Friday, 16 November 2007

The Bubble

There’s never been a better time to be recovering from a debilitating virus. The exaggerator in me would like to say a life-threatening debilitating virus.

Ronald Reagan was known as “The Great Communicator”, I’d like the moniker of The Great Exaggerator.

But that would jeopardise my future writings. Who would believe in me? Who believes in me now?

Anyway, now is not the time for ontological doubt. Or perhaps it is as I recover from a debilitating illness.

The doc has said I have to take it easy if I want to return to full fitness. So go easy on everything…like swimming.

I asked about yoga. She said see how you feel.

So I went along on Thursday night. I felt less flexible than before but given what I’ve just gone through, I’m just happy that I feel. Perhaps I exaggerate.

During the same consultation with the medics (it has a war zone ring to it) I thought it prudent not to ask about playing football this Saturday.

I want the doctor to take me seriously.

With that thought in mind, I declined the offer to go and play poker on Friday night. There’ll be about eight guys there. There’ll be pizza. Good pizza too as one of the players is the owner of the pizza house venue.

There’ll be beers and smoke. In essence all the things that make men men.

No wonder that I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to acquire some hunkiness.

The snag to this latter-day quest for machismo is the 1030pm start. We’re in France so is that 1030 for 11?

As I’m virtually horizontal at 10pm at the moment, I don’t think it’s for me. You need energy to bluff and that’s not something I’ve got in abundance. I have no doubt I can bluff. The boys plan to do it on a monthly basis and this is something I’d dearly love to do. High stakes (50 euros), testosterone, pizza, beer, smoke.

But even when back to full heartiness, 1030pm or so is a bit late especially with a 9.30am kick off on Saturday morning. And I have a commitment to greatness on the football field especially since I’m doing the yoga to assist me in my quest for balletic exploits on the pitch.

Helas. The choices.

The poker crisis helped me to realise what a jolly bubble I’m living in. This whole strike is passing me by.

In years to come I’ll be asked: “What did you do during the strike?”

I’ll have no answer because I’m a strike profiteer. I’ve not suffered at all. I have no tales about 20 mile traffic jams; scuffles in the metro; punch-ups in the cycle lanes or anything like that.

I’m in a state of serenity and this has little to do with the yoga. I heard that the disruptions might go on until November 26. Surely that’s just a nasty rumour.

Jamie – owner of the pizza restaurant and instigator of the poker night – reckons one of the big rubber companies is fomenting the dissent.

Since I thought I’d been struck down by germs introduced into the atmosphere by international terrorists, I’m inclined to be open to a plethora of theories. After all it is possible, well, the former is at any rate.

I do know that what we’re living through is a terror. There’s fear of change. There’s fear of accepting the reality. L’exception francaise has been proudly promulgated as one of the wonders of the modern world. It shouldn’t work but it has been.

But its moment is over. That might elicit schadenfreude in many quarters; I don’t feel there’s anything to mourn. Maybe that’s because I’m not French.

But even as a Francophile, it’s easy to see that l’exception has had a good innings and now it’s time to advance in a different way.

My second job as a journalist was at the Nottingham Evening Post. Back in the late 80’s it was still possible to witness the devastation on the Nottinghamshire villages of the pit closures. Once the colliery was gone, there was nothing. It was barren. You could taste the desolation as you drove in. What else could they do? They readapted for sure.

But since then I’ve always been sceptical about any politician who says that change is an easily manageable phenomenon. I don’t believe that it is.

What are people angry about here at the moment? Not about not working but about their spending power after they’ve been working. That’s a fair concern. But it’s hard to win people over to your cause if they’ve never had a job.

Even from my vantage point of Chez Prune after dropping off the boy at crèche, it’s fairly clear that change is necessary in France. Sgt Major Sarko isn’t a genius by predicating an entire political life on that. What’s striking is that his political adversaries haven’t tried to manoeuvre onto this ground because that is where the future obviously lies.

Disruption, transport chaos, street protests it’s really the last hurrah of the ancien régime.

The terror comes next.