dimanche 6 mai 2007

Camp in the Park

I was in the middle of an international committee a week or so back and, as lunchtime arrived, I chose to let the representatives of the eight countries who were present indulge in their lunch without my participation. We’d all been stuck in a stiflingly hot meeting room for hours and all I wanted to do was to get outside and breathe a little.

It was so nice to be out of that claustrophobic room and, as it was such a beautiful, sunny day, I decided to walk the 15 minutes or so down to the centre of Roubaix and get myself a bite to eat in the Hypermarket. I found myself a nice ham salad sandwich plus something dangerously close to being a real sausage roll and a carton of apple and blackcurrant juice. So far so good.

Obviously, I wasn’t planning on eating in the shopping centre. No, I knew that I had a choice of several park benches in mind. As seems to be the way of things these days, it took me longer to pay than it took me to shop due to only 1 in 3 of the checkouts being in use.

(Why do we put up with this? The only winners are the profiteers who get to employ 33% of the staff they actually need. The staff get more stressed than their wages warrant, the Customers have to wait longer than Customers should ever have to and the biggest insult of all is the advertising angle. They use all manner of enticement to make us come and shop with them and then, when we do, they never seem to have the staff on duty to cater to the successes of their own advertising. These are people who’ll swear blind to you that they’re intelligent… selfish and greedy fuckwits in my opinion).

I digress (as usual!)

I finally got through the checkout and wandered hungrily towards the target benches. Being the solitary creature I seem to have become, I always seek out the bench which is the furthest away from anyone else who happens to be sitting there, with the notable exception that I’d rather be right on the next bench to someone who is clearly pleasant and normal than even within earshot of someone who clearly is not. On this occasion, the park was completely devoid of people. It’s very much an urban type of park. Not grassy. More of a mixture of gravel and leaves with plenty of nice trees, a church at one end and it’s far enough away from the road to avoid too much intrusive traffic noise. It could only have looked more French if there’d been a group of old bods playing pétanque there, as I’m sure must occasionally happen. I settled onto my bench and unwrapped my sandwich. Peace and quiet…. or so I thought.

A few bites in, a local old codger came into view a little way down one of the paths. He looked at least 70 and the only thing about him that made me fix a quick gaze upon him was that he was wearing bright cropped trousers. It just seemed a bit incongruous to see them on an old geezer like that. I returned to my sandwich, giving him no more thought.

A minute or two later, in my peripheral vision, I saw that he’d come to a stop on the path a few yards away from where I sat and my sixth sense knew that he was waiting for me to look up in his direction. I did. He threw me a kindly “Bon appétit”, for which I thanked him with a mouthful of “Merci, Monsieur” and a briefly-raised sandwich. My inner voice was reciting “Don’t you dare stop”. I just wanted a moment or two of tranquillity between meetings. Inevitably, his inner ear didn’t hear my inner voice and, to the sound of my “inner sigh”, over he came and promptly plonked himself on my bench beside me, saying nothing at all as he did so. Why my bench? There were a dozen others.

I’m British and, as such, I have a bloody great “exclusion zone” around me, rather like the Falkland Islands at certain points in their history. This, of course, renders the Lille Metro in the morning rush hour a veritable ordeal and I certainly don’t want people inviting themselves to sit next to me like that. Even worse, rather than simply to sit beside me and stare outwards in parallel, this old twonk chose to sit sideways on the bench, facing himself straight towards me. I was about to slam my sandwich back into the carrier bag and bugger off but a fleeting and apposite memory of my late Dad made me change my mind and I stayed.

Dad was an undisputed expert at talking to impromptu guests in his life like this. In fact, he actually sought out and encouraged situations like this and, being a rampant Francophile with an unceasing desire to practice speaking in French, he’d have relished the opportunity with which I was currently “blessed”. I, on the other hand, don’t need to seek out chances to speak in French – my life is a never-ending chance to speak French. I have little or no choice in the matter.

