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Why we love to hate the French England's attitude towards its neighbour is all about class

Credit: Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Credit: Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)


March 18, 2021   5 mins

After many years of political meltdown on our island, it has been satisfying these past few weeks to regain the one feeling that really puts a spring in every Englishman’s step. Because, while it’s of course important that our vaccine programme has saved thousands of lives so far, the most special thing is that for the first time in many years France’s politics are much worse than ours. Order is restored to the galaxy once again.

France’s president has shredded his reputation more than any other person in the age of Covid (and with some competition). First Emmanuel Macron cast doubt on the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine, calling it “almost ineffective” for the over-65s, the sort of reckless comment even Trump might have thought a bit excessive. Then, thanks to his lockdown policies, the Economist downgraded France to a “flawed democracy”, along with all the Visegrad bad boys and Modi’s India.

Now the country has, inexplicably, halted AZ vaccinations because of a miniscule number of blood clots, fewer than you would get with the contraceptive pill. But then perhaps it hardly matters, since France leads the world in vaccine scepticism, and conspiracy theories more generally. It is a country maddening in its strangeness, and that at least partly explains English antipathy to the place, which goes back centuries.

When Britain left the EU last year it followed decades of press hostility in which Francophobia was the strongest component, far more than hostility to the Germans. Perhaps the most famous example was the notorious Sun headline from November 1990, Up Yours, Delors. At the time EU commissioner Jacques Delors had become something of a bogey figure to the British Right, and after he had criticised Britain’s increasingly isolated position in Europe, the Sun chimed in by pointing out how “They tried to conquer Europe until we put down Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815” and “They gave in to the Nazis during the Second world War when we stood firm”. It called for all “frog-haters” to shout “up yours, Delors!” and that those on the south coast would be able to smell the garlic from across the Channel.

(Delors was not the only French politician to antagonise the English at the time. The following year, prime minister Edith Cresson stated her belief that one-quarter of “Anglo-Saxon men” were gay, to which Tory MP Tony Marlow replied “Mrs. Cresson has sought to insult the virility of the British male because the last time she was in London she did not get enough admiring glances”. Afterwards, the tabloids pointed out that Frenchmen kiss each other and carry handbags.)

Of course, the Sun might not speak for England, but it was probably speaking for a large section of its readers, because while England’s relationship with France is complicated, it is heavily tied up with our class system; the English middle class obsess over France, while the English working class have traditionally hated everything about it.

As far back as the French Revolution, well-bred radicals were excited and inspired by events in Paris, with Whig politician Charles James Fox crying “How much the greatest event it is that ever happened in the world!” when the Bastille was stormed.

Yet it was not simply that they favoured the revolution’s ideology; it was because it was French. And even as France descended into anarchy and then tyranny, Britain’s intelligentsia still sympathised with it. Fox’s nephew Lord Holland publicly supported Napoleon, while his wife Lady Holland even sent him books when he was sent to St Helena. William Wordsworth lamented of his own country that “Oh grief that Earth’s best hopes rest all with thee!”

In contrast, among working-class Englishmen there was virtually no support for the revolution and when volunteers were called up to fight France, the country managed to enlist 20% of all adult males, three times the French rate and a huge endorsement of opposition to Napoleon. It wasn’t just that they were fighting for English liberty against a revolutionary system. It was because it was against the French.

Men were recruited into local militias, and when in 1804 the authorities organised a mock training battle in Wood Green, Middlesex, they got the Islington Volunteers to be the British and the Hackney and Stoke Newington Volunteers to play the French. However, the Hackney men so objected to having to even pretend to be French that a fight ensued with several people injured, one being stabbed in the leg.

That’s because they were cockneys. A middle-class volunteer militia would have revelled in playing the French, rattling on about the latest pseuds being venerated on the Left Bank and emphasising all the correct pronunciations like they were reporting for Radio 4.

Our relationship with France is, of course, formed by an inferiority complex stretching back to Norman rule, and perhaps a lingering suspicion among the proletariat that the toffs deep down are still French (and English people with Norman-French names are still richer than the rest of the population, even after 950 years).

This complex deepened with the French cultural domination of the 18th century when Versailles court etiquette was imitated by English-speaking elites, and petit-bourgeoise English sensibilities were horrified by French sexual morality. Louis XV had over one hundred mistresses — including five sisters — which made even England’s leading royal philanderer, the half-French Charles II, seem emasculated in comparison.

There is sex, and then there is the food, a French obsession which is endearing and sort of baffling. As far back as the 15th century, when the English ruled much of France, their power began to collapse after they held a coronation of the infant King Henry in Paris and overcooked the chicken; even the poor queuing up for scraps complained how bad it was. Within a few years, the French had rebelled and kicked the English out.

Only in France would football fans protest that a local restaurant had lost a Michelin Star, as happened in Lyon two years ago. Only in France would an expedition to the Himalayas — of huge national importance — fail because it was weighed down by eight tonnes of supplies, including 36 bottles of champagne and “countless” tins of foie gras. And only in France would you get actual wine terrorists, the Comité Régional d’Action Viticole, who have bombed shops, wineries and other things responsible for importing foreign produce.  This is a country which only reluctantly in the 1950s stopped giving school children a nutritious drink for their health, by which the French meant not milk but cider.

This is a country where mistresses are so much part of life that they can legally inherit, and where murder doesn’t really count if it’s done for love. One of France’s most famous socialites, Henriette Caillaux, shot dead the editor of Le Figaro just before the First world War and received just four months in jail because it was a crime passionnel. So that’s all right then.

France’s last duel, meanwhile, was in 1967, when Marseille’s mayor Gaston Defferre insulted another politician, parliamentarian René Ribière, calling him “stupid”. The latter was wounded, first emotionally and then literally.

It is all part of that sense of honour, which also manifests itself in its sense of national pride — probably the biggest cause of British frustration within the EU, when many felt we could have managed with the Germans and Dutch. Anti-French animus likely motivated some opposition to the EU, and certainly our otherwise dismal lives were cheered up slightly last year with the possibility of skirmishes between French sailors and the Royal Navy.

