Saturday, 27 February 2016

1000 Years of Annoying The French by Stephen Clarke

 Reviewed by Susan Price

I came across this book in the bathroom of my esteemed colleague
1000 Years of Annoying The French - Clarke
and fellow Author Electric, Karen Bush, while I was staying with her and the whippets.          I dipped into it and found it so amusing and interesting that I bought my own e-copy.

We have been, we are, and I trust we always will be, detested by the French. - Duke of Wellington.

          It is full of hints and tips on how to annoy the French - and some account of how they have succeeded in annoying us.

The English, by nature, always want to fight their neighbours for no reason... From the Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, written during the Hundred Years War.

          The thousand years begins, of course, with 1066, the only memorable date in English history, as any fule kno. Stephen Clarke immediately destroys the French's sad illusion that they were the last foreigner to successfully invade us. They weren't - and anyway, the Normans weren't French, they were Vikings, and we already had plenty of them.
          For a thousand years, Stephen Clarke is always amusing and very often surprising - I had no idea that French Canadians had such a long history of oppression, mostly by the French. Nor that the Cajuns of the American South are descended from those same troubled French Canadians, who it seems were never allowed to rest in any place very long.
          I was also enlightened on the matter of De Gaulle and why he seemed to be so heartily disliked by all my relatives who had lived through the war. I've never taken much interest in the war that immediately preceded my lifetime and had supposed that De Gaulle was disliked simply because he was French and pursued France's interests - as was his business. Clarke's book made me think that there may have been other reasons. For one, the man was an idiot. (That should be annoying.)
          Clarke's also keen to tell us that champagne and the guillotine were both invented by the English, and that all French wine is, in fact, American.
          Clarke is obviously fluent in French and knowledgable about their customs and history, but I did sometimes get the impression - whether he intended it or not - that he genuinely disliked them and was happy to encourage us to annoy them.
          I'm sure I'm wrong on this.
          But I'm happy to recommend this book - it's a good read and you end by knowing a lot more about Anglo-French history that you thought you were going to learn.

1000 Years of Annoying the French by Stephen Clarke

          Susan Price is the award winning writer of The Ghost Drum and The Sterkarm Handshake.
          Her website is here.
          Her latest book is The Drover's Dogs

It’s a long way home — from East to West across Scotland’s mountains and lochs.
      Sandy’s mother is desperate for money. So she ‘bonds’ ten-year-old Sandy to a wealthy farmer until he’s twenty-one.
      Sandy is miserable — bullied, ill-fed and beaten. He runs home, and is heart-broken when his mother makes him return, to another beating.
      So Sandy runs away, though he fears he will be caught and hung for breaking his bond. Alone, on the road, he longs for a safe, loving home.
      Then he falls in with friends: two drover dogs, making their way home, by themselves, to a distant croft.
Sandy decides to follow the dogs to wherever they belong. He dreams there will be a place by the fire for him too…
But when the dogs reach home, will Sandy be left outside, alone again?