In a few days the people of the United Kingdom will vote in a referendum to determine whether to continue its membership in the European Union. The boffins at the Ministry of Silly Names were responsible for naming the two sides of the campaign. Brexit, the name for the “out” group, evokes a breakfast cereal bar. Remain, the chosen moniker for the “in” group sound like an adult diaper. As the referendum approaches there has been violence – or what passes for violence in Britain. Last week the two sides faced off in a confrontation on the Thames river. The rival camps squared off in flotillas of small boats and sprayed each other with firehoses. You can’t make this stuff up.
I like Europe, especially the nice parts blessed with fine wine, good food, attractive scenery and beautiful women with first world teeth. Europeans generally like Brits as well – particularly people from insufferable parts of the continent where it’s impossible to do business. London is now the third largest French city in the world because anyone with any ambition or money has decamped here. Paris is left to Gauloises smoking libertines and violent trade unionists.
Having a lot of French around London people has its benefits. I was with Skunk Cyanide, the lead singer of a punk band that’s big in Japan. We were finishing our martinis at Little House in Mayfair and contemplating dinner at Le Boudin Blanc; a typical mid priced French bistro of the kind that exists in every Parisian neighbourhood. Thanks to the French influx, London now has several good French bistros; a welcome addition to the restaurant scene.
Le Boudin Blanc is in Shepherd’s Market, a part of Mayfair that used to be have a row of hookers lined up against a wall outside the local pub. It’s now gone all posh and our restaurant occupies what used to be the pub, alongside various fancy boutiques and coffee shops. I worry about the constant gentrification of our neighbourhoods so I was glad to see a red light in a window above an open door with a sign that said “beautiful young lady upstairs”.
I wasn’t sure if the sign was a spoof or an invitation to someone’s private party. Skunk and I climbed the stairs and found ourself on a landing with a door. Our knock was answered by a woman who was neither young nor beautiful. In fact she may not even have been a woman at all. We were told that the young lady was entertaining a “client” but would be available in about 20 minutes. I hope they change the bed sheets….
At Le Boudin Blanc we watched for the arrival of the sated “client” from upstairs – he was a regular according to our waiter. In the meantime we savoured the fare of a typical French bistro. There were good mid priced French wines, many from smaller vineyards that don’t make it onto regular wine lists. The food was predictable, but well made; steaks with frites, moules, poussin, and the eponymous Boudin Blanc sausage. There were good Havana cigars available to smoke outside with a glass of cognac – all served up by authentically rude French waiters.
I don’t know what would happen to all the French immigrants in the UK if we exit the European Union. I don’t know what would happen to places like Boudin Blanc, or for that matter numerous small businesses like that run by the pretty young lady, who rely on European customers. In the meantime I am stocking up on champagne; if we exit the European Union we’ll probably have to survive on weak Australian lager and turnips.