Saturday, May 9, 2009

Megalithic evening

Throughout the afternoon, while working in my future garden, I was aware that my TV evening was likely to be a back-and-forth affair between the acclaimed BBC documentary on Stonehenge [article] and the final of the French soccer cup.

The former was a must, in that Stonehenge has continued to fascinate me ever since the time I was writing Great Britain Today (Jeune Afrique, Paris, 1978).

As for the soccer cup, one of the finalists was the local team in Christine's corner of Brittany, the tiny town of Guingamp.

Finally, I spent a great evening zapping from one channel to the other, and I was able to appreciate two huge upsets. Several millennia ago, Stonehenge was apparently a pole of pilgrimage for people wanting to be healed magically... much like modern-day Lourdes. And this evening, in Paris, Guingamp beat Rennes in a style that reminded spectators of Astérix defeating the Romans... were it not for the fact that both finalists were Breton.

In a distant regional corner of France, the maverick politician François Bayrou, no doubt a serious contender for the next presidential election, has just published a devastating attack upon Nicolas Sarkozy. A journalist asked Bayrou to sum up what was wrong with Sarkozy's handling of the French Republic: "The French have never accepted the domination of the most powerful."

Well they did, in a way, some observers might say, under Philippe Pétain. But we all know today that Vichy was never the authentic République. France has always been Guingamp. And it goes without saying that Rennes has always been France. It's a subtle nation. That's the secret of its grandeur...

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