Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ou est le Musee Vichy, monsieur?

TO PARIS once more, where I’m sad to report that the natives were even friendlier and more welcoming than they were a year ago. Even the waiters.

Distressed by this stereotype-busting cultural shift, I am determined to rile the tricky buggers one way or another. Strolling around the Second World War part of the brilliant Musee Invalides (the best value fiver in Paris), I push my luck by suggesting to the attendant that seeing as the years 1942-44 are a little light on content, is there perhaps a wing dedicated to the Vichy Government? No joy. He steers me with a smile into a side room where a guilty-looking map lurks detailing the divide.

I remark upon the remarkably good condition of the French weaponry on show (never used, only dropped once) without a passing veteran spitting bile in my direction. In Napoleon’s tomb, I whistle the Abba hit Waterloo without interference. I shout “Cheese-eating surrender monkeys” at the sentries on duty outside the Foreign Office, eliciting only a wan smile in return. Finally, frustrated, I omit to leave a tip when paying for my £5 glass of near-beer dishwater. “Au revoir, Monsieur,” calls the cheery garcon, as I noisily leave the café.

Something’s wrong. I blame global warming.

SOMETHING IS also amiss in Ambridge. Regular Archers listeners are up in arms over the David-Ruth-Sam love triangle, complaining that the characters are being portrayed in an entirely out of character fashion just to create a cliff-hanger for the 15,000th episode.

Out of character? You’re not kidding. There we are, a knowledgeable, worldy-wise, mature audience, and the scriptwriters are asking us to believe that Ruth is the only woman from the north east of England NOT to drop her knickers on a first date …

Even so, you have to admit that they carried out this cynical ploy with some skill. There was the perpetually whining Ruth, off to visit a “college friend called Laura who lives somewhere near Oxford”. There was the naïve stupidity of her husband (who had himself come close to playing hide the sausage in recent weeks), telling her she could “go off with a clear conscience … and if you enjoy it, you can go again”.

There was the homemade card from the kids reading “Have a wicked time”. There was the tortuous, traffic-jammed car journey to the immoral tryst, punctuated by mobile phone calls from friend and family, and then … then, there was Sam the priapic cowman, lurking in a cheap hotel off the A40 with a bunch of garage flowers and a warm bottle of Borchester Brut.

After seemingly endless months of anguish, the denouement in the car park was almost an anti-climax: “I can’t do it, Sam. I can’t go through with it.” Well thank God for that. Can we all now get back to worrying about whether or not Lynda Snell has recruited enough dwarves for her panto?

Old people like Archers listeners shouldn’t be subjected to torment like this. They’ve already had their pensions stolen and they’ve already been denied life-saving cancer drugs unless they live in Scotland or Wales; to have the state broadcaster toy with their sensibilities in such a shoddy fashion is an insult too far. One can only wonder what they’ll make of the gay wedding at Christmas.

OH HOW we laughed when The Sun and the Daily Mail ran those stories about swan-eating asylum seekers. What tosh. What racist rubbish.

Err, well, hang on a minute. In a not entirely unrelated story, a 150-strong squad of High Impact Fisheries Enforcement Officers (crazy name, crazy guys) has been set up to stop Eastern European immigrants decimating the nation’s stocks of freshwater carp. Apparently the fish is a delicacy in those parts – particularly at Christmas – and assorted Poles and Ukranians are netting them illegally on a massive scale.

Equipped with stab vests and batons, the fish police will patrol riverbanks in a bid to dissuade Johnny Foreigner from nicking carp for the table instead of buying oven chips and microwave pizza like the rest of the Underclass. I make two points: firstly, have you ever tasted carp? It’s like eating doormat hairs coated in mud. Secondly, expect this storyline to turn up on The Archers before long. And won’t Eddie Grundy be cross that he hadn’t thought of it first?

MUCH INDIGNANCE amongst the chattering classes because British Airways (the world’s favourite airline … until you get to the check-in desk at Charles de Gaulle) has banned children from sitting next to male strangers just in case they’re kiddy-fiddlers.

Child protection campaigner Michele Elliot, director of children’s charity Kidscape, said: “It is utterly absurd. It brands all men as potential sex offenders.”

Listen, love, I couldn’t care less. Call me a nonce all you want, but if it means that I’ll never again have to sit next to a whining, mewling, skriking, kicking, puking brat for eight transAtlantic hours then I’m a happy bunny.

THE JOKEFORCE, the government agency that provides material for satirical columnists, has been out and about again. In Plymouth a father is arrested and locked up by the cops for forcibly pulling his 16-year-old son out of bed in a vain attempt to make him go to college. In Kent, a boy of 10 is hauled off to the headmaster’s office by the food police and made to eat his packed lunch in isolation because he had “too many snacks”. The fate of the offending article, a bag of small cheese biscuits, is unknown.

And meanwhile in Tower Hamlets, Loonyville, London, the council decided not to mark Guy Fawke’s Night “because we did that last year” and instead spent public money on celebrating an obscure Bengali folk tale called “Moghul Emperor, the Wise Man and Guardian of the Jungle” which featured a 12-foot long mechanical tiger.

Sparklers, of course, were banned.

O The views of Mr Beelzebub are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or staff of this website, of anyone who hasn't received their first Christmas card yet, of anyone who's successfully managed to open a tin of Spam using that new ring-pull thingy, or of anyone currently feigning lack of interest in the I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here line-up when we all know they'll be hooked within days.


Blogger Malcolm said...

I recently visited Blockhaus, which is a vast site near Calais. The Nazis used the site to build V2 rockets to fire at us in Blighty. It was built by a mixture of slave labour and volunteers from the Todt organisation. The displays around the site glossed over the Todt, as it was largely a French group. There was no mention of Vichy.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Black Dog said...

Lets not forget that the French spent around 20 years after the war tarring and feathering just about everyone for being collaborators with the Krauts.

Also, much of the defenses on the Channel Islands were also built by Organisation Todt (slave labour, mainly Russian POWs in this case). A defining feature of most Vichy collaborators was an anti-British stance- look at their threat to hand over French warships to the Germans.

But the worst crime by the Vichy government has to be the voluntary rounding up of Jews- mainly children- for deportation to Eastern Europe and ultimately the death camps.

It's no wonder they want to keep quiet about it!

Mind you, I went to the Albert Dock Maritime museum in Scouseland- a superb museum, but at the time I went, Liverpool's leading role in the slave trade hardly got a mention at all.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Jimmy Mussolini said...

This shameful stigma of the Vichy Frogs contrasts sharply with that of the Italian Army during the war. They may not have distinguished themselves on the field, but they did not hand over one jew - not one - to the Nazis.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Kiwitrader said...

I am amazed !!
A few guys from NZ nipped over to Paris last weekend.

They were all wearing Black Jerseys, and they were treated very well indeed.


6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After the incident with the 22 year old setting a firework off from his rear end and ending up with a scorched colon its probably a good idea fire works are banned. Unless of couse they are only sold to someone with more than 3 brain cells.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous tc said...

The firework item should really have made the Darwin Awards - except the daft sod managed not to remove himself from the gene pool!

5:40 AM  

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