Nothing Toulouse: Part 5

by David Davies on December 21, 2009

Me and Gemma had heard there’d be a strike.
‘Over what?’ we asked Will.
‘What… just… agriculture?’

Well, if you're going to strike, you might as well strike over this

Quite what the strike entailed, nobody seemed to know, though apparently strikes in France are booked further in advance than Christmas holidays, because a full police presence mingled with no small amount of traffic re-routing ensured the day of the Agriculture Strike passed without incident. At least on the outskirts.

Walking into the centre ville  that afternoon, I thought we’d stepped on to the opening set of Borat. Horse shit mingled with hay on the main roads, circled by the gens d’armes  like some kind of manure-worshipping cult. The protesters themselves were long gone. I imagined them moseying into town on colossal horses towing tonnes of nose-curling shite into the middle of Toulouse, firing hay from Napoleonic canon and, literally, the piéce de resistance, dumping hillocks of crab apples in the crossroads surrounding Jean Jaurés, the central metro stop for the whole city.  In counter-protest, some surburbanites cut a path through the apples in their Renaults and Audis on the way home from work. How I longed to see one of the cheeky sods reversing through a pile of apples. That would have made my day. Clearly, going on strike in France pertained to some very specific guerilla soiling.

This is what you expect from a strike

No pickets and placards for these put upon workers, no, let’s get the big buckets of shit out, lads.
Shuffling through hay in a city centre is a disconcerting experience. I half expected a headless horseman to charge from one of the side streets with a broadsword. Nor was this strike an isolated incident. France views the strike as an entitlement. Need an extra day’s holiday? Strike. Need to pop down the shops for some bog roll? Strike. Point of fact, the strike as a tool of protest is now completely ineffective, hence the muck spreading. Gemma was already versed in the strikers’ philosophy. Her university, the reason we were here in the first place, had gone on indefinite strike.

A University on strike? How would you tell?

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