It’s De Gaulle Or Nothing
As the world seems to have decided on dizzyingly moronic self-destruction as the way forward, it’s important to know that there are still constants left that we can cling to. That in the maelstrom of ego-driven global self-harm, there are those things that offer a degree of comfort by their unbending refusal to be knocked off course.
The French unions for instance, despite a huge electoral mandate for change, are now on strike because they don’t like change. Actually, they do like change very much, and can see its necessity, but it’s everybody else that needs to change apparently, and not them. The President of the United States too continues to conduct himself with all the dignity of a grubby pervert soiling an adult nappy and Nigel Farage takes pompous bell-endery to new heights. What’s more, the entire Brexit ‘plan’ was and laughably still is, a steadfast refusal to acknowledge economic and logistical stormclouds and just shout ‘we can do this, can’t we? I mean, we’re British for Heaven’s sakes.’ Plus ça change.
So in a week that included five flights, a Eurostar trip, three different hotels and yet another pet burial it’s good to be tipped straight back in the emotional food blender that is trying to get French nationality. I say pet burial, but I’m afraid I’ve got a bit blasé about these things. One of the hens died, and thankfully before I had to administer the coup de grace, but the fact that I don’t know the name of this hen gives you some idea of the frequency of this event. I know she was named after one of The Supremes, but whether it was Florence or Cindy, I just can’t say. In my defence, my mind was elsewhere.
I do indeed have to have another citizenship interview. What I thought was my interview turned out to be some sort of mock exam or yet another security check, I’m not sure. I have now had an uninvited police visit at home to check my papers, summoned to another police station elsewhere to also check my papers and question my motives and now, will have the interview about my knowledge of France and her values. It’s quite unnerving to be ‘checked out’ to this extent, obviously I can understand it, but the only threat I represent is potentially creating a killing fields scenario of dead backing-singer themed fowl. I’ve done all the research on trying to get French nationality and this number of security interviews is rare indeed, but it could be self-inflicted. I have two UK passports and I’ve got them mixed up somewhere along the line. I have two passports because I was doing gigs for the Ministry of Defence a few years ago, in hush-hush places, airbases bigger than Swansea but which don’t officially exist, and I had to give up one passport regularly to get visas, while I needed the other one to get home. Maybe this has set alarm bells ringing somewhere I don’t know, but surely my work on the frontline of the war against terror should count for something, shouldn’t it? Hey France, I’ve been defending freedom through the medium of trite observation comedy, cut me a little slack here. I should be on the list for the Légion d’Honneur not offered another chance to slash away at the French language and talk about Fraternité again.
My struggle to become a French citizen is like Brexit itself, the more I think about it, the less likely it seems it will actually happen. De Gaulle didn’t try this hard to be French. It’s not that I’ve unlearned the values of France, imperative knowledge for these interviews, it’s just that if I currently embody the values of anything it’s Brexit itself: that of a half-baked fantasy, ill-conceived, interminable and floundering on cunning European detail. I’m in my own Transition period now. And by the way if future historians don’t look back on Theresa May’s proposed Transition Period as the Hokey-Cokey era of Brexit, then someone’s not doing their job.
My next interview is in Tours on October 12th at 9am ‘précises’, which is awkward because at 9pm précises on the 11th, I’ll be on stage at an event in Berkshire and then at 9pm précises on the 12th, I’ll be on stage at an event in Surrey. I could write to the authorities and ask for my interview to be moved, of course I could, but that would initiate hollow fonctionnaire laughter and my dossier being moved to the bottom of the pile marked, ‘To be Dealt with sometime after the 2024 Olympics.’ No, I can’t cancel or ask to move the interview. I will drive through the night, which I’ve calculated will get me to Tours for 8am and then I’ll turn back round for my gig in Surrey. It sounds like madness, largely because it is madness, but I don’t see that I have a choice. The French state seems Hell-bent on their Columbo approach to my application (‘Excuse me Sir, just one more thing…’) and I just have to do as I’m told. If my language skills are a hindrance at these interviews then the least I can do is show a sort of suicidal commitment to the cause and nearly kill myself in the process. And who knows? Extreme exhaustion, combined with caffeine-pill jittery adrenalin, might prove a winning combination under the intense scrutiny of the French immigration service.
Then again, it may not. They may ask why, if I’m so damned sure I want to be French in the first place, I keep buggering off to the Home Counties to tell jokes about being in France. And then it’ll be back to square one, back to Hokey-Cokey limbo again, when all I really want is a bit of Can-Can.
This is the 55th Full English Brexit blog, and – hopefully – will be part of the book. When that book comes out is difficult to say, it’s with a brilliant agent and the feedback is good… but, you know, Brexit innit?
My other best-selling books are available here IAN’S BOOKS.