What I love about France: the liberators of garden gnomes
On occasion my mind pulls out of nowhere a little gem from back home that makes me at once nostalgic and very giggly. For no apparent reason I started to think about the FLNJ yesterday (that’s ‘Front de Libération des Nains de Jardin‘: ‘Front for the Liberation of Garden Gnomes‘) – and I am not punking anyone: it’s real.
France takes freedom very seriously – it’s in our country’s motto and it was stamped on our coins until we joined the Euro. The ‘Front de Libération des Nains de Jardin‘ is basically about kidnapping garden gnomes that are perceived as enslaved and open to ridicule as ornaments of private gardens. They are taken out to forests or parks and ‘released’ back to a more natural habitat, free to frolic and do their gnome thing.
I wasn’t familiar with the FLNJ until I saw one of their posters in Montmartre in 1999. And my vague understanding is that there are branches throughout France that have periods of activity and then lay low for a while (it’s a bit like Fight Club so it’s hard to find information – I suspect the first rule of FLNJ is, well, you know).
And let’s be clear: the liberators aren’t just thieves after some adrenaline kick – although I can’t imagine jumping a fence and plucking a gnome from a bed of lettuce is much of a kick – they always leave an FLNJ manifesto in the letter box. And even go as far as revealing the location where the gnomes will be released so their owners can retrieve (and re-enslave) them.
I love how useless and nonsensical it is. And I secretly suspect my sister of moonlighting with the FLNJ because when I pointed to the poster in Montmartre, she immediately knew what it was and explained the FLNJ’s philosophy. The stronger she denies it, the stronger my suspicion will be. My sister is after all a born righter of wrongs.
(Image from here).