One, two, three, four, what are we fighting for?

(Catharine Higginson) #1

So the students took to the streets again this week. Yawn. Half of them had no idea what they were protesting about and were just happy to have a day off. Sunny weather helped and at my daughter’s lycee, they all sat around happily in the sunshine, swapping fags with the teachers and making regular forays to the nearby supermarket for booze and Nutella, essential items for any self respecting student protester. The hardcore protesters took it more seriously. They tended to be the members of the jeunes-socialistes but they too required Nutella butties and alco-pops, to get them through the day.

We live alongside a busy road and noticed that there was far less traffic on the roads this week. From our point of view, this was ‘A Good Thing’. Much less of a good thing was the vast increase in gunshots, in the woods behind the house. Obviously this protest wasn’t so much about striking and taking to the streets as having a day off and taking to the woods to ‘faire la chasse.’ I hope that there is some sort of wildlife bush telegraph so that the rabbits are notified of any future strikes and can retreat to their burrows for the day.

I can’t see the point of protesting about raising the retirement age in any case. After all, its not like we all drop dead at the age of 65 anymore. Society has evolved and healthcare has improved. No one feels the need to have twelve children to ensure that at least a couple of them reach adulthood and I don’t see anyone protesting about that. But the French have never been keen on change (give or take the odd revolution) so any form of modernisation is always greeted with suspicion and apathy.

It’s a bit like the lycee reforms themselves. As my daughter pointed out, they are all great initiatives from the student’s perspectives - extra assistance for students who are struggling and new courses. It’s the staff who are complaining. Probably because they might actually have to get to grips with a new syllabus on their numerous bank holidays, rather than take to the woods and shoot small furry animals.

Mind you, we now look like fully paid up members of the hunting brigade ourselves. The camouflage clothing doesn’t help but James has gone and painted his Land Rover defender in Nato green. It was going to be sold and being very elderly, many of the body panels were different colours. A paint job was a good way to increase the sale price and Nato green was the cheapest colour. He also added a load of military type stickers as stickers are a sure fire winner with the French off-roading brigade. Changed circumstances mean that we are now keeping the thing so when we get in the ‘family car’ for a trip to the shops, it looks like we are planning to invade a small country. God only knows what the neighbours must think.