A bl..dy shame

The people have voted for (Small) Britain to leave the European Union. A bloody shame. (Pardon my French.) There is research a-plenty to support the wisdom of crowds. (See James Surowiecki and Francis Galton. Wisdom of crowds appears most accurate when estimating the weight of a cow. The particularly variety of the cow is not specified.


“Britain leaving the Union”, by Roy Lichtenstein. At Pompidou.

There is also a wealth of empirical data on the madness of crowds. See Nuremberg in Nazi Germany in the mid- to late thirties or the Chinese cultural revolution in the the sixties. Wisdom or madness of crowds? I never thought I would write – let alone think that – but maybe we have reached the limits of Democracy? (And I have lived under the rule of enough dictatorships not to say that lightly). (No names). But maybe it is time to change the rules? 52 for leave vs. 48 for Remain leaves no room for questioning under the current rules. Democracy is 50% plus one single vote. And that is fine. In most cases. Now, in many countries, a Constitutional amendment or change requires two third of votes of both Houses of Parliament. Maybe that rule would preserve the wisdom of crowds and keep the madness at bay. For certain key decisions. Such as Remain or leave?

Regardless, Boris-Judas Johnson will no doubt be handed his forty Crowns of silver at number 10, Downing street. Please, please, my British friends do not allow that.

A thoroughly scientific analysis of Mr Johnson, Esq. and Donal Trump the Zero’s hairdo makes me wonder whether  the constant application of peroxide to the hair  may have some impact on brain cells. I call for further research on the matter.

On the “Continent”, politicos have rushed to the microphone. Former Frog President Sarkozy has called for a renegotiation of the European treaties. On what grounds? He is not even an elected official, not even a declared candidate. Marine Le Pen calls for a Frexit referendum. 😦 “Worries come not single spies but in battalions”. Signed, the gentleman of Stratford-upon-Avon)

I was mulling about this sad turn of events this morning at my nearby café. Nearby? 8,744 steps back and forth according to my Dumbphone. Six clicks. I was having a Mocha, cocoa with Veracruz coffee. I wished I had a drop of whisky to add, before the price of whisky goes up, and a name came to my mind. A name from the past: Jean-Louis Ansermet.

Jean-Louis Ansermet was a childhood friend of my father’s. Both were raised in Ismaïlia, a quaint little town on the Suez Canal, between the two wars. They went to the same school. Probably chased the same girls when the time came. Went to the same weddings:


A wedding at Ismaïlia, Egypt, on the Suez Canal, c.1938-1939. Just before WWII.


Jean Ansermet is on the left, with a pretty young lady on his arm.

In June 1940, when France capitulated, and only the British would say: “We shall never surrender”, Ansermet joined the Free French Forces, under De Gaulle’s command, and integrated in the joint British-American allied command after Pearl Harbor. Jean Ansermet fought the entire war on many fronts of WWII. After the end of the war, he stayed in the Army. Until 1947.


This is the last known photograph of Jean Ansermet, taken in Bir-Hakeim, Lybia, in 1947. Bir-Hakeim was one the major battles in North Africa in 1942, opposing the Free French Forces under the command of General Pierre Koenig (whom my mother would later work for in Berlin but that, “best beloved”, is another story) and Rommel’s Afrika Corps. The French fighting at Bir-Hakeim slowed Rommel’s advance, and facilitated Montgomery’s  victory in June at El-Alamein.

Only a few days after that photograph was taken, as Jean Ansermet was preparing to return to civilian life and peace, he was killed on a land-mine.


Private Ansermet’s tomb in Bir-Hakeim. 1947. The double cross at the foreground is the symbol of the Free French Forces.

Jean Ansermet must be turning in his grave now. “leave”? You must be joking.

So now, what do we do? Well, two things: one, rethink the European Union. NOW! Before more peroxided politicos finish the job. Two: to my British friends, should you wish to seek temporary or permanent asylum in Frogland, I’m sure we can work something out. Just bring the beer.

