«The habit does not make the monk... »

@topffer (31865)
France
May 19, 2017 8:18am CST
...but sometimes it helps ! I read today a French article about « The weird double life of the king of Holland ». During 20 years the king has times to times piloted planes of the Dutch company KLM. He was not giving his name to passengers, but he was welcoming them with his pilot uniform, and during 20 years quite nobody recognized his face or his voice. Nobody was knowing that the king had a pilot’s license, and the secret has been kept until he decided to tell it to a newspaper a few days ago. It was probably more exciting than to be king in a democracy, which is a boring job if you think a bit about it. On the same register, I remember a young sub-prefect (a sub-prefect is the higher representant of the state in a French arrondissement) who had a rare hobby among high public servants : he was liking to travel on the roads and paths of his arrondissement on a bicycle. A morning, during a cold winter, he was riding his bicycle on a path near a river at about 20 km of his sub-prefecture, when an accident happened : the bicycle and the sub-prefect felt in the river. The river was deep and the banks quite high, but the sporty sub-prefect managed to get out of it, despite of his bicycle shoes, which are not the best shoes to climb a bank or even to walk. His bicyle was at the bottom of the river, his mobile phone dead, he was soaked, and his bicycle suit was muddy, but he was alive, and he walked, shivering from the cold, to the nearest village, where he started to ring at the doors, telling « I am the sub-prefect, I have had an accident, can I use your phone to ask to send my chauffeur to come and pick up me.» When the first person told him « If you are the sub-prefect, I am the president » and closed the door, he should have realized that it was not that easy to tell that you are a sub-prefect when you are wearing a wet and muddy bicycle suit. He finally found in a café a soul who did not believe him but has been sensitive enough to offer him a free phone call... Speaking of presidents, in 1920, Paul Deschanel, the 11th president of our IIIrd Republic has been more lucky. At this time, our presidents were travelling by train, and it seems that he was a sleepwalker. Elected in February 1920, he felt from his presidential wagon during a night in April, in the middle of nowhere. By luck, because of works on the track, the train was only running at 50 km/h ; he had several injuries, but nothing broken, and he followed the track up to a gatekeeper house where he knocked at the door, telling « I am the President, and I have fallen from my train ». As he was wearing only a night shirt and was barefoot, it was not obvious, but the gatekeeper and his wife opened their door and offered him a first aid. Later the gatekeeper told to the newspapers « I immediately saw that he was a 'Monsieur' : his feet were very clean. » The accident inspired a lot the journalists, caricaturists and songwriters of the time, and Deschanel offered to resign. It was refused by the Assembly, but he was forced to resign in September, because he was spending too much time in the gardens of the Elysee palace. It was a bit worrying to see a 65 years old French president and academician climbing at the chestnut trees and taking his baths in an outdoor basin with the ducks. Despite of these details about his private life reported by the media, he was still a very good speaker and writer after his train accident, and he managed to be elected 3 months later to the Senate in the first round of a local election. Your comments and anecdotes are welcomed.
12 people like this
10 responses
@Corbin5 (89349)
• United States
19 May
Paul Deschanel sounds like quite a unique individual, a bit odd perhaps, but interesting. It is good to hear that Paul did get to participate in government despite the fact that his personal life was a bit peculiar. He would be the one of the three with whom I would want to spend some time.
4 people like this
@topffer (31865)
• France
19 May
He was very brilliant and got the best score a president ever had for an election during our IIIrd Republic. But he was already a bit weird before his election, and it increased after his train accident. He was elected for 7 years and stayed only a few months before he resigned.
4 people like this
@Corbin5 (89349)
• United States
20 May
@Lupita234 Probably an interesting fellow to meet and chat with for a while.
1 person likes this
@topffer (31865)
• France
21 May
@Corbin5 I also think that he was among the politicians interesting to meet at his time, more for his big literary knowledge than for politics, although he was a very talented speaker.
1 person likes this
@scheng1 (24847)
• Singapore
19 May
You can write novels based on each of the stories above. For the king who likes to pilot planes, you can add in the element of terrorism, and the airline is forced to issue a press statement that the terrorists have hijacked a plane piloted by the king. That will make things interesting!
3 people like this
@topffer (31865)
• France
19 May
It would make a good subject for a thriller movie indeed. There are several books about Paul Deschanel, but not a funny one, despite of hundreds of weird anecdotes that can be found about him in the newspapers of the time. Many have been invented to make fun about him, though.
3 people like this
@scheng1 (24847)
• Singapore
19 May
@topffer I think you can put Paul Deschanel with Trump in the same story! That will be interesting. Put both of them in the same train, turn them into good friend, they sleep together, then Paul kicks Trump out in his sleep. After that Paul sleepwalks himself out of the train. By the time the train reaches the destination, but Presidents are missing!
2 people like this
@topffer (31865)
• France
19 May
@scheng1 It makes me think at a Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton movie, and Deschanel was enjoying these American comedy movies, and would have approved your scenario. He had been elected at the French Academy for his literary talent, which was real, and was elected president with the best score that has ever had a French president during the IIIrd Republic, but this accident ruined his political career and his brain. He had very high ideas about liberties and democracy, and was a partisan of free movement and free trade long before the EU. I am sure that Trump would have hated him.
2 people like this
• Pamplona, Spain
19 May
I would love to see that Thriller Movie if it came about. Did not know about any of these at all.
1 person likes this
@topffer (31865)
• France
19 May
The Paul Deschanel story is well known, at least in France, but the king anecdote is fresh, from this week, and I learned the sub-prefect anecdote by word of mouth, as he did not bragged about it
2 people like this
• Pamplona, Spain
19 May
@topffer The King of Spain Juan Carlos has a few stories to tell I´ll be bound as well. He must be good pals with the other King then. Would not like to bet that they have been pals all along. Some great ideas for Films and Novels coming up here.
