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The Joys of Beating the French

Posted: 25/07/2012 15:23

This is my first blog for the Huffington Post so let me introduce myself. I am a French Studies undergraduate and Students' Union President at ULIP (the University of London Institute in Paris). I hope to share with you the unique perspective of being a British student living in Paris. I will try and maintain Anglo-Franco relevance in my posts but may occasionally linger off-topic, so be patient!

The sun is shining in London at last. Cue the inevitable arrival of another hosepipe ban, shirtless builders, sweaty public transport, crowded parks and sunburn. The Great British summer has arrived and boy is it long overdue. The Olympics have crept up on us like that Green Day gig for which I foolishly accepted tickets - yes, I did enjoy some of the concert but ultimately it was a waste of money and I'd much rather have seen something else. Sentiments I imagine many of us will share in the post-Olympic anticlimax. However, as the old adage goes, there's always someone less fortunate. In this case, and I say this rubbing my hands with enormous glee, it's the French.

Watching Bradley Wiggins and his glorious sideburns rocketing down the Champs Elysees this weekend, was a sight to behold. His victory, so comprehensive, he may as well have stopped to take a ceremonious wee on the Arc du Triomphe. His first comments to the media, after what must be considered one of the best individual sporting achievements of all time, were wonderfully laid back - "job done really". It brings me real pleasure when the British beat the French at sport and victory is that much better when it's on their home turf.

This particular post is a rather selfish opportunity for me to revel in Mr. Wiggins' Tour de France glory. Sport has always played a significant role in the age-old rivalry between Britain and France and all too often the British are left disappointed. Having said that, the announcement in 2005 that the Olympics would take place in London was almost doubly sweet as Paris was the runner-up city. In your face Monsieur Chirac! (N.B. Jacques Chirac, French president at the time, callously labeled British cuisine as "only better than the Finnish").

Before the accusations start rolling in, I am not a xenophobe - I simply love to hate the French. I think the reason why victories against the French are somewhat more satisfying is fairly simple. When in competition with someone, say in a tennis match, if after beating them, they shake your hand, smile and say well done, it doesn't feel quite as sweet a victory as when you play someone who smashes his racket, clenches his fists and swears a lot. France is that guy. France is the sore loser. Lest we forget the Parisian mayor Bertrand Delanoe screaming foul play at Tony Blair and Sebastian Coe after London was awarded the Olympics. Delanoe's comments were particularly unhelpful not only as they were completely unfounded but also as they coincided with the terrible events of the 7/7 bombings. The French never were a tactful bunch.

The French have many redeeming qualities and I find it a joy and a privilege to live in Paris, a truly extraordinary city. However, with the world's greatest sporting event hours away, my allegiance lies firmly with London. It's at times like these that I am proud to be British and thankful that my blood runs red, white and blue not bleu, blanc, rouge.

 

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