And until some wisdom comes back to the crowds, and we find you a way back in, an old song comes to my mind: “Bring back my Bonnie (Britain) to me”. Do click on the link(s) below, it is a beautiful song, one the first english/scottish songs my father taught me. Two versions, the first by Dean Reed, the second by Pete Best and the Beats (Don’t mind the spanish intro, song is in proper english). Which do you prefer?

All alight at Trafalgar Square. This train ride is over. There will be others. Bring back my Bonnie!


71 thoughts on “A bl..dy shame

  1. A marriage to the French is one thing – like all of those, it has its little squabbles like The Hundred Years’ War – but it is something else when all the poor friends and relations move into the house. Emotionally, I back the Leave faction. Economically, it depends whether the Brits have any remaining backbone and enterprise. If not, Stay was the safe course.
    That landmine was a really bitter blow of fate after Jean had all-but survived the whole war.

    • I’ve always said that britain and France have the longer-lasting relationship in the world. A thousand years of warring creates ties. 😉 I have my doubts about the remaining backbone. Not just in Britain. And yes, Fate and the “Parcae” have their own peculiar way. Have a nice week-end mon ami.

  2. People have no say in these matters. Heck, they have no say anywhere, anytime – we already went through this. Problem is, reasons are unknown to the crowd – not that they’d matter anymore – and so is the path ahead. A few people know it all but they won’t tell.

    Pauvre Jean – to die just when life seemed to bloom again. That’s unlucky at the least. May he rest in peace! And may the EU rest in peace too, because empires never get to live too long. Hopefully I-know-who will follow as soon as possible.

      • I can foresee the EU crumbling down and dissolving like a sandcastle on a stormy beach. The rest I’ll hold to myself, if you don’t mind. 😉

        Bon weekend a vous aussi, Brieuc! 🙂

      • Well, I’m trying to be respectful, polite and also to extend the wishes to the rest of the family. 🙂

        We do have that distinction, actually we also have an intermediary form which should be more formal than ‘toi’ but less formal than ‘vous’. Unfortunately that form has grown to become degrading, a mockery in certain contexts so it’s best to avoid it unless one is sure they won’t be misunderstood.

        That form is ‘dumneata‘ (most likely a mélange of ‘domnia ta’ translatable approximately as ‘your gentlemanship’) when used as ‘you/toi/vous‘.
        When used as ‘to you/à toi/à vous‘ it becomes ‘dumitale‘.

        For example:
        You are a kind person — Dumneata eşti o persoană amabilă
        Does this briefcase belong to you? — Servieta asta îţi aparţine dumitale?

        Enough now before I become a dictionary. 😀

      • Love it. Persoana amabila = personne aimable; Servieta = serviette = towel and portfolio in french. One more century and I should be fluent in Romanian, Multumesc. 🙂

      • Since the Universe wastes nothing and everything is just being reorganised, maybe we’ll be born again (and again and again). As that old song said:
        “Another place, another time,
        Another mountain we will climb […]”

        You were so lucky to live some of the best times and see some of the most beautiful places in the world before they all went away. Of course it was all amazing, how else could it have been! I’ve only watched a version of the Woodstock concert found a few years ago on the web and it’s been three hours of magic. O, tempora…!

      • Used to be quite good in Latin for the one or two years we’ve learned it in school, but now all I’m left with are a few (partial) quotes. Good enough when trying to show off, I’d say. 😛 XD

      • I did about the same. But I found latin very very useful to learn languages: I try to find the radical, strip the word of all prefixes and suffixes (or declination) and see if the stripped radical tells me something. Obrigado (thank you in portuguese) is like the French Obligé. Once you understand the mechanisms in a language it’s relatively easy. And Latin is good for showing off.

      • Yes, I know your system. It mostly works, but sometimes one gets weird results using this technique. However it gets easier and easier when we get to know really well a couple of similar languages.

        Beware of Romanian language though, we have so many foreign influences (French, English, Turkish, Hindi, Russian, Serbian, Hungarian and so on) that one can’t take solely Latin as a base for guessing our words.

