Saturday, 30 May 2009


Sheila and I could, I suppose, be considered 49ers. After all, we do have a house in the French département of Maine et Loire, which is département 49.

Each French département is numbered, starting with 01 and ending in the 90s, the numbers having been allocated in alphabetical order. So Loire Atlantique is 44, Mayenne 53 etc. I'm told that French schoolchildren are expected to learn the names and numbers by heart. Why and when this numbering happened I don't know - possibly something to do with Napoleon Bonaparte who was around when the metric system of measures was introduced - but it is an example of the French love of bureaucracy.

There are, naturally, exceptions to the alpha-numeric rule. Corsica, for example, is divided into two départements which are numbered 2A and 2B, and there are several départements around Paris (75) which have numbers in the 90s, way out of sequence. Probably because one large département was split into smaller parts.

The numbers are used in the French post codes. These consist of five digits, of which the first two are the number of the département. Car registration numbers consist of three or four numerals followed ny two or three letters and finished off with the département number, and if one moves house from one département to another one is allowed six months to re-register one's car. I understand that there are plans to do away with the département indicator but that there is resistance to this.

Quietly musing as we drove along an almost deserted motorway, I decided that if I were to support an American team, it would have to be the 49ers. I had a vague idea that this team was based in California (and presumably named because of the gold rush), probably in San Francisco, but I had no idea whether they played basketball, baseball or football. I discovered that they are a football team. My knowledge of American football is scant: in fact, most of what I know came as a result of reading John Grisham's Playing for Pizza, so I decided I should learn a little more.

I wish I hadn't bothered. The rules seem even more complex than those of cricket.

I think I'll stick with stoolball.


Uncle Skip, said...

American football has rules?

Well I'm sure that David Richards could explain them if he hadn't moved up north.

Brighton Pensioner said...

One does lose such a lot when one moves to a barbarian country.