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Why we French love to hate the English It is truly unthinkable that les Anglais will win the war of the vaccine

Your 'PM' flies the flag


March 23, 2021   5 mins

We know that nature is finally healing now that the English have turned their ire away from the coronavirus and back towards their true, natural enemy, the French. Yes, the English love to hate their neighbours, as Ed West wrote last week, and as a Frenchwoman, I accept that the last few months have not been the most glorious in our history.

But if you thought that Emmanuel Macron’s floundering over the Covid crisis, and especially his drunken sailor pas de deux with Angela Merkel over the AstraZeneca vaccine, might ring in a measure of rarely-seen humility among the French ruling elite, think again.

No matter that one day Le PrĂ©sident says the Oxford jab is unproven and useless on the over 65s, only to perform the mother of all reverse ferrets three weeks later, and forbid vaccinating the under 55s with it, after a four-blood-clots scare over 15 million shots. No matter that the instant Mutti blinks and decides to suspend AZ vaccinations in Germany, France’s Covid Conseil de DĂ©fense, after being interrupted by a telephone call from Our Man In Berlin, rules that France will blindly follow suit.

In the immortal words of a thousand French novelty aprons and fridge magnets, MĂȘme quand il a tort, le boss a toujours raison (“even when the boss is wrong, he is still right”). Our President, who last year took most decisions on the handling of the crisis alone, whether following or contradicting the Scientific Council, found early on the ideal piñata: les Anglais, which in French means the British (with apologies to Celtic readers). Because we love to hate the English, too.

He has been helped in this strategy because the groundwork being generously laid for almost five years over Brexit. Emmanuel Macron, toujours lui, was still harping on about it for his New Year wishes last January, assuring Britain that France remained her “friend and ally” despite her choice to leave in a Brexit born of “lies and false promises”, coming across like a man moaning about custody rights and alimony during a family reunion five years after his divorce.

And while we usually protest that French ill-feeling towards the British is nothing, nothing compared to British naked aggression about all things French — yes, that Up Yours, Delors still rankles — the truth is that we love casser du sucre sur le dos des Anglais (to break sugar cubes over the backs of Brits, a popular colloquialism for badmouthing).

You may have invented the wrong sort of leaves to excuse your pathetic excuses for proper trains (for which read: French trains); we can discourse for hours about the wrong way in which Brian Moore won tries, and matches, over a technically better French rugby team. We could have invented the term “beautiful losers”, because even when France loses, it is with so much more Ă©lan than when the English win. Oh, and Emmanuel Macron even said for a long time that Britain actually vaccinated the wrong way, and France had performed better in terms of the proportion of people getting the full two-jabs. (No, I don’t understand the maths either; it’s all about “taking dangerous risks”, and he may not have been entirely correct.)

The likelihood that the AZ vaccine would have been similarly targeted by a series of damaging official statements if it had not been invented in Britain seems close to zero. The urge to do down les Rosbifs was too strong, even at the risk of encouraging antivaxxers over the Continent. In fact it’s the one cultural trend France has successfully exported in recent years: while we used to be Europe’s leaders in vaccine scepticism, with 43% of the population unwilling to take the needle, that number is now up to 61%; but similarly, 55% of Germans would now refuse the AZ vaccine (up 15%), as well as 43% of Italians and 52% of Spaniards (up 27% in each). And a good deal of it was born of the age-old French uneasy contempt for the British.

We don’t understand you. We don’t trust you. We don’t trust those among us who suffer from that terrifying disease, l’Anglophilie. There’s a certain kind of bon chic, bon genre French bourgeoisie who dress their daughters in kilts, send their children for a couple of terms in minor public schools in the Home Counties so that they’ll speak English more fluently than almost all our presidents, who mourned the disappearance of Marks & Spencer from Paris, and worship the Royal Family unironically. Just as Remainers pine for Provence and Tuscany after the second glass of Prosecco, France’s social equivalents wax lyrical about Glyndebourne, serve Pimms in the wrong sort of glasses, and think longingly to this day of Tony Blair. This sort of Anglophilia is not a vote-winner with the rest of the country, as politicians from ValĂ©ry Giscard d’Estaing to Édouard Balladur have found out.

A quick vox pop among friends hit unexpected Yellowstone-sized geysers of animosity. It starts with use of unregulated longbows at Agincourt, encompasses burning Joan of Arc at the stake, finds its stride with Pitt’s flooding fake assignats to devalue French paper money during the Revolution (typical of the perfidiousness of Albion in all things financial, and probably present in the subconscious of Brussels regulators as they deny City financial institutions either passporting or equivalence rights), but truly flourishes when it comes to Napoleon.

“Les Anglais conspired to break the Peace of Amiens in 1803, led the entire continent into war, and managed to pin it all on Napoleon!” one friend raged. And on to St. Helena, to Kitchener’s stand-off against Marchand at Fashoda in the Sudan in 1898, and of course to the sinking of a good chunk of the French Navy at Mers-el-KĂ©bir on 3 July 1940 by the Royal Navy, rather than risking it fighting on for Vichy. Yes, we do hold grudges.

But a great deal of Anglo-French antagonism is probably due to a discomfort on both sides as to who, really, is coolest — not that anyone will openly admit to failure. From the 1960s onwards Paris has played second fiddle to London, home to the Beatles and Rolling Stones and countless other musicians — even Berlin has at times appeared more cutting-edge — but with fashion Paris remains king. Even London’s couturiers, graduates from St Martin’s School, have not truly made it until France’s warring luxury titans, Bernard Arnault of Dior and Givenchy or François Pinault of Gucci and ChloĂ©, had given them whole Paris ateliers to play with. Frenchwomen may be better dressed than their British opposite number, but Englishmen of a certain class beat too-dapper Frenchmen in narrow suits hollow — although no one would say that of all Englishmen.

We win at food, but you steal our chefs. It’s worth it, in order to escape your legacy of baked beans for breakfast, of frozen peas the colour of hazmat suits with the consistency of grapeshot, boiled meat falling in lank grey strands on the plate into congealing gravy, and at puddings you could play rugby with. We eat your fish (not so much these days, because Brexit spite trumps le brunch du dimanche) but you drink our Bordeaux and our champagne, one clear instance where you win hands down. Mostly, the French do not understand Marmite; but some cultural practices must just remain a mystery.

Sport is more complicated: a friend cursed you twice, once for stealing Eric Cantona from us, the second for returning him. Business is even worse: thirty years on, one of the negotiators over the Channel Tunnel contracts was still smarting over British “cheats”. “How so?” I asked. “The minute they’ve signed, they endlessly amend, change, revise contracts! It’s like trench warfare! You think you’ve got something to rely on, they want to adapt and adapt all the time!”

As we hashed it over, it became obvious that two entire philosophies were clashing: British pragmatism against French theory; British nimbleness against French top-down hierarchy. “Business in England starts when 20 shopkeepers get together in a cafĂ© near the docks, and decide to finance a ship to the West Indies,” he said: “They find a captain, networks, information, insurers. In France, you go to the King; he gives you letters of marque against a cut in your profits; all is done in his name. Nothing has really changed: today, most large cross-border deals need the approval of the Direction GĂ©nĂ©rale du TrĂ©sor at the Ministry of Finance.”

It was a perceptive point, and explains a lot of the different ways that Britain and France have handled the Covid vaccination effort. For the French, les Anglais appear to have won the war, despite losing so many earlier battles; but we cannot help that feeling there is something perfidious about it.


