We did promise not to blog about burkinis but two points are probably now worth making. First, the whole thing is essentially a battle between a state that thinks it’s replaced religion and a religion that thinks it ought to replace the state. No wonder there’s a conflict. Secondly, the whole affair is very revealing about how France actually works. Countries essentially operate on one of two patterns. Either decisions are made at the bottom by the local authorities and transmitted up to the government, or by the government and communicated down to local authorities. The problem with France is that both patterns operate simultaneously. So on the one hand we have mayors making important decisions for their local area (and remember French mayors are powerful enough to have their own police force) and on the other politicians sitting around desks in Paris issuing orders that they expect to be obeyed nationwide. The result is an inevitable grinding of gears, particularly when the mayors are of a very different political flavour to the politicians in Paris.
Anyway after over two years of regularly visiting Cannes, strolling along the crowded coastal pavement that is the Croissette and occasionally enjoying the beach, let us suggest, slightly tongue in cheek, a number of other things that ought to be banned in the interests of decency. We do not apologise for not having photographs of some of these: they would not be in good taste.
1) Bodies with more tattoos than flesh.
2) Little dogs wearing pink skirts.
3) People hurtling along the pavement on skateboards/rollerblades while staring down at their smartphones.
4) Bikini clad women of such a carefully achieved slimness that you can count their ribs.
5) Men in shorts who look as if they weigh as much as a small car.
6) People who delight in weaving in and out of crowds at speed on scooters, bikes, segways and hoverboards and various other items of transport otherwise unknown outside California.
7) People who step out into the road in the sure and certain knowledge that Death could not possibly be active in this place of sunlight and glitz. Unfortunately Death is, as one might say, alive and well in Cannes.
8) People with enough suntan lotion on to create their own oil slick.
9) Showoffs with designer jeans, handbags or hairstyles and – in case you can’t recognise wealth when you meet it – carrier bags from the Cartier or Versace shops.
10) Sculptures which are apparently designed on the basis that some people will buy any kind of modern ‘art’ as long as it’s expensive.
10) T-shirts that are either written in some language that the wearer imagines is English or that say something incredibly rude. Advice to parents: “I’m too sexy for this T-shirt” is not appropriate for a 10-year-old girl.
11) Unshaven tramps shambling uncertainly along who, in reality, are technology millionaires trying to remember where they parked their Ferrari.
12) People who are anxious to display to the world that their dog is bigger than anybody else’s.
13) People who are anxious to display to the world that their dog is smaller than anybody else’s. (Or simply more aggressive).
14) Off-duty bodyguards with military postures, muscles, crew cuts and tattoos celebrating death and dismemberment, who look as if nothing would make their day more than you picking a fight with them.
15) Tourists all simultaneously squealing as they take selfies in front of the red carpet.
16) Car drivers who go along the Croissette at 20 kilometres an hour gawping at the above.
In other news, our local (French) paper announced that “an English daily” had put Var (our department) as the first of 30 European destinations to ‘see before you die’. Well done The Telegraph. We are expecting the first coachloads of the terminally ill any day.