Back from a land wracked with division and despair, namely France, helping a friend to redecorate their retirement bolthole in the Dordogne. I was hoping to meet an author there, to sign my mint-condition copy of David Saunders: Rail at the Air but he was nowhere to be seen. Nor were many: wisely fleeing election time.
It was my first visit he first time since our mission of mercy to them in June 2020. Same old decayed ex-pat community in exile: they are still supping beneath the vines and trying to ignore the neighbour who thinks he lives on a higher plane of existence, and the French. It is the same of France too, a world apart but leaning upon everything, and at the moment it leans heavily. At this time of utter Frenchness, the Britons living here know how very much they are the étrangers.
As I left, the presidential election had reached its long, dark teatime of the soul, between the two stages: the rejection and the election.
What have they done done to deserve those two candidate? Micron and La Le Pen? All the actual, sensible ones were hurled out at the first round – rejected for showing sense and so not being French enough presumably. Of the two left, and I do mean left, they have one is called a ‘centrist’, presumably like the black hole at the centre of the galaxy; and the other is a socialist described universally as far-right. She may be ‘far right’ on the socialist spectrum perhaps (and I meet lots of politicians who are on the spectrum) and it is fair to say that she would not be welcome in the Carlton Club.
It seems that, as usual, the voters will do as instructed and chose the establishment drone who was elected pretending to be a rebel.
I can only assume that the French nation are suffering an eternal divine torment as a punishment for the execution of Louis XVI. They have not really been happy since the English Plantagenets left.
The alternative is that they are still trying to learn from their neighbours: Britain and Germany have both raged destruction over France, sometimes at the same time, and since then the French have taken an imitative joy in wrecking their country themselves.
Monsieur μ will remain in his closeted palace like Ulysses, “By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match’d with an aged wife” and all that. Each French ruler spends his time looking over his shoulder for powerful foreign rulers as our philosopher reminders us “And the practise hereof hath been seen on divers occasions; as in the Deposing of Chilperique, King of France”, or Henry V, or Alexander I of Russia ordering Napoleon off the throne in April 1814. Can you imagine today a Russian ruler choosing who should rule France? Ah – perhaps we can.
Nevertheless, until the blade falls, we could sit in the evenings with the zephyr drifting from the vineyards. We rejected the cuisine Anglo-Dordognaise of the ex-pats: menus that look as if they have come from a 1970s sitcom version for France. This year Chloé came out to help. She prepared andouillette: that takes guts. It is not local fare, but her mother is from Normandy, so she is almost civilised. She knows a good magret too, which washed away the taste.
Home again when we could: another lucky escape from the EU, back to the land of liberty (and other fashion shops). Pleasant as it is, I pity those who live in La Belle France all the time and especially those who pay taxes there.