Those of you who have been shivering in the UK may be comforted to know that it’s not been very warm here. On the contrary! With exception of a couple of decent weeks we’ve had a lot of cloud, rain and wind with temperatures much lower than normal. So we’ve been waking up to a chilly four or five degrees and some days it hasn’t got above 14 degrees midday. At the supermarket on Thursday morning the security man at the door was rubbing his hands to keep warm in a way that you would normally associate with February or March rather than May. Still after a dry winter the rain has been welcome.
There was certainly something very chilly about the great debate between Le Pen and Macron on French television on Wednesday. We watched most of it and were gratified that we were able to follow the general thrust of the arguments. And thrusts there were, along with stabbings and swinging blows! There was certainly nothing of the tone of the gentle British “here I profoundly disagree with the Right Honourable Gentleman”. Both speakers were openly contemptuous of each other. We sensed that the strategy on both sides was to fluster or annoy their opponent into an outburst. You could have compiled a dictionary of French insults over the two hours: “liar”, “priestess of fear”, “sower of hatred”, “parasite”, and even “banker”. There were open allegations of corruption and fraud. In Britain you feel that there is still at least lip service to such Christian ideals as decency, honesty and charity in debates. Those qualities were definitely absent in this brutal and loud debate.
Le Pen came over to us as a rather sneering figure who was a bit of a bully and someone much happier talking about her opponent’s flaws than her own plans. Macron appeared as the cool, steely academic with a frequently rather condescending tone; something that clearly annoyed Mme Le Pen. Macron certainly looked and sounded the more presidential. Among the commentators he is widely held to have won, but it’s not just commentators who vote. The two moderators incidentally were utterly hopeless with the result that there were frequently four voices all shouting at once: not something that you want if you’re struggling with the language. Anyway the vote is on Sunday and we will see.
All being well we are up at Courmettes with the church youth group this weekend. “All being well” is a nod towards the weather and the risk of rain, wind and cold. The general rule of thumb here is that you drop a degree Celsius every hundred metres and so with the campsite at nearly 900 m altitude that’s a lot colder than the coast. And of late the coast has not been warm either.
Maintaining the climate theme, Chris got a copy of his latest publication this week, based on the conference A Rocha sponsored for COP21. He wrote two articles, and the basic outline of the introduction and the conclusion, although they did get translated into French. It’s worth noting that the emphasis here as elsewhere is very much now on“climate change” rather than “global warming” and the way the temperatures have been over the last few days there are quite a few people round here prepared to admit that the weather has indeed changed.