Share Button

Wires from removed light fittings dangle. Cracked stucco walls moulder. The remains of the carpet underlay snake the stone floor and a sign that says ‘Please take a ticket’ points its arrow at nothing. But one mustn’t linger. Phase three of the dance, in which there are two sub-movements, has begun. The security staff’s favourites, or principal players have been granted positions ahead of you and you must choose which one of the fluctuating queues to join. You take your pick and you stick to it. It is unclear which window intends to deal with visa requests and which passports or document legalisation etc. but this doesn’t matter. You must be in a queue. It is imperative for the consistency of phase three of the dance.

The squelching dies down a little. The disdain is now being vocalised and rises to a grand crescendo. The brave souls manning the uncategorised windows begin glancing scornfully at the queues. Suddenly they shake their heads at the petitioners. The worst has happened. Some of the dancers are in the wrong queue. A novice error this! They can’t have understood the duality of phase three! Fools! They will simply be told to go to the back. Women throw their arms in the air. They scuff their feet like recalcitrant children ruining their pristine Nike Air Jordans on the detritus below. Men in shiny suits laugh at them and shake their heads. They put their hands to their mouths and grin as their oversized imitation Rolexes slide down their infant-like wrists.

Then HE arrives. The Lead Dancer. The best-dressed man you have ever seen appears gleaming like a new car. His hat sits atop his head like he first wore it as he danced from his mother’s womb. His three-piece suit is cut for him like skin. His cravat and cravat pin punctuate the splendour of a shirt so colourful you would disappear if you even thought about wearing it. His elegant footwear is so flawlessly buffed, it is as though you were granted a glimpse of the infinite. He is magnificent and his Nureyev-like anachronousness to the concrete, the club-footedness, the gracelessness and decrepitude is only magnified by our desperate, cloying mediocrity.

Silence. Not even a squelch.

It is HE who decides which queue is for which purpose. HE and HE alone has this duty and HE performs it like a God. The climax of the dance has been announced and you slide, slip, run, hop and shimmy your way to your place on the stage around your cross-trafficking fellow dancers, finally securing your spot where you will be seen to (but by no means guaranteed a visa).

Download PDF (low res) here
Order a print copy - here
Expatriates in Paris Live Streams - every day at 9pm - see the schedule here

Download your winner badge (Right click and save as .png)