Anne-Elisabeth Moutet is a Paris-based journalist and political commentator.

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Huw Jenkins
Huw Jenkins
3 years ago

There is no ‘vaccine war’ as far as the UK is concerned.
We have simply been watching aghast while the EU (and particularly the French) have been busy shooting themselves in the foot.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Huw Jenkins

Agreed, but I think it’s far more insidious than that.

If we accept the premise that these vaccinations, or more particularly the UK AZ one, are saving lives here and now and, by extension, economies and livelihoods, then the only conclusion that we can reach here is that the EU has decided to play politics with its citizens’ lives for its own existential ends through the propagation of disinformation.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

‘the EU has decided to play politics with its citizens’ lives for its own existential ends through the propagation of disinformation.’
This is exactly what is happening. I was once a keen proponent of the EEC/EU. But it has been obvious for some time that the EU is an evil – and incompetent – organization run by and for evil and incompetent people.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Four years ago when I voted to leave I would have said that that was an extreme position Fraser, preferring to run the ‘live and and let live, the UK just wasn’t a good fit’ narrative in my head.

Unfortunately, thanks to the EU’s thoroughly dishonest, wicked, frankly dangerous handling of NI and now this, I’m fast coming around to your way of thinking.

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
Robin Bury
Robin Bury
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

So right about NI. Land Border between Sweden and Norway is there and works smoothly and peacefully. So why put one Irish Sea? Biden approves

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Bury

Contravenes December 7 1922 Border recognised by International Law betwixt Irish Free state and United Kingdom…ireland Were in Commonwealth until 1949,When Nazi Sympathiser De Valera pulled Eire out…

Guy Johnson
Guy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Bury

Sweden and Norway are both in the single market.

roger dog
roger dog
3 years ago
Reply to  Guy Johnson

I wonder if it costs them as much as it cost the UK.

Alison Ramage Patterson
Alison Ramage Patterson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Totally agree! Where we live in Spain, we and others are more or less totally dependent on tourism. This morning the local paper headlined with the news that if the number of Covid cases reached 50, the tourist season would be lost. It’s ok for these f***ng politicians and funcionarios to issue these edicts with their tax-payer funded salary and super-annuated pensions – but businesses are dying on their feet here. Two days ago we were told that a “miscalculation” in the numbers meant that vaccines for the over 80s (yup, they still haven’t been vaccinated) had been delayed by 3 weeks!!!) “miscalculation” FFS!!!

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago

All my friends in Greece are looking at ruin. Last year tourist arrivals were down 78% with revenue down 75%. A number of restaurants etc have already gone bankrupt and more will surely follow. If tourism wont begin again until July what hope do any of them have ??

Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago

Switzerland is not doing any better despite not being in the EU, with a paltry 5% of the population inoculated. The economical fallout will be dire.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Silvia Hansel

The Swiss reaction to all this will be by far the most interesting in Europe, if not the Western World.

Suzy O'Shea
Suzy O'Shea
2 years ago
Reply to  Silvia Hansel

It is already badly affecting rental levels in Geneva. Many people have left the international organisations orbit and are not being replaced.

I think the Swiss will avoid future lock downs and just behave as Sweden has done in avoiding them altogether, at high cost to its death rates. That is how much people matter to their governing politicians.

Last edited 2 years ago by Suzy O'Shea
Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago

Short-sighted thinking on French politicians part, perhaps their problem all along. The State only has the money it takes from taxes, failing business’s do not increase the money pot, quite the opposite. As the saying goes ‘sooner or later you run out of other people’s money’. Your tourism for this year I suggest is already lost – we may be vaccinated but do we want to spend our holidays in places where the virus is till rife?

Last edited 3 years ago by Valerie Killick
David Waring
David Waring
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Well the French did build the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago
Reply to  David Waring

True; but they were never allowed inside (did we read the same article then?)

Alfred Prufrock
Alfred Prufrock
3 years ago
Reply to  David Waring

Against the advice of their own security services over ruled by the then French foreign secretary Michael Barnier.

Suzy O'Shea
Suzy O'Shea
2 years ago

Barrier wants to campaign for the French presidency when Macron leaves. Watch the knives come out for Britain then!

Last edited 2 years ago by Suzy O'Shea
Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
3 years ago
Reply to  David Waring

…and the Americans trained them on security but to no avail perhaps

Suzy O'Shea
Suzy O'Shea
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Martin

Of late, when has training by the USA e ver worked? In Iraq they managed to set up a deadlier foe in ISIS and they financed and supplied the Taliban in Afghanistan as they were part of the corruption problem, especially general Piraeus.

They have a weapon of mass destruction called invasion and chaos!

p.thynne
p.thynne
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

And the UK can easily match that for evil/self interest (all those multi-million pound contracts to chums) and utter and complete incompetence of every single one of them, led by a lazy, incompetent narcissist. Our vaccine “success’ is due to luck and chucking money around wildly – we still have the highest death rate and the worst devastation of our economy and it hasn’t really started yet. My only hope is that the developing world will benefit from more and earlier AZ vaccine doses that Europe has declined. And I don’t mind or blame the French for hating the English – we deserve it and I’ve moved to Wales and will never return.

jacobjacobinus
jacobjacobinus
3 years ago
Reply to  p.thynne

As a French, I’d very much like a failure like the British one for my country.
We’ve been trapped in a forced cycle of lockdowns and curfew for 6 months now, with a vaccination campaign as slow as our proverbial animal.
UK may have mismanaged the early stage of covid (and even so, it doesnt strike me as particularly horrible), but is on its way to become the first covid free country in Europe in June. I’m quite impressed by the work of your PM.

Terry M
Terry M
3 years ago
Reply to  p.thynne

All I can say is: Thank God for Trump! Operation Warp Speed is proving him right every day.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Huw Jenkins

According to an article here not long ago titled ‘How Israel won the Vaccine War’ there is a war. And the Daily Telegraph and it’s BTL comments seem to reinforce the idea daily.
I don’t think its a war but it suits those fond of EU bashing and associated jingoism to promote it as such.

Kathryn Richards
Kathryn Richards
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

If there is a war, it is of Macron and Von der Leyen’s making.

John Huddart
John Huddart
3 years ago

Not forgetting Mutti, the one in Berlin not Paris?

Last edited 3 years ago by John Huddart
SUSAN GRAHAM
SUSAN GRAHAM
3 years ago

I just wish that Boris and other politicians -presumably in the interests of diplomacy – would refrain from referring to the Evil Union as ‘our friends and allies’. With friends like these who needs enemies- which in actual fact is what they are and have been since William the Conqueror. As the author states, the hatred is mutual – until of course the French need our help – as they demand at the present time. If there is a ‘war’ – it is of their making and they are losing – yet again.

Suzy O'Shea
Suzy O'Shea
2 years ago
Reply to  SUSAN GRAHAM

I liked the description in Ed West’s article about the belligerent nature of the French, and even so they could not cope with their psychotic enemy, the Germans, who were being fed psychotropic drugs which enabled the Blitzkrieg. Even though they had the largest army in Europe sitting on their Marginot Line, they could not defend themselves, neither could the British Expeditionary Force. The evacuation at Dunkirk was presented as a victory, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat etc, because it was a heroic retreat rather than a massacre and rout. It has to be admitted that besides the loss of 18,000 French soldiers defending the line at Dunkirk, Hitler suffered a mental aberration by telling his generals to stop fighting and thus allowed the evacuation at Dunkirk to be a success. At that point, he still secretly admired the British for holding their empire and hoped to come to terms with them. Despite the French reputation for being cool, or its 1930s equivalent ‘elan’, this inspired no admiration in the Nazis, bent on revenge for the justifiably harsh post WWI armistice conditions imposed at the insistence of France. Those conditions led to Germany’s total economic failure which brought the extremist Nazis to power! Sometimes, politicians need to go beyond justifiable logic when forming policies. It’s never a great idea to destabilise any state!