In a clearly earthy, Northern French lilt, my guest opened the discourse with “It’s a beautiful day, no?”. “Yes”, said I. I immediately felt the need to explain my accent to him. I reckon the last live Brit this bloke had encountered was possibly Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery and I doubt he’d ever had an Englishman try to speak to him in French. I gave him the précis version of my situation and apologised for the mutilation of his mother tongue. I went on to explain to him the nature of my day. All those people from all those countries around the table. I explained to him that the company, one which everyone in France probably knows of, exists in heaps of other places around the World. Hence the gathering. As with many French, he hadn’t realised this. He listened, seemingly interested, but not really saying much. Running out of ideas, I asked him if he’d ever been to the UK. Predictably enough, he’d been to London.

Suddenly, he took the lead in our conversation. “Did you move to France on your own?” “Yes”, I answered. His next question; “Do you live alone?”. Again, “Yes”. His next question; “Are you single?”…….

I said “Yes” as I gathered my things together and calmly stood up. “Better go”, I said…. “All those people from all those countries will be wondering where I am”. I bid him a good afternoon and walked briskly away, feeling very sure that I’d just been given a pretty clear explanation of his bright cropped trousers and his fixed gaze upon me!

Alas, for him, my tastes extend only as far as the female of the species. If I'm going to share my sausage roll with someone, it certainly isn't going to be someone like that. (I ate it later).

Nice to know that I’ve “still got it”, though ;o)

samedi 28 avril 2007

Handbags in Rihour

I’m perpetually tired at the moment and, this week, I seem to have taken to getting off the Metro after work, at 7 or 8pm, at Place de Rihour and walking the 20 seconds or so that it takes to get me to one of my favourite terraces in Lille, rather than actually doing anything structured or valuable with my time. If you read “Bars de Lille – Episode 1”, then you’re already slightly familiar with the terrace in question at The Metropole. It’s very well-placed for “people watching” which, in my current low spirits, is a therapeutic thing to do.

It’s a multi-faceted therapy. On the directly-positive and simplistic level, it gives me the opportunity to enjoy the sight, in an innocent and distinctly non-pervy sense, of some of Lille’s very beautiful women as they pass by. As with every other bloke (and, I imagine, lesbian), my own idea of what constitutes a beautiful woman is entirely unique to me. There are often groups of “young bucks” or ageing golf-tourists at adjoining tables and they invariably crane their necks to follow the sight of some mini-skirt-wearing, fake-titted, overly made-up and ostentatious bimbo with a shitsoo (sic) on a string. I don’t know whether women like that are really attractive or, perhaps, blokes think that they ought to find them so and, therefore, the men go through the motions of the neck-craning, the wolf-whistling and the lewd comments and, for their part, the women presume themselves to need to look that way. Either way, seeing women looking that way has far more of a comedy value to me than anything else. Whilst the golfers and bucks are exchanging obscenities over what “they could do” with her, I’m usually looking in the other direction at some demure, natural, dignified-looking and beautifully, femininely-dressed woman who isn’t struggling so much to stay vertical on her shoes. Is she blonde? Brunette? Redhead? Is she pale? Tanned? Is she slim? Large? Somewhere in between? The answer is, quite genuinely, that I don’t care. She’s elegant, dignified and naturally beautiful and she presents her beauty and femininity to the World effortlessly and, one imagines, quite obliviously. Women like that fascinate me and, if I fantasise at all, it’s about what they are, who they are, maybe how amazing it would be to be to enjoy some time with them – certainly not what I could “do with them”, as the golfers would put it.

People-watching also gives me the chance to see what clothes I ought to think about wearing as, having no female advisor in my life, I’m capable of being pretty clueless in that respect. It also gives me the chance to see, male and female alike, the weirdoes of the World who, seemingly lacking any judgment at all, present themselves in the most unfortunate ways. The males amongst the weirdoes help me to gain confidence that I’m normal after all and that, in comparison with them, I can remain invisible each time it is I who am walking in front of a terrace full of people watchers! Without a word of a lie, there are people out there who, ignoring their bizarre dress codes, don’t even know how to walk in a normal way. I’m not talking about disabled bods – just normal people, with no handicaps whatsoever, who never got to grips with how to walk in a normal manner – in a manner which doesn’t make them look bizarre. Maybe I could start a “walking school”, based on a combination of the principles of comportment, which used to be a part of the coming of age of all English young ladies and the principles of dog training, a stiff jerk on the choke chain each time the subject forgot themselves and reverted to their crazy and attention-drawing gait.

