You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this. Well, I’m here because my good friend Dick Madeley is in the clink. That’s right: Dick’s doing porridge with all the Armenian sex racketeers and old folk who’ve accidentally forgotten to mention that their husband wasn’t dead when they claimed on his life insurance policy. It's typical of British justice. Even now, as Dick tries to argue himself out of trouble, hoodies are probably turning his house over, stealing his clothes, and searching the garage for Judy’s home made wine. So, if you see a gang of thugs out of their brains on cabbage wine and wearing light cream casuals, you'll have your men.
Or girls. I mustn’t be sexist about this. They can also be gormless, pot smoking donkeys wearing more chains than a P&O ferry. Though if you ask my opinion, they should all dragged off to The Isle of Man. First prize to the first one to swim back to England. We'll tell them that they’ll win a Vauxhall Corsair with nineteen inch rims and a crate of White Lightening in the back, but if we’re really lucky, the tides will carry them off to Newfoundland where they’ll be culled and turned into handbags for rich Americans.
Still, I’m not here to talk about how I’d reform the judicial system in this country, though God knows that I could. I’m here to talk about toes. If, like me, you have ten of them, you might just be wondering what’s the problem. Well it seems the French don’t like our British toes. It doesn’t matter to them that they’re the toes of Churchill, Drake, and Sir Roger Moore. They want us to have toes like Alain Delon and that good looking woman in the Renault ads. According to them, British toes are dangerous. I know. Shocking!
Poor Richard had barely finishing blogging last night when there came a knock on his door. It was Officer Plod having taken the EU shilling, or whatever passes for a shilling these days. Probably a coat button with Michel Legrand’s face on it. Anyway, it seems that a man’s not even allowed to wake up his wife up by giving her a small prod with his toe. Seems Mr. Plod doesn’t do prods. The British big toe has now been reclassified by the bureaucrats in Brussels. That’s right: Richard’s toe is now a deadly weapon! There’d be more danger if he’d gone at Judy with half a pound of Normandy camembert and a bottle of cheap French red.
While the lawyers argue him out of his mess, I’m here to fill in for him on his blog. I thought I’d say something about this ridiculous situation we’ve got ourselves into. I mean, isn’t it as obvious as the nose on Gerard Depardieu’s face that French rules are written for Frenchmen? British toes are a totally different shape. They’re suited to the rolling green hills of Shakespeare’s country and the hard battered canyons across which men like Brunel dropped their iron bridges. They’re not the result of spending our lives wearing soft canvas shoes while we sit on the banks of the Seine, doing nothing but sipping coffee and discussing free will with a knickerless Béatrice Dalle on a push bike.
Yet that’s the problem with the European mind. They just don’t understand the British. They’re fine when they want to discuss things that don’t matter like whether God is dead or not. Personally, I don’t really care, unless I was mentioned in the will. The French can’t understand us why we Brits want to do something with a purpose. Like go to war or invent the jet engine.
Some years ago, I was driving through France in an old World War 2 Sherman tank. It was part of the celebrations commemorating the Allied Victory. As you’ll know, there’s no better way of reminding the French of the debt they owe us than by driving a thirty tonne tank down the road and ripping up their tarmac. We were going through a small village, just outside Paris, when the mayor came out to meet us. I say meet but he was waving his fists. I had to make a quick decision. Either mow him down with our 30 millimetre machine gun or go out and see what he wanted. A lesser man might have taken the machine gun approach, only I understand the French mind. They use their fists like we use flags with the Queen’s face on them. They don’t intend to look so aggressive. If you don’t believe me, tell me the name of the last world heavyweight boxing champion to come out of France. Precisely.
I climbed out of the tank and had a word with the mayor who seems a little upset by the slight three foot trench we’d dug along the main road running through his town. I explained to him that it wasn’t the fault of the tank but of dodgy road laying policy of the post-War French government and that if they’d employed Mr. Balfour and Mr. Beatty they’d have had no such problem. I then gave him Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s business card and advised him to ring him and get a quote. And that’s when the mayor kicked me in the shin.
First thing he thought: kick the tall English guy in the shins. It’s how they think, you see? To them, it’s not the fists but the toes that are their weapons of choice. To your average Englishman, toes are merely entertainment for your fingers after you’ve had a good walk through a newly ploughed field. As some great Greek person in a dress first put it: pick your toes, not war. Anyway, that’s what I’d told Dick. And that’s what I’m telling you all now. If you ever go to France, don’t go waving your toes around.
You’ll probably get nicked. And you don’t want that. There are even more men called Dennis in French prisons. And sometimes they’re called Pierre.
© Jeremy Clarkson, 2007.