I’ve not yet had the time to look far into this morning’s newspaper but I suspect that somewhere in its pages will be reference to the French President, François Hollande. It seems that a French magazine has published details of an alleged affair he has been conducting and it made the front page of yesterday’s paper with further details inside. Well, the front page simply had a large photo (did I really mean “simply”?) of the attractive lady with whom he is supposed to have been playing postman’s knock and even saucier party games. Maybe it was just a slow news day for that to feature on the front page. Perhaps I’ll just give the editor the benefit of the doubt as I, and I’m sure most Englishmen, don’t give a tuppenny damn about the French President having it off with whatever woman is silly enough to get into bed with him.
There is a rather peculiar relationship between the French and the English. I don’t count the Scots or the Welsh as foreign so, apart from the Irish, the French are our nearest foreign neighbours. Indeed, for we who live in the south-east of England, the French are far and away our nearest foreigners even if the Welsh, Scots and Irish are included. But for centuries the English and the French have been at loggerheads. And those loggerheads have been pretty violent, with the 100 Years War and the Napoleonic Wars, perhaps, at the forefront. Those pesky Frogs even raided Brighton at one time! And to add insult to injury, they sided with the Yanks when we were at war with them back in 1812 or 1813 or whenever it was. Even now, when we have been allies for at least a hundred years, there is a love/hate relationship.
I can’t be absolutely certain, but I think that the love/hate bit is more on the side of we Rosbifs with the Frogs being shoulder-shruggingly phlegmatic. Most of the time. As far as we English are concerned, we love France. We love the warmth of the south, we love the food (or most of it), we love the wine. There’s just one fly in the ointment. Or rather, 65 million or so flies. The general attitude is that France would be wonderful – were it not for all those French people living there! And those French farmers will block roads with their tractors when they all too frequently want to protest that the Government or the EU or somebody is not giving them enough subsidy. And the fishermen blockade the ports to stop we English getting into the country simply because we have the nerve to complain that they are allowed to fish in our waters whereas the British aren’t.
Having said that, the foreign country most visited by the English is . . . You’ve guessed it – France. And the country where most English people settle as ex-pats or buy second homes? France again.
Oh well, that’s the English for you.
Those clever clogs at Google have added to the photo I posted on Saturday: