The tectonic plates of Europe are definitely shifting. Further to my earlier piece, where Tunisia had mysteriously slid north to become part of Europe, the Normans have rekindled their old belief that England belongs to them, albeit they are more tactful these days and just describe themselves as part of England!
The Agincourt ‘games’ are consigned to history, now they have their eyes on the lucrative London Olympics in 2012. Dominique Depilet, Conseil général for Pas-de-Calais in Normandy, has announced that since Calais is ‘only 18 miles from England’ he is happy to be considered part of ‘Southern England’ in an effort to persuade foreign Olympic teams that they would be better off spending their euro millions on training camps and accommodation in Calais than in ultra-expensive London. A proud Frenchman passing himself off as English? Pas-de-Cash, M. Depilet is happy to be duplicit.
Not surprisingly, the Chad and Senegal teams have already signed up with M. Depilet, they are both French speaking countries, and will feel at home with both the food and the language. Rather more surprising is the decision of Uzbekistan to base their canoe and kayak team in Calais, not an area noted for its kayaking facilities, but perhaps they prefer the food too.
The French have backed M Depilet’s ’succession’ with hard cash, €100 million euro of it – and they do have a point, Calais to central or East London is a scant two hours in the comfort of Eurostar, as opposed to several hours stuck on the M25 with only a Turkey Twizzler or Burger King to look forward to when you return to camp. It will be a strange turnaround of fortunes if the French, having lost out on their bid to stage the games in Paris, end up making more money out of the games than the British.