One white knuckle, more to come.

23rd April 2017 |


Aspiran is voting today. As you can see from my picture, posters of all 11 candidates are up in the village square, but only Marine Le Pen’s is defaced. Those of you who would like to take consolation from this should beware. The people round here are much inclined to like her regardless of the neo-fascist origins of her party and her friendship with Putin and Trump.

In the second world war this part of the world was called Vichy, and was governed by a French authority that collaborated with the Nazis. You might think that after 70 years this would be forgotten, but it cast a slur on the region. Recently Le Pen was asked to comment on the fact that French collaborators in Paris rounded up 30,000 Jews and handed them over to the Nazis  to be sent to the gas chambers. Le Pen insisted that this was not a reflection on France. France, she said, was not to blame.  This is an alternative fact that will please some of my older neighbours.

And young people, who are 20% or more unemployed, like to think that she will kick out foreigners and give them jobs, which is nonsense. The French believe (according to a reliable poll) that there are vast numbers of Muslims in France, whereas the actual figure is a single digit percentage.

The media are caught in the same trap here as everywhere. Even though, for the most part, they would rather the devil than Le Pen, they can’t help helping her. Even though the Dutch and the Austrians have held fast, the media’s relentless pursuit of controversy makes it seem as though an irresistible wave of nationalism is drowning Europe, which makes it harder to fight back. Well, we’ll see. At least the French are cushioned against disaster, because they will vote again in two weeks’ time when the blood may cool. Here they vote in a lovely, ancient building – the Chapelle des Penitentes. And there will be time to repent.


Whatever they do I doubt that it will affect me much in the short or medium term, and after all that’s probably what I’ve got. My love affair with the bureaucracy has born fruit. The plates for my bike should arrive any day, and health care is free. I’ll see this one out.

Next Sunday I turn 86 (there’s a party, of course) and a week later I’ll fly to Arizona for an Expo of overland vehicles in Flagstaff.  And from there – my envious friends – I’m going to Bali, to help spread the word that two wheels are better than four, with my friend Jeffrey Polnaja who is determined to make Indonesia the next best thing for bikers.

Hope to see you soon.



PS:  Well the results are in now, and thank heavens the French have found a way to avoid the populist trap. Macron, a newcomer with no political ties to either of the old parties, will be President. He still has to defeat Le Pen in a run-off, but he is certain (if anything is certain) to win. So Europe will survive, because he is pro-Europe while Le Pen would scupper it.