I had a dream last night - the French all left France. It was, sadly, only a dream.
You could be forgiven for thinking that after my attack on one of France's most respected companies yesterday, and my comments here today, that I hate all that is French.
Be assured, nothing could be further from the truth, I am a confirmed Anglophile; I have an enormous amount of French friends and my love affair with this country which began many years ago, shows no sign of waning......but sometimes, just very occasionally, even my patience is tested to the limit.
I read this a couple of years ago and I was waiting for an opportunity to re-print it - today is the day:
And God Made Britain
God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look Michael, look what I've made."
Archangel Michael looked puzzled and said, "What is it?"
"It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put LIFE on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a great place of balance." "Balance?" inquired Michael, still confused.
God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth; "For example, North America will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while South America is going to be poor; the Middle East over there will be a hot spot. Over there I've placed a continent of white people and over there, is a continent of black people."
God continued, pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely hot and arid, while this one will be very cold and covered in ice."
The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a small land mass and said, "What's that one?"
"Ah," said God. "That's Britain, the most glorious place on Earth. There are beautiful lakes, rivers, streams, and hills. The people from Britain are going to be modest, intelligent and humorous and they're going to be found travelling the world. They'll be extremely sociable, hard-working and high-achieving, and they will be known throughout the world as diplomats and carriers of peace."
Archangel Michael gasped in wonder and admiration but then proclaimed,"What about the balance, God? You said there would be balance!"
God replied wisely,
"Wait until you see the b******s I'm putting next to them in France."
The rest of Europe think that the French are arrogant, but I don't subscribe to that view. Parisiens are certainly self-centred, thoughtless, rude and inconsiderate - but then the rest of France would agree with that assertion too.
There can be no doubt that the French economy is heading for serious trouble, but not for the same reasons that Britain is now in such turmoil: For once, France's financial prudence - which can sometimes feel like administrative constipation and beaurocratic nonsense gone mad, has actually protected them.
You would never catch a French bank lending anyone 125% of a properties' value, or advancing finance at the rate of eight times salary, knowing full well that the borrower had little chance of making the repayments; absolutely no chance of them introducing self-certification schemes, where self-employed individuals could borrow as much as they like without any proof of income; zero chance of the French property sector crashing, because it has never been over-inflated.
No, France's imminent decline is going to be brought about by the irresponsibility of successive Socialist administrations, who, in order to stay in power, introduced unsustainable measures which have to now be reversed, if the nation is to survive. But of course, it is not that simple.
For example, how do you tell workers that have become used to a thirty five hour week, that they must now follow the rest of Europe and revert to forty two hours - with no extra pay?
Who is going to break the news to train drivers that in countries such as Britain, retirement, currently set at sixty five and due to rise to seventy within ten years, so why should they stop work at forty five?
Sarkozy has an uphill struggle ahead of him, convincing a country that has become lazy, inefficient and myopic, that there is another way - we wish him well, because he is a good man and a breath of fresh air.
Tomorrow: As I always say, it is business as usual - big week, so be sure to join me.
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