14th June 2009

I was interested to see that the French euro coin still displays those historic words Liberté Egalité Fraternité. Freedom is such an emotive word. Yesterday, I was chatting to some English tourists in our local market. The sun was blazing down at 36 degrees, yet the topic of conversation was, for once, not the weather. 'You're so free here', said one. 'There are no yellow lines, no white lines, no Don't Park Here signs....', said another. Yes, she'd got it in one. But, is this just the difference between rural and urban living?
In yesterday's Telegraph, Columnist Vicki Woods compared the French capital with London. And her conclusion: 'After my trip to Paris, I long to be back with the free French'. Unlike at typical London rail stations, there were no barriers at the Gare du Nord. Taxis wait right outside the station entrance - all parked haphazardly on the cobbles bang outside, in a typically French muddle of 30 or 40 cabs, all arrayed like spilled matchsticks. There was no parking supervisor, no Community Support Officers(!) and no concrete bollards to give nameless officials their daily dose of schadenfreude. In typical joie de vivre, the cab driver threw Vicki's wheelie-bag in the back and began beeping his way out of the muddle. And in London? St. Pancras is laid out to annoy, confuse and cause the maximum discomfort to tired passengers, its taxi ranks miles away from the trains.
That's what I like about France. We don't want Big Brother cameras, yellow lines, traffic islands every few feet. Yes, life can be hazardous, but if you're brought up to respect others, man has sufficient brainpower to make his own decisions. He doesn't need them made for him to the n'th degree, as in the UK. That George Orwell knew what he was talking about.

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