After three weeks in France I would not be surprised if the barricades went up in Paris this summer. There is a lot of anger over all the house repossessions, job losses, devalued pensions... Everyone seems to know of some firm that has gone bust or someone who is desitute. There is also a deeper contempt for the President than I ever remember. Many people disliked de Gaulle or Giscard or Mitterand or Chirac, but they did not despise them. Sarkozy has made himself ridiculous, and he share's Tony Blair's excessive fondness for the company of very rich people. This week in Paris there seemed to be surprise that London had been first to see violent demonstrations.
The idea that the G20 meeting has solved anything seems far-fetched. As long as the dollar continues to seve as international currency nothing fundamental will change. As a visitor to the Eurozone I am painfully aware of the weakness of the pound: five pounds for a sandwich!! But it would be no improvement if the euro replaced the dollar. A multinational currency is not the same thing as an international one.
John Major should have sold British Rail to the SNCF. What wonderful trains the French have! Paris to Lyon in less than two hours! No one flies for any journey of less than 500 kilometres. The one thing I can't afford is the Eurostar from Paris to London, but it will take me to Calais for only 19 euros, and ferry and coach will complete the journey for a fraction of the cost of the full treatment. I've started reading Désert by Le Clézio, which is magnificent, so I shan't grudge the extra time.
PS As I write this I hear a noisy demonstration coming up the street, and now police sirens...