where detectives loaf about the village

In 1931, Dr Maurice Hammoneau gave an interview to the Evening Post about the French Foreign Legion

Belgian Foreign Legion found here

“France wants no gangsters, thieves or murderers to serve her flag. How are such men detected if they happen to enlist? France is thorough in such matters. Detectives have two chances of picking them out. First is at the depot in Marseilles and second at the distribution point in Africa where they remain for five days.

France’s most notorious gangster, Jacques Mesrine found here

They are still in civilian clothing so detectives are able to single out particular garments; an American hat, a pair of Italian shoes or an English suit. The recruits are studied carefully and then are passed on to training barracks in tiny villages. Even here they are not free from supervision, for detectives loaf about the village and watch them.

Detective found here

Sometimes the Legion suffers from an occasional desertion in peacetime but there has only ever been one wartime desertion. Hammoneau declined to give that man’s nationality or any particulars. “Caffard got him” he says. “the word translates into cockroach – imagine a cockroach gnawing at a man’s brain.”

Live cockroach brooch found here

I wonder if this is the same Frenchman I’ve been reading about in The Literary Life and Other Curiosities by Robert Hendrickson…..

Sold at auction in 1978 was a twenty one volume series about animals by Maurice Hammonneau. The author had hunted down each animal described and used the appropriate animal skin to bind each volume. Included was a book on human beings, but no explanation was given about the source of the cover.


book bound in human skin found here

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37 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A roach on your finger. Perhaps better than a monkey on your back.

    • Or an elephant on your foot

  2. That’s one set of book I definitely don’t want.

    • It’s sad to think of animals being used in that way.

  3. Ah the feel of well flayed human skin around a well loved book.. Never seen a human leather book but teh BBC reported last month that a huma leather bound version of Milton poems was going on display in a Devon library

    • I’ve never seen one either Jams. But when I die if my kids want to use my tattooed shoulder as a book cover memento…. well I won’t be around to object

  4. If you rub the book does it get bigger?

    • *SNORT*!!!!

      I hate the taste of coffee in the nasal cavity in the morning!

  5. live roach ring… brrrr…

    • I seem to recall them being used on one of the first series of America’s Next Top Model. The girls were freaking out, and one young Asian girl had a total meltdown on camera

  6. We have defectives loafing around our village

    • I bet you do :-)

  7. Note to self – good job for sons – loafing detective. They’re naturals.

    • But does it pay well enough for them to be able to leave home?

  8. Don’t want the book or the brooch.

    • How about the plumed Belgian hat?

  9. I really notice how Mesrine’s mouth looks the same in every shot. You’d think a ‘master of disguise’ would do something about that.

    The King

    • I really notice how he looks nothing like Vincent Cassel

      • I was going to ask if you’d seen the film(s)…..and it looks like you have.

  10. i wonder who bought the 21 volume series.
    sounds like quite a collection.

    • Probably some private collector

  11. Let us hope the author of animals decided against a feline issue. There’s nothing worse than trying to peek inside a full skin of dried out pussy.

    • Good lord! Are you speaking from personal experience Jimmy?

      • Och, no hen. I have a friend who is a part-time taxidermist of course.

  12. “The Library Life” – a good way to describe my humble existence. The animal series is fastidious to the point of OCD. I wonder if the leopard and zebra editions are spotted and striped appropriately?

  13. The Belgium Foreign Legion look like a concert party… all feathers and puffed up pantaloons.
    Whoever said that the Belgiums were boring?
    Sx

  14. I love unique and collectable books but human skin might be too far. I’d imagine that would be a little too Buffalo Bill for me.

    Did you see the super-moon moon last night? I thought of you, and one of your older posts, when I saw it.

  15. That must explain those days when I’m inexplicably scatty and irrational. It’s that blasted cockroach gnawing at my brain again.

  16. Hmmm…
    note to self: avoid the depot in Marseilles…
    must remain undetected… :)

  17. Mmmmm…. Detective loaf!

  18. Skin books and roach jewellery. Ewww, good post but, ewwww.

  19. I wonder who the original owner of the human skin was…

    • I guess we’ll never know syncy….

  20. Uh-oh, if an American hat, a pair of Italian shoes, and an English suit disqualify you for service in the French foreign legion, then that’s one less career option for me.

  21. They call it “Facebook” for a reason.


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