The females amongst the weirdoes reassure me that being without a female partner is not necessarily a completely bad thing. If someone said to me, tomorrow, that they’d found a partner for me, someone with a “heart of gold” who I was “bound to like” as she loves forests, rivers, the seashore and intelligent conversation, just like I do, I’d inevitably be excited and interested at the prospect. If, however, on meeting her, she was shaven-headed, wearing a yellow parachute jump-suit and sported a pierced eyebrow and a tattoo of Justin Timberlake was peeping out from somewhere in her cleavage, I’d lose interest in the first second. I’m afraid that, as old-fashioned as it may seem to some, I like dignity and natural beauty in a woman. To my tastes, a yellow jump suit would always lose in a contest with a long, flowing skirt. Feminine locks would always beat a “right-on” shaven head and, if someone thinks that piercings and tattoos make them or their body more attractive, then their body probably never was and never will be attractive.

On the evening in question, I was sitting on the terrace, people-watching. Beside me, occupying two tables, was a group of 8 ageing golfers from, judging by their accents, somewhere in the Midlands of England. As ever, I had nothing on my table to give me away as being English and, as usual, I had nobody there to talk to so they couldn’t identify me as being a countryman. I’d like to think that they imagined me to be “just another French bloke”, an idea reinforced by the fact that, in the summer, I carry a “very French” satchel-style bag……….. ok, it’s a cocking handbag! Are you happy now? Lacking enough pockets when it’s too hot for a coat, I use a bag like a big gay. Ok? Lots of blokes here in France use a gay bag like I do. I'm assimilating!

After an hour or so of witnessing these has-beens, (probably with wives waiting for them at home), telling excruciatingly boring “golfing trips of yesteryear” stories to each other and making lewd comments about each tart they saw pass in front of the terrace, I was extremely pleased to see that they were ready to leave, never having sussed me out as being English. They stood up, stretched and were about to head for their hotels when, suddenly, there was some noise in the square which drew their attention. Mine too.

There’s a glass pyramid water feature in Place de Rihour. It’s nowhere near on the scale of the Louvre pyramid but it’s a nice little feature all the same. The noise came from that direction. Two thugs, one French and the other clearly an immigrant, had started to fight. They were trying to punch each other but it was clear that, whilst they both had the desire, neither had the skill so not one single punch seemed to be landed. Being unskilled, they tried to kick each other but, even there, their intent outstripped their efficacy. Their plight of ineptitude was exacerbated by some knob who kept trying to keep them apart. He spoilt what could have been a very entertaining moment.

I need to explain something. I’m completely pacifistic and the whole idea of people attacking one another makes me sick to my core. However, there’s a big difference between an attack and a fight. It’s a big difference but it’s a very simple one. In an attack, which I despise, there’s an unwilling party – a victim to the attack. In a fight, there are two protagonists, each as worthless as the other and, to an onlooker like me, there’s a real desire to see the fight develop into whatever extreme it can. Why, as a pacifist, would I want to see a fight get as violent and as definitive as possible? Simple. There’s no contradiction involved. I have nothing but contempt for people who decide that fighting is an appropriate course of action and, as a pacifist, I love the idea that, when two people, each of whom likes the idea of fighting, decide to fight, one or both of them might either be killed, seriously injured or, of course, simply hurt enough to make them unwilling to engage themselves in such savagery in the future. It’s totally pragmatic.

