The Entente Cordiale

I recently wrote that the French seemed to be improving in their attitude to foreigners. Not necessarily so!

I had the task of bringing back two of my grandchildren from the Limousin to Newcastle a few days ago, and in great excitement we found our seats on the TGV, installed ourselves, got out the various games to occupy them on the 3 hour journey, and played happily for the first hour. I noticed the woman opposite huffing a bit as she tried to make a pillow from her scarf, but thought no more about it until she got up and came over. Obviously she knew we were English, but she started remonstrating with me in French about the behaviour and noise that the children were making. I think she was a little taken aback when I replied in French, saying that in my opinion they were being very well behaved, talking, not shouting or shrieking, and not using electronic games. In fact they were neither as loud as her mobile phone, not the frequent announcements on the train.

New tactic: “Well I’m very tired,” she said.

“But so am I, madame,” said I, “but as it’s 10 in the morning I think it’s reasonable for children to talk, and I see no rules about silence in this coach.”

She returned to her seat, vanquished, I hope. We continued our games and heard no more.

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