7 December 2014
What a contrast! Was in Birmingham last week and never have I seen such a difference in lifestyle between the English and French. Masses and masses of Xmas shoppers, especially in the Bull Ring. No matter where you wanted to go, the heaving throng simply lifted you off your feet and carried you along. At major escalators, barriers had been erected chicane style (like at DisneyWorld attractions) simply to negotiate a downwards escalator! A German market occupied the whole of New Street and food smells followed you everywhere. Reminded me of the old Goose Fair of my youth. My main thought: why aren't all these young people working? It was a weekday after all. Probably all on benefits, spending it on frivolous fripperies rather than the staples of life. But what do I know? What I do know is that it concentrated my mind. What is it that would make me happiest: to go back to this (maddening) English culture I know so well, to friends who welcome and hug me, or to stay in calm, quiet France - that now, strangely, seems totally lacking in personality or soul? On verra.