        Good thing is we’re smart people (hee-hee 😀 ) and we know at least one other commonly used language so there should be quite little communication problems if at all. 🙂 (how’s that for a show off? XD )

      • Quite show-off, but well supported. 😉 now i’ve extended the system to other non latin systems. Aware that there are many “faux-amis”, words that look alike but have different meanings. Lots of fun anyway. I do hope i can schedule a trip to your neck of the woods some day. A bientot…😎👍

      • Thanks for bearing with me. 🙂
        Agreed it’s fun and interesting to look for the common origin of the human language. I probably did it for years without paying attention, trying to match French with Italian or Italian with Spanish or others. 🙂

        We have (or had?) great places to visit out here but unfortunately my city is not so interesting, it’s becoming as faceless as other “modern” settlements and I don’t think there’s any old-fashioned “button shop” left. Nonetheless, you’re always welcome.

        A la prochaine! 🙂

      • Hi Dragos. An apology for my long silence. Just got back from a week in San Francisco. I didn’t try to understand the chinese there. (Most people speak english or spanish!) How have you been in your modernized city? (Believe it or not, it is becoming difficult to find buttons anywhere, even in Paris… 😉

      • Please, no need to apologyze, I know you’ve been away and there’s no deadline here anyway so it’s cool. 😉

        Since most of the time I stay indoors I guess me and the city are quite strangers to one another which is fine by me unless I really need to go buy something and suddenly realize Scotty beamed me down to a completely different planet. XD

        As for the chinese: who could ever understand them, in Frisco or anywhere else? 😀 Welcome back! 😉

      • Thank you. All cultures have weird parts. The thing is to identify commonalities. But I understand your feeling about having beamed to another planet. I feel like that sometimes… Take care.

      • I saw Woodstock when it was released. ’70-’71? In a Quartier Latin cinema in Paris. Came out dazed… They were probably smoking too much pot in the movie. Transpired on the screen.

      • Hahaha, nice one! XD

        What I saw is called “Woodstock – 3 days of peace and music” made in 1969. I guess it may be on DVD. And indeed it is all about music, not other things that may or may not have happened behind the stages or out in the crowd. It has a positive message and I like that. 🙂

        You may find it on YouTube unless someone claimed the copyright and it was pulled. And speaking of Google things you should know that I’m at odds with them and I’ve blocked everything Google on my blog and in my e-mail, therefore anybody trying to comment on my blog or contact me using a GMail account will land directly to trash.

      • I’m getting some strange messages form google lately that chrome will soon not be compatible with Mac Os? Just complicating people’s lives. ⚡️😣🔨🔨🔨

      • There is definitely something going on on a massive scale but I just can’t figure out what exactly. I got a gut feeling that it’s not gonna be good. Sure hope I’m wrong.

      • My gut feeling is similar. It has to do with Identity loss. Nobody knows who he/she is anymore. So money is the only metric. And identities are lost, blood will be shed. Already starting.

      • Indeed: no more old values, no more old solid principles, no more old traditions as if history should forcibly be forgotten, as if it were a shame (or even criminal) to hold on to everything that used to define the individual, the people, the culture, the country. Above all there it rules the eye of the Devil. Humanity is on the brink of extinction much like the Mayan predicted long ago.

        Or we could wake the f up before it’s too late…

      • Agreed. Getting up in the bus or metro to leave your seat to an old lady… And History is now becoming “a shame”. Case in point: France. Let’s wake up then. 🙂

  3. I was stunned this morning and wondered, after seeing the downward stocks spiral, how long it would take for remorse to set in.
    Perhaps Mr. Johnson’s October invasion of 10 Downing will, however, give undecided voters in U.S. pause. Or at least the U.S. voters who pay attention to such things.

    • Yes, most stocks have plunged. Here Dollar is up against the Peso. I was wondering what you meant about undecided US voters but I think I get it. Peroxide is bad for brain cells… 😉

    • Neither did I. I’ve been in Market research most of my life, and have many friends on the polling side. 50/50 is always dangerous but I hoped… reason would prevail. It did not. And Sunday, there is a general election in Spain. A repeat of last year. With concerning forecasts…

  4. Amen. It has been very fascinating watching all of this to me. And I fear, our country is no better at the moment. This only makes me think that Trump might be closer to the Presidency than I once thought he was.