But the truth is that France, “that sweet enemy”, has by and large been our closest ally. How many of those fighting at Waterloo could have foreseen that, when the guns fell silent, it would be the last time the two countries ever fought, and the start of 200-and-counting years of friendship, a military alliance far stronger than the supposed “special relationship” with the US? A generation later the British and French fought together in the Crimea, where Lord Raglan continued to refer to them as “the enemy”, and since then we have fought continuously side by side, in two world and many minor wars, from Suez to Libya.

This year we won’t be visiting France, and honestly, I’m really glad about that. I don’t write that in bitterness. I’m really glad I’m going to Bognor, which has got the third lowest rainfall in the UK. Why on earth would I want the Languedoc?

But we’ll be back, if not this year, then next, a line of cars heading down the A26 on that long, endless journey to the middle-class English Valhalla beyond the Loire.


Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable

edwest

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Tom Graham
Tom Graham
3 years ago

Sorry, this is all wrong.
The working class don’t hate the French. I have never heard a working class person express hatred of the French.
What they do understand – and what educated middle class progressive types are too stupid to understand – is that France is different: France and England have irreconcilable cultural differences and any attempt to politically unify the countries as the EU did is bound to result in catastrophe.
I Love France. I studied there, worked there, I would spend every holiday there if I could. I love the culture, the food, the people. But I do not in a million years want to share a government with them. (Which pretty much goes for Germany and Italy too.)

John Williams
John Williams
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Love the culture – OK; love the food – OK; but love the people? Love the people!!! How weird is that!

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
3 years ago
Reply to  John Williams

You just have to go outside Paris and people are different, much more welcoming. We notice this especially in the South.

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

True. I’ve vacationed in France twice. Both times I thought Paris was unfriendly and overrated. In the countryside people were much more relaxed and tolerant of my attempts to speak their language.

David Bouvier
David Bouvier
3 years ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

Quite. Parisians look down on the rest of the country, and the rest of the country loathe Parisians in return.

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  John Williams

French are great always friendly
BTW the whole world hates the English s

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

French are great always friendly
That is a parallel universe too far

Last edited 3 years ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
David Owsley
David Owsley
3 years ago

I suspect ‘Jake’ is really Jaques.

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  David Owsley

No I’m English, not a self-deprecating one either.but it is entirely true that most of the planet hates the English and England.
The French are either neutral and somewhat positive about us.
So we should probably appreciate our French neighbours

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Idiot!
Of course they don’t.
It might have escaped your notice that large numbers are trying cross the Channel in canoes and rubber boats to escape the horrors of France and beg for asylum here.
Of course it isn’t horrible in France; I know that well, but the fact that thousands are camped around the Channel ports looking for a way to sneak across, says something about your stupid assertion.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Maybe it’s just you they hate, Jake.

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago

Argentinians, indians,Irish,Spanish,Indian, africans,Irish Americans , a lot of other americans,South Americans(which surprised me) , a lot of russians,Hungarians,East Asians (go to aznidentity on reddit),Israelis and also Palestinians ,Pakistanis, some Portuguese and even some italians unfortunately (who I’m fond of,lot of Russians ,Arabs all of them,

So in conclusion the French who don’t really “brit bash” like the english French bash are really one of our few friends

People forget ,that outside Europe people still hold ancient animosities
Still think about history alnld leven in Leurope people still hate and look down at the english or find some other reason to hate the english

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake C
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Yet again, arrant nonsense!
But somebody obviously hates or hated you. Poor chap!

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago

Look its just true – large swathes of the global population hate the english, from Ireland, the americas (Argentina but also other South american countries and even US)
Africa,India,the Muslim world ,even east Asians ,Isrealis,

Also go outside english speaking Internet
And even inside the english speaking Internet a lot of people don’t really understand us they way we understand ourselves

David Bouvier
David Bouvier
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Or not…

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Which is just ridiculous signaling. The world picks up on our self-loathing, and it becomes the thing to reference. As an American, I find it pretty loathesome that every American is trying to stay far from every other American and to signal that they are not like the other Americans. Ha! While carelessly bringing over our ridiculous political provincialism, I will add.
I have experienced among the British, but to a far lesser degree.

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Delszsen

It must be an english speaking thing.

I see it a lot amongst the English.

The English are excessively self depreciating I agree and I have seen a lot of that type of anti compatriot signalling from the english too.its tiresome

Karen Vowles
Karen Vowles
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Untrue.. Ireland Wales and Scotland don’t like England and it was really obvious through this crisis because none of them could work together as a team to provide a clear message to the Brits! They were all a joke. I am
Welsh, lived in England , love Scotland but now live in NZ . It’s amazing what you see when you are outside.

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Charles de Gaulle understood that too. He knew that Britain would never fit in what was then the Common Market which was conceived mainly to seal France and Germany together and thus avoid further battles.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
3 years ago
Reply to  David Platzer

De Gaulle’s calculation was more pragmatic – ‘managing’ Germany was the most important thing for French foreign policy – that would simply be more difficult if the UK was in the club. Two’s company, three’s a crowd.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

De Gaulle was always scared of Germany and had a chip on his shoulder about Britain because without a Britain there wouldn’t have been a France for him to lord over.
I would dress that up in Grayling-Houellebecq-Fukuyama-ese with a few big words, spin it out a bit and write a book about it…but I’m a bit busy just now, y’know..no people to see, no places to go…

Simon Wilson
Simon Wilson
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

I’m working class and I only voted for Brexit on the vague promise of a possible war with France. We should’ve made them write it on the side of a bus, to make it a proper commitment. Quite frankly, I feel cheated. Oh well, c’est la vie… as they say in Wolverhampton.

Last edited 3 years ago by Simon Wilson
Geoff Nottage
Geoff Nottage
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Wilson

Give it time, my friend, even as we speak plans are afoot to reclaim the Angevin Empire and anything else we can grab.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Wilson

Yes its interesting that the French Normans came here and then had an almost continuous war against the French Normans. It hasn’t been the same since the entente cordial that broke out after Napolean.

Mike Clark
Mike Clark
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Agreed …..lions led by donkeys

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Clark

Hamsters more like! Donkeys are great little beasts.

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

The food was great, but even a Francophile like me has to admit it’s gone downhill.

