French with tears

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by jonwilly, Mar 10, 2010.

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  1. From The Times
    March 10, 2010
    French with tears
    For 1,000 years, the insults and snubs have flowed across the Channel — and back.

    The insults aimed at “frog-eaters and snail-slurpers” last week were nothing new. What the model Cassi van den Dungen typed on to her Facebook page last week — after the frustrated runner-up in Australia’s Next Top Model failed to find employment on the catwalks of Paris — is just the latest faux pas in a long history of diplomatic gaffes. Relations between the French and anyone impudent enough to speak English have always been enlivened by wars and name-calling. That we’re supposedly friends these days seems to have only exacerbated the problem.

    Just in case you naively imagined that the entente might be getting more cordiale, here are the Top 20 foot-in-mouth moments . . .

    20 In 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni declined a planned second night’s stay at Windsor and returned to Paris a day early. What rudeness!

    19 Then again, The Queen did welcome them to Windsor with an escort of Household Cavalrymen whose uniform features breastplates that are facsimiles of those taken from dead Frenchmen at Waterloo. Also present were soldiers from the Blues and Royals, wearing a golden eagle in celebration of the capture of Napoleon’s colours at the same battle.

    18 And come to think of it, the lead horse in the escort was called Agincourt. Another was called Zut Alors!

    17 And to get to the banqueting hall, dinner guests had to file through an anteroom called the Waterloo Room, and admire portraits of the Waterloo victors Wellington and Blücher.

    16 That symbol of Anglo-French friendship, the Channel Tunnel, opened in 1994. Its London terminal was Waterloo. Merde alors!

    15 When the French offered to host Nato’s military headquarters in 1949, they proposed Rocquencourt as the base, which is not only unpronounceable by non-Frenchmen, it’s also the scene of the Napoleonic Army’s final victory. A coincidence, bien sûr.

    14 In the TV series Yes, Minister in 1982, Sir Humphrey reveals that Britain’s nuclear deterrent isn’t protecting us against the Russians – it’s pointed at the French: “They were our mortal enemies for centuries, and old leopards don’t change their spots.”

    13 Apparently furious that male Londoners aren’t ogling her, Édith Cresson, the French Prime Ministere, declares in 1991 that “one in four Englishmen is gay”.

    12 Britain, the US and France were allies in the Second World War, so the following comments were presumably meant as friendly banter. Churchill on de Gaulle: “He is like a female llama surprised in his bath.” President Roosevelt’s nickname for de Gaulle: “The temperamental lady.” De Gaulle on the Brits: “England, like Germany, is our hereditary enemy.” With allies like these, who needs ennemis?

    11 In an interview with Le Monde, France’s most serious newspaper, in 1989, Margaret Thatcher lectured the French that Britain had its revolution first, and that France’s Révolution was just “a period of terror”.

    10 Just 18 months after the end of the Second World War, the French elected Joan of Arc — a heroine of the Hundred Years War against the English — as their patron saint. Merci, les amis.

    9 It’s well known that American growers saved the French wine industry by supplying grapevines that were immune to the phylloxera aphid that devastated France’s vineyards. Less well known is that the infestation was caused by infected vines imported from the US. Oops!

    8 Le Monde published a 48-page supplement about the Liberation of France in 2004. The first mention of non-French troops appears on page 18.

    7 In 1990, The Sun, in full anti-EU rage, tells all “frog-haters” to face France and “tell the feelthy French to frog off”.

    6 After London “steals” the 2012 Olympics from Paris, enraged Parisians accuse Tony and Cherie Blair of lobbying Olympic Committee delegates throughout the night before the vote, instead of going to bed, as President Chirac did.

    5 When in 1966 General de Gaulle pulled out of Nato and ordered all US soldiers to leave French territory, President Johnson asked: “Does that include those buried in it?”

    4 Incensed by France’s refusal to enter the Iraq war in 2003, Americans removed all traces of French from their menus, creating Freedom fries, Freedom toast, etc . . . little realizing that Sodexo, the company that runs many US military canteens, is French.

    3 In 1850 the ailing former King Louis-Philippe, in exile in England, was sent to the Sussex seaside by his British doctors. He died soon afterwards. The Times obituary rather unsportingly recorded the King’s “absence of mental faculties”.

    2 The deposed French Emperor Napoleon III, also in exile in England, died in 1973 while being operated on by a British surgeon. Six years later, Napoleon III’s son was killed by Zulus while supposedly under the protection of the British Army in Africa. In effect, the Brits have done what no French revolution achieved: they have managed to finish off both France’s royal and imperial dynasties.

    1 France “forgets” to invite the Queen to the 65th anniversary commemoration of D-Day in 2009. Another of those coincidences, perhaps? Or just the latest low punch in the never-ending Anglo-French “friendly” boxing match?

    Stephen Clarke’s new book, 1,000 Years of Annoying the French, published by Bantam Press, is out on March 18

    Jean Villy
  2. 'The deposed French Emperor Napoleon III, also in exile in England, died in 1973' - that would make him 167, not a bad innings!
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Bless!
  4. Yep, resurrecting an old thread.
    1,000 years of annoying the French was a cracking read.
    The sequel Annoying the French-Encore is now availableon Kindle for 84p.
    Continues in the same vein.
  5. I took great pleasure last Friday at the French Defence College cross country explaining to the French military when asked what the key ring on my backpack was. It was a Royal Scots Greys one with the eagle of the 45ème Régiment de Ligne captured by Ensign Ewart at Waterloo. The icing on the cake was I came first in my age group. Double victory!

    • Like Like x 8

    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    Congratulations on your victory Ma'am, though I am disappointed to hear that a daughter of Albion ever considered defeat at the hands of the French to be even a remote possibility.
    • Like Like x 1