Nationalist Francophobia

With anti-European sentiment running high at the moment, it really should come as no surprise to find that social networking sites such as Facebook are vast repositories of such views.

(Or should that be suppositories?)

However, some comments really stand out, such as this one (on an English Nationalist page) which tackles the current hot topic of Sarkozy and Merkel trying to shore up the Euro:

  Sarkozy is keeping up the famous French tradition of collaborating with the Hun.

Looking at the writer’s profile, they appear to be well-educated but there’s so much wrong with what they say, that I have to say that whoever awarded them the degree they claim to possess needs fucking sacking.

In one short sentence, they manage to cram in so much xenophobic feeling that you can almost smell the bigotry.

A 10 minute car journey from where I live will take you to a disused quarry where 27 French resistance fighters were executed by a German firing squad. Yes, of course there were French collaborators, but there were also many, many brave men and women who tried to keep France free and make life difficult for the occupying Germans.

Then there were the majority of ordinary people who neither resisted or collaborated but who just tried to get on with life as best they could whilst surrounded by deprivation and the constant reminders of the horrors of war.

People like this Facebook poster seem to forget that one of the main reasons that the Germans never invaded Britain was a purely geographical one.

Britain is an island and this was what saved us from being overrun like France was.

However, if Hitler had been successful and invaded us, then I have no doubts whatsoever that along with British resistance fighters, there would have been British collaborators.

The Nazis did, in fact, occupy British soil during the Second World War – the Channel Islands.

And yes, there were collaborators there, too – British ones.

Indeed, Facebook (and the same source) offers yet more anti-French ‘goodies’ which have emerged since I broke off writing this entry.

Here are a few examples:

"France; a beautiful country inhabited by swine…."

"The biggest trouble with France is it is completely overrun with the French."

"Lol I love France, just can’t take the arrogance of its inhabitants!!"

"I’m pro English, not anti-French. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. hang on a minute – that’s the same thing, isn’t it? LOL"

"I have just started using the French version of Twitter.
"Its exactly the same except it retweets really quickly.:-)"

My…they’re a fucking riot, aren’t they?

And so self-congratulatory and amused by themselves.

Well, having lived here for nearly 2 years, I can quite honestly say that the French we’ve met have been nothing but friendly, kind, helpful and welcoming.

Still, that’s some English Nationalists for you…

Xenophobic, intellectually-stunted and petty-minded.

 

english-bulldog-dog-muzzle-leather-dog-muzzle-bulldog_LRG

Or, to put it rather more succinctly, shit for fucking brains.

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It lives!

After 3 months without internet access at all, and the previous 8 months being a miserable crawl using a 3G dongle that made the days of 56K dialup seem almost fucking halcyon in comparison, we now have broadband here in the deepest wilds of the Mayenne.

Sure, it’s only 2MB, but it’s a very reliable and consistent 2MB and comes as part of an Orange ADSL package that gives us the interwebs, unlimited national and international VOIP phone calls and French TV for a reasonable price.

We finally moved into our house last Friday and this coming Friday marks the beginning of our second year here.

We can’t decide whether the past year has flown by or we’ve been here forever.

Regrets about leaving the UK?

Absolutely fucking none.

The hardest thing is leaving the people we love behind – family and friends – but we’ve been back to the UK twice, are going at least twice this year and have had visitors with more to come.

The continued existence of this blog was never in question and, rest assured, it will be regularly updated with the usual mixture of comment, music reviews and reports from France on what we’re up to.

I’d thought about creating separate blogs for these categories but decided against it as I’d rather put my energies into the writing rather than organise several blogs.

I’m back.

An English Democrat gets his wish

Well, he must have his own private fucking genii because the moronic EDP motherfucker who seemed to want to see a bit more ‘get up and go’ in evidence on the streets of the UK certainly got his wish today.

School pupils as young as 14 decided to take the day off school and protest against the hike in student tuition fees and the involvement of the Lib Dems in all of this.

Fortunately, most of the protests passed off peacefully, although as I’ve just seen on the local London BBC regional news program tonight, it got a bit fraught in the capital – particularly around Whitehall. Indeed, as I write this, I’ve just seen a report from a ‘kettled’ area where a bus shelter has been set on fire. Earlier, steel barriers were thrown at police lines and an isolated police vehicle was cut off by protesters and vandalised.

Even worse, I’ve just seen Lenny Henry – surely one of the most overrated UK comedians of all time – on the One Show cracking a joke that the protests at least meant that students had stopped eating Doritos, put their trousers on, turned off Trisha and gone out to do something.

So what about the 14 year old school kids kettled in Whitehall while you’re in a nice cosy studio, Lenny? Pleased to see them go out and do something instead of that boring old schoolwork – like bunking off school and getting kettled, perhaps?

