When comparing France and the UK, the biggest mistake is to compare things and not relations between things. For instance, anyone can see that beer is cheaper in England than in France. But what conclusion can be drawn from this statement? “Oh, what a wonderful country this is, where you drink a pint for £3!” Such a comment seems to me a little shallow… It would be more interesting to complete the description, for example, by adding that wine in England is more expensive than in France. It highlights the cultural differences between a brewing country and a wine-growing one. But we could even go further and recall some figures about alcohol consumption: in 1961, 4.5 litres of pure alcohol was consumed per inhabitant in the UK, while 17.7 in France; in 2001, the numbers are respectively 8.5 and 10.7. These data show that the alcohol drinking practices tend to converge on both sides of the Channel – not only in quantity but also in quality: indeed, British people are steadily drinking less beer and more wine, while in France the share of beer in total alcohol consumption is slowly rising. Conclusion? Despite strong idiosyncratic traditions and some real differences, cultural practices in the two countries have gradually become closer. Continue reading
Contrairement à ce que pourraient penser les mauvais esprits, il y a bien eu un « Sarkozy effect » en Angleterre. Ç’a été en avril 2008 : après une visite du couple présidentiel à Londres, les commerçants de la ville ont connu un boom des ventes de chaussures à talonnettes. Le Daily Telegraph, qui a relaté en son temps ce glorieux phénomène, en avait déduit que Sarkozy avait décomplexé les nombreux Anglais qui, tout comme lui avec la belle Carla, se sentent honteux en public auprès d’une compagne plus grande ; désormais, ils n’hésitaient plus à se rehausser de quelques centimètres au moyen de cette quasi-prothèse. En anglais, on appelle « Cuban heels » (« talons Cubains ») les talons pour hommes : il est vrai que cette dénomination est particulièrement bienvenue et que, avec les Ray-Ban et la Rolex, elle complète très bien l’attirail du latin lover m’as-tu-vu, sentimental et vaguement alcazaresque qu’incarne notre président. Continue reading
For some months now, a certain Quilgars has been spitting out his venom on the Internet and has regularly published satiric articles about British current affairs on his blog, in French and English alike. With a rare dishonesty, this disgusting Frog got into the habit of making completely irrelevant remarks about our country’s politics, economics, culture and life style, and through columns, letters and anecdotes has been expressing his point of view on Britain – a country he does not apparently know and can never know, given the natural limitations of the French brain. He has pushed ignominy to the point of vandalising one of our greatest poems by calling his blog “Oh, to blog in London!,” thus showing his complete disdain for English Romantic poetry. Obviously, the IQ of this wannabe Robert Browning does not even equal half that of one of Sir Peter Viggers’ ducks.
But who is this pretentious scribbler? Continue reading
On my father’s side, we were rather germanophiles. As with a lot of families after the war, mine was enrolled in the great crusade for the French-German reconciliation decided by De Gaulle and Adenauer in the sixties. Then a great number of cities were twinned with German’s, and that is how my father and his two brothers were sent regularly to Schleswig-Holstein to learn the language of Goethe and Schiller and spend their holidays with yesterday’s enemy. Much later, when at secondary school I had to choose my first foreign language, my father insisted on German, but my mother, who unfortunately didn’t share his weakness for Germany, imposed English. Continue reading
The greatest disaster to happen to stereotypes about French people is the election of Nicolas Sarkozy at the presidency of the Republic on May 2007.
Until now, the French could pretend that they were the most refined people of all, that France was the country of art and good taste, that the French spirit, nourished by both the Cartesianism and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, enlightened the darkness of the world – and, until now, other countries could pretend to believe this pretty fairy tale. Continue reading