John Smith
John Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  nick harman

Yes, it really has which is sad. The reason for this as I discovered the other day, is that around 70% of the food and sauces that used to be prepared and cooked in local cafes, bistros and restaurants now comes frozen and preprepared from vast centralised catering suppliers. This is because with sky high taxes, a high minimum wage, short working weeks and a retirement age at 62 most restauranteurs simply can’t afford to employ the staff to make food in situ all they have staff for is to reheat it.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  nick harman

It’s true. And as french people notice to their surprise food in England has really improved.

Val Pierpont
Val Pierpont
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Hear! Hear!

Stanley Beardshall
Stanley Beardshall
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Yes, been here for 30 years. Only snag is the bureaucracy, but although I like the French people I wouldn’t trust their government as far as I could throw them…

Victor Newman
Victor Newman
3 years ago

Neither would they (the French) trust their own government: they are completely ruled by a self-serving oligarchy: which was almost our fate.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Victor Newman

And yet France is a very rich country.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Back in the 90s, I ran the UK computers for a French multinational. They kindly offered us a training course “Dealing with your French colleagues” led by an academic, who was a follower of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory and showed us analyses of cultural attitudes across various nationalities.
As you might expect, British, US, Germans, Dutch and Scandinavians all looked quite similar, while Japanese and Koreans were very different. But, on nearly every measure, the French came out as very different indeed.
As our lecturer told us, when dealing with the French “think of them as Japanese – then you won’t be as surprised by anything they might do”.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 years ago
Reply to  Quentin Vole

Brilliant! I’m going to use that next time I’m in France

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Well why not? Decent infrastructure, better pensions,a more diversified economy as opposed to just a financial sector and a housing ponzi scheme,

In fact,I’d say they get a lot of things right.

Not that the EU helped any of those things

Karen Vowles
Karen Vowles
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

A tad angry there Tom?

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
3 years ago

This was a wonderful read, I laughed solidly at so many great lines. We all need a laugh in this our time of sorrow.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  jules Ritchie

The middle classes also consider the French sophisticated-so it is Hyacinth Bouquet ( not Bucket) and Quiche Lorraine ( not ham and egg pie). It was a way of seperating from the ‘lower orders’-nineteenth century novels are full of conversations in French and is still used to sell perfume and make-up-parfum and creme for example.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

‘Menu French’ as we used to call it.
Plus not a few Englishman used to call themselves ‘de’ something or other, to give themselves a certain sense of ‘’cachet’, whilst their wives strove to be so ‘chic’.
Fortunately this ridiculous affectation is now almost dead, even if not quite buried.

However even today it lingers on with the ‘bien pensants’ of inner Quislington, and other such outposts of absurdity.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

I recollect a Labour MP born plain old Gerry Birmingham who became Gerry de Birmingham

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

Classic!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Why does Unherd keep forcing my utterly correct and true posts to moderation? Nothing offencive, do you all have this? Is it because I am not mainstream, Right really, and this is a kind of gentler canceling than the Dorsey Zukerberg practices? I never return to re-read my old posts but will to see if any have this issue (My post sent to moderation above was to give French history with USA and UK since WWI), Up vote if you get moderated.

Anna Borsey
Anna Borsey
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

*separating

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Anna Borsey

Thank-I was too lazy to check the spelling and so get words with a or e wrong.Though perhaps seperate is ‘my truth’?

Val Pierpont
Val Pierpont
3 years ago
Reply to  jules Ritchie

Yes – It was good wasn’t it?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

‘Then, thanks to his lockdown policies, the Economist downgraded France to a “flawed democracy”, along with all the Visegrad bad boys and Modi’s India.’
In 2017 an Economist cover showed Macron walking on water. Just another example of the imbecility and appalling predictive powers of the MSM.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

You complain about MSM and then demand (yes you did!) to investigate Joe Biden. Reek of desperation.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Well we have now learned that the MSM lied completely about the claim that Trump asked someone in Georgia to find X thousand votes. The Washington Post has even issued a retraction. This was a blatant lie that was repeated by the media across the world, None of them checked it, and the whole story came from one source who claimed to have overheard the conversation.
And even the MSM (in the form of Newsweek) admitted some weeks ago that the election was ‘fortified’ via the use of ballot harvesting etc, and this suppression of new stories that damaged the Democrats, such as Cuomo killing 13,000 people in care homes. Newsweek even used the word ‘conspiracy’.
The fact is that the MSM not only peddles fake news, it is proud of the fact that it peddles fake news.

Richard Brown
Richard Brown
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Some people talk in riddles called acronyms. MSM is what?

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Brown

Mainstream Media
Which having written it out for the first time – makes me question why the heck is it MSM not MM?
I blame our transatlantic cousins who too often display flagrant recklessness with their acronym discipline!

Last edited 3 years ago by A Spetzari
David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

I very much dislike acronyms too and I had to be informed what MSM meant. With regard to current American parlance, I find annoying POTUS and its variations. At first I thought it was something out of the Roman Empire which it may be.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  David Platzer

Love acronyms, must dash to work, but a quick few any literate person must know, MENA, REMF, WWG1WGA, KSA, CCP, SCOTUS, FUBAR – have to run, please add to the must know or you are completely ignorant of the world, list.

Last edited 3 years ago by Galeti Tavas
Mike Smith
Mike Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Don’t forget SNAFU and WOMBAT

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  David Platzer

You’re too easily annoyed.

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Everyone knows to carry heft an acronym is best a TLA -Three Letter Acronym. Two letters lacks gravitas, in English at least.

Lilian Peers
Lilian Peers
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Gee thanks, I thought it was Microsoft Media!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

What about OBLI?
Hence the Obbly Gobblies- The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infsntry.

Ralph Hulbert
Ralph Hulbert
3 years ago

Or KSLI – Kings Somerset Light Infantry, also known as King Solomon’s Last Issue?

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Brown

Shorthand for any media not into Trump or conspiracy theories

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
3 years ago
Reply to  nick harman

Shorthand for what purports to be news from our UK 24 hour television news.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Brown

Mainly Sado Masochism.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Excellent choice!