    I wish the Scottish wisdom in making their decision. And I wish safety and peace as Ireland and Northern Ireland navigate their potential re-engagement.

    The world seems to be changing quickly right now…

    It seems enough time has gone by that people have forgotten why a United Europe was created in the first place…

    Random thoughts as it is all I can think of in the period of not knowing.

    • Agree with all your random thoughts. Ireland is an issue. Spain will vote on Saturday. And yes, Trump is closer. And Marine Le Pen is rising in intentions in France… Helplessness.

  5. What an interesting state of play! Certainly a surprise! Nothing for it but to watch the events to come with a ‘c’est la vie’ attitude, else the seriousness overwhelm.

    That was a very interesting read regarding your father and his childhood friend. An unfortunate, though swift end for a courageous man.

    Have always loved the song – Dean Reed, probably; though, wasn’t totally in awe of either.
    52/48 😉

  6. Haven’t dyed my hair in years, peroxide or otherwise….both options suck for us, but I figure if we vote for Hils, she’ll get arrested at some point and the back up joker can fill the witches shoes…once the house falls on her of course….haven’t watched the news in ages except weather, now this am I see the news, unfortunately I’m not sure I know what it all means, but I see what it’s doing to the stock market and that always concerns me….sad end to your fathers friend, a great blog today, enjoyed it….and I knew that song as a child, always liked it…along with waltzing Matilda , etc…..peace and love Brian, 💜 In a million years, we’ll be bones washing up on a shore for someone’s fancy…..🐬💦😊

    • Thank you Kim for your wise comments. I wouldn’t mind washing up on a shore. Now, politics? Not quite sure about the US (I do have my reservations about “Hils”. Too eager.) But in France, right now we are faced between choosing between “La peste ou le cholera” (Plague or cholera) 🙂 May you spend a lovely week on the beach, gathering shark teeth… 🙂

  7. Use the crowds,put a lot of false and emotional information out there,and the result will be a given.Sad day for Europe.This generation has forgotten what war is like.They just connect it to romanticized movies on tv.

    • Absolutely. I personally can’t watch a WWI movie without feeling it deep inside my bones. Those romanticized movies you mention make war look like no-one gets hurt… 😦 It’s “all just a show”, right?

  8. Certainly was a very bleak day. I am not from the UK. Yet I was 100 pct (call it over confidence) positive that the “Leave” wont happen. Well, the truth is harsh. I have thought the same about the hairstyle too. 😀 . Hope things wont be as bad as they seem to be

  9. I have said this many times already – people have to learn how to make educated choices, not emotional ones. They have to weight the pros and cons and do a research before they vote. As you say, using brains is crucial. Democracy is a hidden kind of dictatorship when your freedom is a sweet illusion, and you have no clue that you are tied up with somebody’s rope.

    • As a market researcher, I have observed election results the world over in the past… 205 years. The result generally comes close to 50/50. Mathematically I would suspect many voters just flip a coin on voting day. Random choices, not even educated ones… 😦

      • I’ve never gone further into the analysis as I didn’t want to blow the livelihood of my fellow researchers specializing in opinion polls. If it is a flip of a coin, why bother to do polls? But then another hypothesis comes to mind: why would voters flip a coin? Then you look at the “offer”: there isn’t really much difference between politicians and what they claim to “offer”… so, yes, neither choices are perfect, and a lot flip a coin… 😉

      • The only one thing I know for sure – everything is about money and power. Big money is behind the choices, but the voters – well, they can flip a coin 😉

  10. I don’t dare to discuss the issue with English on blog, but I don’t see anything good coming out from this situation. In today’s world we could use a strong Europe, but this looks like the beginning of an end.

    • Tout a fait d’accord. We could use a strong Europe. This is not good. And we have seen recently how “easily” war can start again… Dommage.. Esperons que ce ne soit pas le cas. Bjo

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