Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New French citizen

This morning, I received a friendly letter from the French authorities in charge of naturalizations. Its opening line:

J'ai le plaisir de vous faire savoir que vous êtes Français depuis le 03/03/2008. [I'm pleased to inform you that you are French since March 3, 2008.]

My son's spontaneous comment: "Papa, there's a part of you that France will never obtain. Your prostate remained purely Australian up until the bitter end!"

At an administrative level, a governmental decree on my naturalization was published in the Journal Officiel of March 6, 2008. At some time during the next six months, I'll be invited to a naturalization ceremony in Grenoble. On that occasion, along with my new French identity papers, I'm promised a personal letter from Nicolas Sarkozy and an instructive booklet on what it means to be French... as if I didn't already have certain clear notions on this question.


  1. French Dad, more French than many autochtones…


  2. The original saying, I think, is "more Catholic than the Pope"... which is not necessarily the case concerning my Frenchness. I've always made it clear that I'm resolutely Francophile, tendance Sartre, Camus, etc. Otherwise, why would I still be living here? My French intellectual master was Pierre Schaeffer. If it were meaningful to dedicate my French naturalization to friends, they would be Christine Mafart and Pierre Schaeffer... not forgetting our Albert Richard.

  3. Congratulations! ([?] - I'm not sure that it is a good idea to be a French citizen nowadays).
    Anyway, I'm happy for you - you seemed to await this moment for a while.

    I would like to know your opinion about Sarkozy's instructive booklet. Since you have been living in France for the last forty years and having read your blog for more than six months, I think that you know more about France than most of the autochtones, as Manya says. So I'm very curious (in a positive sense) to know how you feel about this booklet.

  4. I'm looking forward with curiosity to discovering the style of formalities associated with the naturalization process in the wilderness of Sarkozia. I hope, at least, that the authorities will not simply offer me stuff that can be found already on the Internet, such as Guy Môquet's letter to his family, or Carla Bruni's songs. Ideally, I would expect something similar to a Masonic initiation ritual, with details of the secret handshake enabling me to recognize instantly my fellow French citizens in far-flung corners of the globe. It would be nice if I were to be offered instructions on how to send SMS messages to the Elysée Palace, if ever I happened to be caught up in some kind of nasty situation in a former African colony, and needed to be exfiltrated urgently by a French military helicopter. Fortunately, there's one level of Frenchness at which I'm relatively competent already. My newly-acquired fellow citizens are accused universally of being arrogant. It so happens that I'm already pretty good at that, as is often revealed in this blog. I probably have a Basque beret in one of my old clothes trunks... but I prefer to wear a woolen bonnet (hunters' style) in winter. I like freshly-baked baguettes, but I prefer to cook my own bread in a made-in-France machine. I'm quite an expert at preparing snails, but I have the impression that global warming is catching up with them at Gamone. Like anybody else on the planet who shops in supermarkets, I can be tempted into eating frogs' legs, but they don't make me salivate. On the other hand, I've got nothing against red wine. In other domains, I've always believed that it was a crime for the English to burn Joan of Arc, and I would have been just as happy if Napoléon hadn't been thrashed at Waterloo. Apart from that, I'm looking forward to being informed of my new responsibilities as a Frenchman. Naturally, I'll make a point of informing my blog readers of developments at this level, but I ask them to forgive me beforehand if I refrain from divulging publicly certain confidential details of my new Gallic awareness.

  5. does this mean you cannot say "bloody" any more... how can an aussie become a frenchie... in my youth a frenchie was used to prevent contraception... does this now make you infertile.

  6. In fact, I've got the best of both worlds: dual Australian and French nationalities. If I waited a long time before applying for French nationality, this was because Australia used to have an antiquated law saying that Aussies who acquired a foreign passport would automatically lose their Australian citizenship. In fact, my newly-acquired French nationality will change almost nothing as far as living in France is concerned, because I've had the official status of a resident for decades. Among other things, it will make entry into the UK far smoother, because the Poms seem to be disturbed when they find members of their former empire entering the Old Country, and they want to make sure that Aussie visitors doesn't intend to stay there.

    As for Australia's allegedly colorful language, including terms such as "bloody" (which is not specifically Australian), this is largely a legend. The only people who believe that Australian language is particularly colorful are... Australians! Most Aussies would find it difficult to write down, on a sheet of paper, more than a couple of dozen specimens of colorful Australian language. In French, there are dozens of slang terms for everyday entities such as money, males, females, genitalia, etc.

    It's a fact that, for Australians of my generation, a condom was referred to as a French letter or Frenchy. In French, this object is sometimes referred to as a capote anglaise, meaning literally an English military cape. I've often thought that this explains why the US novelist Truman Capote has always been so well-known in France. Incidentally, there's a town in south-west France called Condom.

    Finally, you raised the question of whether I lost my sexual fertility as a result of becoming a Frenchy. It's rare that a male has an opportunity of replying publicly and honestly to such a question, but the question arises (deliberate pun) at an ideal moment, because I've just had my prostate removed. So, here's the answer that impatient observers from the four corners of the world are awaiting: Thanks to the surgeon's dexterity, combined with the fact that my cancerous cells were detected at a very early stage, I am proud to announce today that I can get it up just as splendidly as in my youth. Consequently, it would be unwise to give your attractive daughters my address at Gamone... unless, of course, they're the kind of girls who would be truly enraptured by the sublime Alpine summits to be found in this exciting part of the world.