It is generally accepted that if you ask to get into bed with someone once and they refuse, it’s seen as impolite to insist. But during his Normandy upbringing French Prime Minister Guy Mollet must have missed out on this tiny piece of social etiquette. The newspapers today are full of the story of how on September 10th 1956 he suggested to his British counterpart Anthony Eden that Britain and France form a union. Eden turned down his generous offer. Two weeks later, undaunted by the first rejection, Mollet suggested France join the British Commonwealth. This was also rejected by Eden.
But the fact is that today the Channel Tunnel has achieved what Mollet did not. Wandering around the British food section of my local supermarket popping baked beans into my shopping trolley, there is not a French voice to be heard. Last time I went shopping in Knightsbridge it felt like most of France’s 300,000 exiles to the UK had congregated there.
England has had a foodie revolution, spurred on by criticism and superior cuisine from our French neighbours. They in turn have adopted our political habits; in Sarko they have their own Thatcher. In Ségo their own Blair.
I wonder who got the better deal? Mollet, a lifelong Marxist, must be turning in his grave.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007