Missing in action for many months, our respected correspondents Peter and Judi Burleigh , back in France , bobbing about canals on their Dutch butterfly , above , have sent an illuminating dispatch explaining recent , shock major world events. It kicks off -
If you had witnessed the end of the world at least four times in the past month you too might be a little behind in your correspondence. Nevertheless, I’m told you can always find something positive in every situation and we’ll continue looking for it.
First there was The Great Flood which confronted us on our arrival in France. The Soane, Doubs and others in our area had peaked with cartoonish violence, ready to engulf unwary mariners and chew their boats to bits. At St Jean de Losne, where we were cowering in our marina, the river soon eased but remained almost a metre above the lowest flood measure. We’d never seen it even touch the flood sign before, now it was a third the way up. It was flowing at least at the top speed of our boat, which meant we could go down the river very fast but not make the slightest headway going up. It seemed wise not to move.
Second came the Brexit disaster. People here couldn’t believe how stupid the Poms had been. Instead of stamping their foot and stalking off, why didn’t Britain negotiate a more favourable deal and/or a more controlling role in the EU? France went quiet with shock for a day, muttered about a new period of political tribalism, and got on with it (well, ‘blundered forward’ might be a better expression).
In close succession to this destruction of physical and political life as we’d known it, the British lost a soccer match to Iceland, a country which even today is impossible to find on a large map, was an unparalleled sporting humiliation. French people have accepted that Britain is finished as a nation and will soon see reverse flows of refugees re-crossing the Channel to France.
Finally, in a harsh lesson to the French themselves, they lost the 2016 Soccer grand final to Portugal, a country which still issues inflated pig bladders to its football teams. In fact, more people know where Iceland is than Portugal. Our conclusion? Europe is finished too. Only certain brands of European beer, cars and shampoo will survive. Our advice? Contact your nearest people smuggler and book your passage to Ecuador.
And where on this scoreboard of disasters did the Australian Federal Election rate? Nowhere. It wasn’t mentioned. Only people like us who tuned in to obscure internet sites suffered the ennui and frustration of the results. Once again we found there was no one we could vote for. One by one, the old scrum again has risen to the surface: Hanson, Bernardi, Katter – you know who they are.
So the world has ended. What do we do now? What are we to believe? We believe we’ll have another drink.
This year the floods have kept pleasure boats off the canals. They’re almost deserted. Quite thrilling to be the only boat within 50kms of the next! Last week we had three days of sunshine before the grey clouds and rain returned. The bad-weather gloom is intense and demands a high level of alcohol consumption to take the edge off it. At the same time it’s snowing in Brisbane, the ice age has dawned in Melbourne and Perth is buried under a large sand dune.
Deliberately ignoring these omens, we cruised fast up the Champagne-Ardenne canal network to Epernay and spent some quality time researching small Champagne makers, and large ones too, and are now set up in the marina at Chalons-sur-Champagne waiting for tonight’s Bastille Day fireworks. Will history roll over us and pass us by? Never. We are setting new trends.
The message ends : Yours in hedonistic social engineering.