My World: June 2021…
This is part of a series of articles where our contributors describe how they think things will look a year from now.
My World: June 2021. It’s now 400 days since the lockdown began, or is it 399? I’m so bored I’m losing my mind. This confinément, as the French call it, was due to end May 11 last year. But then the day before the restrictions were lifted, Madame Macron died. Well, she was of the vulnerable age. The following day the President, stricken with grief, shot himself in the foot and died a day later of septicaemia. People took to the streets, but Marine Le Pen took to the airwaves, seized control of the army and enforced a stricker lockdown.
Three days later, all the Muslims were rounded up in vélodromes and sent to Algeria. The EU protested and threatened to kick France out of the Union. So France resigned, the euro tumbled, and Le Pen did a deal with Angela Merkel.
We thought we were being so smart when we decided to see out the Chinese Flu in the south of France. We brought the son home early from school, and the daughter from university. We would read, watch classic films, and go for long walks in the garrigue. And we’d drink wine and eat cheese, oysters and saucisson, bread and fruit from the trees: what could be better?
But my cellar is now empty. For bread we must rely on a van that passes the house once a week. Oysters are a distant twinkle; of saucisson there is none. We had to eat the cat the other day. (I’d never liked the brute.) Since then, the dog has started to look shifty, and the last time I let him out of the house he refused to come back in. My wife has taken to her room with her vintage Tatler collection and the last case of Champagne, and is refusing to come out. The daughter spends most of the time in the bath; as for the son, I haven’t seen him for a couple of days. Think he’s sitting on the roof, smoking the last of my cigars.
I have read all of Proust, Antony Powell and Tolstoy. I’ve started again on my PG Wodehouse collection, and visit the Emsworth Arms in my imagination every lunchtime to drink a pint of beer. I’m having to learn the words of the Marseillaise in case the police come to visit us again. “Sale Anglais,” they said, “parle Francais ou on tue le chien.” How to respond to this? After all, as Wodehouse tells it so accurately: “Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique in Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.” There is only one thing for it:
Aux armes, citoyens!