Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Lesson from Toy Town?

It’s not been a good summer so far in our part of France but this morning dawned bright and beautiful.
So delightful was it that Mr. Barclay and I (Barclay is a Labrador, by the way) decided to extend our normal walk to take advantage of it.
As he said “Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.” Not sure where he read that but you know what Labradors are like.
Our peregrinations led us into the nearby village and past the town hall, the Mayor’s office. As you know, in France the Mayor is the arbiter of your destiny in any town, even in the sink estates of Paris, where the job must be akin to the fabled wheeling a barrow load of stones uphill.
If you wish to get married (and no good friend can talk you out of it) you go to the Mayor.
Need to extend your house? Go see the mayor.
When our internet connection was failing repeatedly, we didn’t call France Telecom, we called the Mayor’s office, as it was he who had lobbied for the service to be available in his town for the benefit of his constituents (he’s an elected official).
If your trash does not get picked up, complain to him, as he is the one who has hired the contractors to do the job.
It’s the original one-stop shop, a supermarket of local government services.
Those of you who are old enough may recall a children’s radio programme, ‘Toy Town.’ This was, of course, in the days when the BBC had some taste.
Based on the stories by S.G Hulme-Beaman, it peopled Toy Town with such characters as Dennis the Dachshund, Mr. Grouser and Ernest, the policeman. But the main character was Larry the Lamb who, when in trouble, would always run to the Mayor.
“Please, Mr. Mayor, sir,” he would bleat.
Toy Town was as peaceful and well ordered as are most French towns so perhaps there is something to be said for Mr. Mayor being in charge.
Any Mayor here who had the audacity to fine one of his citizens for overfilling their trash bin would soon find himself out of a job.
I called a friend in England.
“What,” I asked, “is the name of your Mayor?”
“Dunno,” he replied. “Why? Does it matter?”


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