Manny Macron has offered to lend the Bayeux tapestry to Britain, which is widely regarded as an act of selfless generosity. Only dyed-in-the-wool reactionaries dare mention that it’s but a smokescreen enveloping Manny’s never-ceasing efforts to extort more money from us.
This time he wants an extra £45 million to beef up the border controls at Calais, thereby curtailing diversity that, according to Messrs Blair, Cameron, Corbyn et al, makes British culture so much richer.
Leaving aside any questions about the invaluable cultural contribution bestowed upon us by, say, the 100,000 Somali migrants currently resident in Britain, one may still wonder why we should pay for security measures on the other side of the Channel. We take care of our end, the French take care of theirs, wasn’t that the deal?
We do stand to benefit from tighter border controls there, but then a shop owner also gains something by paying protection money to the mob. Should we also pay for France’s police? After all, some British tourists may be assaulted in Paris (predictably, by the same people whom the extra security is supposed to keep out).
On the other hand, perhaps we don’t stand to gain so much by agreeing to succumb to Manny’s blackmail. For, in parallel with demanding money to stem the flow of moustachioed migrant children, he also insists that we accept more of those overgrown babies.
Logically speaking, the two demands seem to cancel each other out, but Manny functions according to the superior Gallic logic, possibly Cartesian in origin. The core premise is that, if A equals B and B equals C, then let’s stick it to les anglo-saxons.
Anyway, the offered loan of the tapestry may solve this matter, though not necessarily in the way Manny and his foster mother Brigitte envisage. (I assume, perhaps unfairly, that she put him up to this.)
But first a personal note, if I may. My wife and I have been going to France regularly for some 20 years now. In all this time, Penelope has been bugging me, in that understated English way of hers, to go to Bayeux on the way to or from our house. I manfully resisted since that represented a rather long detour, and I’m the one who does all the driving.
However, no married man should be surprised that Penelope finally got her way, albeit after protracted resistance on my part. A fortnight ago, we did stop for a couple of days in Bayeux (a lovely town, by the way, with a glorious cathedral), which earned me some merit points.
Now what do you know, a few days after we come back it turns out the detour was unnecessary: the tapestry is coming to England, most probably London. If only I had held out for a fortnight longer… Oh well, the story of my life.
Yet I’m glad the tapestry will arrive because this may take care of Manny’s latest extortion attempt. We should give him his £45 million (hope you choke on it, Manny), but then just keep the bloody thing.
For the outlanders among you, the Bayeux tapestry is about 230 feet long. It’s made up of a sequence of some 50 scenes telling the story of the early stages of the Norman (emphatically not French) Conquest, culminating in the 1066 Battle of Hastings.
Though made soon after the event, the tapestry isn’t the kind of history that’s written by the victors. It depicts the events strictly from the Anglo-Saxon perspective, which is no surprise considering it was designed, embroidered and constructed in England a few years after the events – only to be then taken to France.
There it was systematically cut up into pieces used for all sorts of nefarious purposes, until some history buffs managed to locate all the fragments and stitch them together in the early eighteenth century.
Therefore, my campaign to keep the tapestry dovetails neatly into another campaign, one involving the Elgin marbles. That one is fronted by the intellectual and cultural giant George Clooney, whose overachieving wife had to explain to him that the marbles involved were sculptures and not playthings.
I’d suggest that my case is stronger, which isn’t saying much because the Clooneys have no case at all.
For Lord Elgin, then ambassador to Greece, legitimately bought the marbles from the Ottoman Turks who occupied the country at the time. The Turks, who clearly didn’t regard those masterpieces with the same reverence as Lord Elgin, were burning them to obtain lime for construction purposes.
On balance, Greece’s claim to the Elgin marbles is much weaker than ours. And, considering the tapestry’s English origin and subject, our claim to it is at least as strong as France’s – especially since this illustration to English history was vandalised there for so long.
Admittedly, reclaiming the Bayeux tapestry from its current residence would take a mini D-Day, which isn’t an operation HMG would ever be prepared to undertake. But mercifully there’s no need.
When Manny brings the tapestry over in his camion de livraison, we should simply take it and tell him to kiss it good-bye. “So here’s your £45 million, Manny,” we should say. “An exchange is no robbery, mate.”
Financially, the investment will be quickly amortised if we keep the tapestry in a stand-alone museum and charge the same exorbitant admission fees that the French do in Bayeux. And morally, our cause is just.