We took the tram up the Avenue Jean Medecin to the tax office. Madame was my moral support and an extra voice if needed. We went early, hoping to avoid a long wait. The place had not yet opened but 50 people stood in a disorderly queue in the street. Within minutes another hundred waited behind us. What little confidence I had left vanished. I had lain awake most of the night worrying. I had worked out my arguments, though sure they wouldn't work. Who had ever won an argument with the tax man? In any country.
Part of the queue began to file inside. When our turn came we were given a number. We sat down to wait. The place was clean, modern, the floor marble. There was a row of cubicles with TV screens above each door. Finally our number began to flash, together with a letter designating which cubicle. Inside was a woman. She said "bonjour," to us. No smile. She appeared to me fearsome. She took my papers. I began to make my speech. It came out, shall we say, nervous. She interrupted me and tapped numbers into her computer. Satisfied, she looked up. Still no smile. "This has been annulled," she said. "You don't owe anything."
We went out. We found a cafe on the Place de la Liberation. The waiter brought coffee. It was the best tasting coffee I've had in years.