On this particular evening, I was left disappointed. On the one hand, there was a violent French guy, looking like some kind of puny, quiff-sporting, rockabilly relic from some trend which was never anything to do with France and, on the other hand, there was an angry-looking, non-assimilated immigrant with a whole bag of chips on each shoulder. He looked very pissed off to be in France. Even as a pacifist, I’d have been delighted to see either of these vermin hospitalised or, even better, killed in a hail of fists, boots or even bullets. My pacifism and my desires to protect myself and other decent humans from bestiality don’t extend to dross like these savages. The more people like that evening’s "fighters" who are either killed or re-educated as a consequence of their own savagery, the better.

If someone said to me, tomorrow, that there was to be a monthly tournament on the planet whereby all of the countries of the Earth would be invited to submit all of their violent people as challengers on a “fight to the death” basis, I’d be all for it. If there were 300,000 entrants from around the World, then 299,999 would, rightly, be obliterated from our midst during the contest. That would be an excellent gain for humanity. So much less hate, aggression and violence on the planet. Always “to the death”. No rules. Anyone who entered would, by definition, be no loss to decent people. Win-Win. Even the winner would, almost inevitably, be killed in the following month’s contest.

Vaccination for society. Remove the violent dross on a monthly basis and no decent people are even involved in this massively-beneficial development at all. Flawless!

I just need a name for it.

How about “I’m violent; eradicate me (out of here)”?

Ok. Maybe that’s too complicated. Let’s just call it “Scum Cull”.

That has a nice ring to it.

vendredi 20 avril 2007

Monk Fight!

I haven't yet taken the trouble to find the story behind this picture because, half an hour after seeing the picture on the BBC News website, I was still laughing too much to be able to type. It said that he'd been injured in a fight with "rival monks"! Rival Monks!? What next? Bloodied "rival nuns" with a tyre-mark across the forehead and one scratched mammary hanging out? Religion and hypocrisy seem to be heading, ever faster, towards the status of being synonyms, assuming that they've ever been anything else. Is it just me? He wouldn't just have had a bleeding eyebrow if David Carradine (aka Kwai Chang "Kung Fu" Caine) had been about.... he'd have had his fucking arm off ;o)

jeudi 19 avril 2007

Café Méert in Vieux Lille

I practically never use the canteen at the office. I prefer to have a sandwich and see what’s new in the World, courtesy of the BBC News website or, perhaps, I look in on the blog to see what the level, location and sources of interest have been. Other reasons for my not particularly liking the canteen at work include the fact that, were I to fancy something hot to eat, the service system would see me standing in line for up to 10 minutes, waiting to pay whilst my food went tepid in my hands and then, once at a table eating, the buzz of several hundred French voices all around me would leave me needing to ask my tablemates to repeat just about everything they tried to say to me as their French would just get lost in amongst all the rest.

In the outside World, to me, a café of any kind holds very limited appeal. Cups of tea, sugary waffles, big lumps of fancy-looking cake and little chocolate “tourist treats” don’t really amount to “my kinds of things” and the clientele of such places would probably, albeit inadvertently, make me feel uneasy and out of place. Bars and brasseries are much more my kinds of places. Lille, of course, offers plenty of bars and plenty of cafés but, even to a non-café-frequenter like me, it seems clear that there are cafés…… and then there’s Café Méert.

Architecturally, the fascia of the building is impressive and, judging by what I’ve seen of the interior, the incredibly ornate décor continues throughout. My Mum invariably passes an hour or so there each time she’s over here…. usually when I’m safely out of the way at work. She assures me that the quality of the fare is every bit as good as it should be in a café as attractive as this one. Apparently, the patisserie, the chocolates, the coffee, the service and everything else are all a noticeable cut above the rest. I’ll content myself with her word for that and the evidence offered by the photos I took of the Easter window displays a couple of weeks ago.

Café Méert is on Rue Esquermoise in Vieux Lille, 5 minutes’ walk from the Grande Place and 5 minutes’ walk from where I’m typing this.

