The French Academy, guardian of all things cultural in France, has provoked a huge wave of protests throughout the country after announcing that outrageous French stereotypes will be banned.
For hundreds of years, non-French people have struggled with the problem of when to ride on an old-fashioned bicycle festooned with onions, and when to smoke an insouciant cigarette in a pavement café discussing experimental cinema, and the Academy has decided that modernisation is unavoidable.
“For zee last few ‘undred years, we ‘ave been, ‘ow you say, reediculed by zee Eenglish for zee vary French way we do zee theengs,” explained a spokeshomme from the Academy.
“In fact, we don’t even realise we’re doing it. I was putting on a silly accent right there, just through force of habit. Buggeure.”
Many of the oldest French practices – accents like little hats on the letter “a”, eating horses and urinating on traffic policemen – are completely alien to the modern world, and it is the Academy’s hope that they will quickly die out.
However, they may have underestimated the attachment of the French people to these historical customs, and a wave of protests against the dropping of accents has brought the country to a standstill, as usual.
Crowds marched through Paris shouting “Save our circumflex”, pausing every minute for a menacing wave of synchronised Gallic shrugging. Gangs of mimes chanted: “What do we want? E acute! When do we want it? Shhh!”
“They have built a giant pyramid of burning sheep across the Champs-Élysées,” explained a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry. “We’re not sure if they’re being ironic.”
As the day went on, the ‘accent protests’ grew increasingly grave, and at one point the police received an anonymous telephone threat of a beum.
The Academy reacted with scorn to the demonstrations, saying: “Even in their protests, they are doing nothing but reinforcing the worst stereotypes. If the French people continue to act in exactly the way everyone expects, we despair for our fine country!”
When told about the bomb threat, the spokesman added: “OK, we surrender.”