Subscribe to Granta today

Working Lives (3)

|

David Jégou: Chief Accountant

For the past five years I’ve been working as chief accountant for a company called CIDEF (Centre d’Information et de Documentation et de Formation) in the suburb of Montreuil just outside Paris. I like the job. The organization is run by the French Communist Party and trains local councillors about law and other stuff. What I like most is that the staff are all card-carrying Communists – very militant and all passionate about what they are doing. I’m not a Communist and never will be, but it’s great to work in a place where people care about what they do, and you feel sort of connected to the world of politics and social issues. On a daily basis, they’re all usually squabbling with each other about politics, but whenever they come into my office they’re amicable and friendly. They have to be because I handle all the money. It’s a big job. I’m on my own with a government budget of three million to dole out. But they’re all good, decent people anyway. If they weren’t doing this they’d be teachers or nurses and things like that. We have a laugh most days too.

This is all so different from the other jobs I’ve done as an accountant. I came to Paris in 1997 – my girlfriend came here to study and I followed her. I ended up working in La Défense, a horrible district of skyscrapers where all the money is made. I hated all the jobs – it was so corporate and crappy and it made me feel like an insect or a sheep, just doing all of this stuff without any say or control in what I was doing. I love rock and dance music and really wanted to work in the record industry but I was too lazy and stupid to really get involved. My other dream then was to go to Manchester and go to the Hacienda Club which I read about in the French music press – it sounded brilliant. But I never had the money to go. I bought all the records and CDs though and in my office in Montreuil I’ve got a poster of the Hacienda from the old days. I’ve also got a signed poster of the Jesus and Mary Chain – they were a great band.

I loved it straight away when I got to CIDEF – so different from all those corporate places, and everybody arguing about stuff that matters. I also like the area. I live in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, which is a bit posh but not too much. But this place is different from central Paris. It used to be the old working-class who lived here – that’s why it’s always been Communist – but now it’s mainly immigrants from all over the place. You can see the difference when people get on the metro.

I start off on Line Nine, which is quite smart, and then at Richelieu, where I change for Line Eight, everything changes and there are more Africans, Arabs, all different nationalities. Then you know you’re heading to the suburbs. I normally set off about eight in the morning, and get to the office for nine. I listen to music and read things like les Inrockuptibles magazine or books about music and things that I’m interested in like art, but you can’t read anything too complicated, especially when the metro is full and everybody is bad-tempered. Nobody speaks on the metro anyway. I used to go to the office on my scooter but my back hurts when I do that now. I wouldn’t mind cycling on the Vélib’ – the cheap bikes you can hire in Paris – but it’s a bit far and I’m a bit lazy. And anyway, the Vélib’ doesn’t go out to the suburbs, which is something the Paris Town Council has to sort out. And then, you know, I don’t like the rain.

I get home about eight. I used to go out to gigs at least two or three times a week but now I sometimes feel more tired and I like to chill out in my flat and watch DVDs, make something nice to eat. Anyway, the 15th is a bit far from the main clubs and venues. I used to live up near Pigalle, which was great and I’d walk to gigs and that kind of thing, and I liked the bar life, but, you know, everything changes and I like it here too – small shops, nice family restaurants.

I like Montreuil and I’d miss it if I didn’t work there. I wouldn’t mind living there but I don’t want to be too near the office. I’ve seen the area change in the past few years – it’s getting a little bit more fashionable and there are BoBos [bourgeois bohémiens – Parisian yuppies] who are moving in all the time. You notice this in the way that people dress on the street, their accents and the new organic shops – which are expensive and no ordinary person goes to them.

From my window I can see the council estates – the walls are painted pink and they’re a bit drab, but you can also see that people are making an effort to make them nice inside. There are lots of young people – some of them dealing drugs from the park benches in the little bits of green spaces. The police come here a lot and chase them. It’s a bit like watching a film from my window – you get to know the different faces and characters and nothing really changes that much. Sometimes there’s a car chase. There are a lot of poor and desperate people around here.

Every Friday, we all go to a local restaurant as a group from work. If you don’t go it’s considered a bad thing. There are plenty of good simple restaurants around here and you can get a good meal for about ten to fifteen euros. There are lots of ethnic places, and French of course, old-fashioned basic places which I like. The rest of the week I just buy stuff from the supermarket – salads, sandwiches – and eat something in my office. I don’t think I’m rich or poor. I go on holidays and do what I want, but then I don’t like expensive things really.

I don’t worry about the future. This is where I am and I’m going to stay here.

Interview and translation by Andrew Hussey

Read the rest of the Working Lives series here:

- A day driving a taxi in Rio
- Barcelona’s forensic investigator
- The last fashion manufacturer of the Faubourg

*

Comments (26)

You need to create an account or log in to comment.

