Posted by: kathandroger | October 17, 2010

’68 all over again?

When I did my degree all those years ago I actually studied an entire course about the ‘french revolution’ of 1968 – fascinating stuff as it said so much about the culture of the nation. Since then, there have been many strikes of course, but nothing approaching the scale of back then. Over the past month we have had about 8 days of strikes and protests, the most recent involving 3.5 (allegedly) people out on the streets – including students. No storming of barricades or pulling up cobble stones, but a pretty united front across many sectors of society against the pension reforms of the Sarkozy governement. In truth it is probably about more than this as Sarko’s record of favouring the rich (his ‘own’) at the expense of the masses has turned him into one of the most unpopular presidents. He’s the bling bling president and that doesn’t sit well with most here. From a non French perspective the reaction to the pension reforms (which will still leave France one of the best-off nations in Europe with regard to retirement laws) seems a bit overdone. Clearly something has to change and these reforms appear reasonably fair to we Brits, especially bearing in mind the pain the UK is about to go through with its programme of cuts. Is a bit of realism needed on this side of the channel? It also strikes us as a strange way to go about government. The reforms have been agreed in the French parliament and are certain to be ratified by the senate – one would have thought there was therefore little point in protesting? But clearly that’s not how the French view things! The other fact that has struck me in all of this is the lack of clarity of an alternative view. We all know that the left is counter…but what are they for? What is the alternative course?

Whatever the rights and wrongs, the fact is that the action is starting to bite. All the local petrol stations are empty – as are many across France. Luckily we filled up so have enough to get to Limoges and back on Wednesday. That aside, we’ll just have to wait and watch to see how things unfold…

We’ve been away from it all this weekend – taking the Ryanair taxi back to the UK. Roger had his 40th anniversary reunion of his qualification from medical school. I caught up with friends from university I hadn’t seen for over 20 years. It’s amazing how you don’t see someone for so long and in no time you are right back to where you left off! In fact it has been a bit of a week of reunions – we were delighted to have a visit from Annette, my German school exchange partner, with her sister and her daughters. Again, we haven’t seen each other in neary 20 years! Sadly my German hasn’t survived as well as our friendship…..


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