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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Wednesday, 6 July 2005

Topic: World View

Our Man in Paris: Paris battu par Londres

This just in from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis -
PARIS, Wednesday, July 6, 2005

RADIO France-Info carried the ceremony live from Singapore, somewhat like the final shoot-out of the last match of the World Cup. With Moscow, New York and Madrid eliminated, Paris was facing London at showdown time. The president of the CIO was handed the envelope and you heard the paper ripping. He said, after a preamble lasting several seconds, "The 2012 games are awarded to... London." The crowd gathered at Trafalgar Square flipped out with joy. The crowd, in the place before the Hotel de Ville in Paris, cried. Tony Blair wins. Just reelected for the third time, just beginning a term as European president, just about to host the G8 meeting, what worlds left to conquer? And Jacques - where does this leave Jacques? Is France finished?
Related items from l'Agence France-Presse (AFP):


... There is a problem. For the third time... it is a bit hard to swallow," said Henri Serandour, president of the French National Olympic Committee. "We have to find the explanation, and it will not be easy."

French Sports Minister Jean-Francois Lamour was equally upset.

"It is too soon to analyse this defeat in detail," he said. "It is a big disapointment."

The defeat was a bitter blow for French President Jacques Chirac, who has been personally involved in all three Paris bids - once as mayor of Paris and twice as president.

The 72-year-old Chirac had flown into Singapore on Tuesday afternoon so he could address the IOC Session during Paris' final presentation.

The French team were hoping that the presence of Chirac would clinch victory for a bid that has been the front-runner since the campaign began.
Chirac should have stayed in Paris? Perhaps. His diplomatic skills seem to have left him.


The issue was Chirac's reported comments on the British - at a French-German-Russian summit Sunday in Russia - that "one cannot trust people who have such bad cuisine." And "the only thing they have done for European agriculture is 'mad cow.'" And that only Finland had worse food than Britain. Two of the committee voting on the committee were from Finland.

Perhaps his words were unwise. He has to eat them now.

It seems Ric and I agree -

Received from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, Wednesday, July 6, 2005 at 3:30 PM Pacific Time, which is of course thirty minutes past midnight on the 7th in Paris -
Another Day that Wasn't Jacques'

PARIS, Wednesday, July 6 - Continentals are suckers for offshore propaganda. Both the Germans and the French believe in the British notion of 'fair play,' as if games are somehow morally superior to war, and the way the British play games is the most superior of all. But, sometimes, the Germans and the French suspect that the British may play a bit too hard, may be a bit ruthless, and that the game is not quite 'the thing' but winning is.

Of course thinking something like this after the British have won a decisive round may appear to be sour vin rouge, so the French would rather not say it. Today in Singapore some were instead hinting that continentals should begin taking lobbying lessons from the British. There were rumors of British lobbying continuing in Singapore after it was thought the deadline was passed, as if there are Olympic rules for these things, as there apparently are.

Many of the French who spoke on TV-news today remarked on the lobbying skills of British spokesman and former athlete Sebastian Coe, in particular. If anything Mr. Coe was given most of the credit for pulling the British bid together and getting it concentrated at the finish in Singapore. Much of the rest of the credit went to prime minister Tony Blair, who awed witnesses with his persuasive efforts.

According to reports the team leading the bid for Paris woke up Wednesday morning in Singapore firmly convinced that if butterflies prevented them from enjoying breakfast and lunch, they would have a fine celebration at dinner as the winners.

How wrong they were! From beginning to end there were four votes by the IOC selection committee, resulting in the successive eliminations of Moscow, Madrid and New York. On every vote Paris was second to London, especially the last. From being perceived favorite, Paris was in perpetual second place, from beginning to end.

It is just as well so many French have already gone on holidays, where I hope many were sitting down in comfort when they heard the news. Since the beginning of the year they voted against the European constitution, against the invasion of the Polish plumber, which unexpectedly returned Nicolas Sarkozy as dynamic minister of the interior. The French voted against various government 'reforms' with strikes and other demonstrations, with mixed success. That the Pentecôte holiday will be reinstated was one tiny win.

Having voted solidly against the EU's excessive 'liberalism,' it was just as well to get out of town as Tony Blair took over the EU presidency, while pushing the policy notion that Europe can't afford its farmers and should do something else positive with the agricultural subsidy.

Tony Blair seems to be as unaware as Jacques Chirac that there are farmers in Britain too, getting the subsidies. Last Friday, as a joke to Gerhard Schröder and Vladimir Putin, overheard by a nosy reporter for Libération, Jacques Chirac said that Britain's only contribution to European food was 'mad cow disease.'

For some unknown reason Chirac added that the only country where food was worse is Finland. None of this was supposed to be heard, but of course there it was - making the rounds in Singapore, with Finland having two voting members on the IOC selection committee.

Jacques Chirac was up in the air flying towards the G8 meeting in Scotland when the result of the IOC's vote became known. From the jet he congratulated London for capturing the honor of staging the games.

When he arrives at Gleneagles in Scotland he can expect to receive a surprise hamper from Percy's Country Hotel & Restaurant based in Devon, containing a copious sampling of 'home reared, organic lamb and pork, delicious gold award winning tarts and fantastic Westcountry cheddar cheese' - as described in the email jointly sent by Percy's and the Western Morning News to MetropoleParis.

Bon appétit, Jacques!

Footnote: The Revenge of the Finns

Wednesday, 6 July 2005 10:18:00 GMT
BRUSSELS, July 6 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac's reported criticism of cooking in Finland and Britain has earned a dinner invitation from a European parliamentarian, but the president has to bring the wine.

In an open letter on Wednesday, lawmaker Alexander Stubb, from Finland, said he had noted "colourful versions" of statements attributed to Chirac in the press and that they had also caught the eye of his British wife.

The French newspaper Liberation reported on Monday that Chirac had commented about Britain's cuisine by saying that "after Finland, that is the country where you eat the worst."

"In order to revise your unfortunate impression of Finno-British cuisine my wife and I would like to invite you to join us for dinner at our home in Genval, Belgium at your convenience," Stubb wrote.

"We will endeavour to obtain authentic Finnish and British ingredients in order to avoid disappointment," he went on.

He said the menu, planned by Finnish celebrity chef Jyrki Sukula, would include: fish and chips - roe of vendace with Lapland potato chips, cep broth with turnip rye pie, rack of baby lamb from Aaland with nettle mash, and Finnish berries marinated in Arctic brambleberry wine with beestings pudding.

"We hope that, as the president of an esteemed wine-producing country, you could provide the wines for the dinner," Stubb wrote. ...
But what wine goes with roe of vendace with Lapland potato chips, and cep broth with turnip rye pie, not to mention nettle mash?


One of Ric's recent photos (June 23) from MetropoleParis – which might capture the mood -

Posted by Alan at 10:46 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 6 July 2005 18:35 PDT home

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