When I was sixteen I studied the French Revolution for my A level in History. It was a period of history that fascinated me. As did all the great philosophers that penned their ideas as the revolution unfolded and many who lost their lives. I felt quite sorry for Robesperierre and his pocked marked face and his disastrous dalliances with the harlots of Paris. Another one was the Russian revolution. Social revolutions, I am a socialist at heart. And also I am part French. I had a French grandmother on my fathers side.
I respected my grandmother but did not love her. For she did not love me and I was not her favourite.
But today I stand up to be counted among all the French who will being showing their defiance of the atrocities that left 17 dead in France.
I respect the way my grandmother insisted on keeping her French accent after 56 years living in England. How she got excited when she met my French teacher at school and rattled away in French. How she drank English tea cold. How despite being born on a champagne vineyard she insisted on putting sugar in her champagne. How Saturday evenings at her house where spent eating a pint of winkles or a pomegranate depending on the season. How she loved English wrestling I can still remeber her shouting at the TV in her French accent “Hold im down Haystacks hold im down.” and that her favourite character in Starsky and Hutch was Huggy Bear. How my sister and I were only allowed one small piece of Cadbury’s chocolate before going to bed.
I respect the long scar down her arm which she never spoke about , she lived through the German occupation we know how she got that scar. I even respect the fact she could never trust a German. I respect the way she made cars in the high street stop so she could cross the road where she felt she wanted to. I even respected how she carried her pet Chihuahua in her shopping bag way before Paris Hilton made it fashionable. I respect the way she coughed her guts up on cigarettes ,no one could tell her what to do. I respect the runny smelly camembert cheese that sat on a plate in the pantry. I respect the fact she was French.
I loved the garlic in our food, the wine on the table. The way she refused to discuss religion , how wise was she! I loved the emotion and the defiance. I love escargots . I love the way any book could be read in her house without a shock reaction. How she loved the Sun newspaper and how she didn’t think any thing strange about page three -was bemused at the outcry when the first girl bared her breasts. When she first arrived in sleepy Epsom ,she stripped off with total impunity for a group of artists to paint her.
I respect how she pissed people off with her honesty and know I will be doing the same for many years to come!
So when I saw the events unfolding in Paris, it struck a cord with me. France is the home of modern democracy. The home of European socialism. And the birthplace of my grandmother!
I know that the French have a philosophy of you come to our country you live by our rules and I respect that. And please learn our language if you want to live here. The NHS could learn something from that!
And the fanatics who ran amok will never understand that the French will not forgive or forget and will not give in . The English French relationship is proof of this . I also know that we will have our own day of darkness and I will stand defiant for my own democratic country.
If you don’t like it don’t read it. If you don’t like it don’t watch it. But don’t tell other people what they can think, say ,do or read!
The papers are now full of the militants rants. They fail to see the reason they are allowed to be in print is because they are in a democratic country. The one they want to destroy
Only cowards shoot unarmed people. 17 people died because a group of cowards didn’t like a cartoon!
To my Muslim friends I know this is not what your faith is about. I know this is not you, you are not this atrocity.
And today I stand up and say I am Spartacus – Je Suis Francais.