19th July 2009

Every week I help out at the tiny bibliotheque and tourist office in the village where we live. I was quite pleased with myself over the winter months. However, my comfort zone was shattered as soon as the warm weather arrived, hordes of tourists wanting instant answers to difficult questions.
In some ways my sessions there have been liberating. I realised that here in France nothing is 'signposted' for you. You sometimes have to learn about things by the 'seat of your pants'. Unlike in England, where these days everyone is treated like a child. English TV ads, whether the stupid Lloyds Bank puppets or food ads, all have juvenile images, even when programmed late at night. English signs too treat us all like babies: 'Caution - surfaces may become slippery when wet'; 'Walk this way'; at Horseguards Parade 'Beware - horses can kick and bite'. Bit by bit, safety notices swamp our intelligence: every few yards a sign warning about the dangers of slipping, tripping or wagging fingers saying you can't smoke, drink or run. From CCTV cameras to micro-chips, Big Brother is everywhere, watching your every step. Keep the emergency signs, of course, but the rest.....
Think I'll stay in rural France where there are no signs or CCTV at all. It may be 'every man for himself' but I prefer it to being treated like a child or a moron.

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