The journey by air and train combo to a campsite near Toulon via Rodez was an education. I saw what lies between the image of French railways and airports and the reality. See earlier article. The journey home, I took the TGV – train de grand vitesse from Marseille to Lille and then the Euro star to London.
The TGV traversed France in 4 hours, which was impressive.
The Euro Star is so clinical. I suppose they live in terror of permitting anything of interest for people to look at as they wait for trains, in case they inadvertently promote a particular nation’s identity.
There are no adverts or decorations once you enter its sacred portals, just grey glass and metallic walls giving the feeling of being locked within a colourless, lifeless mental asylum where the patients are so highly sensitised they are unable to withstand any stimulus.
It fills the assembled crowd with a depressive air. No one talks. It’s a cultural tunnel which has to be passed through as well as an undersea corridor, providing a purview of lifeless bureaucratic sterility. It feels like you are shut away in a hospital ward for terminally ill people, who have no relatives, and no reason to want to live. It’s kinder not to offer any hope, just to get on with it. Human spirit is not required.
The name Euro Star sets my teeth on edge. I hate the word Euro as a prefix. I will never willingly hire any car from a ‘eurohire’, or buy any product or service from euro-anything. As for Star, it’s about the only English word the French can pronounce without a struggle. It tells you nothing of the achievement of building the world’s longest under sea railway, just allocating political credit to the bureaucracy that throttles effort and enterprise across a continent.
Landing at St Pancras and negotiating real live Londoners as they dash about, the assault on the senses from every angle that advertisers can devise, and the rebirth of purpose in peoples’ faces and movements was all I needed to kick me out of this needless euro-gloom.
Reports this morning tell of another angle to the Euro story. The sterility of euro-management is not only a cultural disaster. It is a financial one. This came in from my broker a few minutes ago –
The cost to insure against default on Greek govern-
ment debt remains elevated, which tells markets, there is serious trouble lurking there. That’s ultimately going to
limit the upside for the euro. The austerity measures that were supposed to fix Greece’s problems are dragging
down the country’s economy.
Stores are closing, tax revenues are falling and unemployment has hit an unbe-
lievable 70% in some places, with frustrated workers threatening to strike back.
Another euro blow came on
news that French President Sarkozy has ordered three senior cabinet members to break off their holidays for a crisis meeting on the economy after a warning by Moody’s that France is closer to losing its top credit rating.
When I left the UK ten days ago, Euro troubles were off the headlines, with the ECB’s shock and awe bail-out bringing all into perfect order once more. The trouble with euro-control is that each time they close off everyone into a regimented vision of bureaucratic perfection, people find a way around the barriers. The attempt to nail all Europeans into one perfectly ordered Euro-box is disintegrating, in monetary terms, as well as in the hearts of Europe’s downtrodden peoples.
They would prefer their grand political edifice to die in a tunnel of impersonal silence. It won’t.
A grand financial firework display will herald the passing of the corrupt drudgery of EU empire, as the nations crawl out like insects from under a large block of concrete dropped over their heads fifty and more years ago. We and they will be temporarily blinded by the light of rediscovered freedom.