There can be no question that actually finding a property is one of the most exciting phases of the whole process of acquiring a house in France.
The doorstep that is two inches too low to prevent the quagmire outside seeping into the house, the drainage system made of two-inch pipe that turns the courtyard into a lake when it blocks, which of course it will do several times every winter, the dripping and split gutters, the multitude of little leaks in the roof, the rising damp and the access road that has turned into a single-lane swamp. All of these delights will provide you and your partner – if you have one – with hours of after-dinner chat.
The name of King Jan III Sobieski of Poland is one that every European should know and speak with pride.
In September 1683, the city of Vienna was near to collapse. For months, it had been under siege by the Islamic hordes of the Islamic Ottoman army. Every day now, starvation and surrender grew closer. The city had long since run out of horses and pets to eat and even rats were few and far between now.
Worse, the Viennese knew that other Europeans had been the instruments of their doom. Swiss Calvinists had begged the Turks to attack, so that they could sweep away Catholicism. It beggars belief that Christians could call down the hounds of Islamic hell on their fellow Europeans, but that they had, hoping, no doubt, to negotiate some deal, a reward for their treachery, that might spare them the scimitar or a lifetime of submission to the foul creed of Islam.
The city’s defenders, listening in its basements, could hear the scrape-scrap of pick and shovel as the enemy’s sappers undermined them. Soon they would plant another huge mine and blow up a section of the city’s curtain wall, breaching it and allowing the enemy in. Nobody in Vienna was under any illusion as to what would happen then: the men would be tortured and killed or enslaved, the women would be raped and killed or enslaved and the children slaughtered. The behaviour of triumphant Islamic armies was well known.
Today, the Twelfth of September, was the last. The government of the city knew it. The people knew it and worse, the enemy knew it. They were ready: their final attack was to come on the twelfth of the month. There was nothing left. Vienna would fall. Without a miracle, Vienna must fall, and with it, Europe.
I met Denis Poulot by the old lavoir as I ambled down to the Salle des Fetes. We’ve known each other for 24 years now; we’ve never been especially close but we share a relaxed camaraderie. We paused in our journeys to shake hands and exchange formalities, then carried on. Inevitably, this being Bastille Day, 14 July and we were both going to the ceremonial vin d’honneur, we chatted about Bastille Days past.
Denis drew up and looked into the distance. ‘It’s not the same any more.’
Molinot is a village deep in the Arriere Cote of Burgundy, has been a part of my life since 1993. In those days, the village was famous for the extravagance of its Bastille Day celebrations and people would come from miles away to enjoy them. Indeed, ours was so popular that many villages around had their celebrations on another day, since all the locals were at ours; and of course we reciprocated, making for a thoroughly convivial week.
Yesterday, the 7th of May 2017, will be long remembered. It is the day of the Fall of France.
This is not the first Fall of France. In 1940, German troops stormed through the Ardennes, completely surprising the French General Staff.
Nobody who has read Chester Wilmot’s ‘The Struggle for Europe’ can fail to recognise the similarities. In 1940, the French Establishment was represented by octogenarian and even nonagenarian generals. Their incompetence was complete. Counter-attacks were so badly organised that battalions engaged on different days or in the wrong place. Communications were by carrier pigeon. The French armour, superior in numbers and quality to the German, was not allowed to operate freely and instead was used as semi-mobile artillery for infantry support.
The result was that France capitulated. That was the first Fall of France. An uneasy truce was declared, in which the Germans gave the French permission to govern themselves in territory not already under a German jackboot, but it didn’t last long; in 1942 the Germans assumed complete control.
Seventy-two years later, the second Fall of France has just occurred. Instead of dottering relics from bygone wars, fought decades before, today the French establishment is represented by a dandified fop called Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frederic Macron. This poodle sans couilles is now the President-elect of France.
In the week after yet another terrorist attack perpetrated by a Muslim in the United Kingdom, and the tragic and pointless deaths of innocent bystanders that this savagery caused, it is worth looking again at the late Sir Enoch Powell’s notorious ‘rivers of blood’ speech.
Powell was vilified for decades for his candour and honesty, but who could read that speech today and not, while condemning some of the language, see how he accurately predicted what has happened?
The conflict Powell feared has but just begun. All over Europe, our culture and its values are under attack. The attackers are Muslims and they act in the name of Islam.
We have no time left to deliberate, now. Appeasement has failed, just as it did in 1939. The enemy is among us. He is far more cruel and vicious than Adolf Hitler and more totalitarian than the Nazis. He uses any weapon he can to kill us, while we have allowed our governments to take from us our own, with which we might, perhaps, have defended ourselves. His name is Islam and he has declared war.
Our cultural values of freedom and toleration we must now put aside, because our continent is sick. The dream of a free, peaceful Europe that we have been building for seven decades is dead. We must, now, fight to preserve what is left, the essential core of our cultural values. To do that we must accept that many of our privileges, afforded by the system we live under, must be suspended. We are at war and that is one consequence.
Barack Obama has been a disastrous US President. Look at the history: Libya, turned from a functioning state into a non-state. Syria, turned from a functioning state into a non-state. All across the Islamic world, stable governments have been cast down by terrorist, Islamist insurrections, fomented by the Muslim Brotherhood and supported by Obama.
He has stirred up a hornet’s nest outside its borders but the US refuses, as always, to either accept the blame or resolve the problems it has caused. The entire Muslim world is now in flames and that is entirely the fault of Barack Obama, assisted, lest we forget, by Hillary Clinton.
On Saturday it was Bonfire Night in Blighty. Yes, that spectacularly English version of the traditional festival at the onset of winter. While the rest of the world has Samhain, Hallowe’en, the Day of the Dead and others, the English celebrate a failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament, otherwise known as the ‘Gunpowder Plot’.
Thirteen men, led by one Robert Catesby, smuggled 36 barrels of gunpowder into the vaults under the building. On the 5th of November 1605, Guy Fawkes was arrested attempting to light the fuse.
I have begun wearing kilts again. I used to do this years ago but, erm, passage of time rendered them, uh, too small. Alack, the Fleming waistline now oscillates between 36 and 40 and those distant days of 32waist/32leg are long since departed. However, last year I bought a few more and now I wear them pretty much every day. And when I’m not wearing the kilt, I wear tartan trews.
Now what could possibly have spurred this aberrant behaviour? A sudden dose of ‘alt-fashion’ in the old fool’s noggin? A passionate longing for the owld country? Simple homesickness? Senility?
World War Three has been much talked about in the seven decades since World War Two ended. At that time, almost all of Europe and large parts of Asia were in ruins, scourged by years of brutal, mechanised, industrial war.
Since the beginning of that peace, war has raged incessantly throughout the world. It has never stopped. The killing, the butchery, the rapes, the genocides, the ethnic cleansings. Mass rapes, murders, enslavements. Whole cities destroyed, nations impoverished or obliterated.
Has World War Three begun?
As I write, war is raging in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia. Why? If the end of World War Two heralded in an ‘era of peace’, then why is there so much war? And how fragile is that peace?