Yesterday was Friday 13th. It didn’t live up to expectations on the whole: nothing unpleasant happened to Guy Verhofstadt, Jean-Claude Juncker, Mario Draghi, Baron Adonis or Theresa May. Nobody assassinated Recep Erdogan or Rupert Murdoch. And not so much as a garden rake rebounded off the feet of either Piers Morgan or Donald Trump, thus delivering a well-deserved thwack on the nose.
One can’t even have faith in superstitions any more, but today is different. For today is the 14th July – Bastille Day here in France, more commonly referred to as Le Quatorzième. It celebrates the day in 1789 when the poor Parisians with no underwear finally tired of being ruled by a dynasty of biscuits, and stormed the infamous Bastille prison. Once inside, they discovered the prison was empty, the victims of lettres de cachets (incarceration without trial) having already been released by a desperate French establishment keen to keep both their privileges and their heads. In the end, they lost both in short order.
It’s going to be quite a weekend for citizens of this country, “the Hexagon” as some call it. After the inevitable celebrations and fireworks of tonight, tomorrow la belle France faces Croatia in the World Cup final. As a resident and lifetime Francophile, I will be yelling “Allez les bleus!” along with the others in the local bar. It will be an interesting occasion, as the bar is run and often frequented by the local Portuguese here.
Across the Channel, Donald Trump told Liam Fox that a trade deal between the UK and the US is “absolutely possible”. You have to hand it to The Donald, he’s a quick learner: he has spotted the syntax of English-English and decided to use it to his advantage.
“Absolutely possible” is a classic example of perfidious diplomatic language. Far less of a commitment than “very probable”, but marvelously enticing because it says absolutely. The ultimate politician’s approach: suggest everything, promise nothing.
English on this side of the Pond is full of such oxymoronic oddity. We say things like “perfectly ghastly”, but never “horribly wonderful”. We end letters with ‘truly”, ‘sincerely’ and ‘faithfully’, even if the missive concerned writes to inform the recipient that one has been lying to him for months, that one is indeed bonking the person’s wife, and that she is now leaving the husband for the correspondent. Perhaps that’s where the legal term co-respondent originated.
Meanwhile, David Davis has decided to vote with the Tory rebels on Monday, so the UK media say. Given that he resigned on the basis of Theresa May’s counterfeit Brexit bollocks, it would’ve been astonishing had he done anything else. Donald Trump, having smiled a lot at Mrs Pillowcase, told the British media Boris Johnson would make “a terrific Prime Minister”. Asked about this, supposedly committed Brexiteer Liam Fox – still in position as Britain’s International Trade Secretary – had this to say:
“Boris is a great friend of mine and I think it’s a great pity that he left the cabinet. And I have to say that personally I shall miss him. I didn’t consider resigning over the Prime Minister’s Brexit proposals, but I’m sure Boris will continue to make a major contribution to the Brexit debate”.
Er, I’m sorry? Your boss proposes a fake Brexit that will tie your hands more than most, but you don’t even consider resigning?
One wonders what calumny would interest Dr Fox in leaving a Cabinet crammed with those who clearly don’t want Brexit. One wonders this because the only thing he has ever resigned about at Westminster is an “improper” relationship he had with a male friend while Defence Secretary….when “resigned” was really the alternative to being fired.
He is not a chap I would rely upon were I to be manning the barricades. I’d expect to wonder where he’d gone when the balloon went up, and then to spot him leading the forces of law and order towards said barricade.
All those of us who genuinely desire full Sovereign Brexit need to be constantly dubious of those in the Conservative Party who claim to be “pro” Brexit.
Jacob Rees-Mogg has, by contrast, been busy praising President Trump’s critique of Mrs Pillowcase and her eccentrically broad definition of what a Brexit is. Jeremy Clarkson wants to see the whole thing decided in the boxing ring, in a winner-take-all pugilistic bout between Jake ‘Hardline’ Mogg and Alastair ‘Fibber’ Campbell. It’s not a contest I would pay to watch, if only because I’d sit there at the ringside thinking, ‘Is this really the best we can do?’ However, it might bring a whole new meaning to the term ‘Shadow Boxing” – you never know.
That said, what I would pay top dollar to see is a fight to the death between Piers ‘Romping Arse’ Morgan and Owen ‘I vapourise Nazis’ Jones. Jones v Morgan see – a Welsh local derby and no mistake isn’t it?
But Piers and Owen had a Twitter-spat on Thursday, and this led to Mauler Morgan cancelling his interview with Mincer Jones on Good Morning Britain yesterday. It was just so disappointing darlings.