Sunday, April 22, 2007

On France

I am English, therefore I mistrust the French and I am, of course, entirely indifferent as to whether they elect Seg Sark or Nick Royal to run their country. My problem is that, after ten years in which the British have endured the most managerially incompetent government of modern times, our case against the French is weaker than it has ever been. We used to say you couldn't drink their water and their toilets were vile. But now they're both okay and their hospitals and trains have become as good as their food and their wine - all infinitely superior to ours. The British quality of life is dismal compared to that of the French. One can evade this awkward little fact by saying, as many do, that France is wasted on the French. Or one can insist, as many also do, that France is heading for an economic meltdown. But the French made France and we've been wishing that meltdown on them for at least 20 years. In my blood I still feel there's something very wrong with the French, but, in my head, I know there's something very right.

13 comments:

  1. Bryan that is perfect - it's the bloggers equivalent of a hole in one.

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  2. I'd say it was a wild hook into the lake.

    France is nice enough for those who benefit from the many 'aquired rights', but it is also a suffocating monoculture that has failed to adapt to the modern world with anything like the flexibility and success of Britain.

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  3. Ah, but it's not suffocating if you're French, Brit.

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  4. What about if your parents were from North Africa?

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  5. Fair point, Brit, but my observations are strictly limited in their scope. But I am not sure we do that well in this are either.

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  6. I am sure we do. We're not perfect, but pretty much everywhere else is far worse. I recall Thierry Henry recently remarking his amazement that British TV had black newsreaders.

    The transformation in this country in the last 20 years is quite extraordinary. Failing to see it is a good thing, because it shows how we now take it for granted. Failing to acknowledge when you do see it is just self-flagellating delusion. Remember John Barnes backheeling a banana skin off the pitch at Goodison? That was only 1988.

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  7. I'm fond of the old adage that the devil's in the detail; in my experience it is invariably true. To me that's what's wrong with Britain after 10 years of Labour management. They are so incompetent at the detail that the quality of life we have to endure is on a slow decline.

    Like Bryan, I'm not arguing that France is right and we're wrong. I just think there's been a shift in the balance of things. Bliar's insistence on being a leader on the world stage has cost us a certain amount of domestic bliss.

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  8. While the French continue to produce drinkable wine, the rest is fluff. I had not heard that they had had problems with water quality. But surely its a bit like moaning about the drink-ability of water on the isle of Islay. And do you mean the Loo's/water closets.

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  9. Frankly, [no pun intended!] from over here, both the British and French system appear infinitely superior to the American system of medical insurance - apparently it is not an oxymoron.
    Cheers

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  10. River of deceitApril 22, 2007 7:35 pm

    I find them weird, but in a good way. There view on life is quite different.
    In Britain we live to work wheras the French-like other meditarranians-work to live.

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  11. I'm far from a New Labour fan but saying they've mismanaged the country such that the French are doing better is taking the piss.

    Last time I checked Nick Griffin wasn't getting 17% of the vote in a national election and London wasn't hosting regular car-burning events.

    Nice health system but only sustainable given how much less they pay medical professionals.

    France offers decent quality of life if you have a cushy job and are part of the system. If you're an unemployed North African, not so much.

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  12. The French do things and try to get them right for their own sake, whereas we do things for money and if we can get money without getting things right so much the better.

    The reason why the English are suspicious of the French and vice versa is because we tend towards moral relativism and they towards moral absolutism. The French think there's a right way to do things and we think it's all a matter of opinion; they think there's truth to be found and we tend not to.

    The 'modern world', brit, is an Anglo-Saxon mercantile world which is not attractive to French sensibilities; why should they be required to adapt to it when they don't want to? And what's it to do with people whose parents come from North Africa? They aren't going to do anything for France other than turn it into a muslim country. If they are willing to be French they are accepted and their colour doesn't matter, but I suspect that they want to subvert the essence of France and turn it into something else. Our essence - the English - is mercantile so we don't worry about the terroir and our people's relationship with it because we lost it about five hundred years ago. That's why we can accomodate vast numbers of foreigners so long as they conform to out way of going on which is to make as much money as we can. 'Beware the English (said somebody I can't remember) they sell their friends and buy their enenies'.

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  13. The reason why the English are suspicious of the French and vice versa is because we tend towards moral relativism and they towards moral absolutism. The French think there's a right way to do things and we think it's all a matter of opinion; they think there's truth to be found and we tend not to.

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