Cher Monsieur Macron, let’s not let le Brexit get between us

'The moment you allow me back on the Eurostar, I will be happy to explain to you why it is that so many of your citizens, especially the Jewish ones, prefer this side of La Manche so much'

December 30, 2020 11:32

Cher Monsieur Macron,

Desolated by the news that you had Covid-19, I decided as a measure of our entente cordiale to send you some of our Oxford vaccine. I rang the embassy but they declined, saying you were waiting for a French breakthrough at Sciences-Po, once the strike is over. Well, one vaccine is probably as good as another and it’s wise to maintain a cordon sanitaire but this maybe going a bit too far. When I tried to send you a vial by courier he was turned back at Calais: no entry from the UK due to Brexit.

Cher monsieur, what is going on? Brexit or no Brexit we are bound together by a common tongue, le franglais. It is true that in English we have no word for entente, cordon or courier, but in French you are obliged to speak of football, internet, gaming, wi-fi and Black Friday. The English are winning this war of words. And if we call out gunships to protect our fish, the Dover sole is certainly ours. Your own Académie de la langue francaise now list ‘le Brexit’ as a French masculine noun. Le franglais will soon be spoken in more countries than la langue francaise if you are not careful.

London, as you know, has more French citizens than any but the seven largest cities in France. It also has a higher percentage of French Jews than any metropolis except Marseille and Ra’anana. I am writing this letter from the Bois de Saint-Jean in the NW8 arrondissement of the British capital, where we hear as much French spoken as English in the flashier parts of the quartier. We even have two French-backed synagogues and croissants twice as crumbly as in the Marais.

If I take the kids to the park I am a solitary English male in a crowd of mamans délicieuses, which I am told is franglais for yummy mummies. And typically for French mamans, they speak at the top of their voices in full confidence that no Englishman could possibly understand them.

Well, I try very hard not to listen, but I thought I should pass on the news that none of them is coming back to France any time soon. You predicted that London’s banking sector would lose all of its French expats the moment le Brexit kicked in.

Well, that’s not happening.

You see, they like it over here. They prefer our racial tolerance, lack of state regulation, London parks in winter and, of course, le foot sur le télé.

As for the Jews, they just keep on coming. Their welcome presence has given us improved supply lines of kosher wines, mayonnaise and camemberts. Next time you come for a state visit, cher monsieur, do drop into Le royaume cacher, which locals call Kosher Kingdom. They make a franglais sushi, the ultimate in multi-culturalism. Other kosher establishments are called Bonjour, crème de la crème and the like. Jewish London is practically the 21st arrondissement of Paris, voilà.

I observe this development with much personal pride. My mother’s family can trace our presence in France back to 1729, which is when Jews were required to register French names. My own first name clearly dates back to the Conqueror. Such connections will not be dissolved by Brexit.

The moment you allow me back on the Eurostar, I will be happy to explain to you why it is that so many of your citizens, especially the Jewish ones, prefer this side of La Manche so much to yours that they are putting down deposits on country piles and United Synagogue burial plots.

Listening to the chatter of mamans beside the swings, I keep hearing them say how much happier they are here with the schools, where there is no centralized curriculum and teachers are free to give the class what they think it needs, rather than what is dictated by some Parisian fonctionnaire. You might like to look into this educational defect, cher monsieur, before the modern Brexodus from La France resembles Napoleon’s retreat from Russia. Other ameliorations you might consider are a cleanup at the disgraceful Gare du Nord and the creation of a Dictionnaire de l’Académie franglaise, which I will personally undertake to translate into Hebrew and Yiddish, azoy (voilà).

Cher monsieur, we will not drift apart with le Brexit so long as we speak the same language. When you get over le Covid, we can plan a grand fete for 2066, the millennium of the first French arrival on these shore. I was about to suggest we stage it in Waterloo, or Trafalgar Square, but maybe not.

My formidable grandmère used to sign off her letters with ‘bons baisers’, but that’s perhaps a little too friendly. I salute you instead, monsieur, with mes sentiments les plus distingués,

I am, yours sincerely,
Norman Le Brecht

December 30, 2020 11:32

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive