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The French Character – a Paradox

Last night we met Muriel – the lady who was so helpful, when I was pickpocketed, for a drink. She is a social worker in some of the large sink housing estates around Nice such as Ariane. She is clearly a good soul like Regine.

Yet it proved a somewhat convoluted arrangement. We agreed to meet after her work at 6-15 for a drink. In case she had any final doubts as she had met me just the once I confirmed the arrangement by text. As I left the apartment I realised I had forgotten my mobile so returned to collect it and remarked she might want to contact us.

Indeed she did, at 6-00pm, to say there as a problem at work and could we make it tomorrow? I never like a cancelled arrangement – or to be exact someone who cancels particularly at such late notice – so I suggested we meet later.

She duly pitched up, with her husband Philippe a history teacher at 8.00pm and we had a convivial evening. Quite why she could not have previously said “Do you mind if my husband joins us?” I do not  know. There always seems to be an element of duplicity.

This unnecessary complication is very French. I have also commented on several occasions how bloody-minded and rude they can be. Yet her kindness went well beyond the normal limits.

I am reading a book about the Riviera at War. This covers the Resistance. Again we see the same paradoxical duality/duplicity.

The Vichy government bent over backwards to satisfy  their Nazi masters but there was also a Resistance that had to operate in the face of brutal  repression as well as De Gaulle heading up Free France back in England.

There was another former President, Francois Mitterrand, a civil servant in Vichy but also involved with some resistance activity too.

We are sometimes called Perfidious Albion but that description seems better suited to the French.

About Robert Tickler

A man of financial substance, Robert has a wide range of interests and opinions to match. More Posts