Thursday, 30 September 2010
I think a lot of us are bemused by the slavish adherence of the UK to the international agreements that every other signatory routinely ignores.
We happily sacrifice a wildly disproportionate portion of the Met’s annual budget to track down and repatriate some well settled and productive poor sod just because in his country of origin, the police have suddenly realised that ten years ago he was given a suspended sentence for not paying off a two hundred Zloty bank loan quick enough and therefore should not have travelled. The EU has even dished out an official warning to UK that we are not to deny illegal immigrants access to state benefits most of whom arrive via France, a country busy rounding up all its Gipsies and sending them back to Romania as an encouragement to the rest of them of every nationality who escape the cursory dragnet to hurry up and sneak through the Channel Tunnel to UK and certain security. The United States have made it abundantly clear that the Extradition Treaty is purely one way. We are, by the admission of our own leaders, the junior partner in world affairs.
You have to hand it to the French. Like cheeky children, they are constantly caught out. They are about to try their ex president for corruption but having shoulders like greased Champagne bottles, will shrug it all off with ease leaving the rest of the world charmed by their inherent style and above all, bare faced sang froid.
Unlike the English, and it was an Englishman who coined the phrase, they realise that rules, in this case those of the EU and pretty much the rest of the world, are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of fools. The French have decided that they are nobody’s fool. They will happily sign any accord but if, in the end, it turns out not to be to the benefit of La Belle France, they’ll ignore it and refuse to be intimidated.
Bentley are recalling cars due to concerns in the US that the iconic Flying B's on their bonnets may fail to retract automatically in the event of a collision, potentially causing injury to pedestrians. Let's ignore for a moment that if hit by a Bentley the Flying B atop the radiator would only be the first of the last, much heavier and ultimately lethally destructive automotive components to pass through one's intimate orbit, and consider instead that in the face of the litigious environment the 'no win, no fee' lawyers created, Citroën, no doubt reassured by Gallic shrugs half obscured in the smoky environment of their legal department, have had the courage to produce a 160 mph, 300 BHP, £1.5 million ankle slicer.
Powered by an all but silent electric motor on each wheel, you wouldn't even hear it arriving faster than the speed of sound as you were still halfway across the road to the pub and unexpectedly footloose, chipped through a very crisp 21st Century grill. The remaining parts of your suddenly denuded torso might, as they bounce off the windscreen before being propelled into oblivion, catch a glimpse of a supremely stylish and well appointed interior enclosing a svelte Frenchman who couldn't really give a damn because unlike in UK, he enjoys affordable insurance.
Good old Citroën. I love French cars, especially now that they are pushing the design envelope again and I have to confess a sneaking admiration for the French in general.
In UK, if you trip over an electric flex at work, you sue for compensation and HSE will spend millions of taxpayer's money trying to prove the architect put the socket in the wrong place, bankrupting him in the process and putting a hundred or so people out of work.
In France they’ll give you a Gauloise cigarette to suck on to ease the immediate pain before sacking you for being evidently too visually impaired to perform the function for which you once drew your salary.
The odds, or volts it would appear, are charged heavily in favour of the French.