intellectuals doing headstands on bidets
September 27, 2006
The Daily Mail has an article on a book called ‘The English Model, A French Illusion’ by Agnès Poirier which has some interesting things to say about the British (one can forgive someone from across the Channel for not being too clear about the difference). Showing a love of stereotypes shared by quite a number of her compatriots, Ms Peartree, who lives in London, makes some good points:
Education and Culture: “They have no understanding of philosophy, beauty or art. They do not even have any intellectuals…It is a kingdom of narrowly educated specialists on the one hand and those lacking general culture on the other…. This makes for boring conversation. People talk only about what they know about or else limit themselves to comments on the weather, the property market or the cost of educating children.” The British are not interested in art or culture unless it sells and is ‘cool’ and ‘sexy’.
The countryside: resembles an “immense theme park”
Manners: “customs are characterised less by gallantry and more by virility, cruelty and aggressiveness”.
She urges France not to follow the Anglo-Saxon free market ideas and globalisation and reject the corporate chains that have strangled Britain’s high streets and made them all look the same.
On Ms Poirier’s website there’s an even more savage indictment of the Anglo-Saxon world: “The French and le bidet. In fact, this hygienic French invention of the 18th century has taken the world by storm. Only the USA and Britain are bidet-illiterate. The bidet now adorns 60 per cent of Japanese homes and 90 per cent of
Argentine households.” Maybe this is what is at the root of Ms Poirier’s distaste for our way of life? Anyway, I’m glad to say this anachronistic invention (about the only thing the French have invented) has not reached Thailand, where we have much more sensible hygiene arrangements. On the same website there’s also a pretty strong reaction from one Brit living in France, who retaliates: “At least the British, by and large, don’t take their dogs outside and have them defecate in the middle of the pavement for everybody to walk in… and what can we say about a nation that sees nothing wrong with trudging through excrement on its daily round?” Not wishing to engage in this mud(?)-slinging I think we should perhaps recognise that Ms Poirier has perhaps hit le clou sur la tête, as the French say. Then we deport her.
One final snippet of Ms Poirier’s which I enjoyed: “The French use English words instead of cosmetic surgery. They think using franglais makes them seem younger, eg ‘C’est top’ for ‘It’s great’, or ‘Il est totalement speedé’ meaning ‘He is anxious’.” But then she also laments the fact that “the rampant imperialism of the English language contributes to the building of an ivory tower invisible to its inhabitants. They are so convinced that no serious thoughts can be conceived outside their culture they deem it unnecessary to learn other languages.” If the French weren’t so keen on contaminating their own elegant language with garbled imported slang, we might have more incentive.
Anyway, to finish off this series of non sequiturs, I understand ‘faire le poirier’ means to do a headstand. And finally, on the subject of Ms Poirier’s head why does she seem to have spikes stuck in it? Are they, by any chance, arrows?