Thursday, November 20, 2014

Just Doing It

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you got in your car, drove off, and kept driving? I was thinking about that on the way to shops yesterday. I usually have that thought when I get on the autoroute because they are designed to take you far and quickly (in Europe at least; in the UK you do tend to come up against the sea fairly quickly unless you're travelling north/south).

My route to the shops was not going to take me far (or quickly), but I could have just kept going until the tank ran out. I didn't of course because the consequences would have been dramatic. I'm too chained to my obligations and duties, but I do envy those who just take off and don't stop (unless they drop their obligations and duties and cause untold misery to their family).

It never occurred to me to do such a thing when I was young and single after university because I had little money and less self-confidence. Instead, I waited until I met my future ex-h to leave home and join him in France, happily shackling myself and throwing away the key.

I must be a confirmed homebody a tad too anxious to confront the unknown. By myself, anyway. I'm rather concerned with my creature-comforts now too. Hopeless.

One of my favourite books when younger was Laurie Lee's "As I walked out one midsummer morning" which gave me material to fantasize with, but no desire to imitate. I convinced myself that things were different then, he was a bloke, and there was no way I was going to walk that far. Also, I realised the reality could entail a lot of hard work and I would probably be uncomfortable. I was a living example of Roosevelt's "The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today".

Part of my problem, I'm sure, is that having lived in Cairo for a year, I'd had a fair amount of adventure, and much of it was not that pleasant. It was uncomfortable, however.

Another favourite book was "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas. He didn't choose to leave but was thrown in jail, and came to make the most of a bad situation. This is something I can understand - making the most of a situation (eventually, in his case), and, 'there's always a silver lining' (ditto).

Those at Nike tells us to forget our reservations, and just 'Do it'. Unfortunately, doing anything by yourself is getting increasingly difficult here in France. Everything is fraught with rules and regulations, and no one should be ignorant of the law ('nul n'est censé ignorer la loi'), all 3078 pages...

I read about one old lady of 76 - Yvette Bert - recently who was hunted down and dragged through the courts by the Fisc. Why? Because she had the temerity to set up an association which held regular lotteries to raise money for charity. She and her friends in the sheltered accommodation where she lives would get together with others on a Sunday afternoon to play the loto and have a lovely sociable chatty time. "Mamie Loto" took none of the money for herself despite living on a pension of 620 Eur per month.

Her association was official, registered at the prefecture, its aims clearly stated. No one told her it was illegal. So when she was sued by the Fisc, given a 6 months suspended sentence, 6000 Eur fine and a tax bill of 88,000 Eur (on the 460,000 Eur she collected for charity), her life fell apart and her health started failing. Does the word 'bully' spring as violently into your mind as it does mine?

Her cause has been taken up by the Institut pour Justice who have created a petition to support her. It already has over 70,000 signatures. Here's hoping for many more.

Have you ever walked out one midsummer (early spring or late winter) morning?

26 comments:

  1. Several times in the distant past I should have done it...but there were always animals to consider.

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    1. There's probably a very small window of opportunity in most peoples' lives when they could take off, if they wanted to. The knack is identifying it, and then doing something about it.

      Having animals and, especially children reduce the size of the window to a speck. Hopefully a happy speck. :)

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  2. Isn't it funny how the French state can drag a little old lady through court and accidentally forget Thévenoud, Cahuzac and all the other fiscally-impaired ministers who dodge their taxes without any consequences on their wallets or their careers? The only thing Yvette did "wrong" was to raise poney for to help people the state should help, but doesn't. Alas, poor France. I knew her, Horatio...
    As for getting in the car and driving off, the temptation has been huge on many occasions and your analysis is spot on and well written. I remember the adrenaline rush of getting into my Beetle with my travel bag after drawing a line from Roscoff to Nice with a piece of string from Mum's kitchen drawer. I jotted down the towns along it and Route Nationale-d my way across France. Breath-taking, liberating. PF was waiting at the end, but the rucksacking wasn't over. Must scoot now- my birthday presie was a return ticket to Strasbourg!

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    1. I was thinking about the tax avoiders in the elite as I was writing about poor old Yvette. The double standards have become so glaringly obvious even the densest among their supporters must realise how disgusting it is.

