Sunday, January 15, 2006

French culture and British camaraderie

Jason Burke, The Observer's European correspondent:

Why do my friends despise me?

"... I have spent much of the last six months in Paris writing a book. It was pretty much as you would imagine. I have got up late, read over the previous day's efforts, strolled by the Seine with proofs under my arm and sat in the sun on benches gnawing the end of my red pen. Jean-Pierre at the bistro 100 metres from my front door knows I'll be in around 10am looking for Le Figaro, a creme and a tartine with jam; Jimmy (actually Jamal, but no matter) in the cafe opposite will expect me around 4pm for a final espresso. When inspiration lacked (often), I took myself off to one of the smaller galleries or the lively bars along the rue Oberkampf."

Not surprisingly this generated some envy amongst friends and colleagues and some typically British acerbity:

"Sadly, I have now sent in the manuscript, so these halcyon days are over. But I want to thank my friends and colleagues, often appraised of my daily routine by email, who have been so supportive. I am sure, having read thus far, you would share their generous sentiments, and I want to say how grateful I am for the constant reminders I have had of the fluidity and infinite variety of the Anglo-Saxon language. Of those messages of encouragement that are printable, perhaps my favourite is: 'Have I ever told you how much I despise you?' You have now."

http://books.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,16488,1681430,00.html

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