Paradise Peopled By Pessimists

It was one of those late night news, cum debate programmes, where “experts” and “hacks” sit round a table and slag off each other’s point of view. This might is a typical French thing – guests have to shout loudly and incessantly over each other as opposing views are expressed. The result is a cacophony of diverging views and after an hour of heated debate,(slanging match) the viewer is no wiser as to anyone’s view, but assured in his view that the participants (politicians and journalists alike) are a bunch of self-satisfying individuals (because I’m probably not allowed to say w***kers) on this blog.

So, today is Bastille day, when we remember those events of 1789 when, Parisians stormed the fortress of the Bastille, and this set in chain those events that became the French Revolution (or revolutions). I am not here to dwell on those historic events, but just to remark on a remark by a Journalist in one of those aforementioned news, cum debate cum TV slanging match programmes, on the theme of national identity.

“France is a paradise peopled by pessimists who spend their time complaining that they live in hell.”

It has taken thirty years of living and working in France, of observing the French and writing about them at length, to finally hear a Frenchman, successfully and beautifully encapsulate what it really means to be French .

That’s thirty years I’ve been here listening to the French, moaning. French are pessimistic, they are never happy unless they are grumbling. They see a downside to everything, and even when life is good, in the French mind, it can only get worse, and that’s they way they like it. Lord forbid that we are all unquestioningly happy. Why are you happy? Is everything okay? Don’t worry, it will all go wrong in the end and we can say “I told you so.” And that is how it is living in France. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.