      I remember a moment of feeling totally liberated when, for the first time in nearly 3 years I was on my own and on a journey. I was going to pick up a car at Le Havre port (after coming back from the US) and had the whole train journey and then drive to think my own thoughts, do my own thing (stop to go to the loo, eat...) without husband or toddler around. It was wonderful. :)

      Have a fantastic time in Strasbourg, and happy birthday! :)

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  3. I imagine everybody must feel like that at times. As Fly says you can't abandon animals - or children however tempting the thought may be. I know, I tried once.

    I've signed and shared the petition.

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    1. Thanks, Susie. Yes, I'm sure most people feel like escaping at some point. I dream of owning a desert island. :)

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  4. Goodness you write some shocking stories on here about the ridiculous stuff that the French can perpetuate. Hypocrisy personified, the lot of them. I once drove around California for a week end, free as a bird and have never forgotten the feeling or the songs that came on the radio. I recommend it when you get the chance - and you will. You don't have to be alone to do it xx

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    1. I only write about the very tiny tip of the iceberg too. There's so much that's wrong here, but I suppose it's the case everywhere now (and was maybe always like that).

      Sounds like you had a lovely time in California. :)

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  5. Here's a true story which is SOOOO Paris. I was walking up the Blvd St. Michel one day in the late 60s, when who should I see but a woman I'd worked with in the English theatre, just briefly. The conversation went like this:

    "Fancy seeing you here."
    "Fancy."
    "Want to go to Rome with me?"
    "Sure."

    ...and off we went.

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  6. The Count of Monte Cristo is also my all time favourite book. I just love it. Regarding your desire to get away from it all, I wouldn't worry. Right now, I am dreaming of spending 6 months on my own, in a remote island of Nova Scotia. I don't want to have to speak to anyone during this time. But just like you, I have duties & responsibilities. damn it. Sarah, our time will come. In the meantime, we will just keep dreaming.

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    1. We will, Muriel. Actually I'm sure the dreaming is the best part. Reality can often be a bit of a let-down. :)

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  7. I hadn't heard of Mamie Loto before, what a sad, sad story :( x

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    1. Isn't it? The poor lady is devastated. When you think of all the criminals who get away with their crimes, and a sweet old lady who only wanted to help others is treated so badly, it makes you sad for society.

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  8. That is ghastly about that lady... yes I've heard that about the French - very burearatic which is just so counter-intuitive, as you're always given the impression they are so bad spelling!!!! alert laissez faire n'all and free. Not so obviously.

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    1. The bureaucrats love to leave their mark, so are always coming up with new rules and regulations. They can't just leave well alone, and the result is asphyxiation. But they just can't stop, it's like their jobs depend on them coming up with ever more useless rubbish that hinders businesses and people from actually getting on with stuff.

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  9. I meant to say "bad spelling alert" which rather encapsulates the whole of the comment above - the turkey got my brain

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    1. I'm glad you clarified that, I was a bit confused. :) Btw, you spelled it correctly.

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  10. You always think there is going to be a 'good time' to head off and be wild and free. Maybe there is for some people but I have always been a home bird (I know, I like travel but really I like holidays!). Even now, with our son off our hands, we are now dealing with my elderly aunt we have just moved to a local retirement home. So now I have responsibility for her....and my mum....and Dougie's parents. Can't see me running away now, even though I'm sorely tempted at the moment as it has been very stressful!

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    1. I can imagine, Trish. You have quite a list there of elderly dependants. Bon courage!

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  11. Don't even get me started. France is not a "just do it" type of country...

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    1. Hi Betty, thanks for commenting! I have now discovered your blog which is set in an area I love even if I don't get up there much. :)

      I think that many people in France are "just do it" types, but they are totally put off by the weight of administration. Just yesterday the PME bosses actually went out on the streets to demonstrate - du jamais vu! It's a shame all that creativity is not realised, or expatriated elsewhere.

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  12. Stupid sh$t like this happens all over the world. It is pathetic. Like the guy in Florida who tried to feed the homeless in a public park. He was arrested because the city says you can't do such things in public. Incredible.

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    1. Yes, totally ridiculous and stupid. You wonder who comes up with such rules and how they can look at themselves in the mirror each day.

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