Ah you have to love the French…(well you don’t have to as most people find)..
For the majority of (working) people the idea of drinking at lunchtime is becoming more of a treat than a habit. The fear of returning sheepishly to the office and having to snake past colleagues to slump down at your desk, trying to avoid any contact with your pink and bleary eyes.
The inevitable afternoon hangover as the short burst of tipsyness that seemed perfectly sane before subsides by three leaving you feeling wretched and unable to function at anywhere near the usual level. And in most jobs the worst thing that can happen as a result of a hazy afternoon slog is the type of performance at a meeting that a scarecrow shoved crudely into a chair could outshine.
So when you’re talking about people whose job is to face lethally volatile situations with cool heads and calm but controlled actions, surely booze of any sort is out of the question?
Of course. Unless you’re French.
With all the vitriol the elite – but brutal – CRS riot police unit have displayed at a ban on lunchtime sloshing you’d have thought they’d just been told they had to face molotov cocktails and planks of wood with nails through them wearing only a beret and a tu tu.
But as anyone who knows to their cost – and sometimes delight – the Frenchies have their own way of doing things. It might not always seem sane, and is even less rarely polite – but it’s part of who they are. And while it’s all very amusing to poke fun, the fact that they are doing this at all represents another little chip of the French identity chiselled off and scattering away across the floor never to be found again.
And bit by bit, they are becoming more Western in their attitudes. Sarkosy said when he took the reins, he wanted the system to become more like the US and the UK. Why exactly, who knows. But that’s the direction it’s going in.
But never underestimate the French ability to jam their feet deep into the mud and stay put when someone tells them to budge.
Ok the riot police are going to have to be sober in the afternoon from now on, but they will be the only people who are. Perhaps they’re starting with the riot police because the government knows how much they’ll need them if they ever try to tell anyone else to put down their verre and get back to work…