Neil Papadeli
Neil Papadeli
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I am reminded of the phrase, ‘never interrupt your enemy while he’s making a mistake’. But, of course, they are not enemies and we are not at war. Winning the peace is what UK should be concerned with and I think that starts with donating xx million Pfizer jabs (remove the high degree of anti-vax out of the equation) and a seconded NHS team to run the rollout for any EU nation happy to accept help. If nothing else, it would be great to see Macron’s face when he receives the offer.
The ‘war’ element arises with the dissembling, dishonest, scurrilous and frankly dangerous EU (and national) political interventions into the EU vax debacle (a debacle of their own making). Team UK needs to see beyond the current mess to when the EU eventually gets its s**t together and, for maximum political advantage, is seen to be part of that resolution. More Brownie points than can be counted. We all know Brownie points have a short shelf life, my chosen prize? Sort the NI border. >> US trade deal.

Betty Fyffe
Betty Fyffe
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil Papadeli

We have never got anywhere with France, or the EU, by being reasonable/nice and hoping for Brownie points.
We fought hard in WWI and WWII – what did we get? Resentment and ingratitude. There are many other examples – Treason May gave ÂŁ39 billion to get brownie points. She got precisely nothing. It doesn’t work – we get resentment and ingratitude; our niceness is simply treated as weakness.
That doesn’t mean that we should stoop to that level, just don’t think for a minute that any philanthropic gesture by this country will achieve anything.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil Papadeli

Why should We(UK) help The ”Scorpion” EU with being The Frog UK,Help Commonwealth & Poor Countries first eU last,but Tourism probably factored in or Suspend Material to Pfizer factories in Europe?..

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil Papadeli

I understand Boris did make an offer to co-operate over the vaccine to Merkel, who gave him the cold shoulder. They are all about saving face – they have no interest in the citizens of the EU, none at all. It’s about time they woke up to that.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

EU bashing? Are you mad? They have acted like spiteful, incompetent clowns. To say so is to simply tell the truth. Had they invested in vaccine development and funded the factories to make the vaccines like we did, they would have the vaccines. Instead, they strutted about demanding ever cheaper rates and threatening the manufacturers. RIGHT NOW they have paid only $1 a dose for the doses they ordered. We paid up months ago in full and assisted the development of production.

Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

That’s an insult to spiteful incompetent clowns, many of whom I number among my best friends.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

The UK really played a blinder on this and the EU just can’t stand it.

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

That’s the truth of it.

Neil Papadeli
Neil Papadeli
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Posting again due to ‘approval’:
I am reminded of the phrase, ‘never interrupt your enemy while he’s making a mistake’. But, of course, they are not enemies and we are not at war. Winning the peace is what UK should be concerned with and I think that starts with donating xx million Pfizer jabs (remove the high degree of anti-vax out of the equation) and a seconded NHS team to run the rollout for any EU nation happy to accept help. If nothing else, it would be great to see Macron’s face when he receives the offer.
The ‘war’ element arises with the dissembling, dishonest, scurrilous and frankly dangerous EU (and national) political interventions into the EU vax debacle (a debacle of their own making). Team UK needs to see beyond the current mess to when the EU eventually gets its act together and, for maximum political advantage, is seen to be part of that resolution. More brown ie points than can be counted. We all know brown ie points have a short shelf life, so my chosen prize? Sort the NI border. >> US trade deal

Fiona Cordy
Fiona Cordy
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Mark, didn‘t mean to give you the thumbs down on this and I can‘t change it. I agree with you about EU bashing. I don‘t think the EU has acted very responsibly about the vaccine but to try to attribute loss of tourism business to this is hardly sensible on the day that Boris Johnson, with his apparent vaccine success, bans foreign holidays.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Fiona Cordy

Personally I think our priority should be to support UK tourism, hospitality and the night-time economy (pubs and live music) – not helping the EU economy, they don’t deserve our help right now!

Michael O'Donnell
Michael O'Donnell
3 years ago
Reply to  Fiona Cordy

I think he may have banned tourism because of the high infection rates abroad. We still have half the population to vaccinate, and it would be premature to allow travel abroad. If the EU had been as effective in procurement and distribution of the vaccine, then we probably could have allowed travel sooner.

Ron Wigley
Ron Wigley
3 years ago
Reply to  Huw Jenkins

In their case, both feet Huw

Richard
Richard
3 years ago

Excellent piece from Anne-Elisabeth Moutet. I remember her columns in the Daily Telegraph some years ago, and how sad I was when she was sacked along with other superb columnists. A great loss. For more of the same I can recommend ‘1000 years of annoying the French’ by Stephen Clarke. It’s very well researched and often as enlightening as it is hilarious.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard

It is indeed incredible to think that Anne-Elisabeth was sacrificed and the likes of Bryony Gordon retained. And still the DT thinks that if they bombard me often enough I will subscribe, as I once did. Incidentally, some of the better DT columns can be read at Michael Julien’s Bring It Back.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The idea that that ridiculous alcoholic, Gordon still earns a living from ‘journalism’ astounds me.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard

Moutet still writes occasionally for the DT.

Christopher Gage
Christopher Gage
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard

She still writes there most weeks.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard

1000 Years of….Pride of place in our bathroom. Father in law comes here just to read it.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard

No, she still writes regularly, and I always read her columns.

Sybilla At
Sybilla At
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard

I don’t think Ms Moutet was sacked from the Telegraph; she still writes regularly there.

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard

‘unregulated longbows at Agincourt’ is a wonderful phrase, as is her comparison of the way our two countries do business.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

This difference is epitomised in the differing approach to laws and lawmaking that the two countries follow .

The UK has long followed the bottom up, informed by case law precedent, largely unwritten English Common Law approach which basically can be summed up in the phrase, ‘what is not forbidden is permitted’, whereas France, and consequently the famously self-styled ‘rules based’ EU incidentally, follows the Napoleonic Code or top down, bureaucratic, more controlling, specifically written ‘civil law’ which can best be described as, ‘government always knows best’.

Not exactly difficult to see why there might have been a long inbuilt clash coming along there eventually was it?

B Luck
B Luck
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Roger Scruton quoted Leszek Kolakowski as summarising the situation in this way:

…in England everything is permitted unless it is forbidden; in Germany everything is forbidden unless it is permitted; in France everything is permitted, even if it is forbidden; and in Russia everything is forbidden, even if it is permitted.

Alison Ramage Patterson
Alison Ramage Patterson
3 years ago
Reply to  B Luck

And for a while, we lived in a Middle-eastern country, you know, the one with a family name. The joke there was that “everything that is not forbidden is obligatory”

AC Harper
AC Harper
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Quite so. Common Law vs Napoleonic Law and Free Trade vs Protectionism. The UK was never a good fit for the EC, especially once the public face of the EU turned from promoting trade to promoting ever closer union.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

We have fought and competed with each other for over 1000 years.
Our kings, who we didn’t like much, came from Normandy and they spoke French while we spoke English – all the more reason not to like them.
We fought against Napoleon, we raced for colonies, we went through a couple of wars (where the French were not really very good), we shared out the world in the Treaty of Versailles. We had nuclear weapons, they had nuclear weapons.
More recently, the world leadership passed to the USA who also speak a form of English. English became the world language (because of the Americans), all the best pop songs were in English.
De Gaulle would not let us join the Common Market but after he died in 1970, we joined anyway. The French with their protected wine and cheese ‘stiffed’ us. We fought back and helped to encourage wine production around the world.
We suffered badly in the EU so we left. That is another insult to the French. In the next 20 years, they will try to get us back for that action. What is new?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The French beat us in at least two wars that I can think of: Philippe August vs King John in about 1215, and the culmination of the Hundred Years War in the late 1420’s.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

The Fall of Calais 1558.

