureaucrat to chuckle isn’t easy, but when it happens – as it did this morning – it’s very nice indeed. My experiences with German bureaucrats is of a similar nature – and Germany is famous for its Byzantine bureaucracy. Yet their administrators are more than willing to help, readily answering questions or pointing me in the right direction for advice on different issues that their department didn’t cover. This was in the former DDR, by the way. Mind you, in my experience, the DDR burghers were always more friendly…

    … but then, I never knowingly spoke to one of the brain-dead underclass known as the Stasi.

    Germany’s ordinary policeman is a friendly chatty kind of person, and again, there are enough of them that they can walk the beat (or more likely on a bicycle) be present on railway trains and so on. What’s more, they’re more than willing to have a chat. I guess they’re not under the same pressures as the UK police forces?

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  5. Interesting how you describe the British police forces.

    It’s not one I’d recognize in Germany, for all the jackboots and German accents ;-)

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  6. By the way, John, I’m glad your experience was a positive one. It’s a nice feeling to find out that a government is essentially on your side.

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  7. V.off topic: ” William Hague could crush a man’s skull between his legs, David Cameron says” ….WTF would a man’s head be doing between W hague’s legs?!!!!!

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  8. I have occasionally related this little (true) story to others, as it illustrates all one needs to know about the difference between the French and British police. Perhaps you will find it amusing.

    A British ex-pat is drinking in a French pub, minding his own business with a small glass of the local red wine. He is fairly old, and the story dates from the early Seventies. A Frenchman, aged of countenance, hears the French spoken with a British accent, and comes over to cadge a drink, which the Englishman gladly provides, and the Brit listens politely to l’ancien and his tales of serving in the Resistance, and how grateful he is to the English for supplying the wherewithall for the Resistance to fight Les Boches. The Englishman notices a local, well-known Gendarme drinking not far away in the pub, and the Englishman’s eyebrows react with some consternation as l’ancien vouchsafes in a stage whisper, audible to everyone in the bar, “…that he is particularly grateful for the magnificent Bren Gun, supplied to him during the War by the RAF, and that he still has it, under the floor of his barn, with ammunition…in case the Boches should ever come again”.

    L’ancien eventually picks up his walking stick and leaves the bar. Our Brit ex-pat quielty turns to the Gendarme, and asks him if he heard the conversation. The Gendarme shrugs, and replies “Oui, monsieur, but around here, we respect what he and his friends did for France, and he and those that are left of his friends cause very little trouble. He is an old man, and perhaps, when he passes away, we will visit his barn and give whatever we find to a Resistance Museum”. The gendarme paid for his drink, and as he turned to leave, said “Anyway, Monsieur, perhaps he is right; perhaps the Boches will indeed come again”, and walked out.

    Compare and contrast with the likely reaction of the British police.

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