Hate the French? Bollocks - spend some time with them in their country and all the prejudices melt away: great people, a noble race who can teach us all a thing or two about providing excellent health care for all, good state education, sound policing (Yes - their police actually like to make life difficult for criminals; unlike our "boys in blue", les Flics/ Gendarmerie haven't come to regard themselves as the uniformed branch of social services and don't treat the law abiding majority who pay their wages as a pain in the neck to be harassed/ ignored because that's the easy option!), good roads & railways etc etc... I could go on and on, but suffice to say that the quality of public life in France beats ours hollow. Not only that, but their leaders and public servants have the balls to ignore vexatious laws (generally EU generated) that threaten their traditions/ way of life/ national security (in stark contrast to the hand-wringing, sanctimonious public school/ Anglican/ Oxbridge tossers who dominate our "Establishment") and do not hesitate to look after their own.
The French military? Excellent - they've always had some outstanding units (eg Chasseurs Alpine, 1 PRIMA etc) and now that they've gone professional they're coming on leaps and bounds. Cowards/ "surrender monkeys"? I think not - they took more casualties in 1914-15 than we did in the whole of WW1! Any army that can do what theirs did at Verdun (1916) has my respect. With the possible exception of their Civil War (1860s) the Americans have never had to make a military sacrifice even remotely comparable to that of the French in the Great War, and we shouldn't delude ourselves either: the only thing that saved us from the same fate as France in 1940 was that big ditch, the Channel! Yes, I know the USA lost 350,000 or so in WW2 - saved the world etc - and we're very grateful for that, but as a proportion of total population (and in the context of a total war that killed at least 45 million) the USA's losses were minimal and the "homeland" was untouched, except for one attack on a military base in a US Territory (Pearl Harbor).
I'm sick of all this French bashing - they're fine people, smart and talented, with a great military tradition. Every French soldier I've known would be eager to ply his trade against AQ or whoever (and, in truth, the French have been rather more proactive in dealing with Islamic militants than we - ie "les Anglo-Saxons"- have; I remember a conversation with French soldiers in 1987 during which all our present troubles - Islamic militant terror etc - were predicted as THE coming international security issue - spot on in their analysis and quite right in their belief that the West was complacent and self-deluded re the clear threat developing, but not very PC at the time!) and we should not forget that it's their political masters who decide, for reasons of their own, on deployments/ going to war etc NOT the troops. Maybe, in the opinion of some, the current French leadership leaves a bit to be desired but at least, after their own lights, they have the gumption to protect what they perceive to be their national interests rather than simply kow-towing to the biggest kid in the neighbourhood. Knock Chirac and Co if you must, but IMHO we should lay off the French as a whole - they're our nearest neighbours, increasingly close military partners (and things are likely to get a lot closer in the future), and - in my experience - they're actually a lot more like us than many in the UK care to admit!
Fully expect to take a post kicking on this one, but there you go...we Brits, especially English, have a deep rooted anti-French prejudice that probably originates in a collective folk memory of the Norman Conquest etc: understandable, I suppose, but we're living in the C21st and it's time we got over it.
Wessex_Man, you can't honestly believe all that rubbish you've written. The English hate the French and the French hate the English. You respect the French because of Verdun - OK, they did well in 1916, but their record wasn't good for 1917 - probably their best people got slaughtered and they were left with the dross that went on to father following generations. Can you explain why, in WW2, the Free "French" Army comprised 36,000 colonial troops but only 4,000 proper French ones? No, they weren't captured, more than half the French Army was beyond reach of the Germans when France surrendered. More French troops (100,000) chose to defend France against the Allies than carry on the fight. Likewise with the French Navy - given the choice of a) join the Allies, b) scuttle your ships so they can't be used by the Axis or c) fight the Allies they chose to ally themselves with Germany. After the war, France should have become an Occupied Country just the same as Germany. AND if the Resistance had as many fighters as there claimed to be AFTER liberation, D-Day shouldn't have been necessary - the Germans must have been outnumbered by at least 20 to 1.
The French only respect EU laws when it suits them - i.e. when they can be applied to other nations. Their police openly encourage "asylum seekers" to enter Britain and assist dockers/truckers/farmers to blockade ports against British movements - particularly annoying when the cause of the blockade is a purely internal dispute. The French govt pi55 off the French scroungers, so the French scroungers take retribution by fukcing up the British economy.
As for increasingly close military partners, my comment is "spheroids!" They didn't join NATO because they knew they wouldn't be trusted and hence wouldn't get command. They're keen to have a European Army because they hold sway in the EU and as such would command the force while the troops in the firing line would be British, German, Dutch etc. Their own troops are so good that their elite units include the Foreign Legion.
