Thursday, 18 June 2015


London's biggest and busiest rail terminal?

The song which won the Eurovision song contest in 1974 and propelled ABBA onto the world stage?

No, neither of these.  The Belgian village near which Napoleon's army was defeated 200 years ago today.

I'm not going to wax lyrical about the heroism of the British and Prussian troops or about how this battle finally brought peace to Europe for diddly-dum years.  No, just an amusing little anecdote I heard recently.

As a result of her defeat, France had to pay huge reparations to the victorious allies. Yet this may have been the making of modern France, suggested Charles Moore in the Daily Telegraph.

Brillat Savarin, who died in 1825, wrote that when Britons, Germans etc descended on Paris to get what they were owed, ''they came with extreme voracity and with stomachs of uncommon capacity… The Queen City, ere long, became one huge refectory.’’ After a bit, ''All true Frenchmen… rubbed their hands, and said: '…they have spent this evening more money than they took from the treasury in the morning.’ "  Brillat Savarin called it ''The Power of Gourmandise’’.

"Nowadays, against all previous human experience, much of the power of gourmandise has switched to London. Paris has become uncompetitive. If only the silly French would give up the euro, they would fatally undercut us, and grow rich once more by helping the leaders of the world grow fat" wrote Moore.

I wonder if the Parisian waiters were as surly back in the 1810s as they can be now?

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