Brazil is not responsible for the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest. A country that requires triplicate copies of every piece of documentation must shoulder part of the blame. I took out a small insurance policy to cover me against any accidents my students might have in my home. It was 34 pages long! The insurance office also keeps a copy and a copy goes to their headquarters. Over 100 pieces of paper that no one will ever read! When I ordered a compost bin from the local council, the very helpful man installed it in my garden, then waited to be invited into the house. I wondered, ‘Why?’ He produced some documents for me to sign – in triplicate. One for me, one for the Town Hall, and one for the suppliers of the bins. Friends have an estate agent’s. I used to go there to teach their son. Behind the public office were stacks and stacks of boxes reaching up to the ceiling and overflowing down the stairs. They explained that they have to keep every document for ever. It was a fire hazard caused by French bureaucracy. The French call this overabundance of paperwork ‘paperasse’.

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