Our problem now is that the French hold the controlling interest in Britain's electricity, gas and water supplies. Not bad for a bunch of farmers whose best wine tastes like vinegar and has an entire government department whose sole job is to invent french names for foreign inventions.
Enough, I'll end by mentioning the fact that I haven't bought french apples for over 20 years and I was disgusted that the British Government caved in at the french demand that Elderflower Champagne be renamed. Also, don't buy beefburgers in France because they're not beef, they're horse - the few more honest establishments subscript "Boeuf" with "de cheval" (but most don't).
Yes and no, Puttee... we are on the ARRSE Hole forum after all! That said, I DO think that the French have many admirable qualities and can certainly teach us a thing or two about aspects of public life. Have never found them particularly hostile to the English and all the French military I've come across have greatly admired the British armed forces - "les super pros"- and have been embarrassed and frustrated by their government's refusal to let them deploy on ops alongside us and the US; would have relished the chance to try out their shiny new "Le Clerc" MBT in Iraq.
They're also very deceptive - outward impressions can be misleading! For example, the 35 hour working week nonsense - ignored by lots: typically French - they pay lip service to the law and just do as they please! It has been said that France is a police state populated by anarchists and I think there's a lot of truth in that! When at work they tend to be very diligent and efficient - a lot gets done in short order before knocking off for a long lunch break! That's what I like about them - better than our approach where everyone is too scared to leave before the boss but spends hours pissing and moaning about the unfairness of it all, workaholic culture etc.. A recent World Bank report indicates that the French workforce is one of the most productive in the world.
State schools ARE very good - only snobs and those with more money than sense send their kids to private schools in France. Their health service IS outstanding: no waiting lists, immaculate and properly staffed hospitals, and the typical French GP has less than half the patient list of his/ her Brit counterpart so they have time for proper consultations. Why the difference? Unlike most of us the Frogs are realistic enough to appreciate that you get what you pay for - health insurance is govt regulated and, therefore, unlike in "rip-off" Britain, is reasonably priced and very affordable for most people. Govt also guarantees total cover for poor, elderly, long-term etc and, unlike in USA, no-one is excluded. It works - you have real choice and govt knows that it can not interfere with/ limit provision (as in UK) because patients decide what's best for them and if they don't like what's on offer in one hospital (and there's a good mixture of privately run and state funded - required by law to treat all comers) will simply go to another. Keeps medics on their toes too - nothing like a bit of competition, as I'm sure you'll agree! Have yet to meet the Frenchie who envies us our health service: they're totally baffled as to why a country like ours (and with a similar GDP to theirs) can't do a better job, especially as the typical French stereotype of the British is that we're a race of ruthlessly efficient pragmatists who get things done! Have to say that as a state school teacher married to an NHS doctor I share their bafflement - we could do so much better for ourselves if only we got a grip and did as they do. VERY FRUSTRATING! Sorry if my views upset you, but I only report what I have seen.
Wessex_man, Don't apologise for your opinions - you've as much right to yours as I have to mine.
I've got to agree with most of your 2nd post. Unfortunately, of the hundreds of frenchmen that I've met, only one would I choose to include in my circle of friends. He was from Alsace, was proud of his german roots, and couldn't stand the french either! The rest I've found to be more arrogant than me and lack even the basics of common sense. They also pretend to be unable to understand my schoolboy french. I know that it is a case of them pretending in order to cause as much frustration as possible because my Alsatian chum and his very desirable Parisian wife had no problem whatsoever and we managed lengthy conversations.
As far as their working practices are concerned, those that I've met in the construction industry (those working as managers and senior site personnel) haven't a clue and are downright dangerous when it comes to health and safety. They also resort to underhand tactics (more so than their british counterparts) when it comes to trying to get shoddy and even dangerous work accepted.
As an example of their lack of common sense, with regard to the Airbus A380, only the french could choose a site like Toulouse to assemble the component parts of the aircraft. Anybody else would have built the factory close to the point of entry into the country of the components (i.e. close to a seaport). Of course, why the final assembly isn't done at the same place as the fabrication of the fuselage, the largest component, is absolutely lost on me. I suppose it's because then the french wouldn't have a part in the construction other than supplying the tyres.
Fair comment Putee - I have to agree with you re the speaking French bit! From the way most behave re us speaking French you'd think that the buggers spoke English flawlessly! Personally, I reckon it's because they have a bit of a complex about English being a global language - I point this out to them regularly and the typical reaction suggests that I'm right. And yes, they are arrogant tw*ts, but then so are we!