Business Going Up

I happened to look out of the window whilst on the phone at the office in Roubaix yesterday and, as you see, the building was on fire. Even as I first noticed it, there was already many a siren approaching from various directions and, as much as the second image clearly displays that the fire was really taking hold, they had it under control within about 15 minutes and, despite a bit of damage, nobody was injured and only the specific block concerned was evacuated. I understand that the seat of the blaze was in the Marketing Department but that’s somewhere I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly ventured into so whatever excitement there was happened without changing my day (apart from making me glad that, since I started this blog, I always take my digital camera with me wherever I go).

It made me think of a detail relating to the time I spent in the UK subsidiary. In the UK, every Wednesday, without fail, the fire alarm was tested. Not a good time to be in the smoking room with no carpets and curtains to dampen the noise. Then, every once in a while, the UK fire alarm would sound and seeing everyone climbing out of the window usually signalled the fact that it wasn’t Wednesday and so, out we’d all trot, have a fag and a shiver and then trot back in again, fire drill “successfully executed” – except that nobody EVER did a head count, either as we exited or as we re-entered so I don’t quite know how valid the exercise was. All I think it achieved was to make people totally blasé to the sound of the alarm and get them used to trudging out from time to time with no sense of urgency whatsoever.

Might I suggest some concealed smoke machines for the next UK fire drill?

In contrast, here in France, in the 14 months I’ve worked at that office, I’ve yet to hear the sound of the fire alarm a single time! ….. including, of course, yesterday. :o(

lundi 16 avril 2007

Nicolas & the "R" Word

Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa, as Minister of the Interior, made himself very unpopular with all manner of incongruous, 3rd World, free-loading dross and their ill-informed apologists here in France in late 2005. Offending thick people is never too difficult for an intelligent person and, undoubtedly, he is an extremely intelligent person. How did he perpetrate this “offence” of our “hard of thinking” sub-species’? In the usual way, I’m frustrated to admit. He dared to speak truthfully and, what’s more, he dared to use straight talk. How audacious. His straight talk related to an incident in Clichy, Paris. A notorious shit-hole.

To be fair to our once-lovely planet, I have to qualify this by acknowledging the fact that, in the inhabitable regions of the World, there is no such place as a “shit-hole”, just places frequented or inhabited by “shit-holes” and these places, as a result of the existence and activities of said shit-holes, become deemed, geographically speaking, to be worthy of the shit-hole epithet in that secondary sense – I just thought I’d clarify. If you’re still uncertain, imagine how idyllic a walk in the country can be and then remember when your walk was marred as a result of your having stumbled across a scene where some pea-brained twat-head had dumped his old kitchen units on the edge of a gorgeous forest or, after spending an hour hearing only the voice of your walking-talking, country-loving partner and the odd welcome twitter of birdsong, you hear a distant thudding which grows ever-louder until you realise that some utter, cane-worthy, brain-dead little shite has parked his car in an otherwise wonderful location and, windows open, is playing his brain-dead, ranting, moronic beats as loudly as his speakers can muster.

So Clichy, in respect of my qualification, is not (and never was) a shit-hole in itself. It’s in Paris, a once unquestionably-beautiful and romantic city. No, Clichy just seems that way, like many a quarter in the North of England and all over the (otherwise) civilised parts of the World, as a result of “human” shit-holes being all-too-plentiful there.

Back in late 2005 in Clichy, two criminals had been fleeing from police officers who needed to talk to the criminals about alleged offences with which the criminals were thought, by the police officers, to be implicated. Obviously, not being the least bit interested in so-called Political Correctness myself, I justify my use of the word “criminals” (to those out there who need it to be explained) by the uncontested fact that the criminals were fleeing police officers. Non-criminals have no need whatsoever to flee from European police officers, whatever the colour or creed of those police officers might be. Colour is irrelevant. Criminality is the issue.

So, in their plight, these two aspiring brain surgeons looked for a “safe hide-out”. The establishment their “brains” led them to enter was an electricity sub-station. You know the kind of place. Usually a dull, insignificant little concrete edifice with nothing to distinguish it from any other shed whatsoever….. oh, apart from the fact that they’re invariably protected (or, rather, we are) by tall barbed wire fences, firmly-locked doors, often no windows and, then, their “trump card”. They tend to sport gaily-coloured signs displaying happy slogans like “Danger of Death” and such like. A minor detail? Not to me.

