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Mr Meyssonnier is - or was - an executioner. In 21 years from 1947, he helped to guillotine the heads off more than 200 people - the vast majority of them Arabs - in French Algeria. During the war there he was taking off five or six a month.
He knows what it is like to hold a human head.
He has seen the gore.
"The blood spurts like two glasses of red wine chucked three metres," he says with a quick double-flick of the wrist.
People say I became an executioner because my father was one - but that's not the case," he says.
His father Maurice Meyssonnier - a communist bar-owner - was chief executioner in Algiers after World War II and took him on as an apprentice in 1947.
Fernand's godfather was Henri Roch, chief executioner before the war and from a line of executioners going back to the 16th Century - so, whatever he says, the guillotine was certainly in the family.
My father needed someone he could trust absolutely. The important thing about the job was that absolutely nothing must go wrong.
"But for me, there were other reasons. I had good money; I could carry a gun; I had plenty of free time; the chief of police would greet me. And I had the good will of the whole of French Algeria."
You must never give the guy time to think. Because if you do he starts moving his head around, and that's when you have the mess-ups. The blade comes through his jaw, and you have to use a butcher's knife to finish it off.
"So I would say 'Go, father!' and - crack! - the head is in my hands, and I put it in the bucket.