What’s the most fun, historically, you can have with a Frenchman?

Up until yesterday, I would have said, asking him what was the French navy’s last victory. (Rainbow Warrior, incidentally). It turns out that in fact the answer is: point out that the French Premier wanted a union with Britain in 1956, and would have thought about joining the Commonwealth.
This story was all over the BBC yesterday, with particularly bemused soundbites from the French on the Today programme (listen to the 8.17 report). What seemed to be attractive, of course, was less the specific historical details of the story – this was a political tactic to keep the Brits onside – than its appeal to a deep seated mix of inferiority and disdain with which the English in particular regard Europe. ‘What, they really wanted to be like us? With our terrible cuisine/lack of sexual technique/comprehensible films/poor climate? Well, I always suspected it really…’ What might, at first sight, appear a report from the archives was really all about a sense of insecurity.


3 Responses to What’s the most fun, historically, you can have with a Frenchman?

  1. Chris Williams says:

    Hmm . . . What about all those airstrikes and CAP flown off Clemencau in 1993-1995 against Serbia? And it was the DGSE who murdered Fransecso Pereira, not the Marine Nationale.

    Still, it’s funny.

  2. Dan says:

    I think that’s called analysing the joke to death.

  3. Ross Mahoney says:

    What is interesting about this story is that it, firstly, the story itself is not new. It was aired about fifteen years agao but seems to have gone underneath the radar so it would seem by the re – emergence of the story. Secondly, the concept itself was nothing new. Churchill, on becoming Prime Minister in 1940 suggested union as weel. I think this was more to keep the French in the war more than anything else. Interesting story though.

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