Tragedy and Farce
A Letter from France dated 19 September 2022
On this day of all days we give thanks.
Thanks to the factory near Leipzig in Eastern Germany, where Dethleffs combined German craftmanship with the specially designed cab, engine and chassis produced by Fiat in Italy’s Val di Sangro to produce our 3½ ton, 7-metre Sunlight motorhome.
Thanks to Paul Hewitt, who long ago built our two steel-framed traditional touring bicycles capable of crossing continents, each with 27 gears, 5 pannier bags, 3 water bottles and a full-size pump.
Thanks to Det Forenede Dampskibs-Selskab (literally The United Steamship Company) of Denmark for carrying us and the Sunlight from Newhaven to Dieppe in four hours of French-speaking comfort. Earlier in the year DFDS ferried us from Newcastle to Amsterdam’s port of Ijmuiden, although we do regret that they also operated in the opposite direction.
Thanks to France’s ultra-smooth and well-regulated highways and byways which have eased our 650-mile motorhome journey south from Dieppe to within 100 miles of the Spanish border.
Thanks for our cycling which so far has included a relatively small part of La Vélomaritime (Eurovélo 4) which runs for 5,100 km from Roscoff in Britanny to Kiev in the Ukraine. Compare the achievements of the UK’s cycling charity calling itself ‘Sustrans’!
Sadly not even this journey, perhaps no journey, is far enough to be from the UK during the last 2 weeks whilst Liz Truss – unelected - took over from Johnson, and Charles (transmogrified into His Majesty King Charles the Third) - unelected - took over from his mother Liz Windsor – unelected - with all the overblown rituals the Victorians had invented for such occasions.
It was Marx who first noted, developing an idea of Hegel’s, that history repeats itself: ‘the first time as tragedy, the second as farce’. How fitting.
Barry’s son Jim puts his thoughts into these words and images, which we share: “As levels of institutionalised delusion have reached fever pitch in Great Britain, the veneer of pomp, ceremony, and fake civility only serves to add to the tragic farce at the heart of the nation. Hiding, in plain sight, the deep cruelty and viciousness of centuries of oppression and exploitation that the aristocracy and bourgeois have wrought upon the world. And now, even questioning the legitimacy of these systems seems to be beyond the pale.
The whole thing is so bizarre as to be comedic, if it wasn't so tragic.
As Monty Python asked: Who voted for the king, anyway?"
Bonne Continuation (?)
Barry and Margaret