Alastair Romanes
Alastair Romanes
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

They got the story right and haven’t apologised for it. They got the quotes wrong. “Trump did not tell the investigator to ‘find the fraud’ or say she would be ‘a national hero’ if she did so. Instead, Trump urged the investigator to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County, Ga., asserting she would find ‘dishonesty’ there. He also told her that she had ‘the most important job in the country right now,’”reads the correction, in part.”

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

The quotes are the story. And it was wrong.

John Glover
John Glover
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Nope, you are conflating two things. One is the call to the Governor, which was recorded and shows Trump wanted Georgia to “find” 11,000+ votes. This is unaffected: see https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2021/01/05/fact-check-trump-pressured-georgia-recalculate-vote-tally/4135556001/
The other is an account of an earlier call, which has turned out to be inaccurate after a recording emerged. The piece has been *corrected*, not retracted. The paper says this is because while the quotes attributed were inaccurate, the thrust of the article — Trump seeking to “find” non-existent votes — was accurate. Please see: https://triblive.com/news/politics-election/the-washington-post-publishes-correction-on-trump-call-with-georgia-investigator/
The fact is that the MSM *corrects* fake news when it publishes it and is proud of that.

David Owsley
David Owsley
3 years ago
Reply to  John Glover

yes, your first quote is the most damning…unless you read or listen to what he said and find in fact it is absolutely nothing. Not a story…nothing, in fact.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Owsley

For the first time EVER the president of USA called a state election official demanding a recount. On a phone call. – that is the best case scenario. But as you say not a story!

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

And of course the BBC is VERY proud!

M H
M H
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

“Well we have now learned that the MSM lied completely about the claim that Trump asked someone in Georgia to find X thousand votes.” Uhm, no. They retracted part of the claim, a single misquote. But the call to Raffensperger is there for all the world to hear. It is real. And even without the misquote it is damning. It is not “completely” a lie. It is still quite obvious what Trump was up to. I remember listening to the call before I had read any quotes or transcript and found it hideous – and I say that as someone generally on the “right,” certainly not a Dem.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  M H

And will anything happen to the woman who made up “quotes” from Trump. Nope, not a thing.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

Nor here (UK) to the women who claimed they were raped by Alex Salmond , former leader of the Scottish National Party.
At the very least they should be charged with Perjury.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Absolutely, there should be consequences for making things up.

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
3 years ago

They are not for the people’s enlightenment, the press and the politicians. They are an elite clique and we continue to give them power to run our lives for their benefit.

David Owsley
David Owsley
3 years ago
Reply to  M H

you weren’t listening to the same call then. It wasn’t even comment-worthy, where you get ‘hideous’ from is most odd.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Again, you demanded that MSM investigate Biden.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Lets be real, the MSM did nothing but investigate every utterance Trump made, using the most spurious of ‘Fact Checkers’ and then used that to attack him every time, and when he did good things totally refused to cover that. MSM are the enemy within the gates. They will not investigate Biden and his crime family, not fact check his endless lies, or report on the utter destruction Biden and his handlers are causing in America.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

That was a really weak point

Mark Graham
Mark Graham
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I always use the Economist as a contrary indicator for macro calls.
It’s infallible.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Graham

I would go further and describe the Economist as the most over-rated collection of paper that has ever been stapled together. Where do these people come from (I mean the writers?) Cliche after cliche, in their heads: no real insight into anything, and reliably behind the curve on everything of significance. Take their China reporting for example, which I have been reading, intermittently, since the mid-1980’s. Here you find every fashion in the liberal elite’s view of China faithfully mirrored, from global bad boy 1989-95, to stunned disbelief 2003-2010, to imminent collapse 2010-2019. It’s as if someone from their US office interviews a few people in Wall Street and San Francisco once a month, sends the results back to Economist HQ in London, and then they work beaver-like to form the results into something that they believe will tell people in America what they already think – giving therefore, a guaranteed sale and a satisfied customer, at least on Main Street, which is their main market. I’ve stopped reading it, except for comedy value.

Matt Whitby
Matt Whitby
3 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

As a student I got a cheap subscription for the Economist and I don’t remember a single article that interested me or even vaguely entertained me. Full of self-important metrolibs with nothing of interest to say, obsessed only over their ability to write smug platitudes that only interests people with similar tendencies who want to appear intelligent by reading it in public

Lizzie Scott
Lizzie Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Yes, The Economist is crap, isn’t it.

David Owsley
David Owsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Lizzie Scott

About 20 years ago it was alright

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago
Reply to  David Owsley

The accountants got hold of it, and it went downhill. It always happens when cashflow dominates creativity.

Last edited 3 years ago by Giles Chance
Richard Lord
Richard Lord
3 years ago

My visits to France have been mixed. I’ve found that the really rural French love the British and are very friendly, especially if you at least try to speak some French. The reaction in metropolitan and main holiday areas seems different, where the French seem to tolerate the British to get us to spend money. On our last trip, the restaurant staff could speak no English (not that we have any right to expect them to) – until we left them a tip.

The impression given by the French political class is one of outright hostility to Britain. Is it true that they can’t forgive Britain for their apparent humiliation during WW2?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

I have been in all over France (and I mean all over) and I have yet to find a waiter that doesn’t speak some English. May be I am lucky?!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

That has also been my experience, a massive improvement over the past thirty years.

Rob Kinnison
Rob Kinnison
3 years ago

It’s a shame our ability to speak French hasn’t seen a similar improvement.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Kinnison

I find speaking no problem, but it is the ‘machine gun speed’ of the response that throws me.

Rob Kinnison
Rob Kinnison
3 years ago

Parlez vous lentement s’il vous plait tends to help with that predicament. I suffer the same.

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Kinnison

After a fewmonths, understanding the language comes easily and naturally. Pronounciation is much more difficult.

john freeman
john freeman
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Kinnison

“Parlez doucement, s’il vous plait” is better, I think

Geoff Nottage
Geoff Nottage
3 years ago

The Spanish are the same a plea of Por favor, Lento! Is met with the same rapidity of speech, but at twice the volume.

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Kinnison

I usually speak to them in Greek. It is amazing how quickly they discover they can speak some English !

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

That’s a good idea ! I can use German, or even Chinese (a bit).