Arguably the War of the Spanish Succession 1701-13, as they achieved their primary war aim of uniting the thrones of France and Spain under the Bourbons

The American War of Independence 1776-83 would never have succeeded had the French not “ put the boot in”.

John Huddart
John Huddart
3 years ago

Not forgetting that ‘other’ revolution when many French aristos scarpered to England for sanctuary, and ‘ les boot was on the other foot’ ?

Last edited 3 years ago by John Huddart
Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago

Although British with help of Iroquois &Canadian Crown Loyalist ,defeated US in 1812 finally giving up in 1814,Battle of New Orleans & Lonnie doneghan’s strategy..

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

By the time of New Orleans the war was already over!

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Was that really “us”, or was that the French vs the Normans?

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

William the Conqueror?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

It’s a common British misconception that the French aren’t very good soldiers (I’m aware that you refer to the world wars, by which I presume you mean WWI and WWII, since the 7 years war was world wide), but there are a number of reasons to think otherwise. For example, very many military terms are derived directly from French, hardly an indicator of inferiority. Wellington went to France to learn his trade, and Napoleon and his armies were almost unbeatable. (That Wellington did so was because he too was exceptional, and French tactics which worked elsewhere let them down when facing British soldiers.) And I doubt that the RN underrated them during the Napoleonic wars, and certainly had a very high opinion of the quality of their ships. Finally, the burden of WWI fell very heavily upon the French army in comparison the the British, which adversely affected then at the start of WWII.

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

The security group 5 Eyes consists of a group of countries, none of which are in the EU. The only European member is UK. Why? It’s a matter of trust.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Read ”Remainer” Professor Vernon Bogdanor,(A Remainer,)his New Book of De Gaulle & Why UK is not/Never Suited to cAP,CFP EU, Common Law V Political Magistrates,…It is surprisingly ‘Fair” & Prescient

J J
J J
3 years ago

In many ways, for the UK, it has been a very ‘British Pandemic’. We went into it unprepared, made lots of errors often bourne of arrogance and came close to complete failure. 
Once however we accepted the gravity of the situation, we proceed to ‘knock the ball out of the park’. We always seem to follow the same formula. Think both world wars and the Falkland war.
I think this approach reflects our cultural values of conservatism and brute stubbornness. We generally don’t like to accept any form of change. However once we accept a need for change, we pursue a solution with a dogged determination and absolute refusal to concede defeat. There is no great finesse or skill involved, just resilience and pragmatism. “‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” is perhaps quite literally all we have to offer.
But history would suggest such an approach is the basis of all success.

Last edited 3 years ago by J J
Neil Papadeli
Neil Papadeli
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

Yep, bang on. The very point I was attempting to make to my young un the other night. I wish I’d had your comment to read from, it would have saved him and me a good hour of my tipsy burbling…’Ananother thing…’

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

Yes, I think you have a point. The whole drama does remind me of this quote (one of my favourites) from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Dr. Iannis, a Greek, speaking):
“It’s true,” said the doctor. “I know you have not thought about it. Italians always act without thinking, it’s the glory and the downfall of your civilisation. A German plans a month in advance what his bowel movements will be at Easter, and the British plan everything in retrospect so it always looks as though everything occurred as they intended. The French plan everything whilst appearing to have a party. And the Spanish…well God knows.”

Michael O'Donnell
Michael O'Donnell
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

I recall reading some years ago that during the construction of the Channel Tunnel, the French were in despair at our poor planning but in awe of our ability to put things right after we had got them wrong.

Gray Rayner
Gray Rayner
3 years ago

I smiled all the way through this. Being of (allegedly) Huguenot origin, I have always considered myself genetically predisposed to hate the French, but I have never met a French person I didn’t like. I love to beat them at rugby, but I chat to French rugby people at home and away in perfect amicability. Yes, we “hate” each other instinctively, but they are also our friends – like brothers we MUST outdo at everything. If France needs help most of us will be at the front of the queue to give it – and they probably won’t understand why.

Hector Mildew
Hector Mildew
3 years ago
Reply to  Gray Rayner

A perceptive post. My ex-wife is of Huguenot origin and we used to holiday in France regularly. She spent most of the time complaining about how bloody minded they were, and what a bunch of lunatics their drivers are on the roads, but now lives there permanently – she’s gone back to her roots, as it were. A kind of love-hate relationship, as you illustrate.
As for me, I can’t work up too much animosity against the land that gave us the music of Widor, Saint-Saens and Bizet and superb cheese. But I think the wine is rather overrated and overpriced.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

It’s always good to hear from Anne-Elisabeth, who is one of the best commentators out there. And she probably gets to the heart of the matter with her ‘top down’ analysis of the French way of doing things. (The French have not yet discovered that the secret with bosses is to ignore them…).
Not sure about this, though:
‘We win at food,..’
Not necessarily, not in recent times. Meal for meal, British pubs and restaurants are probably better these days, at least in my experience. And, as we know, English sparkling wines often beat champagne in blind tastings. Even an English pinot, when I served it blind to some knowledgeable tasters, was thought to be Burgundy.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

A couple of weeks ago I discovered a bottle of English fortified wine called Abbey Royal on sale in my local shop. It’s 15%, so barely stronger than wine, and looks and tastes very much like a medium sherry. I’d prefer fino, but at ÂŁ5 a bottle I’m not complaining.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Or you could try Buckfast!

polidoris ghost
polidoris ghost
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I have given up drinking – Bugga

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Not sure about this, though:

‘We win at food,..’

the French – if they are open minded – are now surprised at how good the food is here. Reasonably priced, and kept simple so you don’t need a team to produce it.
the french are living off their brand, but are too traditional to really innovate. I say that with regret.

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

They lost the wine market.

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

If you go back in history English food was far superior to anything found on the Continent.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

A useful way of heading off French airs and graces on whose “bouffe” is superior is to ask which capital city’s restaurants have the most Michelin stars….cue beaucoup de spluttering and garlic-infused expressions of disbelief. Hell, we probably have even more variety of cheese than they do – although we don’t share the French propensity for surrendering.

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

My son who lives in France and is married to a lovely French lady, delights in telling me that UK does have more varieties of cheese than France.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It’s true that British food can be very good, especially in the home, and I have had a few dreadful meals in French restaurants, but I still believe that the general French public is more discerning about food than the equivalent British public.

robboschester
robboschester
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It is typical of the French that they believe that they are still the centre of the wine universe. They are not, for there is such diversity that there is none. They are not an irrelevance, but their opinions are.

