The Reluctant Gendarme
This incident, if incident is not to grand a term, happened many years ago when my wife and I were just finishing a holiday in Paris. We were sat outside a Metro Bar, killing time before we had to go to the Gare du Nord Station to catch the train to Calais. We were on the Avenue du Clichy, The Bar was situated on a busy crossroads and due to the amount of traffic a Gendarme was on point duty.
As we sat watching the traffic and people passing by, we both did something of a double-take, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Coming up the road to where to where the Gendarme was on point duty, was what appeared to be a car sized ‘trainer’ or gym shoe , if you prefer the term. It was black, possibly fibreglass on a car chassis with the logo ‘Kickers’ emblazoned on the side, but the strange thing was you could see neither wheels, nor a driver.
A moment or two after us, the Gendarme spotted it, his first reaction was to remove his kepi and scratch his head, then he replaced his kepi and shook his head, by this time the trainer was almost opposite the junction where we were seated, even at this distance, just a few yards away. there was still no evidence of wheels or a driver.
The Gendarme signalled the ‘trainer’ to stop, then he once again removed his kepi and scratched his head, holding his kepi he walked round the ‘trainer’ twice, inspecting it thoroughly, but looking more and more perplexed. Then he reached to his hip and undid the catch on his pistol holster. We deliberated on whether he planned to arrest it or shoot it. it would have been a tough decision. I have a feeling that the thought may have crossed his mind more than once?
But his plans were thwarted when the traffic, that was piling up behind the ‘trainer’ began to toot their horns impatiently, it was lunch time and they had no time for delays, especially from an indecisive Gendarme on point duty.
The Gendarme shrugged his shoulders, replaced his kepi, fastened the catch on his holster and signalled for the ‘trainer’ to proceed along with the traffic queuing behind it. To this day I have never seen a policeman look so bewildered as this one.
It would have been interesting to see the result had he called for reinforcements. I imagine it would have looked like a scene from the ‘Keystone Kops’ or maybe as we were in France, ‘Inspector Clouseau!’
(c) Damian Grange 2017