Personally, I thought Chirac's "Oh shit I thought the microphone was off" comments were hilarious; what a great way to divert attention away from the 'real' issues of the day...
I wonder if the G8 leaders drew straws to pick who would make the diversionary mega-gaffe: "...Gee, sorry, Jacques...looks like you got the short straw...."
"Ah, yeeees, weeel I waz thinkin' of retiring soon, mes amis. I 'ave, ow you say, skeemed off millions in kickbacks een the last few years, so ai cannot complain...life 'as been good to mee. Wha' you thin', my friens, shall I make an incroyable, pardonez-moi...an incredeebly insulteeng comment abou' engleeesh food, eh? Thaat weel get the engleeesh press all 'ot under thee collair..." (Er, why's he talking with a Spanish accent? - Ed.)
And sure enuff, The Mail and The Express put in their jingoistic sunday-best teeth and rose to the bait. And, oh look, those nasty anarchist anti-globalists are out breaking things again and ruining the Live-8 Party atmosphere. ASBOs all round! Ban all hoodies, I say! Bring back the birch...
Waitaminute, what were we talking about just now? Oh yeah, cancelling Third World Debt (but only in countries that have (a) compliant US-friendly governments, (b) large mineral and/or oil reserves or (c) a strange desire to buy US/UK services and goods for the next 25 years. NB: your home can be repossessed if you don't keep up mortgage payments...) Oh, bollocks: the conference is over...what a lost opportunity. Oh dear, never mind. Maybe next time. Say, howsabout we hold the next one in a bunker deep in the Antartican Oil-Fields...sorry, I meant Antartican Continent, you know, somewhere where we won't be disturbed by hooded hoodies burning papier-mache caricatures of us...I mean, it's okay sending Special Ops soldiers in to kick the krap out of protesters in Switzerland, 'cause they're used to that in the Land of the Golden-Toothed Cookoo, but we can't go too far in the UK, because a news blackout will look suspicious and images on the Beeb of balaclava'd gun-wielding SBS goons clubbing down middle-aged women from Sussex is, well, it's just not cricket. Yep, definitely Antartica next time.
I was particularly proud though, that Chirac said our food was nearly as bad as The Finns. So I'm advocating that we set up a rogue trading-bloc with Finland based around Psychedelic Free-Folk and boiled cabbage.
Personally, I've got no beef (sorry, bad joke, couldn't resist it!) with the French (after all, I am 1/64th French), but Chirac's unguarded comments finally prove what we always suspected, that they really do think their food, art, literature, fashion and philosophers are better than ours. (And, worse, that they think they're better loveurs...).
And they'll get no argument from me, because they're right on all or most of the above counts (though I have to say that, personally speaking, I'm a righteous lay). But what Da French haven't counted on (or ever understood) is the British Right to be Crap. They've just never wrapped their head around the fact that, as a race, we get off on failure...that we actually enjoy being rubbish....it's a familar, comforting, almost tactile sensation...an old, smelly threadbare cardigan that we just love to wrap ourselves up in. It's probably a side-effect of the Class System...hundreds of years of doffing our caps to our 'betters' (mainly descendents of garlic-guzzling Norman invaders) and being told we're useless/lazy/second-rate have numbed us and completely eroded any ambition, joi de vie, etc. Dammit, we like being shabby and second-rate. As an (albeit mongrel) race, most of us Brits probably couldn't really give a shit about most things any more. We've given up trying. What's the point, you can't take it with you when you go, etc, etc.
The French have made an artform out of glacial cool and feigned ennui, whereas us Brits really are bored shitless by our lives. The French used Existentialism to try and quantify the unnamable inner dread summoned forth by the realisation that we inhabit a meaningless universal vacuum left by the departure of God, whereas us Brits are just hung-over and don't know what the fuck is going on. The French changed the face of Art with the Expressionist and Impressionist movements whereas we chainsawed a shark, then had a shag and forgot to make the bed. The French are locked in a perpetual fashion style-war with Milan, but the best we can come up with is Baggy.
How wonderfully crap we are. We genuinely don't give a shit and the French know it, and it secretly worries them. Beneath that arrogant, strutting-peacock facade of theirs, they're running scared. At night, in their idyllic barn-conversions in Provence, French blokes are unable to sleep...they toss and turn in crisp, perfectly-laundered linen next to impossibly-gorgeous 19 yr-old starlets, a single unanswerable question forever nagging at their consciousness: What do The English know that we don't?
Somehow, along the way, though, we managed to invent Industrial Music, spanking, gin and, er, the hovercraft.
I rest my case.