Aka 'Chemise Dos Extensible'
Spiral, the addictive French thriller, has recently finished its sixth series on BBC4 with storylines clearly left open for a seventh. The gritty French police and legal drama is set in the parts of Paris you rarely see and gives an interesting insight into the way the French justice system works as well as being a brilliant if gruesome watch.
Why am I talking about this? Because all the characters, from Police Captain Laure Berthaud through to investigating magistrate Judge Roban, carry their documents around in Buckle Files. This piece of standard French stationery, essentially an expanding document holder, is a staple of all French offices from schools to, well, police stations and law courts.
The name Buckle File is actually an invention of ours here at Bureau since the correct name is Chemise Dos Extensible which translates literally as stretch backed shirt and doesn’t really help much. They were one of the first items we imported back in the dark days of the mid-90s when exotic stationery was still something you had to acquire on a trip abroad. The brightly coloured folders with their distinctive buckle straps were both unusual and practical and like nothing we had seen over here.
The USP of these files is their expanding spine which has several folds scored to allow for different widths. The extendable part tucks into the back cover which means that if you have but a few papers to carry, it is virtually flat but if you need to hold say a weighty and complex legal case about people trafficking in the Banlieues, then no problem. And they really do use them extensively. During a Spiral scene where Judge Roban is required to clear his office, large piles of these folders are stacked on desks and being handed over by clerks. And spiky flic Laure also keeps her grim autopsy pix safely stored within a smart dark blue file ready to torment the villains of Clichy during their surprisingly physical interviews.
If you missed Spiral then its probably been whipped off iPlayer already to make room for a show about buying bric-a-brac to make a £5 profit. Still you can console yourself with a chic French Buckle File and carry your documents around with a swagger and a sense of Parisian style.