2 people like this
@topffer (31865)
• France
19 May
@lovinangelsinstead21 Don't tell me that Juan Carlos has also a license to pilot Jumbo jets!? King's job is something boring, and many have a hobby besides. I am quite surprised, due to the amount of funny anecdotes inside the newspapers of the time, that there is not a funny book about Deschanel. What stops writers is probably that he was a very brilliant man before his stupid train accident.
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (131427)
• Switzerland
19 May
Very nice stories. When we lived in Monte-Carlo Rolls Royce cars were everywhere, surely not a rarity. One day my husband was driving, from our home to the port of Monaco. In front of us someone was driving VERY slowly on a white Rolls Royce. My husband got nervous, he horned twice and then decide to double the car. I turned my head and inside the white Rolls Royce I saw Prince Rainier driving peacefully. I waved my hand, I thought it was the best thing to do.
1 person likes this
@topffer (31865)
• France
19 May
You were knowing him personally, or you were afraid that he noted your license plate number to send you a ticket? Since last century it is difficult to have a chauffeur 24/24 with all these social laws, but I would not have imagined that the prince of Monaco would drive himself. It reminds me the Rolls of Serge Gainsbourg. He bought a Rolls, and somebody told him that with a Rolls he was needing a chauffeur. He thought at it, called a mason to make a few changes in his house, put the Rolls in the middle of his living room (it was very large), and used it as a ashtray. When the ashtray has been filled, he called the mason again, and put the Rolls to the dump. 100% true.
2 people like this
@LadyDuck (131427)
• Switzerland
19 May
@topffer I thought he would have noticed the license plate, it was nicer to wave. Also Caroline always drove herself and Princess Grace loved to make her shopping walking on the main Boulevard. Serge Gainsbourg was a funny guy and he surely smoked A LOT.
2 people like this
@topffer (31865)
• France
19 May
@LadyDuck Next time you remembered who was the owner of this "MC 1" plate. Never mind, I also think that a Rolls needs a chauffeur. When I visited Copenhagen I have been told that the royal family was often shopping with bicycles. I do not know if it is still the case today ; with the risk of terrorist attacks, it would be a nightmare for their body guards.
2 people like this
@YrNemo (9311)
19 May
Thanks for these fascinating stories!
1 person likes this
@topffer (31865)
• France
19 May
Fascinating is perhaps a big word here, but I am pleased that you found this discussion interesting.
1 person likes this
@YrNemo (9311)
19 May
@topffer You worried me there... just checked the internet, fascinating is 'extremely interesting', how's that? (That discussion is one of the best I have read here in the last week or so .)
1 person likes this
@topffer (31865)
• France
19 May
@YrNemo In French and Latin there is a big difference, even if I also find "interesting" among the synonyms of "fascinating". Better synonyms for "fascinating" in French would be translated by "enchanting", "bewitching", "magnetic"... Thank you very much.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (108320)
• Bunbury, Australia
20 May
Vince read about the King of the Netherlands being a commercial plane pilot. What an interesting story. It must be quite humbling for VIPs to be unrecognised when they are out of context.
1 person likes this
@topffer (31865)
• France
20 May
I think that they appreciate to not be recognized, it is probably a breath of fresh air for them. And pilot is the only master after God, when a king has not that power today.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (108320)
• Bunbury, Australia
20 May
@topffer That's very true. It is probably much more fun being a 'commoner'.
1 person likes this
@Susan2015 (19612)
• United States
19 May
The third individual sounds very interesting. I wonder why no one recognized the king.
1 person likes this
@topffer (31865)
• France
19 May
I suppose that it is because the Dutchmen were not expecting to find him under the uniform of a pilot. Maybe this pilot was looking a bit like the king, but it was impossible. And maybe it was better for the stress : many would perhaps not have been reassured if they had known it : does a king needs a license to pilot a plane?
1 person likes this
@Susan2015 (19612)
• United States
20 May
@topffer I have no idea!
@Daljinder (20271)
• India
19 May
That President....fell from a train??? and survived???
1 person likes this
@topffer (31865)
• France
19 May
The train was running at slow speed because of works on the track, and he got only some minor injuries. I give you a link to a version of the story in English. I wrote that it happened in April, but I controlled and the English version is right, it was in May.
Paul Deschanel had the makings of a fine President of France – until a series of bizarre incidents culminated in him falling out the window of a moving train.
1 person likes this
@garymarsh6 (12773)
• United Kingdom
20 May
That must have been terrible falling from the train. I bet it woke him up with a start! Thankfully he survived. As for the guy falling from his bike rather than announce his position he would have been better just saying he had an accident and needed help! Hope you are still recovering well.
@topffer (31865)
• France
20 May
As he was a sleepwalker, he could not tell if he felt from a window or a door, but it seems that it was from a window according to the police investigation. I have heard stories about sleepwalkers falling from a high window or a roof and waking up without a fracture, so maybe it was a chance for him to sleep, but he certainly woke up with a start. I also think that the sub-prefect should have realized when the first door was closed that his approach was not good. Besides, if I had been in his bicycle shoes, I would certainly not have told who I was. A stupid accident like this one can ruin a career. I have a road bike now, but I remember that something similar happened to me when I had a mountain bike. I wanted to cross a little brook with apparently 2 inches of water... but there was also a good foot of mud under the water, and I ended completely covered of mud in the brook. It was in summer, I removed my clothing, washed them in the brook and put them to dry on a little tree. 2 hours later they were dried. The nurses are saying that I am recovering very fast, but this "fast" is not that fast. Anyways, yes, it improves, thank you.
@bunnybon7 (34323)
• Holiday, Florida
22 May
quite interesting. lot of story. are they about the same guy or several?