But, then, I’m not a fleeing criminal. I haven’t studied the minutiae of the incident so well that I know whether or not these criminals were sufficiently adept in written French to allow them to understand a phrase like “Danger de Mort!” but, if they weren’t, then they embodied the folly of allowing people to reside in Europe who don’t even possess the rudimentary building blocks required to “make a go of it” as an immigrant anywhere – mastery, to a reasonable level, of the language being one of the more crucial of those rudimentary blocks. At the same time, I have to wonder if language was even an issue in their “slight error of judgment” in their flight as I can’t help remembering, from my albeit infrequent sights of them, that “Danger of Death” signs seem invariably to feature a graphical representation of some kind, usually anything from a zigzag zap deal, to a skull & crossbones to a picture of a man holding a wire whilst his testicles explode. No, I suspect that, if these criminals were illiterate, then they may have compounded their woes by being as dumb as dumb ever gets too, just for good measure.

So the police finally caught up with them, presumably guided to their haven by the curious smell of broiled liver in the air. To the “hard of thinking”, this whole episode was a manifestation of police brutality and intransigence. Even racism. Obviously, when the story is explored with a brain or two added into the mix, the conclusions are much more realistic. Two very thick and possibly illiterate criminals lost their lives as a result of their own criminality, combined with their own stupidity. I can’t help adding a quick “So what?” to the end of the story. If we already live in a World where the demise of thick criminals is a bad thing, then the World is in a hopeless mess.

The reaction of the “less than bright” peers of these two critters, (or should that be "fritters"?), was not sombre reflection and a stark realisation that there must be a better way to live their lives than their persisting in being ill-educated and lawless no-hopers as their smouldering friends had been. No. The decision of these people was that an appropriate reaction would be to burn cars and attack police officers. Yeah, that’ll fix the whole situation, won’t it? There followed several weeks of savagery of this nature. This seemed particularly relevant to me as it all started at precisely the same time as I was starting the interview process in relation to my proposed move to France. I found it more than a little off-putting but I consoled myself with the fact that, whatever was happening wasn’t, in the main, being perpetrated by French People. Ok, I realised that, as in England, France’s indigenous thickheads tend to see something positive in the emulation of the lifestyles and linguistics of the lowest incoming denominators and, of course, there was many a genuinely French chav involved in the riots but small-minded dross, of all persuasions, is being bred by slightly older small-minded dross all over the World. The worthless shit-heads of France are no better or worse than their counterparts in Britain, America, Russia, Australia, India, Brazil and everywhere else.

Sarkozy’s “crime”, as I mooted, was to talk, as a politician, about this situation of savagery and rioting, in similar parlance to that being used in bars and households by the real French all over France at the time. He used the “V” word, “voyous”, which translates as something near enough to the word “thugs”. The French and the World's media could probably have coped with the “V” word as it was clearly difficult to argue against but then, now famously, he went on to use the “R” word – “racailles”.

To the tenderfeet of Political Correctness, the “R” word took things to a new level. I guess, to the etymologists amongst us, the word “racailles” seems to look like “rascals” and, were that the case, it would have been an alarmingly inadequate way to describe the violent hatred pouring from the shit-holes of France at the time. No, thankfully, the word translates, unequivocally, to “scum”.

How much more reassuringly-realistic do politicians ever get? I don’t have any transcripts of speeches to hand but he let rip. In the bars and homes of decent people up and down France, jaws must have dropped. He went on to say that, in a future France in which he would play a leading part, he would take a Karcher, you know, those pressure hoses you hire when you want to clean your patio and he would sweep clean the streets of a certain area of France which had seen yet more savagery. The Karcher tag still sticks with him, the best part of two years later, as does the thoroughly justified “R” word. He also dared to suggest that our feeble legal systems in Europe should be changed as his opinion was that there was something unpleasant and unacceptable in the fact that a criminal was freed by an inordinately-lenient judge, only to go on to murder a woman. I don’t even feel inclined to offer details of this crime as to do so would be to suggest that it was some kind of an extraordinary occurrence in Europe, where judges long-since lost the plot as regards what they’re there to do. This kind of "murder caused by PC judge” is all too common and any politician who speaks out against “learned idiots” like this can only be good for those of us who live our lives as the potential victims of those judges’ stupidity.