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
3 years ago

It’s very simple. Macron is one of the architects of the EU vaccination plan. His view was that the French would get a working vaccine and then make lots of profit from it selling it in the EU.
That failed. So they were left trying to order and join the end of the queue. So now he’s got a problem. His plan failed.
Like any politician when faced with failure, you need a scapegoat. First it was the vaccine doesn’t work. Doesn’t work for the over 65s. Only works for the over 55s. It causes blood clots, … The reason is that if you turn the population against the vaccine, you cannot be done for the failure to deliver.
My suggestion for Macron, blame the EU

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  Aden Wellsmith

Exactly. Macron is childish, petty and rather silly. He has never grown up, but he did marry his mummy. He needs to be booted out of office so he can spend more time with his boyfriend.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

You mean his grandmother, as in ‘Manny and his Granny”?

Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

And I suppose this comment is not spiteful, is it.

polidoris ghost
polidoris ghost
3 years ago
Reply to  Silvia Hansel

Classic English counterattack- Below the belt. Don’t try and compete, Silvia.

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago
Reply to  Silvia Hansel

Spiteful? No I don’t think so. And the French are on to Macron, they don’t like him.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago

What foreigners never understand about us Brits is often the more we call you names the more you mean to us. I read an article once about an American student over here sharing digs with a couple of Brit girls. She remarked to one of her mates at Uni’ that one of her room mates always calls the other one, to her face, an ugly old prostitute and the other in turn often calls her a fish faced old hag. ‘Oh don’t worry about that’ came the reply ‘I’m sure once you are settled in they’ll call you as a haggard old American w***e or something similar too’. Its a sign of affection over here you see…..

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago

So true.

Poo face.

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago

Ha ha. Very amusing article (with more than a hint of truth in it).
Don’t worry about the Marmite thing. I suspect that even the Brits who say they enjoy it swallow two stiff shots of Scotch afterward to wash away the taste. 🙂

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I knew it!

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Marmite is fantastic

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

I wonder if dislike of Marmite is a result of inheriting a Fench gene ….

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Not likely, but it might be a result of its having a French name 😉

Last edited 3 years ago by Silvia Hansel
Chris Scott
Chris Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

I see the Guardian has published something positive about the UK https://www.theguardian.com/food/2021/mar/22/10-scrumptious-marmite-recipes-roast-potatoes-spaghetti, radical don’t you think? Maybe, just maybe, there is hope.

Last edited 3 years ago by Chris Scott
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Scott

No. They have now removed the article

polidoris ghost
polidoris ghost
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Am I the only Englishman who has never tried it?
I once dreamt of smothering my mistress with the stuff. I thought it best not to tell her.

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago

Do try it but be careful, a little goes a long way. Too much and you’ll hate it.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I gave my other half (from Luxembourg) Marmite for the first time after 2 years, i.e. a reasonable amount of time to ensure the relationship was on a stable footing and able to withstand the Marmite fallout. He took a bite of his Marmite on toast, chewed for a minute, looked puzzled, and finally said: “it’s OK.”
Since when does anyone think that Marmite is “OK”??? The man should be scientifically studied.

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

When we go to visit friends in Italy, we always have to take them jars so they can use it to put on spagetti. That’s what happens when you go veggie and need that umami hit.

Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago
Reply to  Aden Wellsmith

Italians used to have a meat-and-yeast paste which must have been a close cousin of Marmite, long before it or umami hit international audiences. You put that on pasta too, and the commercial said it increased appetite in children (mangia, mangia! )
Can’t for the life of me remember the name, it was some 50 yrs ago.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Silvia Hansel

Tried to up vote your comment and it came out as a downvote – sorry!

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Get rid. He’s a wrong un.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

That incident was in 2010…we are still together and very happy 🙂 And he’s a great defender of British food too – he even loves Scotch eggs and pickled onion Monster Munch. He’s most definitely a keeper 🙂

Last edited 3 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

And does he still eat Marmite?

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Scotch eggs – that’s something I never got! Yuk, taste like cardboard wrapped around something cold and tasteless.

Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

Especially if he’s from the North.

rick stubbs
rick stubbs
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Always thought it was a medicine given to small children to prevent rickets??

John MacDonald
John MacDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Leave him immediately. He’s after your money.

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

LOL! Maybe he’s used to putting Nutella on his toast.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Excuse et moi! I love it..

Richard Powell
Richard Powell
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

This morning I started my fourth jar of Marmite in just over a year, though I did follow it with some whisky-flavoured marmalade.

Chris Scott
Chris Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Powell

Only your fourth! I’m on my second catering drum.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I like Marmite and am really quite a light drinker.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

How very dare you!!

Marmite is the backbone of this country and don’t you ever forget it.

It is the heaven sent by-product of my other favourite thing, beer.

Given your baffling ‘amby valence’ to it, certainly during the first lockdown you might not have noticed that getting hold of a jar was, extremely distressingly, as hard as locating a set of hen’s gnashers.

The reason for this, so I was reliably informed, was that the enforced closure of pubs had severely curtailed brewing activities as much of the beer was no longer needed, hence the yeast by product ‘the spread of the Divine’ required was in extremely short supply.

Never normally one to panic buy of course, but no surprises for guessing what exception was made to this otherwise hard and fast rule when I serendipitously stumbled across increasingly rare examples of this deep dark brown nectar at the time.

Richard Brown
Richard Brown
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Anything that comes from the dregs of brewing vats should be regarded with deep suspicion.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

That’s wrong. After a slurp of scotch, I eat marmite to cleanse my palate.

Mark Melvin
Mark Melvin
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Where I live in Penang, marmite is almost a normal thing to cook with. Marmite chicken, Marmite shrimps, you name it. Absolutely loved here …. by everyone other than me! But it s great on toast.

Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

I think I’m going to try that.

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Marmite is unbearable and I don’t care for baked beans either.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  David Platzer

Baked beans = hell in a tin

D Ward
D Ward
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Not a fan of baked beans at all, but they are improved by the addition of marmite….

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I don’t like marmite, but my wife does, which I take as proof that my taste buds are more refined.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

The French and the English should just get a room already!

Peter Fisher
Peter Fisher
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

Oh dear, a Frenchman who learnt his English from the Septics:)

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

I have no problem with the French until their leaders act with spite against us. They have been doing that in spades recently. If they can’t organise their vaccine arrangements, that’s up to them and I don’t care. If they in response to their own incompetent handling of vaccine purchase then interfere with lawful contracts we have made, they’d better watch out because that won’t be forgotten.

Vem Dalen
Vem Dalen
3 years ago

Well, I’m 100% English and I love France and the French people. Just stop with the foie gras nonsense.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Vem Dalen

Do they still eat horses?

I seem to remember we used ship Exmoor ponies off France by the thousands, and probably threw in a jar of Marmite for good measure.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Vem Dalen

”What Have the French ever done for us?(UK) Apart from the addition to language, Norman especially in Jersey, Huguenots etc..

Pierre Pendre
Pierre Pendre
3 years ago

Anne-Elisabeth seems to have it in more for Macron than the English as does my French daughter who says he’s an “arrogant prat”. I don’t really accept this as deep political analysis. We’re no worse off under Macron than Hollande who was just a prat.
The image of a president sneaking off at midnight on the back of a scooter to cuddle with a third rate actress set a new low in a French presidential history littered with sexual scandal. I always wonder who shopped him.
I didn’t expect Macron to be competent so I’m not disappointed and I’ve always thought him too young. He shares a vocal sonority with Obama but is a far better actor. He delivers a televised address to the nation in a voice which sounds if it has been marinated in Chateau Petrus which means the content is secondary, even when he’s closing down the country. Everyone has been lulled to sleep long before he’s finished.
The reason the French hate the English is simple. L’Albion perfide translates as “you always screw us which was not meant to happen since we won at Hastings”. A 19th century French professor sniffed that the English were une tribu française qui a mal tournĂ©. But you know that in his heart he knew it wasn’t true. It grates that les Anglo-Saxons have to be called on so often to dig them out of holes. When Hollande invaded Mali, he had to get the RAF to fly his soldiers there.
Napoleon himself wanted to retire to England after Waterloo and his nephew did so after Sedan.
It’s perfectly natural to hate people who are better than you. The French know that if the shoe were on the other foot, the English would not take a French vaccine. Too much garlic.

Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago
Reply to  Pierre Pendre

It may be perfectly natural to hate people who are better than you but it should not be indulged as it is not conducive to improvement.
This said, the comparison between “arrogant prat” and “just a prat” is brilliant. Your daughter might just be right, time will tell (what comes after an arrogant prat? What would Marine Le Pen qualify for?)

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago
Reply to  Pierre Pendre

It was the shoes that gave Hollande away. He wore the same pair all day, his disguise of a helmet for the scooter was useless because he still had on the same pair of shoes. Hilarious! Having said that, his many women were all very good looking, must have had something going for him.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 years ago

I’m prepared to forgive the French any anti-English feeling they might have because they let me eat their cheese, which considerably enhances my existence. Vivre le Camembert!

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Probably the most boring cheese a cow ever produced.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

No, that would be cottage cheese.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

Nobody eats cottage cheese for pleasure!

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

I think you’re either unfairly maligning cows there and/or bestowing them with creative talents they don’t have to be honest.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

Agree, vile stuff.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

Invaluable when you need to lure a grizzly, though…

Ian Wigg
Ian Wigg
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

Surely that’s a runoff between Edam and Gouda?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I have an excellent guide to French cheeses that is never far from my side. It is one of the few food books allowed to form part of my extensive wine library. That said, my favourite cheese will always be Stilton.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Agreed.

Stilton is the buntiest chomper in tha’ clundy.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

CHEDDAR. Cheddar is the only cheese you could eat every day for a year and not get bored or overwhelmed.

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
3 years ago

I took some mature Cheddar to my French friends, almost as a bit of a joke as they are one eyed when it comes to all things French. They loved it and as a result I take a couple of blocks every time I visit. One block my hosts keep for themselves, the other they share with guests. In return they gave me a cheese that stunk out my car and fridge for weeks until I had to bin it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Benjamin Jones
Kevin Newman
Kevin Newman
3 years ago
Reply to  Benjamin Jones

Sounds like Époisse, which is made in the next village to where our friends live in Burgundy. We would bring some home and I would know when my wife opened the fridge door in the next room, even though it was as supplied, in heat sealed plastic packaging.

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Of the blues its the best. Dochelatte is also a very good second. French blues behind that.
Cheddar when its proper cheddar is outstanding.
Problem for France is like wine, its losing the battle.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Leicestershire has ‘Stilton’ & ‘Red Leicester’ just Saying…I like Mature cheese,but Younger Women?…

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Agreed. Do love a good Stilton.

Tony Pearson
Tony Pearson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Somerset brie is much better though

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Pearson

Cornish Camembert ain’t bad either

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I’m not prepared to forgive the French any anti-English feeling for two reasons:

  1. the amount of blood and treasure that has been laid out to save their miserable country and a*ses from various German Reichs, and I can’t understand why they want to be part of the Fourth one without a shot fired.
  2. I’m allergic to cheese.
Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago

Is there something perfidious about us getting our population vaccinated? I don’t think so. While the EU sat on its hands, doing nothing, our government poured billions of pounds in development funding into vaccine companies and paid up front for vaccines that had not even been developed. The EU RIGHT NOW has very lately paid $1 a dose up front, when we paid full price months ago. Is it a surprise to people in the EU that their supply is rather more limited?
The political reaction to this in Europe has been one of pure spite and even cutting off of noses to spite your own face. By trashing the reputation of a very good vaccine (which as it happens has had fewer blood clot incidents than the Pfizer vaccine) EU politicians have totally undermined vaccine confidence. Now they can reap what they sowed and I for one won’t be shedding tears.
It is my fervent wish that the EU now refuse to ratify the trade deal and we can abandon them altogether. NEVER will I buy ANYTHING of EU origin again. If my fellow countrymen adopted the same policy I would be very happy with any consequence of EU retaliation.

Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

You are right: there’s a lot of spite, and it’s embarassing to watch, like a teenage spat. On the other hand, the fact that the AZ vaccine is cheaper than the others might have a role to play… there’s an enormous amount of money involved, now and in future (assuming this jab will need yearly boosters like flu) and pharmaceutical companies are not des enfants de choeur either.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Silvia Hansel

Follow the money. Every ÂŁ2 dose of AZ vaccine spurned is another ÂŁ20 dose of Pfizer vaccine that has to be bought.

Matt B
Matt B
3 years ago

France’s next president(e) has spoken. Allez Moutet!

Alison Ramage Patterson
Alison Ramage Patterson
3 years ago

Oh my goodness, what a wonderfully written piece! At least three laugh out loud moments.
Just what is needed when living in a country (not France) that can’t organise a vaccination programme!

Simon H
Simon H
3 years ago

Too many cliches for my taste. Particularly around food, a decent meal in France nowadays is a lottery, mostly disappointing sometimes memorable. The grudges are real and getting worse on the part of the French unfortunately. I’ll always extend a hand of friendship, reciprocation in the current febrile environment is often hard won, but still possible.

Mark Leigh
Mark Leigh
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon H

Agreed – couldn’t decide where the article was pitched . I guess it was supposed to be satirical, but tbh it just came across as a bit mean-spirited.

Mildly amusing at best.

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon H

The reciprocation only goes one way. It is demanded of us, but none comes our way. Hilarious that Macron demanded we fund the failing Eurostar, which is totally owned by the French, Cameron having sold them our part of it some time ago, after he has done nothing but insult us. So very happy that Boris sent him on his way emptyhanded.

Steve Wesley
Steve Wesley
3 years ago

A great article, and an equally amusing comments section today, I’m undecided regards the cheese issue though.
In another life I worked in the motor trade, and it was there that I heard what to my mind was the definitive explanation of France and the French:
‘There’s right, there’s wrong, and there’s French.’
Overall it’s not food, wars, sport or even the EU that makes the British bristle with indignation , it’s French philosophers! Poncing about smoking Gauloise cigarettes, wearing berets and looking moody in cafes, droning on about their existential angst …..

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Wesley

French philosophers have a lot to answer for.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Aden Wellsmith

Especially Rousseau, and all those structuralists and post-modernists.

Last edited 3 years ago by Fraser Bailey
Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  Aden Wellsmith

Yes they are always wrong and always up themselves. The vast majority of their work is mindless drivel.

Mike Feilden
Mike Feilden
3 years ago

Anne-Elisabeth vents her spleen over us Brits with such charm and wit it’s a pleasure to be on the receiving end.

Peter Fisher
Peter Fisher
3 years ago

Absolutely brilliant.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
3 years ago

Quick correction: Joan Of Arc was tried and burnt by the French!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

‘We’ provided the firelighters!

Wilson Cotton
Wilson Cotton
3 years ago

As the French professor commented when the law of trusts was explained to him, “I can see that it works in practice, but does it work in theory.”

Steve Wesley
Steve Wesley
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilson Cotton

That is brilliant!