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

I wouldn’t advise German.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago

Chinese, then

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Yes.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

I thought Chinese was what one used in Italy

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yes, but I think it should also work in France. (I do actually speak Chinese, but not well).

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The problem seems to be to getting to the point of speaking English. In fairness to French service staff, they probably have had some brushes with arrogant Brits or USians who think that anyone can understand English if it is spoken sufficiently loudly and slowly.
An old friend of our family advised that the best way to defuse the situation is to start off in a 3rd language, e.g. Zulu, after which there is no shame in using English as a common language.

Alan Bright
Alan Bright
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

“…arrogant Brits or USians who think that anyone can understand English if it is spoken sufficiently loudly and slowly.” It’s not just native-English people who think that. Afghanis, Belgians, Chinese, Dutch, Egyptians, Finnish (see where I am going with this?) EVERYONE when travelling abroad assumes other people speak English.
It’s only once you have travelled do you realise that people of just about every nationality expect people to speak English.

Steve Byrd
Steve Byrd
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Bright

Agree!

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Bright

I agree. I once learnt some Mandarin and wante to try it out. My teacher suggested a restaurant in Cambridge where the spoke Mandarin in addition to Contonese. I asked for a bottle of beer in Mandarin. The waiter paused for a few seconds and I could see him trying to understand what I said in the languages he knew. He eventually switched to Mandarin! He obviously did no expect me to speak in any lanuage other than English!

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

I have found that speaking Welsh works wonders, especially the name of the famous railway station.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

The one in Anglesey?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

It would be easier to learn French than Zulu.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Actually, to learn perfect French is extremely hard for Brits. I have heard almost no British speakers who do not have a French father or mother who are in this category.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

It is also true that the French are very poor English speakers. I expect it is equally hard for them. I have never come across one who is fluent

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

London is full of them

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

…but always with some kind of French accent. It’s their badge of honour.

David Morrey
David Morrey
3 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

I’m told it is because vowel pronunciations are very different between French and English, and so anyone bought up deep learning one language will struggle to master pronunciation of the other (and disguise their accent). Not so Scandinavians, which is why they not only can achieve accent less English, but also master our regional accents – like the Danish footballers who speak English with a perfect Scouse accent!

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morrey

Very interesting, because I’ve noticed several times the Scandi chameleon-like quality – ie. accommodating to, and blending in with…whatever. I wonder what the reason is ?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

There’s no word for mercy in Zulu, so I’m told.

john freeman
john freeman
3 years ago

Bravo !

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The last time I was in Paris about two years ago, the city was heaving with Chinese tourists. The waiters had started to speak English. Not because of the Brits.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The trouble for the French is if you want to know who has the Empire follow the language and Latin ( from both Roman and Holy Roman ) then morphed into English because the Americans chose English not French after 1776 ( even though the French paid for their revolution) and German was the language most Americans spoke.

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I speak fluent French but in Paris not a single waiter will admit it, and instead talks to me in appalling English. Makes ordering a lot slower than it needs to be.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

I have lived/worked in Paris and I often visit rural France to visit wine makers etc. Most normal people like the British and one of them even thanked me for getting rid of Napoleon.
As you say, the French political class has never forgiven the Allies for winning the war, although they have forgiven themselves for their collaboration with the Germans. I read a book about this collaboration a couple of years ago and it was far worse than I had realised.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The collaboration was on such a massive scale that it makes the period 1940-44 the most humiliating in French history, even exceeding ,if that is possible, the events of 1870.

Even worse, some of it is recorded on film/video, thus the infamy will last forever.

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago

There is also the Revolution and the horrendous War of Terror that followed in 1792-1793.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  David Platzer

Plus Indo -China and Algeria.

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
3 years ago
Reply to  David Platzer

The killing was far worse in the Vendee than during the so-called Terreur, where the wonderful Republique demonstrated genocide to great effect. All nicely overlooked and forgotten now, of course. Except in the Vendee.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago

I live in the Vendee, and I can assure everyone that “les colonnes infernales” and General Hoche have not been forgotten.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago

What Britanny. a Breton told me it was bad because they defended the Church which had a Celtic influence ?

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago

It’s easy to spurn the French for collaborating avec les Boches, but please ask yourself if the Brits would have been any different (see SS by Len Deighton).

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

No, they hate the UK because we liberated them and because they (it was their Generals who were in command) lost in the first place.

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

French are ambivalent or fond.
Its the English with a weird chip on their shoulder about the French.

What you don’t realise is how apart from France-the English are one of the most loathed people on the planet.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

I think you mean that you loath the English

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Nonsense! Also your syntax is so incoherent.
Wherever you went to school, presumably the USA or Ireland, you should ask for your money back. They have patently failed.

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Why do you hate England and the English so much ????

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

I don’t,
But just look at comments from India,Ireland,USA,Argentina, Spain,

They all seem to hate us because we’re culturally
/gastronomical inferior.or somehow responsible for our imperial history and “arrogant “

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

So loathed that in WW1 and 2 that vast numbers of people from Asia and Africa volunteered to fight in the Armed Forces and Merchant Navy with people being commissioned, fighting with great courage and some winning the VC and GCs. People from the Commonwealth still volunteer fro the British Armed Forces.
In N Africa were there more men from India fighting than from occupied Europe?
Throughout the Commonwealth , countries still follow traditions aquired from the British where they are of use.
Those who are leaders often are loathed as they show up others inadequacies.

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Yes,

Many people describe the British empire and predatory and racist and unreedemable,

From Ireland to south America, to North America,from India to Pakistan,black Africa,North Africa ,Middleast, East asia,

Just step outside your online bubble

Richard Lord
Richard Lord
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I have a wonderful, part memory, of an evening on holiday at a very rural French farm. The French family spoke no English, we had very rudimentary French. They invited us to join them for a barbecue. When we arrived it was clear that this was a gentlemens evening, which my sister ignored. There followed an evening of great food, wine and conversation as best we could,with lots of hand gestures. As the evening progressed they produced bottles of the spirits they made on the farm, hence the part memory. They were unbelievably friendly and hospitable.

