Another example of bureaucratic fatuity was brought to my attention yesterday. Returning from lunch with some colleagues we decided to have coffee. Now since coffee and cigarettes go so well together - and my vices are well-known - I was asked if I wanted to make my way into the gas-chamber the Parliament neatly constructed for such purposes last year. We also used to have a smoking section in the first floor cafe, and I naively asked what had become of it, being a much more salubrious spot.
Well, it turns out that the Parliament had banned smoking anywhere in the building, spelling doom for my favoured location. And theoretically, it seems, for the smoking room as well. Technically, smoking is forbidden in any part of the complex - and punishable with some astronomical fine. Yet, 100s of stressed-out smokers can regularly be seen puffing away on the premises. How so?
Well it seems that - faced with a 'Mutiny on the Bounty' situation from the fonctionnaires - the authorities, in their wisdom, decided that if they didn't provide ashtrays in the smoking room and placed large no-smoking signs on the walls, then it does not, technically, constitute a smoking room. Therefore smoking does not occur there so they can turn a blind eye. Impeccable logic, non?