As you may know, Sarkozy is now in a four-horse race for the Elysees and, if common sense and French values prevail, then he seems to be France’s next President and that’s a superb development for France and a much-needed lesson for many other European countries. Europe is in desperate need of realistic politics after a decade or more of self-destructive nonsense.

The other contenders are;

1) Ségolène Royal, an ever-gaffing so-called Socialist whose enduring campaign achievement has been to add to her own image of hopeless naivety with every campaign phrase she’s uttered. Even if she’d been a better politician, she still represents a nightmare scenario for France. At a crucial point when France needs to get really firm in order to protect its identity, a weak and naïve President with soft policies on immigration and crime is “really not too good an idea”. Bye-bye, Baby.

2) François Bayrou. Apparently a Liberal, this guy makes Charles Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown look like they had some policies and, as an encore, he makes Ming Campbell appear to be charismatic. Do me a favour, Frank.

3) Ahh… and then we have the fifty years of political guile of Monsieur Jean-Marie le Pen of the Front National. This guy is so astute and so in tune with real French sentiments that, as much as he’ll probably arrive in 4th place, (as opposed to 2nd in the last election), his legacy will likely be the cherry on Nicolas Sarkozy’s cake. The reason for this is both sensible and stupid in equal measure. Sensible because I imagine that even le Pen himself realises that, as much as France would like to see many of his policies espoused, it’s impossible to superimpose a FN President over the sorry state of World politics at the moment. Stupid because World politics in 20 years WILL embrace people like le Pen as they will be realised to be the only choice in the face of the scourges of regression that will increasingly face up against our hard-won progressive societies (see London, July 7th 2005 if you don’t yet get the point) For the moment, people like le Pen and his equivalents abroad are seen as anything between curios and bullies. Sadly, the shaven heads, boots and flag-waving of many parties who seek to defend their countries’ cultures at the moment get in the way of the messages so they are largely viewed as being “too dangerous” to vote for in many countries but that sentiment is brittle here in France.

All of the rest of the candidates are just making up the numbers. Greens, Communists and other such short-sighted idiots.

In the last elections, Monsieur le Pen came 2nd and, flying full frontal in the face of the basis of democracy, thousands of young "French" thick people (largely not French, of course) marched the streets in protest. Protest against what? Just as today, many candidates had put themselves and their policies forward and the French people voted. Le Pen came second. This was never something to protest against. It was 2 messages wrapped up together.

The first message was one to be revelled in – in France, the French had the right to vote for someone way off the “normal” path and, like it or not, their votes were of huge significance. Try playing out that scenario in some of the non-European, non-democratic shit-holes of the World. The candidate would simply have been murdered long before getting the chance to come second in any election.