Cunt.

And speaking of cunts…

Who knows, perhaps the EDP shithead who wanted to see a bit more UK street action has a son or daughter kettled at this very moment in Whitehall!

It’s possible, as I understand that the party has a bit of a presence in Kent, and in its towns such as Dartford, so it must be easy enough to nip up to the capital’s streets where ‘guts were being displayed’ today.

Although it’s easy enough to mobilise large numbers of people – mobile phones, Twitter, Facebook, etc – when the various groups of school pupils got to the protest, many of them interviewed seemed upset that what they had intended to be a 100% non-violent event had been hijacked by certain elements who were intent on violence.

And there’s the danger.

When you’re 14, 15, 16, you’re not always aware that you might be being manipulated and your enthusiasms subverted by people whose aims are rather different to yours. That’s not a criticism, it’s just part of being young, and manipulation is manipulation, whether it’s by anarchists or record company executives. To many people, the young are fair game.

They certainly were today.

I’m not totally without sympathy with the broad thrust of the protesters today. After all, I benefited from a cheap degree with no tuition fees, but then I’ve also seen a blind dogmatic rush towards degrees for everybody at any cost by the last three Labour governments. This created an unsustainable demand on public money for cheap university education which we now simply cannot afford. And that’s another inevitable and inherent problem with being 14 or 15; a failure to appreciate that money will only stretch so far (after all, you don’t have to earn the fucking stuff), such as when you ask your parents for a new pair of £100 trainers. 

So, Mr Englsih (sic) Democrat, I don’t know whether your child’s shivering its arse off inside a police kettle in Whitehall at this very moment, but someone’s child certainly is.

Quite a few of them in fact.

Maybe you should be more careful what you wish for…

Getting wood with Graham Norton

Hoorah!

The wood we ordered arrived yesterday afternoon – and not a day too soon.

We had enough wood left for one night’s fire and then it would have been the Calor gas heater which isn’t too effective – especially with some one degree nights forecast.

You buy wood here in cordes and steres. Apparently a stere is a cubic metre of wood, and there are three steres to the corde. We ordered two cordes which now looks like this:

P1010365

Two hours earlier it was just a heap on the drive…

Firewood here is almost always oak or beech, although chestnut is also available. Personally, I couldn’t give a flying fuck if we got a lorry load of teak if it was cold and we needed a fire!

Whilst sitting waiting for the wood man I saw a trailer for the Graham Norton Show.

I have nothing whatsoever against anyone of any sexual orientation or gender bent – as long as nobody gets forced into anything they don’t want to do or to which they are mentally incapable of consenting – but Graham Norton really pisses me off. I know a few gay people very well and they don’t camp around or bitch like Norton, so why do some high profile gays seem unable to appear without exhibiting this stereotypical behaviour?

What Norton seems to be is a grotesque caricature – not a million miles away from the camp, bitchy, mincing homosexuals that Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick were portraying as Julian and Sandy in ‘Round the Horne’ in the 1960s.

The big difference is that Julian and Sandy were far more amusing and infinitely more subtle.

Does Norton piss gays off?

I’d like to know.

Che’s dead

Here in strike-torn France the whole situation seems rather bizarre.

Out here in the sticks we obviously don’t get any mobs of disaffected students torching cars but we are seeing a few signs of the strike action biting.

I managed to fill the car up last Friday and a good job too, as when we went shopping yesterday the filling station at the Pouance Super U supermarket (our nearest source of fuel and groceries) seemed to be closed when it’s usually open.

With rural areas here being large and empty, it’s a 10km drive to Pouance so merely driving there to see if there’s any petrol is a gamble with a 20km round trip – a few of those and you soon get through what’s in the tank. So, we’re keeping driving to a minimum which is why we went panic buying shopping yesterday.

We’re now pretty well stocked up for about a fortnight or so and bread (nearest baker’s is a 5km drive away) isn’t even a problem as we have plenty of flour and yeast for the breadmaker.

Watching France 24 – an English-speaking satellite TV channel – I’m struck by how many students and also just kids seem to be just pitching in during the rioting and just generally behaving badly.

The main problems here, however, lie with workers at the fuel depots, ports and refineries, as well as the lorry drivers and it’s quite a shock to see militant socialism manifesting itself here after living in the UK and watching it decline dramatically to almost zero.

All the protests and industrial action are aimed at Sarkozy and the current action in resisting the increase of the retirement age here from 60 to 62 just seems an excuse to test him and his government. No-one really seems to like him and I’ve just heard that 71% of the French people support the strike action.

My position?

Fuck it.

