I've never ventured into a pawn shop with stuff to sell. [I'm told that my mother was keen on this kind of transaction, and that our precious family bibles probably disappeared in this way, once upon a time, in Merv Mulligan's celebrated shop in Grafton.] Apparently, the pawnbroker gives you a paper stating that your stuff has been duly deposited, then you simply wait around for buyers and, finally, cash.
In many ways, the following uninteresting French document is a little like a pawnbroker's paper:
It states that my naturalization application has been duly deposited, first in the tiny municipal office of Choranche, and now in the Grenoble headquarters of the Isère département, on 11 April 2007. This banal document—filled out by a woman (with whom I've often spoken on the phone) whose handwriting suggests that she might have been a school teacher before working at the préfecture—is the French way of informing me that all is in order, and that I now have to wait patiently until the next higher level, that of the république, handles my application. It's a rational and logical Napoleonic process, of a kind I appreciate. [On countless occasions, over the years, I've felt myself more intrinsically French than the French.] The almost inevitable outcome (maybe in a year or so, unless they were to discover that I've been a criminal) will be a French passport.