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

Don’t worry the feeling is mutual.
Thank whatever you find holy that the French/EU no longer have any power over us as a now proud independent nation.
Thanks for the garlic and the claret
You can keep the hairy women

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrew Best
Richard Lord
Richard Lord
3 years ago

I suspect that, the way things are going, the British people are about to show France in particular, and Germany, how to do spite. I’m just waiting for the tabloid ‘buy British’ headlines, that we’ve seen in the past. I think that in many ways the French have failed to move on or develop, stifled by bureaucracy. French wine is very nice but, I think, overrated. New world wines have come on leaps and bounds and are better value. South Africa make great fizz, produced using the same method as champagne. English sparkling is great. Would the British cut of their nose to spite their face in order to stuff France? Absolutely.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

‘French wine is very nice but, I think, overrated. New world wines have come on leaps and bounds and are better value.’
This might have been the case 20 years ago, but it no longer applies. 

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

They are stiffled by socialist pension debts. With French pensions topping out at 4 times the state pension in the UK, that means their unfunded pension debts are at similar multiples.
Socialist pension debts in the UK ÂŁ14 trillion. Your share ÂŁ600,000 increasing at 10%+ per year
Go and figure what the consequences are when even Mr Min Wage doesn’t pay in full

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

There’s definitely a grudging sense in both camps that there are certain attributes of the other country that they would rather wish they were possessed of.

It doesn’t help that we’re bang next door to each other and our histories have long been intertwined for both good and ill, and often predicated on one specifically having or gaining the upper hand over the other.

Like so many things in life and in human nature, I suspect our mutual animus is largely born of a similarity that we dare not care to admit and the things that make one better than the other are just an acutely painful reminder to both that they can never be like that in spite of that similarity and with that cosmically cruel proximity that’s always there to rub it in for extra good measure.

Both of us forever condemned, ‘de suivre Les Jones’.

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

London, home to the Beatles 

er – Liverpool!
But perhaps that says something about the two countries too. For the French it’s a tale of two cities, London and Paris. But in the U.K. other cities can be cool too and in their own distinct way.
In France being cool is closely allied to being rich – in the U.K. less so. And it is English street culture that some young french find so appealing. In the U.K. cool, style, even good food – is affordable. In France the less well off shop at Decathlon.

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Yes, I’d assumed that mistake would have brought the scousers out in numbers.Where are they?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

Quietly (and maybe optimistically) planning their next conquest of PSG 🙂

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

The Beatles settled in London & Surrey from 1965 .John Left for New york Around 1972…George Harrison for Oxfordshire, Richard Starkey for Los Angeles.Paul McCartney St.John’s Wood & Sussex

George McLellan
George McLellan
3 years ago

What an amusing and insightful account! Over many years I have observed this cross-channel relationship from the slightly independent perspective of a Kiwi. I really think both the French and the English are incredibly similar in so many ways, which I think explains a lot! I personally love both!

Duncan Cleeve
Duncan Cleeve
3 years ago

Enjoyable and amusing article.
My brother married a French woman by accident, and she made the mistake of telling me I cut cheese incorrectly so now I make sure to cut cheese in the most irritating, (to her), way possible. (I love her really).

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Cleeve

I assume you cut across the brie, or another cheese of similar shape. You got off lightly, Robespierre executed people for that and Dreyfus was sent to Devil’s Island or whatever it was called.

andy young
andy young
3 years ago

“British pragmatism against French theory; British nimbleness against French top-down hierarchy.”
That nails it for me. I’ve been ridiculed for saying this on other sites but it’s the philosophical differences which lie at the heart of such enmities, as it is with so many things in life.
Currently got Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major on the radio; I am now prepared to forgive the French ANYTHING.

Steve Wesley
Steve Wesley
3 years ago
Reply to  andy young

The sublime piano music of Debussy, Satie, Poulenc, and everything by Gabriel Fauré for me.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago

Very good article, but I disagree with the basic premise that the Brits hate the French. We pretend to hate them, but with a great deal of rueful affection and admiration. In many ways we wish we were French, so wonderful is the French lifestyle; so we whinge and mutter but there’s no real rancour.
Their politicians are deeply suspect it is true, but that is so of politicians the world over. Macron and Boris are both good for a giggle, more than can be said about upright but boring Angela. We’ve always helped les francais when the Boche come over the border after all, and without asking or expecting anything in return. What greater evidence of solid amity could there be?

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago

yes, that Up Yours, Delors still rankles”
It was very prescient. The battles that Delors fought and won behind closed doors to create a sclerotic union of bullying socialists have inexorably led the EU to its present paralysis.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

I still think that was the single best Sun headline ever. It has lovely rhythm and rhyme.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

What even better than
GOTCHA! for the Belgrano?

john freeman
john freeman
3 years ago

Once, some bloke won what was a big sum at the time on the football pools. “Bank it, Jim! That’s The Sun’s advice . . .”

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
3 years ago

Sound like my family…

Tony
Tony
3 years ago

Beautiful piece. Merci. Sorry about Agincourt, but we were only breaking the law “in a specific and limited way’.

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony

Agincourt. An away game with a minority of hard core fans turning up. 11 didn’t make it back.

cajwbroomhill
cajwbroomhill
3 years ago

Surely the real suspicion and enmity is not between the people’s of the nations but between their politicos, whose probity usually matches their mutual baddwill.
The “ordinary” people are harmonious in almost every way, in my experience.

Simon Baseley
Simon Baseley
3 years ago

If our vaccination strategy works and we avoid the worse of a third wave and in the wake of that our economy starts to do better than the EU in general and France in particular, I think it’s a fair bet that what we have seen thus far in terms of delaying tactics at the Channel ports will be as nothing to what may then lie ahead.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Baseley

Good Job A lot of Uk Exporters use Felixstowe,or Simply bypass Yerop ,Altogether!

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
3 years ago

Macron is a clichĂ©. Merkel also. Soon to be history. Sad to see ‘The War of Jenkin’s Ear not mentioned.
The Black Knight in Monty Python and the the french bloke on the battlements says it all.

Last edited 3 years ago by Zorro Tomorrow
Rowli Pugh
Rowli Pugh
3 years ago

I have no animosity to the French, but their political elite and in particular,
Monsieur Macron a attient un niveau d’incompetence respective.

Last edited 3 years ago by Rowli Pugh
rick stubbs
rick stubbs
3 years ago

A brilliantly funny historical and cultural romp. As a neutral observer from the “other side of the great herring pond”, I could not agree more with her take on the Brit/French love/hate. More please..

John Smethurst
John Smethurst
3 years ago

According to “1000 Years of ….” the first House of French Couture was the “House of Worth”. Worth was an Englishman.

Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago

Not being British nor French I was able to enjoy the subtle humour of this delightful piece without any hinderances.
Un grand merci, Anne-Elisabeth Mouttet.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
3 years ago

I have given up reading the comments below after about 3 pages as everybody appears to have missed the point. Here we had a humorous article about Anglo-French relations and people appear to be taking umbrage at it. Taking swipes at the EU has become too much of an automatic reaction here.

Christopher Gage
Christopher Gage
3 years ago

Anecdotal I know, but I’ve always admired the French and envy their culture.

Mark Adams
Mark Adams
3 years ago

TrĂšs drĂŽle!

Andrew Crossley
Andrew Crossley
3 years ago

Excellent. For a comprehensive history written from both sides I strongly recommend one of my favourite. Books : ” That Sweet Enemy” by Robert and Isabelle Tombs

Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
3 years ago

in what circumstances were you ever served boiled meat in the UK – unless it was haggis?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

The last public execution in the UK was carried out in 1868. It subsequently became a ‘private’ affair because of the bad order of the spectators.