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

They have been very hard on themselves over the Occupation. Lockdown has made me question whether the British or the Americans would have behaved so better in that situation. France is very much divided on Napoleon, some people loving his memory, others deploring it. I have heard more nostalgia over Napoleon from Britons than in France. I remember telling a French princess of an Englishwoman in Paris who told me of her admiration for Napoleon. The Frenchwoman was appalled by this frivolity, saying that Napoleon was the start of the mass murders that were to mark the twentieth century.

June Watts
June Watts
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I should like to read such a book; do you by chance remember the name or author? For clarity, not to reinforce any judgement on my part 🙂 but a genuine interest in WWII. Thank you!

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago
Reply to  June Watts

A good starting point for me was The Sorrow and the Pity (Le Chagrin et la Pitié) comprising interviews and reminiscences of those affected by the occupation. It is a two part film not a book, but offers an extraordinary intimacy impossible to capture in the written word alone. Seeing it changed my perspective of the French, exposing the myriad hidden tensions buried below the surface of family and community. Even now, only the J***** community is fully conversant with their government’s collaboration. The extent of governmental collaboration has been hidden from the wider population ever since.
(Edited to remove the trigger words N**i geno***e and J****h that apparently flagged this post)

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrew Hall
Elaine Hunt
Elaine Hunt
3 years ago
Reply to  June Watts

Marianne in Chains is well worth reading

daniel Earley
daniel Earley
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

My many visits to France show that it’s also the rural French that dislike the metropolitan French. A particular hatred is loathing for Parisiennes to teh extent that many vehicles with a Paris number plate (19), often get vandalised outside of Paris.

Hal Lives
Hal Lives
3 years ago
Reply to  daniel Earley

While growing up I oftern heard it said that while the British hated the French, even the French hated the Parisiennes.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  daniel Earley

91 surely. Or 75. 19 is Corrèze.

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago
Reply to  daniel Earley

While staying with friends in the country, I went for a walk with my hostess. She greeted a local in his car. She and her family had a retreat there for decades and she knew the local and how much he made a point of hating Parisians. We were enjoying our walk but to tease him, she asked him if he would give us a lift. “No Parisians allowed in my car,” he sputtered and drove away. “He would have let Anne-Marie in his car,” my hostess said to me, Anne-Marie being her sister and a great beauty and femme fatale.

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
3 years ago
Reply to  daniel Earley

I think the Paris number plate is 75. It certainly was when I lived there for seven years.

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago

Yes it is 75 which are the first two numbers in all Parisian post codes.

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago
Reply to  daniel Earley

Indeed my postman in France, who came to live from Paris, complains that the locals prefer us to him!

Kirk B
Kirk B
3 years ago
Reply to  daniel Earley

“Parisgot tete de veau”

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

My old dad used to say the French never forgave us for saving them from the Germans twice in the last century

Peter de Barra
Peter de Barra
3 years ago

… and, of course, the 1870/71 occupation of Paris (sic) by Prussia/Germany … the shame, the stain, the Continental angst followed by—

Charles Kovacs
Charles Kovacs
3 years ago

That is exactly what my father said.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
3 years ago

An old soldier I knew hated the French. In WW2 his tank was driving through a French village when it was hit by a shell from a disabled German tank. He was blown out of the turret but his crew were all killed. He was left for dead in a ditch after the French liberated him of his watch and wallet. A US soldier found him and saved his life hours later when he heard groans coming from the ditch.

Peter de Barra
Peter de Barra
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

… exactly — no good turn goes unpunished – especially the deep, deep humiliation of The Fall of France and ingrate de Gaulle’s scuttle trans Channel to, of course, England .

Jeff Bartlett
Jeff Bartlett
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

Richard, your experience exactly matches ours! When working we used to visit France regularly and, with the exception of Paris, generally found the populace welcoming and polite. We even entertained the dream of retiring in France, but to the south where the weather would be better. Accordingly we rented an apartment for 12 months in Mandeliu, near Cannes, with a view to sussing out the south for somewhere to buy. Au secours, quelle surprise! One of our tasks was to renew some insurance that the owners needed, so we trotted off to the local office where my wife asked, very politely, in French, did they speak English, because she was not confident about doing an insurance transaction. “Non.” came the stern reply. “Espanol?” from wife; “Si” from la grenouille. So in Spanish it went. After the transaction finished la grenouille, in perfect English, said, “Here are your papers, your Spanish is excellent”. Similar experiences led to my wife saying that no way would we live here; visit, yes, but live, no. So now rent on and off in Spain and their various islands and ‘todo esta bien!’.

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

That is absurd,they are not hostile,
The general public in most parts of the world are hostile to the English.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Nonsense!

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago

I loved France until I discovered Spain; the old Spain, away from the Med. What a country, what a people, what style, what class. And even, what food and drink.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

And those magnificent Paradores, not to mention the Arena, and the “connexion ultimate con la tradition gladiatores de Roma Antigua’.

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Phil Bradbury
Phil Bradbury
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I agree, and the people are so much more spontaneous and individual. I can’t stand the conformity and uniformity in France. When you’re in a restaurant there is a whole stilted ritual about how it is served. The server has to recite the composition of the dish and then wish you ‘bonne continuation’. Some may like it but I prefer a bit of friendly banter.

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil Bradbury

The spanish -spontaneous and individual??
Nope they are very much Conservative Catholic culturally rigid people (for western Europe )

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Who care what religion they are? What a bizarre comment.

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago

Fine,but the spanish are not spontaneous or individualistic.

They are incredibly conformist and somewhat insular even.

I’d really only describe the english as spontaneous and individualistic

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

The Spanish expression:

“Todo buen español debería mear siempre mirando a Inglaterra”

The French really are the good friends we never knew we had.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Me too! I’ve spent time nearly every year in France, St Malo to be precise. But Spain is so so much better. I love the informality and free spiritedness in Spain. France is too uptight.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago

How is Spain ” informal” or ” free spiritedness”
They are bourgeois, conformist, insular,classist,

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake C
Philip Adams
Philip Adams
3 years ago

This country has always had a love it or hate it relationship with France (i.e. Churchill well known Francophile) but maybe we should say love the difference, there are things to admire and things that make you cringe badly, it was also this type of difference which made me believe that European super state aspersions can never be realistic because the very difference in people in every individual country and culture does keep us separate, culture of ones own country should be celebrated not watered down, that also does not stop country’s admiring each other and working together for harmony that’s freedom of will, there is always a need to work together on many things but it doesn’t need to be homogenised into a super state conglomeration, I’m happy to Visit France and enjoy the country and people but always happy we have the Channel between the Continent and Great Britain

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

What is astonishing is how France has pulled itself together in the past seventy years, particularly after the humiliation of 1940.
When I first visited France in the 50’s it was staggeringly primitive compared to the UK.

