Back to Blighty

Just back from our trip to France. Theme: French revolutionary Art 1780-1848. (Pretentious – moi?) High points: the Berlioz Museum in Cote St-Andre and the French Revolutionary Museum in Vizille. Both terrific, as were the small Clochemerle-like towns they were in. I’d never seen this side of France before. We also took in the Orangerie and the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, a couple of gastronomic restaurants, and quite a bit of local wine. My love of France was confirmed; Kajsa’s was elevated. And that was despite the horrendous heatwave that hit us, which had me fainting in the Rue de Rivoli, and having to be helped to my feet by some lovely young French people.

I’ve long wished I was French – mainly for the culture. It’s Berlioz’s orchestration of La Marseillaise that does it for me every time (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7zQ57J8PSY).  It’s a shame our two countries separated after long periods of togetherness in the Middle Ages; cruelly cemented, of course, by Norman and then English conquests, each of the other. France is England’s other half, the civilised part of what should be a single Franco-British entity. Whatever our people’s overt historical antagonism, we each envy the other for what we miss in our own societies.

My 24-year relationship with Kajsa allowed me to secure (dual) Swedish citizenship earlier this year. I was wondering whether a three-month dalliance with a French girlfriend when I was a student, nearly sixty years ago, would persuade the French authorities to grant me a third nationality?

Regular blogging will resume, when I can think of anything original to say about the appalling Boris, and the elderly blue-rinsed Tory women who seem to be set on foisting him on us. (That’s probably sexist, as well as ageist and hairist; but there you go.) How I wonder would Boris go down in France?

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3 Responses to Back to Blighty

  1. I think, and I could be wrong about this, but one difference between the political culture of the UK and Australia seems to be that in the former case, there seems less interest in making predictions about what is about to transpire, even when the situation is full of high consequence possibilities, such as the present Johnson/Brexit scenario. I notice that you very infrequently make prognostications and that attitude seems mirrored in the British press. The ingrained gambling culture of Australia means that there is much greater interest in ‘tipping the winner’, working out was is most likely to happen. Is it possible that a relative lack of interest in projecting into the future is one of the reasons why Brexit prevailed in the referendum? Perhaps this is a long-winded way of expressing my impatience in the face of your reticence to speculate. I hope you have recovered from your alarming fainting episode.

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    • I did once prophesy the fall of the Soviet Union in a book, but then got cold feet and deleted it from the next edition, just before the USSR fell. As a historian I know how unpredictable events can be, except on the largest scale – e.g.. the self-destruction of capitalism – but how? Today’s happenings are especially unpredictable, even day by day, with people like Trump and (presumably) Boris superficially in charge.

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  2. kstankers5 says:

    Nice to have you back, Bernard. Rather frightening that fainting episode – though at least on the Rue de Rivoli there are usually plenty of people about… I saw those record temperatures in France and they made my eyes pop! We had record June temperatures here in NW Poland too, but our 38C doesn’t match the 45C recorded somewhere in Gard.
    Like yourself, I’m very fond of La Belle France. There’s even a family connection. My Mum’s maiden name was Beaupre. A distant ancestor, Antoine de Beaupre (the ‘de’ was dropped sometime in the 19th century) fell foul of Robespierre and was exiled to Poland (the French-Polish ‘Entente Cordiale’ as I’m sure you know goes back a long way) at the back end of the 18th century. Do you reckon I could go for French Citizenship on the back of Antoine?! And for my love of Berlioz – that orchestration of the Marsellaise is simply magnificen! However, my all time favourite is his ‘Symphonie Fantastique’, and in this version

    I still have the original Columbia LP – and something on which to play it!

    Liked by 1 person

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