Tuesday, 17 November 2015


I was going to write something deep, meaningful and insightful about last Friday, but frankly I don't think it would add much to the sum of human understanding.

I'm also not going to change my Facebook profile pic so that it has red, white and blue running through it, nor post any virtue-signalling tweets.

Instead, I'm going to support the French by doing what me and the missus are lucky enough to be able to do regularly, and what we're doing the weekend after next. That involves paying our French taxes, buying French wine, and talking to our French neighbours.

We talk to our neighbours regularly of course, particularly Mrs M with her reasonably fluent French. She had what media people would call a "breakthrough moment" during the summer, when on showing our 80 year old retired farmer neighbour a calendar featuring pictures of Macclesfield from the early decades of last century, he declared (in French obviously, for never a word of English has knowingly escaped his lips), "you're not that different to us really" - the "you" being the English/British of course. For someone who's barely left the local commune in his 80 years, this was a cultural earthquake.

By telling them we were just as shocked by last Friday as we would have been had it happened in London or anywhere else in the UK, by them seeing (I hope) 80,000 football fans singing the Marseillaise tonight, and by mentioning that parts of the debate on the prevention of terrorism in the British parliament yesterday were conducted in French, it would be nice to think a few more of them will realise that "we're not that different".

That's not to defend the EU or suggest that we should have closer political ties; I haven't made my mind up on all that referendum-related stuff yet. It is, however, to make clear that there's far more that unites us than divides us - and that unity may prove quite useful against a common foe in the next year or two, especially if it filters through to our political and intelligence communities.

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