The second message was much more immediately significant. Huge numbers had voted for the specific policies of the Front National. They were not coerced into doing so. They chose to. They didn’t vote for him for his sex appeal. They voted for him because then, as now, he promised (and they are 100% right to believe him) that, were he to be in power, the real French people would be put before all others in terms of jobs, welfare and all manner of things. He would, of course, be being nothing but democratic to follow such a tack. The single, defining essence of democracy is that, if there are more people who want "A" than there are who want "B", then "A" is what everybody gets. It's a philosophy founded on the idea that the majority will rule (which is why South Africa had so many problems in the last few decades as, there, the minority ruled for a short while and some people didn't seem to like that idea.... there). I, as an Englishman, have no right whatsoever to expect France to shape herself to my needs and, if I had bizarre ideas of invisible friends and protectors floating around in the ether above my head all day, I couldn't sensibly expect the French to smile upon my desire to build special places to cater to my "belief needs", let alone to play a part in funding such buildings. I am in the minority and I chose to be by moving here, just as all other first generation immigrants chose to live, for themselves and for all their current and future descendants, as minorities by choosing to move. That they whine about inequalities once they arrive is simply cretinous and completely unjustifiable, whatever inequalities they might think they suffer from. The consequences to me, to them and to their litters are for me and for them to bear - not for France to cater to. Majority rule is the cornerstone of democracy and, if anyone doesn't like the idea of minorities being treated as secondary, then a) they shouldn't move to a foreign democratic country and b) they shouldn't push for democracy back where they belong either unless, of course, they like the idea of it if they, themselves, are in the majority and, therefore, are on the winning team. "Cherry-picking". We immigrants do not have the rights that our hosts have themselves and it's completely correct that we do not, wherever we chose to come from.

As an immigrant myself, I’d correctly and justifiably be excluded from many of the benefits le Pen offers in return for the vote but, even if his policy would be to kick me right back to the UK, I'd take that fate graciously and I’d smile on my way back to Blighty at the thought of all those other immigrants being rightly asked to leave at the same time as me so as to protect French interests and culture. The difference would be that I’d be going back to a country which dragged itself up from the squalor of the Middle Ages, through hard work, ingenuity and leadership, to become a country of some repute (for a time). Many of my fellow deportees would be going back to shit-holes which were, remain and will always be shit-holes. Countries which, through lack of effort and organisation or a ridiculous obsession with one or other type of magic, have consistently made so little progress, have developed so little (their own fault) that the greatest wish of their citizens is, enduringly, to be somewhere else! Great contribution to humanity, losers. You"ve collectively owned a whole country since time immemorial and yet you still can't make anything out of it and need to become a burden on someone else's country just to avoid meeting your own excrement flowing down the "street". Pathetic.

My idea of aid to countries of that nature would be one of two options.

1) Give them loads of illustrated history books to provide them with a headstart by showing them how to find and extract metal from ores, then how to make steam engines, threshing machines and such like - things the more energetic and organised countries had to work out for themselves. I'd say that this type of aid would be a phenomenal gift to give with no major dent to the recipients' pride. Who knows? A couple of hundred years later, the recipients, from that headstart, might have taught themselves how to build canals and bridges and how to educate, how to regulate their populations in relation to their resources. That the World is not flat and how to prove it with a few metres of string and 3 pebbles or, alternatively, how to prove it with two wooden sticks on a sunny day.

2) Simply offer to run those countries for them, for a "small" consideration. That way, they get the infrastructure for next to no effort whatsoever and the people with the skills make lots of money and educate the aborigines along the way.

Win-win (until, as in the past, the huge benefits get taken for granted and the educators begin to be resented by the under-achievers) See my blog "Funny Plus" for more details.

No, Europe can’t cope with radically culturally-defensive politics yet as a result of PC stupidity still doing its sordid and degenerate works and so, whilst the stalwarts will still use their votes on the FN, large numbers of people in France who wish to God they could start the process of retrieving their country at this election, realise that they have to allow the mainstream politicians to continue to allow things to get ever worse, year on year, until, as is amply demonstrated by history, there comes a point where the true people of a country, lacking the power of voices they thought to have been elected to speak for them, have to speak for themselves. Shop windows seem to be the traditional things to break first in these circumstances – it builds from there.

This time, many a heart which votes for le Pen, will, by the time it has a pen in its hand, vote for Sarkozy as a far safer bet for victory. They are, of course, correct. Sarkozy will win. Nobody else can.

I just hope he can live up to what he’s led us, the Europeans, to expect of him and, if he can, I sincerely hope that he breeds many a “do-alike” in other civilised countries.

If you want to avoid seeing thugs being voted into your parliament (if you have one) then you’d better hope the same.

samedi 14 avril 2007

Speak Up, Mr President

We can't quite make out the message ;o)