I was already a huge admirer of Bertrand Delanoë, the Mayor of Paris, when I heard about his latest brainwave and felt like starting a fan club. I have no idea how this charming, dapper Frenchman does it, but he must have a bottom drawer full of brilliant ideas.
The latest is a cunning plan to persuade Frenchmen to stop peeing in public, or at least hold it in until they get out of Paris, the city limits unfortunately being as far as Mr Delanoë’s influence extends. Why men here – and it is not just those living on the streets – believe it is OK to relieve themselves in front of everyone else is a mystery, but it is another of those particular 'French exceptions'.
Peed off with having the walls of his elegant City Hall liberally sprinkled during the Rugby World Cup (the thanks he got for erecting a huge TV screen outside the building to relay matches and 62 - yes, sixty two - free toilets), Monsieur le Maire has decided enough is enough. Since free facilities and fines are having no effect, Paris officials have developed a special type of "undulating wall" (or rather, I suspect, wall covering) that sends the pee right back from where it came. Think of those annoying sinks in toilets where you turn the tap on and the water bounces up and over onto your trousers or skirt making you look like you wet yourself, and you get the wonderfully awful picture. Except in this case, the offender really has wet himself. As I said; brilliant. I only wonder who was volunteered to test these walls.
I was going to detail some of Mr Delanoë’s previous brainwaves: Paris Plage; les Nuits Blanches; Vélib'; but I am wordless with admiration. Anti-pee walls. I love it.
The move to France was only supposed to be for a couple of years, not forever. Then I met The Frenchman. Then I had La Fille. Now there's no way back. But La Fille, to whom a horse is a cheval and a frog is just pond life is still half English. So before the Gallic nation claims her for its own, sprinkles her with garlic, sautés her and swallows her up whole we make regular escapes on the Eurostar. And we have discovered the grass is various shades of green either side of the Channel.