The French also know a thing or two about drinking and are among the world’s most prolific consumers of alcohol (only the Luxembourgeois drink more), although you rarely see a legless French person. As every French person knows, intelligence, sexual prowess and driving skills are all greatly enhanced by a few stiff drinks. Not surprisingly, they are obsessed with their livers (when not eating those of ducks) and bowel movements, both of which have an intimate relationship with food and drink. The customary treatment for a liver crisis ( crise de foie) and most other ailments is the suppository, used to treat everything from the common cold to a heart attack (the French are a nation of hypochondriacs and, when not eating, they’re popping pills).
French people are never happier than when they’re complaining about something, and protests ( manifestations) are commonplace and an excuse for a good riot. Civil disobedience is the national sport and the French take to the barricades at the drop of a beret. France has numerous self-help groups (called anarchists in other countries) and many French people, e.g. fishermen, hunters, farmers and truck drivers, are a law unto themselves. Observing senseless edicts such as motoring laws, prohibitive signs (e.g. no parking, no smoking, no dogs, no riots, etc.) and other trivial rules is a matter of personal choice in France. Although France is ostensibly a country of written rules, regulations and laws, they exist solely to be waived, bent or adapted ( système débrouillard or système D) to your own advantage.
Kind-hearted French farmers are famous for their love of animals and they often take their cows and sheep for a day out to Paris and other cities (they also regularly distribute free produce on the city streets for the poor town folk). The French, who are difficult to govern at the best of times, are impossible to rule in bad times. France always seems to be teetering on the edge of anarchy and revolution, and mass demonstrations have a special place in French political culture. The CRS (riot police) are the only people capable of communicating with rioting people, which they do by whacking them on the head with a large baton (while looking the other way). Not surprisingly, the French are the world’s leading consumers of tranquillisers, not to mention aspirins to counter the effects of being frequently bashed on the head.
The French complain loud and long about their leaders and the merest mention of politics is a cue for a vociferous argument. They’re contemptuous of their politicians, which isn’t surprising considering they’re an incompetent, licentious and corrupt bunch of buffoons who couldn’t organise a soûlerie in a vineyard. They rate lower than prostitutes in the social order and the service they provide (prostitutes have morals and principles and do a sterling job – ask any politician!). French politics are a bizarre mixture of extreme left and extreme right, although paradoxically most French people are extremely conservative. The French (through Jean Monnet) invented the European Union (EU), a fact which should be patently obvious to anyone, considering it’s one of the most bureaucratic and dictatorial organisations in the world. The French believe that the EU was a splendid institution while it pursued French ambitions and was led by France, but are ambivalent about it since all the Eastern European rabble were admitted and are positively hostile to Turkey’s accession. General de Gaulle was adamant that the intractable British should never be allowed to join and the French have since been doing their utmost to keep them at arm’s length (the French call the Channel ‘the Sleeve’).
France is the most bureaucratic country in the world
France is the most bureaucratic country in the world, with almost twice as many civil servants as Germany and three times as many as Japan. In order to accomplish anything remotely official