Well that’s quite a title isn’t it?! I didn’t really quite know how else to put it but I think that just about sums it up nicely. What do you think? No idea of what I am talking about? What is this you speak of? Well strap in and I shall tell you.
I think it’s fair to say that our lives have been taken over by current world events. That of the Coronavirus or Covid19. I wrote a piece earlier in the month about our new way of life which includes filling in forms and various other restrictions. If you missed it you can read it here.
Unfortunately this means that people really do have too much time on their hands. And most are heading into facebook forums to spend a good proportion of their day. Never mind about all those jobs that needed doing, learning French, reading that book etc facebook has never been so busy! I am talking about the French facebook forums for English speakers. There are so many – expats living in France, living and working in France, living in France and UK, English speakers living in France – just type in any combination and you’ll find loads of these groups. We also have two popular ones (the same people in both groups) here in Normandy.
I noticed a common theme recently in that many were feeling as pleased as punch that they were sitting out the Coronavirus here in France. That’s all well and good and who can blame them? Here in Normandy, we are in a rural part of the world where towns would probably be considered villages in the UK. Take Vire, for instance, this is a ‘town’ with a population of 17,000. My old town, Croydon, had 385,000 living in it. It is a town! A borough of London, but still a town.
So yes, if you live here and you are in a ‘lock down’, it’s far easier to go off into the woods or have beautiful countryside right outside your doorstep. So I get the “oh isn’t it a blessing we live here”.
What I don’t get and what is quite sad to see, is the whole Brit bashing going on. Now, not gonna lie as the figures were coming in thick and fast here in France – you wanted to scream at the UK to start doing exactly as we (the France we) were doing. The Macron doing i.e closing schools, imposing restrictions and the like. However, if you look at the time line with regard to Boris and Macron it’s not that far out. The UK followed the same path as France, roughly a week behind. Hardly too little too late is it?
I think there was a two day period whereby they were trying the ‘herd’ theory which may or may not have been a real thought process by the UK government. Reports suggested that it was the Imperial College of London that changed the governments course. They got a bit busy with the numbers, did their own bit of research and said this theory could potentially lead to 500,000 deaths. In any event, all governments are just trying to manage the situation as best they can.
No hospitals anywhere in the world can cope with a sudden increase in patients needing critical care.
Now as many of you know I do like The Macron (seriously if you have had to endure various Tories since 2010 then sorry French person, you’d understand. I know you hate him but seriously try a Tory for a while) and I am absolutely not a fan of Boris however that does not mean I want him to fail at getting this right so I can say “told you so” like some 10 year old child or “oh aren’t I lucky living here in France with a competent leader”. People are dying. British and foreign nationals. They are not just numbers. They all have stories. There is no place for smug superiority borne out from political view points.
But if you go onto a French forum you will find many Brits saying things like “who thinks the lock down will have no effect in the UK!?” “He should have shut it down ages ago – they will have the same deaths as Italy!” “Look at all the shops being emptied – glad I live here!” “they need to fine them for going out – like Macron has done!”.
Now, the underlying point to these posts, these look at me all smug in France where I can get loo roll, walk in the countryside and will be treated better here than by the NHS – is Brexit. Yes, it’s people still raging and bitter over the whole Brexit thang and the whole Boris getting a majority. They want the British people to be punished for their choice of leader. And what better way if the UK is in a chaotic mess with lots of people dying?
They are hating on the UK and are willing it to fail so they can feel better and say “well you did vote for this idiot what did you expect”. How very childish and very sad.
Is there also an element of justifying their life here in Normandy? Who may not be living the dream? I don’t know. Many facing financial pressures like thousands of others across the world. Not only that, some people find the remoteness and lack of contact with friends and families hard. The familiarity, the central heating, the popping to shops, coffee and a chat. They miss all sorts of things in the UK but are probably loathe to admit it. I sometimes feel people doth protest too much about their wonderful lives.
Whilst I do like Macron we may just fall out! Say what?! Yes, he does a good rousing national address, however, are his measures too draconian? There is no dialogue going on at the moment with regard to civil liberties being taken away and anything being passed through Parliament because a state of emergency has been declared.