I can’t say that I’m too fussed about it. It’s not really my quarrel after all, although I do admit to feeling mildly annoyed when I watch protestors carrying banners with the image of Che Guevara.

Tell you what, live for a year in North Korea and come back feeling positive about socialism and I’ll buy a Che t-shirt…

Socialism doesn’t fucking work and Che Guevara is dead.

End of.

Missing musings with Merlot

Seeing as we’re not exactly rushed off our feet here, getting up is a leisurely and fairly late affair.

The alarm usually goes off at 9.30 during the week and the first job is to put the coffee machine on so that a 4-mug pot of Colombian can be consumed as soon as possible.

Then it’s usually coffee and cigarettes with BBC1 ‘Breakfast’ on, so we can get the headlines in the UK and in the region we left.

Yes, I know exactly what a puddle of utter arse gravy ‘Breakfast’ is, but this morning it surpassed itself.

Between about 9.40 and 10.10 (French time, so knock an hour off if you’re in the UK – and if you’re in the US do whatever the fuck you want as you normally do anyway) there were three what can only be called advertising slots for:

  • A ‘Riverdance’ in Beijing DVD plugged by its principal lead dancer – whose name escapes me
  • Some dodgy singer warbling on about Aretha Franklin in a song from her new album – whose name escapes me
  • Some dodgy singer touring the UK singing Hollywood songs – whose name escapes me

Now, whilst I can see what the guests and the various organisations and people behind them get from these plugs on the show, what does the BBC get?

I assume these people get paid to appear, in which case it’s fucking doubles all round for them, isn’t it?

However, even if they do it for free then they at least get the plugs.

Do they pay the BBC for the publicity? I doubt it – unless it’s brown paper bag time involving BBC execs and artistes’ agents – but if they do pay a fee then that’s advertising revenue being generated and is really no different to advertising the VW Polo or Andrex toilet paper, in principle.

However, whether the BBC gets paid or not, it’s still advertising and if it’s for free, then why not fucking charge for it and defray some of the costs and reduce the licence?

If it isn’t for free then why not advertise cars, nappies, funeral plans or baked beans?

Whether it’s a new book, play, TV series, film, tour, album or show the BBC seems to bend over backwards to publicise it and that, as far as I’m concerned, is advertising.

Or am I missing something here?

Given that the majority of the budget of Universities and other higher education bodies consists of staffing costs, why not drastically reduce the length of vacations and thus make 3 year courses last only 2 years?

At a single stroke, tuition fees for a degree course would then be reduced by a third, making any future hikes in tuition fees unnecessary in the immediate future and more affordable in the long term.

Or am I missing something here?

Here’s something I didn’t miss.

Fancy a little jaunt over to France? There’s a music festival on in Le Mans next month and of particular interest is one of the acts towards the bottom of the bill:

P1010354 (2)

(Written with the aid of a bottle of Merlot whilst waiting for some real bacon to grill…)

The success of failure…the failure of success

Language is an amazing thing…

…whether it’s your own with all the expressive power and beauty that you can summon up in order to communicate or a foreign language that you’re trying to come to grips with.

After 7 months here in France, it’s getting slowly but steadily easier to both understand spoken French and to speak it ourselves.

I find the whole French language ‘experience’ very rewarding and today was great, with an hour-long chat with our neighbour, totally in French, and then arranging a delivery of firewood with M. Thireau at Renaze when I also had to give him directions to our place, again all in French.

Obviously, I’m still exposed to English (we’re not so immersed in the culture that we’re conversing in French at home, and the Sky Box carries all the usual English-speaking channels) and the few ex-pats that we have dealings with – we didn’t move here to get involved in some sort of British enclave – give us a chance to chat in our Mother Tongue from time to time.

However, after intermittently watching British TV here for a few months, I feel forced to ask, what the FUCK has happened to the English language?

In particular, what the FUCK is it with all this ‘heart and soul’ and ‘with passion/passionate about’ shite?

It seems that almost everyone who does anything has done, is doing or will do whatever it is with all their ‘heart and soul’ or that they’re ‘passionate’ about it.

It doesn’t matter what it is, there’s always this self-promoting, self-justifying cack which really doesn’t mean anything after even superficial analysis.

I’ve even heard it justifying total failure where it’s used as some sort of excuse – ‘well, I was really passionate about it’ – as if simply wanting to do something was some sort of key to success. What about skill, talent, practice or self-discipline, for fuck’s sake? 

Everyone, from an X-Factor contestant to a Commonwealth Games competitor, puts their ‘heart and soul’ into their efforts and says so with monotonous regularity  – but how else should they approach their endeavours if they’re serious about gaining success?

