Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Missing a trick (missing a party excuse!)

Yesterday was Bastille Day.

Unfortunately, it was also what - of late - has become my traditional quiet-night-in, recovering-from-the-weekend day.

And most of my French friends seem to have left Beijing. And I didn't hear of any special parties going on to mark the occasion.

Now, I share some of the traditional wariness of the English with regard to the French: they can often be pompous, aloof, arrogant; they can be very antagonistic (or haughtily dismissive) towards the English. But expat life seems to quickly knock off these rougher edges of national chauvinism. We're all in the same boat here in China, so we all learn to get along. Most of the French people I know here are very good fun.

One thing even the most Francophobe Englishman will generally concede is that the French do have the best national anthem in the world - a rousing revolutionary song, with a damn good tune! Our own 'God Save The Queen!' is a plodding dirge in comparison.

La Marseillaise is also one of the best tunes for gargling!! And I've seen this done on British television at least once (can't now remember when or where, though). So, my pretext for this post was going to be a clip of some Frenchmen celebrating their national day with a gargled rendition of their great anthem. Amazingly, I couldn't find a single example of such a thing on YouTube. (Although there is this rather amusing clip of Celine Dion gargling. She's a good sport, Celine!)

So, we'll have to make do with this version, by the great Mireille Mathieu (not sure of the date; the poster on YouTube says it's recent, but it looks more like late 60s to me).

There's also this intriguing oddity: La Marseillaise performed on a Renault R27 Formula 1
race car engine (anyone know who the driver is??).

Ah, and then, of course, there's this classic scene from 'Casablanca', where Laszlo pisses off the Nazis by leading everyone else in the Café Americain in a rousing chorus of La Marseillaise. (I think there's a similar scene in 'La Grande Illusion' - though it's ages since I've seen it. Alas, if there is, I wasn't able to find it. Some other time, perhaps. Maybe next year.)

A belated Happy Bastille Day to any French readers!

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