It’s all French to me

This was written in Limoges airport, while waiting for a plane during a period of heightened security. I was in the middle of novel number one, and I was writing ideas in my note book as they came to me. Afterwards I thought about this. It’s an incident which didn’t happen, but could have.

It’s a conversation between two people, best read out loud. The first person needs to be read in a really bad French accent a la the TV show ‘Ello ‘Ello. I’m not having a go at the French; it just works better for comedy purposes!


‘Your name eez Andrew Redsmith, oui?’

‘Yes, it is. But who are you? Why have I been brought in here?’

‘I am Captain Lefavre of ze French Counter-Terrorism unit. And you are here because we have undercover agents operating throughout ze airport. One of zem saw you writing in zis notebook. Most of ze writing eez in some sort of code. But ze parts we can read talk about Paree, and somebody being murdered.’

‘Paree? Murder? Oh! I see! This is all a misunderstanding!’

‘Eez it? Then perhaps you would like to explain.’

‘Yes, of course. You see, I’m writing a novel. A story. It’s a comedy. And the main character is called Paris, the English pronunciation of Paree. He’s a policeman; Inspector Paris.’

‘Eez that so? He is like Inspector Clouseau, and you make fun of my country?’

‘No, no, nothing like that. He just happens to be called Paris. The story takes place in England, and if anything it’s making fun of British people.’

‘So why eez ze notebook written in code?’

‘It’s not code. It’s a kind of shorthand notation. I don’t write down the whole story; just ideas as I think of them. And sometimes it’s part of sentences or abbreviations. See, capital letters mean character names; and this bit here “prev conv” means “previous conversation”.’

‘Oh. I see. So these are all ideas and, how you say, sketches?’


‘And you are writing a novel?’


‘Not an instruction manual for terrorists?’


‘Very well. Perhaps we have been too hasty. You are free to go.’

‘Thank you.’

‘Before you leave – what eez ze novel called?’

‘”Breaking the Lore”. Oh hell.’