  1. Alberto Bermeo

    Mon Apr 14 11:30:52 BST 2014

    Hey, just looking around some blogs, seems a pretty nice platform you are using. I'm currently using Wordpress for a few of my sites but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it? http://www.amcordesign.com/

    #
  2. ralet

    Mon Nov 18 17:37:23 GMT 2013

    We like to split our lives so naturally between work and spare time, that it becomes second nature. Somehow the time you're not at work, reading on http://www.trendmicro.com/us/enterprise/security-risk-management/deep-discovery/index.html or doing what you have to do to provide for your family, is the most valuable time, or at least that's how many people perceive it.

    #
  3. shahzaib11

    Fri Mar 21 20:37:23 GMT 2014

    This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post. I will visit your blog regularly for Some latest post.

    Vertical De Aviacion

    http://www.manta.com/c/mtdmdl6/vertical-de-aviacion-u-s-a

    #
  4. ap9gb6c

    Mon Dec 16 10:17:37 GMT 2013

    Yachtbooker.com is the world's largest reservation system for yacht charter. Here you can find reviews and last minute discounts for more than 4000 yachts worldwide. Compare prices and book online!
    http://twitter.com/Yachtbookercom

    #
  5. belly

    Wed Apr 09 07:50:30 BST 2014

    This is so beautiful and creative. I just love the colors and whoever gets it in the mail will be smiling for venus factor review ,apple cider vinegar weight loss at http://how2losebellyfatfast.com

    #
  6. mas candu

    Sat Apr 12 11:28:15 BST 2014

    This is a wonderful article, Given so much info in it, These type of articles keeps the users interest in the website, and keep on sharing more ... good luck.

    http://mascandu.com/
    http://mascandu.com/pokerkiukiu-com-agen-judi-poker-dan-domino-uang-asli-indonesia/
    http://mascandu.com/senangpoker-com-agen-judi-poker-online-terpercaya-indonesia/

    #
  7. minalaiman@hotmail.com

    Wed Apr 09 13:46:28 BST 2014

    Just like everything else, composing requires exercise, and I believe that the right creative composing level can be greatly beneficial. http://www.stockport-e-cig-company.co.uk/

    #
  8. krunal

    Wed Mar 26 07:17:20 GMT 2014

    Finally, an issue that I am passionate about. I have looked for information of this caliber for the last several hours fast flirting , the tao of badass review , the tao of badass pdf at http://www.fastflirtingtips.com

    #
  9. king2

    Mon Apr 14 08:04:20 BST 2014

    We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post Gaming Jobs , video game tester jobs , gametesterjobs4u.com

    #
  10. king2

    Mon Apr 14 08:04:20 BST 2014

    We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post Gaming Jobs , video game tester jobs , gametesterjobs4u.com

    #
  11. king2

    Mon Apr 14 08:04:33 BST 2014

    Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you are a great author motorola moto g buy online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5nK6cGEnZ0

    #
  12. shahzaib11

    Sat Feb 15 14:54:07 GMT 2014

    First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics , i will be always checking your blog thanks.

    bubblegum casting

    https://myspace.com/bubblegum_casting

    #
  13. shahzaib11

    Sun Mar 30 22:32:19 BST 2014

    Best article. The amount if information here is sufficient and as needed. I know many people will appreciate this but they won't comment about that.

    visit website

    http://couponicious.sg/stores/zalora/

    #
  14. minalaiman@hotmail.com

    Sat Apr 05 10:55:15 BST 2014

    It was here we are at Evo to panel his aircraft. When I informed my mom the tale, she said that she also seemed to fulfill some weirdo whenever she went. http://www.smokehits.com/

    #
  15. shahzaib11

    Sun Feb 16 15:32:56 GMT 2014

    This is really a nice and informative, containing all information and also has a great impact on the new technology. Thanks for sharing it,

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/bubblegumcasting

    bubblegum casting

    #
  16. palunyathor

    Tue Apr 15 12:31:03 BST 2014

    thank you, im interesting to your post

    hijab www.hijabcommunity.com

    hijab community www.hijabcommunity.com

    jenis jenis kain untuk hijab http://www.hijabcommunity.com/jenis-jenis-kain-untuk-hijab/

    #
  17. mathiasQuin

    Mon Feb 24 09:39:11 GMT 2014

    I blog frequently and I http://onlinewritingthatworks.com/ genuinely thank you for your information. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I http://writingworlds.com/ http://topcontentdata.com/ will book http://topseocopywriting.com/ mark your website http://website-content.net/ and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your Feed too.

    #
  18. shahzaib11

    Tue Apr 01 22:07:31 BST 2014

    This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information

    is bubblegum casting legitimate

    http://www.youtube.com/user/bgumcasting

    #
  19. jewelo

    Thu Apr 03 08:22:50 BST 2014

    I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us go through Handmade meenakari jewelry, bridal jewelry, jhumka earrings, bollywood jewelry, american diamond jewelry at http://indianethnicjewelry.com

    #
  20. Aqibarif741@gmail.com

    Mon Mar 31 17:45:41 BST 2014

    You may write about the offers on the blog. You could broadcast it's super. Your blog assessment should escalate your opt-ins.
    https://myspace.com/bubblegum_casting bubblegum casting

    #