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Victor Lewis-Smith's column: VIN GUARD OF PROGRESS.

Byline: Victor Lewis-Smith

WHY is it that a peaceful and tolerant country such as Holland has been subjected to so much verbal abuse by the English language?

True, back in the bad old days of Empire, they invented the apartheid system (which we then eagerly copied), but is that any excuse for this constant denigration?

"Dutch gold" is fake gold. A "Dutch treat" means paying for yourself. A "Dutch uncle" is someone who constantly complains. "Double Dutch" is gobbledegook. And we even accuse small Dutch boys of sticking their fingers into lesbians (or were they dykes?).

And so, now we turn to the Americans and the French. In revenge for President Chirac's outrageous insistence that the US should obey international law, American restaurants have stopped serving French fries, and replaced them on menus with "Freedom fries".

I expect they'll soon start putting talcum powder on their pool cues (no more perfidious French chalk for them), and instead of wearing French letters they'll start using padded envelopes (so they can come in a Jiffy).

And salads will go naked because there'll be no more French dressing on American tables (although I expect they'll still allow a bit of French undressing on their late-night cable channels). Madness reigns in parts of the US at present, but I'm never one to miss an opportunity, so here's a splendid wheeze I've dreamed up.

Next time I visit the States, I'm going to place a box outside my hotel room, with a sign reading "Official Destruction Point for French Wine - Leave All Bottles Here." And then (like an oenological Hans Blix) I shall personally set about supervising the destruction of the unpatriotic contents, one glass at a time.

I'll also continue to take my holidays in France, because most French people are good and decent folk (as are most Americans, when right-wing zealots aren't intimidating them into making absurd and ignominious displays of patriotism).

And I'll still open my French windows on bright spring mornings, and listen to orchestral music with French horns in it. And should I break my leg, I'll allow the doctor to put plaster of Paris on it.

But one thing I won't touch is French toast. Well, I tried it once, and I got my tongue stuck in the toaster.


FRENCH LEAVE: The US takes revenge
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 22, 2003
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