Showing posts with label French naturalization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French naturalization. Show all posts

Friday, August 8, 2008

Memorable day

I'm not likely to forget the opening day of the Beijing games. It's the day I picked up my new French identity card.

I hope the data is blurred enough to discourage forgers and fraudsters. [UPDATE October 11, 2011: Intrigued by frequent visits to this blog post, and worried that somebody might be trying to steal my identity, I've blurred the image even more.]

If only I'd thought of it earlier, I would have made arrangements to get married today, like countless couples in China. Apparently all the 8s in today's date are a happy omen for people in love. [story] With my new French identity card, it goes without saying that I'm empowered to whisk away a bride in less time than it took for the Aussie rugby man Sonny Bill Williams to abandon his Bulldog mates in Sydney and join the Toulon club in France. But I was faced with a few obstacles:

• I had no way of knowing beforehand that the French authorities would enable me to pick up my identity card today, 8 August 2008, at the mayor's office in Choranche.

• I'm not really sure I want to get married.

• Surprisingly, there's no waiting list of female candidates.

This afternoon, therefore, instead of curling up on the couch with a new wife, I'll curl up all alone in front of the TV and watch the opening ceremony at Beijing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Becoming French

On 18 June in 1940 [my year of birth], Charles de Gaulle broadcast a call from London on BBC radio inviting his compatriots to join his resistance movement in England.

On this morning of 18 June 2008, a letter with a tricolor heading is inviting me to the préfecture in Grenoble on Friday 27 June to receive a decree stating that I've been granted French nationality.

The naturalization ceremony will be taking place in the lovely old building on the Place du Verdun that I walk past whenever I visit the archives in Grenoble to do research on the background of Gamone.

I'm moved to think that I'll be naturalized in the Alpine capital where the great mathematician Joseph Fourier was once the prefect. Grenoble is indeed a moving city, through its history (both ecclesiastic and republican) and its achievements in science and technology. It was also the birthplace of the great novelist Stendhal. Strangely, whenever I set foot in Grenoble, I feel calm and reassured, as if I were entering some kind of protective cocoon. This is no doubt an illusion, but I always feel that, whatever might be happening elsewhere in the universe, the people of Grenoble have surely got their act together, and are mastering their destinies. In any case, to my mind, it's an ideal place in which to become a citizen of France.

The symbol of the modern city is this mass of black steel, located outside the railway station. It's a work by the American sculptor Alexander Calder [1898-1976]. Entitled Three Peaks, this huge sculpture was commissioned for the Winter Olympics of 1968.

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.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Foreigners in France

In the current French political climate, I often feel that, every time I dare to throw the term "naturalization" into my Antipodes articles, it's as if I were pronouncing a nasty four-letter word. The naturalization of foreigners is not exactly, at the present Sarkozian instant, the most glamorous topic in France. I don't know whether there are opinion polls in this domain, but I would say, as a guess, that the question of naturalization has a global popularity rating in France down around the level of subjects such as genetically-modified shit, nuclear wastes and global warming. Somebody with my background and accent would normally score much higher in present-day Sarkozy Land by saying "I'm a compatriot of Nicole Kidman" than by indicating that he hopes to become a citizen of France.

Be that as it may, it would be appalling if my only hope of receiving a French passport were to admire Sarko and his methods. No, in that case, I would prefer to sell Gamone and move out to Queensland. One of the countless things that stops me pursuing this line of reasoning is that it would be unthinkable for me to return to Australia without my dog. So, it's Sophia who's playing ceaselessly a silent role in holding me in France. Sophia probably doesn't realize this, but she's an everyday living symbol, for me, of everybody from Vercingétorix up to Yannick Noah, without forgetting Joan of Arc or Charles de Gaulle. Then I have another French heroine, intimately responsible for my presence in France:

Christine celebrated her 65th birthday yesterday.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Exceptional document

In my genealogical research over the last quarter of a century, I've collected all kinds of so-called BDM certificates [births, deaths and marriages], but I had never before seen anything quite as exotic as the latest version of my Australian birth certificate, in the form requested by French authorities for my naturalization application. And, if I introduce such a subject into my blog, it's because I've always been fascinated by records, archives, genealogical documents and all the official human stuff intended to inform us who we are, where we come from, and—maybe, as an afterthought—what we've all been doing during our brief stay on the planet Earth.

In concrete terms, there is now a second sheet of paper, supplied by the Sydney office of the federal department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, referred to as an apostille, attached to the old certificate by means of a green ribbon. And, on both sides of this second sheet of paper, there's a red seal. The following image shows how they've punched a hole in one corner of the old certificate, and run the folded green ribbon through this hole:

Here's a fragment of the attached sheet, the apostille, showing a seal and the signed stamp of the authorities:

On the reverse side of the apostille, as seen in the following image [which is greatly reduced so that I can fit it into my blog], the two extremities of the green ribbon holding the two sheets of paper together are glued onto the apostille by means of a second seal:

The raison d'être of all this elaborate craftsmanship is, of course, to discourage forgers. If somebody attempted to undo the ribbon so that the apostille could then be attached to a fake birth certificate, observers would normally detect traces of the subterfuge.

In fact, it took me no more than a minute to imagine an elementary technique for the delicate removal of the original certificate, and the subsequent attachment of the apostille to a fake birth certificate concerning another individual, maybe even a fictitious personage. No, I don't intend to explain my discovery here and now, because one never knows if it might be useful, one day, to have the details of such a secret technique tucked away in a corner of one's mind. Let me put it another way. For the moment, while my modest financial resources enable me to lead a simple but pleasant existence, I don't intend to try to make a fortune by getting involved in the international forgery business.

Seriously, with today's computers and instant communication possibilities, wouldn't you think that the authorities of advanced nations such as France and Australia would have moved beyond the stage of depending upon quaint old-fashioned stuff such as pretty green ribbons and red seals [for which I've been obliged to pay a non-negligible sum of money, along with a certain waste of time and effort] to confirm that a poor inoffensive bastard named William Skyvington was indeed born in Australia 67 years ago?

Let me conclude on a positive note. As I explained yesterday in Children's itinerary [display], I had to drive along treacherous mountainous roads in order to post off my green ribbon and red seals to the naturalization authorities, who happen to be located in the Atlantic city of Nantes. Well, there's a fabulous French system called Chronopost [which isn't exactly cheap] that enables you to use the Internet to follow the transport of your package as it crosses France... or indeed the planet. Here's what I learned today:

Once my green ribbon and red seals had crossed the Vercors mountains in my old Citroën, they were deposited in the fabulous cheese town of St-Marcellin [it's the cheese, not the town, that's fabulous] and then conveyed to Grenoble, where their presence was recorded at 19:23 yesterday evening. By 05:13 this morning, the ribbon and seals were in Nantes... but they won't actually be delivered into the hands of my friendly naturalization lady named Cécile Guillas [even red tape is a highly personalized affair here in France] until Monday morning. The only thing that worries me now is that Cécile, in using a pair of scissors to extract my lovely birth certificate from its protective plastic envelopes, might inadvertently damage (cut) that lovely green ribbon or the equally lovely red circular seals, which would be a great pity. I'm attached to that document... like an apostille.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A small step for William

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.