Say what you like about Boris but the people of the UK are still free citizens. He has not asked them to:-
Fill in a form every time they go out (most printing this off – printer ink will soon be the next commodity over loo roll I’m sure). Stating you name, address, date and now PLACE of birth. Not only that you have to put the time that you went out.
Beaches are closed. Now beaches here in Normandy are not crowded on a sunny August day let alone now. You’d be hard pushed to get anywhere as near as 1 metre to someone. Maybe a thousand metres. How is this justified? You cannot drive somewhere for exercise. I believe you can still do this in the UK. And I do believe you can still ride a bike. Yes there are fines but here they can go up substantially and there is a threat of a 6 month prison sentence.
There are some curfews in French towns. A siren goes off a 9pm and back on again at 5am in one town. In Nice, they have drones looking for anyone breaking the rules and in other large cities.
Maybe it will come to this but he has not asked his citizens to be living in a police state has he?
Macron has said we will have a joint European effort and yet Germany has tested loads of its citizens and has had very few deaths. You have French doctors on telly very angry that they don’t have enough masks – the same complaint from the NHS staff. The French built a military hospital but it only housed 100. I do believe they have transported patients to Brittany and also into Germany.
The UK has set up a hospital that can house 4000 beds at the Excel centre. More in Birmingham and Manchester. Although doing a quick fact check the UK does have less beds than most countries per 1000 inhabitants. In 2017 it was just over 2, France had approximately 5 and Germany had an impressive 8 per 1000.
Oxford University got busy brainstorming ventilators and came up with a basic design where parts are already available and can be massed produced. All these positives are not being shared on these facebook forums as this does not subscribe to the smug in France ethos.
Many cannot speak French and have no French television. They have to rely on someone translating or an English speaking newspaper in France such as the Local Fr to give them updates. If they did watch the news channels they would see that there is a lot of criticism in the way in which this is being handled by the French government eg open air markets, Parisians flocking to their second homes, people taking no notice of social distancing and so on. Not only that it has been passed as law that people can work on a Sunday and for 60 hours during the working week. Will this still in place after the state of emergency? I’m sure they will be civil unrest if this is to be the case.
So if you are a Brit Basher, a Boris hater then please take a moment to reflect on the UK at the moment.
Because ironically the UK has gone all socialist on us. All those things that Jeremy wanted to spend the money on has materialised! It turns out there is trillion pound money tree somewhere. It turns out you can build hospitals very quickly, you can get supplies to front line NHS staff and you can get the homeless off the streets. Hotels have been asked to put the homeless up!
Remember how everyone jeered at the shadow chancellor saying he would let Number 11 Downing Street out to the homeless? The free broadband – now it’s freezing of bills. Oh, and it appears everyone can claim benefits and not be called a scrounger, there is loads of money to help people. The banks can give you a mortgage break (well they could before in fairness), a no questions asked overdraft and there are now over 500,000 volunteers. Shop workers, delivery drivers, binmen etc are now all highly thought of. How bloody ironic! It is a Corbyn Britain after all. I’m sure after the dust has settled it will revert back to every man for himself but for now, this show of solidarity for ‘comrades’ is a good thing.
Yes, France has an amazing health care system but the NHS is used to working at crisis point. It does that everyday. Imagine what it would be like with proper funding and re-opening of perfectly good hospitals that were shut? The NHS has also just looked after my dad for 9 days who has the Coronavirus. He was very ill with pneumonia but with strong antibiotics is now home. Another life saved.
We should be supportive of all countries at this time. The United States of America are having an incredible amount of cases and deaths – no one likes Trump do they?! But are we all hoping Americans die. No! Stop.The.Brit.Bashing!
Now I know the Brit Bashers don’t really want people to die but they do need to rein it in a bit with their gleeful posts on the latest in the UK as it is not all roses here either.
And on a more light-hearted note, it is my understanding you can still get a take-away delivered in the UK. And that my friends, trumps all smugness here in France!
You have been reading Our Normandy Life!