The French continued to Guillotine in public right up until June 1939. As luck would have it, the last miscreant was a German.

The execution was carried out just after dawn in Versailles, somewhat inconvenient for the spectators coming from Paris as it was June, and dawn is rather early.

No seating was provided and predictably the crowd was somewhat raucous, with the result that all future executions were to be in private, continuing up to 1977.

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Christopher Steward
Christopher Steward
3 years ago

Have we Brits lost our sense of humour? A most amusing article.

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago

The French elite lost an empire in 1815 and has been looking for a role in the world ever since (to borrow a phrase). Hasn’t worked out too well as clearly the EU isn’t going to be France’s new Estate as long as Germany is in it.
Practically every French citizen not living on the Isle de France hates Paris & the Parisians viscerally. We Brits, at worst, merely dislike the French political establishment as a bunch of self-important, corrupt hypocrites. But l’ancien Regime lives on: their political establishment acts as an unaccountable aristocracy that tightly controls the state economic, judicial and administrative machinery.
I think the Brits admire French country people’s commitment to small scale farming, good food and to their traditional rural life. It’s a pity it was only possible because of huge transfer payments from our Exchequer. What happens next is anyone’s guess but if it’s bad, the French will blame us, perfidious Albion. And we will continue to holiday in rural France.

Patrick Buckley
Patrick Buckley
3 years ago

This is brilliant. It had me guffawing with laughter. A talented, satirical writer.

lcarter
lcarter
3 years ago

Stop this nonsense. As an English family we have taken holidays in France for over 40 years and travelled all across the country. It is a beautiful country and the people are wonderful. However, I think Macron has done a disservice to the French people many of whom are my friends. His nonsense regarding the Oxford jab will cause a lot of deaths.
I hope the French people will sort him out at the next election.
Also like millions of my countrymen I have had two jabs of the Oxford vaccine. My advice to my Friends in France is get your jab. You have more chance of getting blood clots flying to Australia than from the jab.
John Carter

Mike Page
Mike Page
3 years ago

Love u, Anne-Elisabeth, I think…. does that help?!

Clara B
Clara B
3 years ago

Thank you Anne-Elisabeth, very illuminating (and made me laugh).

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
3 years ago

Blame the EU for Macron’s failure.

Mark Graham
Mark Graham
3 years ago

Great article, truly perceptive.

eugene power
eugene power
3 years ago

Must admit to being a bit out of date. Can anyone say if whiskey -perrier is still cool ? I was even sneered at for liking pastis.

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago

The French hate the British except when they go to war with the Germans and want us to stop them losing. We wont be doing that again. Considering the amount of blood and treasure the UK has wasted on saving France next time the Germans can have the ghastly place, and good luck to ’em.

Tony Pearson
Tony Pearson
3 years ago

Lovely piece Anne-Elisabeth, made me chuckle a few times. But why wouldn’t les Anglophiles love the Royal Family, especially the Duke of Normandy?

Martin Price
Martin Price
3 years ago

A very entertaining read. Thank you.

Neil John
Neil John
3 years ago

“You may have invented the wrong sort of leaves to excuse your pathetic excuses for proper trains (for which read: French trains);” Really? When the ‘first class’ TGV’s don’t have working toilets, your taking the p.
Travelling from Paris to Rome by SNCF TGV is an experience I have no desire to repeat, UK ‘cattle class’ is cleaner and better maintained.

Last edited 3 years ago by Neil John
Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
3 years ago

In this age of Cancel Culture, all I can say is: “We need more of this!”
But I was “shocked, shocked” to read about “Pitt’s flooding fake assignats to devalue French paper money during the Revolution”. I had no idea! Perfidious Albion indeed!
Really, the art of insult should be developed in the young from an early age.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago

Waterloo,Agincourt ,Twickenham Les Roast beofs ?..Victories Roll on

P B
P B
3 years ago

The French attitude towards the sinking of their navy is bizarre. Churchill gave them the opportunity to fight on or sail to a neutral port for the duration of the war, but they pig-headedly refused. Do the French really think we should have allowed their navy to become a tool of Nazi Germany?

George Bruce
George Bruce
3 years ago

 the sinking of a good chunk of the French Navy at Mers-el-KĂ©bir on 3 July 1940

Sorry, but that is simply not true. One battleship and one tugboat was not a good chunk of the French Navy. France had a large navy. For example when later the French fleet was partially scuttled at Toulon, 77 ships were sunk.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scuttling_of_the_French_fleet_at_Toulon

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 years ago

So it’s got nothing to do with the Second World War when, as every Frenchman or woman ‘knows’, the British hid on their islands while the French led the resistance to the Nazis before defeating them and making peace with the German people.
About twenty years ago the Foreign Office in London received a letter from a French teacher, who wanted to know if a rumour he had heard was true. Someone had told him that the British had fought alongside the French during the First World War. The grotesque French losses that scarred the nation were cause for sympathy. That though wasn’t enough for the French Establishment – they had to lie to their own people in order to denigrate their imperial rival and exaggerate their own role.

Valerie Killick
Valerie Killick
3 years ago

My lovely French daughter-in-law told me recently that she had only learnt a few years ago, that Napoleon didn’t win at Waterloo. They were taught at school that he did. That seems to indicate an inferiority complex.

Last edited 3 years ago by Valerie Killick
polidoris ghost
polidoris ghost
3 years ago

Deep in the French countryside I meet little but kindness: French peasants are little different from English peasants. But Anne, your “elite” are even more obnoxious than ours and that is saying something.

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
3 years ago

I’ve a feeling you will win, provided you can persuade your own ‘country-persons’ to actually take the Sanofi vaccine instead of the Astra Zeneca one, After all, that’s what the entire corona scam has been about since day 1.
Sanofi and the French have been one of the driving forces behind the whole thing. You did design and finance the Wuhan lab to start with as well as start the whole anti hydro-c campaign on behalf of Sanofi and friends. But how will the England hating Macron explain that GSK are there partners?

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeff Andrews
Stephen Baker
Stephen Baker
3 years ago

I think the only intelligent way to regard English – French relations is the same way the French regard the genders: ‘Vive la diffĂ©rence!’ Difference and distance make life more interesting and allow us to see each other in ways we can’t see ourselves. Escoffier would have been just another great chef if he had stayed in France, one amongst many. It is only because he came to England that he was ‘discovered’ and became the founder of modern Haute Cuisine. Charles Worth, the founder of modern Haute Couture would never have been anything more than a shop assistant if he had stayed in England. The difference between English and French also shows up in the asymmetric migration demographics. The numbers are similar but the Brits living in France tend to be older and living in the country; the French living in Britain tend to be younger and living in towns. Re the food debate, I think the most impressive thing about French food is the way it is delivered. The French seem to understand that food can be spiritual nourishment as well as physical sustenance and consequently derive fulfilment from providing it. The service ethic has improved in Britain in recent years but it is still not uncommon to be served by some surly individual who makes it plain they would rather win the lottery and be living in the Bahamas, and that somehow it is the customer’s fault that this has not happened yet. As for Marmite, ‘chacun Ă  son goo!’

roger dog
roger dog
3 years ago

Mais ce n’est pas une guerre!

J Reffin
J Reffin
3 years ago

I can see that the French hate the British with a passion. Sadly, I don’t think the Brits think anything about the French at all beyond a mild appreciation for the wine, cheese and countryside. Sorry.

Mike K
Mike K
3 years ago