But it’s not just that these once valid but sparingly-used expressions of supreme effort and mental dedication have lapsed into cliché – they’re now used to justify lacklustre and mediocre achievement and even abject failure.

Fuck me…I can just about tolerate these expressions from people who clearly make an effort – it’s just lazy speech – but when it’s some obviously talentless twat in a TV talent show then it’s a bit more than just linguistic sloppiness – it’s self-delusion, as they clearly mean it.

Personally, I find it somehow emblematic of a generation, sapped of ambition through a culture of tolerance towards the average and mediocre, which now believes that merely stating that an effort has been made is the same as actually making an effort.

Increasingly low expectations in society  have robbed people of the ability to self-criticise and self-evaluate, with the result that even complete failure can be judged as some sort of success as long as the ‘passion’ was there or that one’s ‘heart and soul’ were in it.

I can clearly remember being told by my parents and teachers that as long as I did my best then it was no shame if I failed, but it seems that today it’s sufficient just to state that you did your best, even though no real effort was made. Thus the individual is taught to deceive himself in a misguided attempt to insulate him from failure.

But it goes even deeper than this.

Decades of deception on the part of successive governments and education experts have created a myth – the myth that no matter what background and/or intellectual capacity an individual has, he or she can be equipped to transcend these specific and often fixed limits and become enabled to achieve success. In essence, it’s a very laudable aim – but impossible to attain unless you lower your sights and redefine success.

A prime example of this can be found in the well-documented practice by some primary schools a couple of decades ago of banishing the competitive element from events like sports day. All participants were considered achievers and given a certificate regardless of whether they’d come first or last.

No-one lost.

But no-one won.

Those who came first were deprived of any sense of achievement and those who came last were deceived into thinking that they’d achieved equal placing with the winners.

Given that these children then entered a competitive society upon leaving school, many of them were ill-equipped to deal with competitiveness in the wider arena of work and other social situations.

(Nowadays, of course, we’re doing the same thing but with university students and Media Studies degrees…)

With educationalists seemingly given carte blanche over the last 50 years or so and government attempts at social engineering (admitted by those responsible in the last three Labour governments of the last 13 years) seeking to introduce equality across the socio-economic strata defined by ethnicity, gender, religion, race, income, environment and education, the British public was sold a monstrous lie – the lie that everyone could be a winner. In purely Darwinian terms this is a patent impossibility and, within the complex social structures of human society, pure fantasy.

Yes, equality of opportunity is a worthy goal, but only within very broad limits. Taking a metaphor from the school sports day example above, you can produce equal placings in a 100 yard dash if you handicap the faster runners with a time or distance penalty, but would those results have any real meaning either to the runners themselves or the doting parents?

Indeed, you could just dispense with entering potential winners in the race and thus ensure that some of the potential losers won – and that’s just what happened when the concept of ‘positive discrimination’ began to manifest itself in job selection, and shortlists and quotas began to specify that only certain groups of people would be considered for certain posts. Thus, those with a proven track record of success or obvious potential were often denied access to certain positions. So, once again, success was left unrewarded and the mediocre – and occasionally the failures – elevated to jobs beyond their skill sets.

Even within government itself, failure appears to be rewarded, with serial incompetents such as David Blunkett and Lord Fondlebum being given new cabinet posts after serious lapses of judgement and after a suitable period of time. Lesser figures in national and local government, finance, the Civil Service and a wide variety of public services seem to be able to escape accountability with impunity and, even when they are unable to continue in their job, often benefit from substantial severance payments and generous pension deals.

Naturally, the media plays a part in this celebration of the mediocre…

On one TV channel you can watch a documentary about the British airmen who fought in the Battle of Britain who really did put their ‘heart and soul’ into what they did, and often lost their lives in the process. Although I don’t doubt that their mental state must have been in turmoil, to say the least, prior to scrambling, nevertheless they just went ahead and flew off to an uncertain fate and possible death.

However, on another channel you can watch the day to day work of a haulage company, Eddie Stobart. I’ve just seen an extract involving the trucking of a load of cream cakes to Tesco in Didcot with the driver nervously saying what a difficult load it was. Now, whilst I have the greatest respect for truckers – with the exception of those fuckers who overtake their colleagues on the motorway with only a 1 mph speed advantage – it’s not exactly a matter of national defence or a process which might well result in death.

So, we celebrate the mundane in the same terms as we celebrate the heroic with few of us aware of the absurdity of it all.

Meanwhile, the absurdity formed after years of social manipulation and the drive for equality at all costs sits like a tumour at the heart of our society – success is largely derided unless it’s approved by a celebrity TV jury and failure is accepted as an inevitable consequence of equality.

Indeed, at times, I’m hard-pressed to tell the difference between success and failure…