image © 1993 Aline Giordano
text © 2013 Aline Giordano
‘chacun pour soi tous pour les sous solidaires, ici Paris, épargne moi, ici Paris’ (Cantat, 1992)
As I was going through customs control, one officer started asking me questions. The first question (a regular in my case) was, ‘are you French?’. They usually say this, holding my French passport. To which I replied the customary ‘oui’. Having studied European affairs as part of my degree, I could not resist reminding the annoying officer of the right of citizens to move ‘freely’ within Europe. He replied, or rather shouted at me ‘don’t care, it’s not Europe here, it’s France!’ I wanted to ask him ‘have you got some British blood in you by any chance?’ but thought that the joke would be wasted on him. So I clenched my teeth (or was it my fists?), and I remained silent. He carried on with the interrogation. He asked me where I was coming from, if I was travelling on my own, to which I replied ‘oui’, to which he replied ‘are you sure!?’, to which I replied ‘oui!’. He then asked me if I had any illicit ‘goods’. To which I replied ‘non’… and it went on and on. The final question was ‘you know, I’ve seen you back and forth many times recently, I saw you talk with that guy, he is a drug dealer and so could you be, so tell me why are you visiting France?’.
I thought, ‘what the f**k have I done to you mate?!’ and calmly said: ‘well if you really want to know, my mother’s partner died of cancer and I’ve come to attend his funeral’. He probably believed me because all of a sudden his voice softened and he said, ‘You know love, there are nasty men around, be careful who you hang out with’. I would have argued the case that making polite conversation with a stranger while disembarking was not a crime but he beat me to it, because as he handed back my passport, he said with a patronising sneer ‘hope it’s nice in your country!’. I thought ‘F**king ignorant c*nt, you piece of sh*t!’. I amazed myself that such vulgarities could trip out of my mouth so neatly in English. It was time to switch my brain back to French mode.
‘hola madonne tu m’étonnes enlève ce col qui te donne l’air emprunté à l’amour et à la vie à syd barrett et c’est fini, ici Londres’ (Cantat, 1992)
Cantat, B. (1992), Ici Paris, Tostaky: Barclay.