Most of the population appeared to be dressed in identical dark blue overalls and black berets, there were few cars and then mainly little wobbly Citroens or tiny Renault vans, but thousands of bicycles and onions everywhere.
Men were regularly seen urinating at the side of the road, the water, even in ‘smart’ hotels undrinkable, and the lavatories and general plumbing, simply medieval.

Personal hygiene was of a very low order, and it was particularly noticeable that even young women didn’t shave their armpits. We used to joke that the French had ‘invented’ perfume to mask the stench from not washing. What we used to say about that pinnacle of Gallic civilisation, the
Bidet, is unprintable.

There were only two types of cigarettes available, both state produced, and reputed to be made of Camel dung and sold in rather cheap packets.
The omnipotence of the State was everywhere, and particularly infuriating when booking into Hotels etc. Everywhere you looked there were heavily armed Gendarmes of one type or another. Driving, particularly at night was a terrifying experience, but slightly better than Italy.

However the food and wine were magnificent and off course, everything was “as cheap as chips”. Consequently as a confirmed masochist I have returned nearly every year since!

And what an astonishing contrast! The TGV, superb, empty motorways, 40 or is it 80 Nuclear Power Stations, plumbing that works, drinkable water,
an a general feeling of wealth that was so absent in the past. However despite this wonderful Renaissance, one bugbear remains …..the Bidet!

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago

And in the USA…the Biden

Mike Fraser
Mike Fraser
3 years ago

the memory of another bugbear remains…Vichy

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Fraser

It doesn’t. People (unlike the Brits commenting here – the baby boomers that grew up reading WW2 comics) have moved on.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago

Several of the things you mentioned reminded me too of France in 1954.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

Nah, us plebs hate the French because we fought them on and off for over a 1000 years.
They hate us because they hate everything that’s not French. They are, without any shadow of a doubt, the most arrogant and racist peoples in Europe.

I think someone once described them as cheese eating surrender monkeys, very apt I thought.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

That was the Americans.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

GW Bush

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

Aha! The notorious “Village idiot from Texas “ or his illustrious father?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

Obama is not from Texas

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

I was referring to GW Bush!
No mention of the Obama beast!

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

Sorry, I just focused the words village and idiot

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
3 years ago

The Simpsons, wasn’t it?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

It was Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons, the Scottish guy, he has to fill in as French teacher and thats how he says hello to the class.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

No, it was actually coined by a writer of the television show The Simpsons. True fact. Which makes it ever funnier.

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

They are ambivalent about the English or at best warm.they are also curious about the world

The English are actually the most loathed and perceived to be the most racist.

GWB was an idiot for going into Iraq and france was intelligent for staying out

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Sounds like you had a bad experience or twenty. Maybe it was you?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

That might have something to do with the Rainbow Warrior

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

“a military alliance far stronger than the supposed “special relationship” with the US? “
Not in our lifetimes. It’s time to stop living in the past.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

“How many of those fighting at Waterloo could have foreseen that, when the guns fell silent, it would be the last time the two countries ever fought”

Nonsense! What about the French Fleet slaughtered at Mers-el-Kebir by HMS Hood & friends in 1940, or the conquest of French Syria the next year?

Rob Mein
Rob Mein
3 years ago

And French forces fighting against the Allied Torch landings in 1942

George Bruce
George Bruce
3 years ago

Are you not being a little harsh saying “nonsense”? I was aware of the Mers-el-Kebir incident but if asked “were France and Britain fighting each other in 1940?” I must confess I would have said no.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  George Bruce

Sorry, no. As I said Syria and as Rob Mein has so appositely mentioned above, the North African ‘Torch’ landings of 1942.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Remember, after the Brits defeated the Vichy French in Syria/Iraq, WWII, with lots of deaths in the fight, they gave the captured French the choice to return to France or fight as Free French with DeGual – almost all of them went Home! CESM!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yes indeed 30,000 returned to Vichy France and about 1000 opted for the Free French.

A national disgrace if ever there was one!

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago

The tragedy of Mens-el-Kebir was that far more of the French fleet wasn’t sent to the bottom. It could not have been allowed to fall into the hands of the Germans.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

Agreed. The Navy’s shooting was rather poor considering many of the French targets were stationary at the time. I have heard that the ‘Mighty Hood’ in particular could have shot better. Perhaps this was one the causes of her subsequent demise some months later?

John Huddart
John Huddart
3 years ago

Actually it was apparently a direct hit on her unarmoured ammunition magazine by the Bismarck. But don’t let that curb your Anglophobia will you?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  John Huddart

Did you not do comprehension at school?

My critique of the Hood’s gunnery is perfectly valid, particularly in relation to her action against the Bismarck.

Incidentally she was not “unarmoured” as you state, but rather inadequately armoured by the standards of 1941.

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

Quite so. And let’s not forget that the French were told of the consequences of their decision should they not hand over their fleet. Unfortunately they dithered… et voila!

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago

Slaughtered? They were given 4 opportunities to surrender but refused, leaving the RN no choice but to sink the fleet to prevent it getting into German hands.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

That’s just semantics! I happen to prefer slaughter to kill.
Otherwise we are in total agreement about Mers-el- Kebir.

Kirk B
Kirk B
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

It was primarily the French admiral’s stubbornness against surrender that resulted in the slaughter.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

ACTUALLY – there was a second reason UK sank the French Fleet – USA was dithering waiting to see if UK really was in for the fight 100%, and if the French Fleet was handed to the Germans USA could not keep the Atlantic open, so they had to sink the fleet to show USA that Britain was really in the fight to the death. FDR understood this.

