Well with a name like Anne Marie Huet, despite your ability to write perfect English this still leaves me to suspect that you might actually be French, hence your less than tolerant reaction to my little essay, which was partially a joke of course filled with a lot of half-truths, some of which one would be forgiven for thinking that they were true!
I have always consoled myself that being British living in France, your fellow nationals at least grant Britain with the gracious compliment that we could just be considered to be equals, despite the fact that throughout much of our turbulent history we have been a thorn in your side. I still maintain however that despite this very relevant exception to the rule, on a Mercator map of the world France still lies in the middle and all the rest of the countries of the world are called 'not France!'
The fact is that having lived in France for 25 years and having a degree from the Sorbonne, I would have been totally in agreement with most of the replies to my only previous message concerning a bank Heist that were less than complimentary, until say 10 years ago.
Previous to this I was like most immigrant foreign ethnic, cultural or national communities like the British who live in their own social world similar to the Chinese community anywhere abroad or even the 450,000 French refugees now living in London. I just got back from London myself having been to a French party where there were about 60 guests, every single one of them were French bar myself. I am like a Japanese honorary white in South Africa during the apartheid days because I speak French fluently practically without any accent. At worst they think I am Belgium.
The turning point came when I became an elected councillor standing in for the Mayor at the main County Council meetings and began mixing with the 'natives' big time in several other sectors like producing wine with a coop, shooting, and getting to know the entire political community like a Frenchman. I learned a lot about the rural French way of thinking from these experiences. The next turning point was when I converted myself into a boutique merchant banker and began to integrate within the upper echelons of Paris business circles.
This was a real eye-opener. Prior to these experiences I was just like any other British person mixing essentially with other Brits with a smattering of French acquaintances (whose perfect proof are the members of Survive France) or reading papers and watching the news trying to understand what was going on. I have now really got to know the French from the inside and how the system works from behind the scenes. Its a bit like looking at a smart French italicised menu in a restaurant, then sneaking behind the kitchen doors and watching how the mouthwatering sounding 'pomme vapeur a la Lyonnaise' is just boiled and then mashed potato scraped off dirty plates and put on another, or watching how the half empty carafes or bottles of wine are poured back into new ones and dished up to the second sitting who would scream if they saw how healthy the cockroaches there were under the cooker!!
So its not that I don't like the French, I rather love them, but I prefer to treat them like my favorite son or daughter whom I reserve the paternal right to criticise if this is justified. But please don't ever tell me to take them too seriously like I really believe in their global cultural and intellectual superiority. And just like any family, when the doorbell rings because guests are arriving, or you are all pretending to be bastions of sanity outside for Joe Public or a world audience, what goes on behind the scenes can be very different.
Likewise what goes on behind the scenes in France is also very different to their carefully manicured and made-up public image worthy of a botox session and an 800 pound beauty box in Harrods beauty department. But I am sure this is true of any country. If you see a Frenchman in the street in Paris in a smart sobre suit carrying a brief case that speaks money, he looks like a banker. When he arrives at your house because you called the plumber his overalls are in his briefcase as well as all his tools, then as soon as he has got your blocked toilette working again by sicking his hand down the pipe he exits and becomes the suave wealthy looking banker again! Parisians virtually never invite invite you home. You could meet them hundreds of times in cafes or restaurants though. This is because they are living in a 'chambre de bonne' like this was 5 meter squared student accommodation even though they are dressed immaculately in Valentino suits, wear a gold Rolex and are driving a Porsche!!
France, which equals the sum total of the French mentality, has a lot of fundamental issues. Its not a case of repeating like a mantra that this country has the 5th largest economy in the world and the 2nd in Europe. The more pertinent question is why is France so poor when it should have been twice as rich as Germany? What went wrong, and what is the difference between the French today and those that built Paris, the most beautiful capital city in the world?
Its all very well cutting off the Sun King's head, the most prestigious in the history of human civilisation, a staggeringly ostentatious crown jewel wrapped up in Versailles Palace packaging, and then executing all the aristocracy, and in the case of post-revolutionary France now substituting way down-stream people like Francois Hollande with the likes of the British Queen as a Head of State. The trouble is this country lacks plausible figure-head leadership and direction. Its like a snake without a tail going round-and-round in circles. They still hate the rich since the revolution, so France is one of the most wealth unfriendly places to be, which is why the rich are all leaving in droves, their revolutionary anti-elitist anti-ruling class fervour with a smattering of nascent communism was an inspiration to the Bolsheviks but what now inspires France?
The trouble is, if they hate capitalists and entrepreneurs sinfully trying to get rich, and love the virtues of collectivism and hence advocate steeling from the rich to give to the poor like Robin Hood, typified by Francois Hollande's admission that he doesn't like the rich and the fact that France makes the wealthy endure the highest tax burden in Europe the virtual maintenance of a fiscal guillotine, which social and economic vehicle do they prefer to achieve their aims? Admittedly capitalism is a deeply flawed system, one could even argue that communism was a bodyless brain and capitalism was a headless body. But there needs to be some form of mutual complimentarity in my opinion, because in the total absence of capitalism which may be the best of all the worst choices, its very hard to think of a better default system.
All the communists, which are legion in France, go out in Paris to watch a capitalist film, eat in a capitalist restaurant and go back to their rented apartment owned by a capitalist if it isn't already their own and they earn all the money to pay for these luxuries in a capitalist company. Why don't they go to North Korea for a few months to see whether they are really so much in love with communism?
Added to all this, jealousy is a serious pandemic in France. My advice to all you lot trying to 'Survive France' is to stay ostensibly looking nice and poor, or if you have wealth to hide this as best you can. Success in monetary terms is a very dangerous place to be in France. You will attract a tsunami of denunciations and nobody will be happy and speak to you again till you are humiliated or ruined.
As far as France is concerned I am beginning to think that Churchill might not have been totally wrong when he said: socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the Gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is the sharing of misery.
Love to you all who tolerate the French so magnanimously!