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Miles Kington

Miles Kington: A traveller's guide to Anglo-French dialogue

I shall explain gently why the CAP is bad for Europe, and they will beat me up in a meaningful way

Today I am changing all that. I am becoming the first columnist to say, Next Week, Miles Kington Is On Holiday. Today I am saying, fairly and squarely, loudly and proudly, Yes, for two weeks from Monday I shall not be writing a column because I shall be on holiday in Tuscany, sharing a villa with Tony Blair, Elton John and Janet Street-Porter.

That's not true, of course. It wouldn't be much of a holiday, would it? No, I am off to France for my holidays, bringing an Anglo-Saxon model to the Gallic chaos and anarchy I shall find there. I am going to the south of France.

I am going to a house in the south of France where there is a little pool, and where I shall be with other English people, many of them related to me, so of course I shall be going off by myself as much as possible and mixing with the locals, many of whom will say to me: "Alors, qu'est-ce que M. Blair entend faire en tant que président de l'UE?" ("So, what does Tony Blair hope to achieve in his temporary presidency of the EU?").

I shall smile, because being ruthlessly efficient in the Anglo-Saxon manner, I have an answer prepared, and while I am smiling they will think I do not understand, and they will say: "Non, mais , enfin, dîtes-nous la vérité, qu'est-ce qu'il mijote là, ce Tony Blair?" ("Oh, come on, don't be chicken, tell us the truth, what does Tony Blair think he is up to?"), and then I will explain to them very gently and carefully why the Common Agricultural Policy may be good for France but it is very bad for the rest of Europe, and they will beat me up in a friendly but meaningful way, and I shall stagger back to my family, where they will say: "Oh, la, la! Regarde M. l'Ivrogne!" ("Look who's taken a drop too many tonight!").

Here are some other phrases which I have got prepared beforehand, for when I get into a tight conversational corner.

"Oh, ce M. Chirac! Il est bien joli, votre M. Chirac!"

("M. Chirac has only got one big idea, and that is to stay in office for ever and ever, because as long as he has presidential immunity, he won't have to go to prison for corruption.")

"Oh la la, la circulation en France!"

("All right, you may have got great railways, and great food, and great fashion, and a great nuclear power programme, and great rugby players, and everything else, but your driving is terrible.")

"Ah, Thierry Henry!"

("We have snapped up all your best French footballers and brought them over to England. Luckily, nobody wants to buy the best English footballers, so we have got them in England as well!")

"Oh, la cuisine française!"

("Yes, yes, we know that the best food in the world comes from little French bistrots which have been run by the same family for three generations. Unfortunately, you have let them all be replaced by McDonald's.")

"Artistes? Quels artistes?"

("For years and years France has kidded itself that it is the art centre of the world. In reality, the French haven't produced a good artist for half a century. I cannot even think of a single famous living French painter.")

"Lance Armstrong."

("Incidentally, when did a Frenchman last win the Tour de France?")

"Les Jeux Olympiques ..."

("Cheer up, mate. You were lucky not to get the Games. I know where I shall be in the summer of 2012. On holiday in France.")

I'll let you know how I get on.