April 11, 2007
“Last Chance For France,” cries the London Spectator in a cover story, which means that “tout va bien” in the land of cheese. The Anglo-Saxons have been predicting the end of France since time immemorial, but if I were a Brit I’d worry more about what is taking place in my own back yard and leave the French to their mistresses, their wonderful culture, and the fact that France is a far more civilized country to live in than old Blighty.
I was recently in Washington for a speech, and ended it by saying that the next time someone says something rude about the French they should be reminded that at least the Frogs executed their Fifth Columnists after the war, which is more than we Americans are about to do to the neocons. It got a good laugh. The French, whether one likes them or not, and I do, run rings around the rest of us where social interaction is concerned. To be French is to be well educated and civilized. Two summers ago, in a camp near St Tropez where I had gone jogging, I watched and listened to teenage boys playing a soccer match . What struck me was the lack of swear words between 15- year- olds giving it their all. Compare this with an English pick up game in Hyde Park, where the F-word is the only word one hears, or its equivalent basket ball game in Central Park, and weep.
Better yet, as Theodore Dalrymple writes in the Spectator, “mass public drunkenness as the highest form of entertainment seems scarcely to exist.” French everyday culture is less crass and vulgar than ours, and certainly superior to that of Blair’s Britain. People still take three hour lunches, especially in small towns, women do not walk around with a bottle of water attached to their mouths, and television programs tend to cover books and the arts more than the sexual antics of Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. (Murdoch has yet to do France, hence there’s no Fox over there). Oh yes, I almost forgot. The French trains do not only run on time, they also go very, very fast. The TGV takes me from Lausanne to Paris in two and a half hours, is extremely comfortable and clean, and serves a perfectly good meal while on board. Compare that with the DC shuttle and shed a tear yet again.
Last but not least, the French are not at all parochial. I remember when I was living in Flambertin des Creppieres, a small hamlet west of Paris with an admittedly extremely pretentious name, and listening to two butchers arguing about Camus. They both had obviously read him, but it was their evocation of other writers whom they compared him to which left me breathless. After they finished their wine they shook hands and went back to slicing up chickens and lambs. Just like back in old Miami, n’est pas? And there’s something else, uniquely French where women are concerned. French women are as promiscuous as, say, Americans, Germans or Italians, but with a difference. Not one lady in a hundred would quit the husband she deceives for the lover whom she adores. That to me is what being civilzed is all about.
Which brings me to the French mistress, la reguliere, as she’s called. The Frenchman informs her of everything, state secrets and all. There exists between the two sexes an habitual communication. The French mistress speaks, reflects, decides on every thing, things the most frivolous as well as the most important. But when was the last time you read of a political scandal where the ex-mistress had spilled the beans. It has never happened. When the present front runner, Nicolas Sarkozy, broke up with his wife couple of years ago, she was followed and photographed by Paris Match with her alleged lover. Sarko stayed put with his mistress. Both women stayed as quiet as an Indian tomb. The French press didn’t even try to ask what was going on. It was none of their business, and sixty million French knew it. Giscard, Mitterand and Chirac, the last three presidents, have had more mistresses between them than the Clintons have billionaire Hollywood friends, yet none of them have ever talked, written or gossiped about their relationship with le numero un.
Yes, France is in deep economic and Islamic trouble, but that’s the fault of politically correct politicians. My friend Jean Marie Le Pen is running for the last time but he will not make it because of the united front against him by the rest of the hypocrites running for president. Segolene Royal is shallow, a populist and a phony. Sarkozy I trust less than I can throw him (as he’s very small in stature). Bayrou is an unknown quality who will keep things as they are, and they are not very good where the country’s finances are concerned. Le Pen is the only man who can stop the rot of Arab immigration, but it is not to be. (He will, of course, one day when the you know what hits the fan, be called a visionary and a great Frenchman.) A toute de suite, as they say.