Tuesday 17 November 2015

Fortress Europe

Having been instructed by a passing virus that they are in ultimate control the world has turned in many ways.

The Independent today reminds us of the French Empire of the past and its "heritage" in particular the history of Algeria.  19th Century History and European Imperialism was one subject of study and in the 21st Century too many have forgotten that past.

The time when I became a little closer to this was forty or so years during the 1970's when travelling around France.  As well as some obvious holiday spots a good deal of time was spent inland notably using the many cheap, basic but clean local municipal camp sites in ordinary towns and villages.

A small number of places for unknown reasons had communities of Pieds' Noir, the name given to French Algerians who had left Algeria as a consequence of the bitter Civil War that led to Algerian independence in the early 1960's.  The word was that you have to be careful with them, they were very touchy.

However, on some camp sites, the cheapest and quietest, you might come across tented Harki's, the Muslim Algerians who had supported the French regime and then forced to flee.  They were distinct and certainly separate and unwanted by the locals.  We wondered where they would go in the winter.

We had no trouble.  It was not difficult to make arrangements.  A decade before I had to work with devout Muslims and had learned what to do and not to do.  Also, after a brief stay we would be off somewhere else.  Had I been a resident of the town it would not have been so easy.

Now in France the children of their children have been joined by many others from across the Middle East and they are connected to many others perhaps of their families but also communities across Europe.  Their vision of history for the most part has been given to them by men shaped in a way we could never have foretold.

Over that forty years we have been assured by our leaders that all would be well, that we would become happy, diverse and brothers and sisters in our secular, consumerist, media, celebrity world.  It has not happened and it is not going to happen.

I learned that much from the Harki's and Pieds' Noir of the camp sites and the poorer areas of the towns of France.

The picture above is Saumur, see Wikipedia, it had a very good camp site and swimming pool.  One of "my" old tanks is in the museum there.


  1. We once camped at Montlouis just along the river from Saumur which we also visited.

  2. Had a look at the museum, and came across a Vespa with a recoilless rifle mounted on it!

    You weren't a Mod by any chance...?

  3. Spent our honeymoon in Saumur! When France was France, still!

  4. I remember these places too, when we camped or caravanned. My grandchild is studying on the Belgian border. Lots of the things going on there I have been told about appear a bit strange, but nobody is safe anywhere. I still feel the thing we must all worry about is lack of food and water due to population growth worldwide.