Tha’ll be maunderin’ an’ maulin’ ’bout

I’ve got a couple of the bits and pieces coming through now to sort stuff out – namely, the motorbike and Jake’s school. I’d sent letters (it’s much easier to write in French than it is to come up with the right words when talking. I might pretend I’m mute) to the CCM importers in France, and to the Mairie, expecting bureaucracy, but not getting any. Harry, the guy from CCM Europa, doesn’t even work with CCM any more, but still faxed on my letter back to (ironiquement!) Bolton where they’re made, to ask for the Certificat de ConformitĂ©… moments later, I had an email from both; Harry said my French was very good – of which I was proud! – and Rachel from CCM asked if I could tell her in English what I wanted. If anyone tells me about French bureaucracy, I shall shoot them, especially in light of what happened later…

I also sent a letter asking what we had to do to get Jake into school – I’ve received the appropriate forms this morning, and had a little worry that his feeble ‘short’ birth certificate wouldn’t be enough. It was back within 7 days, all sorted, all clear, as well as the details we need to get him into school.

Not so Bolton Council, who umm and ahhh about everything, don’t send you stuff, lie about what they have sent, send you the wrong stuff, shout at immigrants and old people and entitled people and anyone who’ll stop a moment. They have bizarre protocol for some things, and then none for other, more important things. Then we had Aviva, continuing to charge Steve for a van he’s not had since October 2008 – and (in my very quiet opinion) his own fault for not checking his bank statements, but they’d also been charging him breakdown cover on a car he’s not owned for over a year, and not really bothered, as long as the money comes to them.

I duly went out in search of a form Aviva said we needed to send to the DVLA. The DVLA agreed: the V888 was the form in question (nicely titled, to avoid confusion with other V documents!) and you could get it from any post office that sells car tax. Not so, it transpires. I went to Deane Road post office (yes, I’m naming and shaming you, because you’ve been rude to me twice, and the women at St Helen’s Road Spar post office and the lovely Asian man in Daubhill post office are much nicer than you!) and was met by this:

Me: I need a V888 form.

BW: we don’t have any

Me: but the DVLA said you do

BW: but we don’t

Me: what is a V888 form? Do you even know?

BW: I know we don’t have any.

Me: well, could you at least look??

BW: but we don’t have any

Me: but the DVLA said you are supposed to

BW: Well, we don’t.

Me: Do you know where I can get one from?

BW: maybe from Bolton Central post office.

Me: Bah. I curse you and your offspring, you bureaucratic weasel of the highest order. May the stamps you lick give you tongue cancer and may your tongue grow sores and cankers and fall out, thus rendering you speechless, which, surely to God is better than now.

* BW = bureaucratic Weasel. It’s a name I give to jobsworths who rely on paperwork to get out of stuff. Mainly, they use the Data Protection Act as their main shield from doing work, but there are others.

So…. to anyone who tries to tell me that French bureaucracy is bad, I shall point them in the direction of Deane Road post office and tell them to go in there. What a waste of oxygen that woman was.

Things I shan’t miss:

21. Bureaucratic weasels and the rudeness from them.

22. Unhelpfulness (though I’m sure that exists everywhere in the world!)

23. The drivers that block the roads when there’s a lot of traffic

24. Drivers who pull out into the road when there’s traffic and make everyone brake. Has the point of the single white solid line or the double dashed white line been forgotten????! It means STOP if it’s the former or GIVE WAY if it’s the latter. Why isn’t this common knowledge any more? Has someone shifted the meaning to be that people on the main road should stop or give way???!

25. Overcrowded supermarkets

26. People who stop in doorways. Likewise, I know they will exist in France, but population density dictates these will be fewer and further between. I would, at this point, like to tell a little tale about a fight Steve and I witnessed in a car park in E Leclerc in La Rochefoucauld…. the man had obviously nicked her spot – which was ridiculous because there were about 200 spaces and only 20 cars… so she had got out of her car, where it was, where she had stopped in a moment of righteous indignation, and she was following him into the supermarket, barracking him and threatening to take his hat. It was hilarious. I think this should happen more often in England, let alone in France.

27. Those huge headphones. Anti-iPod headphones. As big as satellite dishes. What’s the point? You aren’t djing in the middle of the day, and the sound quality of an mp3 is pants anyway, compared with ‘older’ technology. You look like a knob if you’re wearing them.

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