Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Oh, Mr. M-M-M-ayor, Sir...."

Larry the Lamb, S.G. Hulme-Beaman's creation in the wonderful Toytown series, stories that would no doubt be eschewed by today's Nintendo wielding kids, would have felt right at home here in France.
For, as in the stories if there was a problem in Toytown, Larry would run straight to the Mayor. In France we do the same thing.
I asked a number of British visitors if they knew the name of the mayor of their town. None did, but I'm willing to bet there's hardly an adult Frenchman or woman who does not know the name of theirs.
He presides over the affairs of the town, loftily removed from any Parisian decrees and is able to adjudicate on a myriad of the little problems associated with communal life.
You need planning permission for an extension to your house? Go see the mayor.
Your trash is not getting picked up? Go see the mayor.
These and a million other matters come under his aegis and, as an elected official, he will make sure that matters get taken care of.
Mayors take an immense pride in their towns, something which is apparent to the visitors as they drive through.
The French are often criticised for being proud but I fail to see why this is considered to be a demerit.
A good many English villages used to take a similar pride in their appearance but they now seem to be in a minority. In any case, the mayor has little jurisdiction over a good many of the matters that are of concern to his residents. These are all handled by some bureaucrat in Whitehall.
All this was prompted by a problem in a little Devon village where the Women's Institute wish to assert their right, granted by Henry VIII, to hold a street market.
A waffling council say they can't 'cos some 1984 statute says you can't close off a highway.
What a load of rubbish! Here in our town the local cycle club wanted to run a concourse starting from the town square. It's a popular event and the mayor had no hesitation about shutting off all traffic through the town for the day.
It may seem like Toytown to you, although we don't actually have (or need) Ernest the policeman, but even Mr. Grouser would be pleased with the way it's run.


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