Last edited 3 years ago by Galeti Tavas
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Correct, WSC had to show ‘total commitment’, which he did, superbly.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

Vichy France, and I do not think any Frenchman would acknowledge that as France any more than we would the British Free Corp as British

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

In 1940 Vichy was the legitimate government, which together with German occupation zone which accounted for 99% of the French population. There is no getting away from that very unpleasant fact.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

Still not a fair point. The Nazis and the Soviets following them installed quisling regimes in many countries and you would not call any of them legitimate governments in terms of the point at issue

Last edited 3 years ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Betty Fyffe
Betty Fyffe
3 years ago

Probably not – weren’t 140% of Frenchmen in the Resistance?

Betty Fyffe
Betty Fyffe
3 years ago
Reply to  Betty Fyffe

…and weren’t the British criticised for not coming to France’s aid more quickly – by de Gaulle, who apparently beat the Germans single-handedly…

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  Betty Fyffe

What ???? So few ????

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Betty Fyffe

Me too
Or is that something else

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 years ago

Ah. Martians were they?

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
3 years ago

One of the great ironies of the world. We love France and we love the French. Can you imagine how our lives would be impoverished if France and the French did not exist.
At the same time they infuriate us and we infuriate them. It will never change and we probably dont want it to change. Life would be so boring

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

A bit like men and women. France is a nice place for a man since women there like men and make no bones about it.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  David Platzer

So true

Stewart Slater
Stewart Slater
3 years ago

I think there is an ideological component this misses out – the French usually take a top-down approach, the British a bottom up one, like Plato and Aristotle made into nations. The French state during the scientific revolution would only allow articles to be published after they had been checked by a committee of experts. In Britain, anyone who had access to a printing press could churn out whatever they wanted. British philosophy, pre the 20th century, is basically empiricism, while the French have never met anything they didn’t want to systematise. While classical liberalism may have had its isolated French admirers, it is hard to see that it could have taken off there in the way it did here. It’s not that we dislike the French, it’s that we do not understand them, nor they us.

David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  Stewart Slater

Their favourite phrase – « c’est compliqué » – and if it isn’t , they’ll do their utmost to make it so. But they are lovely really

Galathea D
Galathea D
3 years ago

“French politics are worse than the British” was the funniest part of a very funny read.

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago
Reply to  Galathea D

At least Macron has the guts to defend statues in France and announce that not single one will be taken down or mutilated. I don’t think Boris’s cabinet or Biden for that matter, are anything to gloat over.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  David Platzer

You’ve hit it in on the head. The French, whether they be Communists or Fascists are inordinately proud of France, whilst the UK is stuffed with ‘Oiks’ who hate their own country with a vengeance.

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago

Well said,

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
3 years ago

Left wing middle class oiks at that!

Leo Black
Leo Black
3 years ago

It’s also about soap. The Froggies are lovely but they whiff, as even my good friend, a French lady who has lived in the UK for 30 years frequently remarks.
‘My sister smells!’ she exclaimed after her last visit to Rennes.
The French enjoy their natural aroma and shun soap and deodorants. They find the smell of sweat arousing in the same way they like ripe cheese that would never pass delicate English lips.
For further proof, look no further than the French cop show, Spiral – 8 seasons and no sight of the shower or the funny little slippery thing that is sometimes found in there. The two main protagonists were forever having a romp then getting dressed again sans douche or even laver les mains. I just finished watching another French cracker, Call My Agent, on Netflix. Again, four seasons of stylish clothes, parfum et vin, but never a single trip to the salle de bains. You could smell the cologne mingled with eau d’armpit throughout.
Granted, to them, we probably all stink like the perfume counter at John Lewis.

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago
Reply to  Leo Black

Henri IV , the most popular of French kings, used to tell his mistresses when he was coming to stay the night since he relished their natural feminine scent.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  David Platzer

Didn’t he also hope everyone could have Coc au Vin once a week or some such?

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago

Yes, it was he that invented the idea of a chicken in every household pot.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago
Reply to  Leo Black

Many (50?) years ago I went on a two-week school exchange visit to St-Etienne. We were each paired with a French family. When we met up at the end to go home, one of the girls in the Brit party could not get over the fact that her host opposite number did not change her underwear for the entire fortnight!

Christophe Klein
Christophe Klein
3 years ago
Reply to  Leo Black

Hello from (near) Paris.
We love you, too
We take a shower at least once a year, even when it’s not necessary. Since Louis XIV we the french are as clean as one can get. Feet smell ripe cheese, etc.

Howard Medwell
Howard Medwell
3 years ago

France and Britain are very similar – we have a monarchy – the Fifth republic has a monarchical president; we both have areas formerly characterised by heavy industry and left wing voting, now industrial wastelands where people vote for Brexit or Marine Le Pen; neither of us like immigration very much; we both face the future with anxiety…

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Howard Medwell

Except we have a natural border-the ‘English’ Channel wheras Europeans were always losing or gaining parts of their country.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Northern Ireland?

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
3 years ago

I chuckled throughout this piece and the comments – such a mix of half-truths and nonsense. It is simply not the case that the French hate the British, whereas, as this list demonstrates, there is a lot of anti-French feeling among Brits. I have been married for over thirty years to a French man and have never ever met with the slightest hostility from locals. On the contrary, my ‘charming’ accent seems to add to whatever appeal I might have. Of course there are maddening aspects to living here – the way the fuit and veg are categorised in the local supermarket, for instance, and the chaotic administration, illustrated by the fiasco of the vaccine programme. To use a polite version of the idiom the French couldn’t organise a bun fight in a boulangerie….But it’s so enriching to discover where the personal ends and where the cultural begins, to engage with differences – as expressed in literature, art, music as well as in every day life. Plus – to add one more generalisation – men and women like each other here, desire circulates easily and freely, which is one of the reasons French women took a stand against the Me Too movement. They don’t want to lose the pleasures of seduction and flirtation….

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

The French don’t hate the British. Anymore than they hate everyone else. Who do the French actually get along with?

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago

The French don’t hate the British – they hate the English. If you explain to a frenchman that you are not ‘anglais’ but are ‘ecossais’ – and are insulted by the confusion (just as the French would be if you called them Belgian) they are first apologetic, and then the embodiment of charm. They like the Scots (but then, so does everyone.)