Sunday, 7 May 2017

The day of reckoning: 7, 12, 20, 23, 28,35, 28, 62, 400

Today is a day of numbers, well, I suppose everyday is, but it just happens that digits, great small, random and significant seem to be conspiring to catch my eye this morning. 

Let's start with the number 7. It's significant both personally and geopolitically. Personally because today, May 7th, I am 62. Geopolitically, seven is important because the citizens of La Republique are meant to be traipsing off to vote. The media are reporting a low turnout, only 28% having cast their votes by 12:00 noon, the lowest percentage on record. The lower the turnout, the more Marine benefits. Look at the Trump victory or Brexit, the 'can't be arsed' was a factor in both. 

Which brings me to the number 20. I reckon that if Macron's margin of victory is less than 20%, then that still represents some kind of victory for right wing nationalism. Replicated across Europe, if 40% of its citizen's are anti-EU, then I think the European Community is a doomed project. Before people begin to dance on its grave perhaps they might be wise to reflect on the sorts of leaders that seem to be on the ascendency - Trump, Putin, Erdogan...Are they really preferable to Tusk, Macron or Merkel? 

Anyway, a few less contentious digits - 23, and 35. The first is the very pleasant degrees centigrade achieved this afternoon, a particularly splendid blue sky spring day in Southern France. The only downside are the 35kph gusts which complicated cooking lunch outdoors. Every time I chopped the parsley for the moules marinieres, an annoying gust swept it off the chopping board and garnished the table and nearby hedge.

Beyond the digital interface it's been a good day in the real world. We rolled out of bed lateish, pedalled down the the Sunday market at nearby Meze, bought lots of fresh ingredients for a birthday lunch, then came back and consumed them. I experimented with the new outdoor kitchen by attempting to follow Felicity Cloake's recipe for moules marinieres, with some success I might add, well relatively speaking, as someone who has to consult a recipe book to rustle up scrambled eggs. Now, it's sit in the shade and relax, assisted by the half bottle of Picpoul de Pinet consumed over lunch.

Oh, I forgot, what about the number 400? This is Heels for Dust blog post number 400, or so the Blogger dash board claims. That's many roads travelled, and hopefully many more in prospect. We talked about where next last night. We think we'll linger here until the middle of next week, because it is lovely. Then, I think we will seek the warmth of the Costa Brava - it's about 5 degrees above the average here in Languedoc at this time of year, and I fancy a swim. This is a short trip by our standards, so homeward bound, we might simply retrace our steps, stopping off near Collioure in Roussillon. Tempting however, would be to cut across Spain to San Sebastian, via Pamplona, then head home via the Béarn and Dordogne. In the end, as usual, we will probably follow the sun. 

Breaking now, Macron 65%, Le Pen 35%, at least that's what the exit polls are predicting. Well done the French voters, who have proved themselves far more savvy than those in Britain and America. Already my 'Facebookians' as Gill calls them are posting YouTube clips of the Marseillaise and 'Ode to Joy's flashmobs. In that spirit here's a photo Gill took of the local Hotel de Ville, complete with fluttering tricolour and Liberté Egalité, Fraternité writ in stone. A reverse for right wing nationalism - the best birthday present I could have wished for.

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