I am writing this whilst watching the draw for the Euro 2012 qualifying groups – who says boys can’t multi-task? The quality of customer service in France has been something I have discussed with a number of people since being here. A friend from my cricket team ran a restaurant in Strasbourg and was very unhappy with the attitude of the people who worked in the restaurant – is it unusual for a restaurant owner to have a poor view of the people working there? Well it fits in with my some of my experience and that of others I have talked to. It has always been something of a relief to say, well at least its not as bad as that in Paris, as the attitude there to people not from Paris is so snooty. (For those interested England’s group for the Euro 2012 qualifiers is Switzerland, Bulgaria, Wales and Montenegro.) In further parenthesis it was interesting to read a piece about service in France but I was disappointed that the sub-editors who had headlined the piece had put that it was about service in France whilst, as is normal, it was about Paris. I was surprised that the piece put the attitude of people down to the revolution and a keen sense that everyone is equal to you and no-one superior, I’m not convinced, particularly as it is not so strongly the case outside Paris as in Paris.
Today I will be watching for the result of the presidential election in Ukraine where little seems to have changed since I was there for the election in 2004 and I will be surprised if the result is anything other than close with the two halves of the country split. Also starting today, as far as people here are concerned, is the Six Nations. With England defeating Wales and Ireland beating Italy yesterday. Alsace is supposed to be a football area, it doesn’t have any top-flight rugby teams and, even with the problems of the football le Racing they are still several divisions above the rugby team of the same name – who are though unbeaten in their last 10 games. But people I’ve worked with this week have talked about looking forward to the start of the 6 Nations, so much so that it has surprised me. My memories of the 5 Nations from my youth include the match at Twickenham between England and France when someone would always release a cock onto the pitch. I always wondered about the wisdom of having it as a symbol even before I was old enough to understand other meanings for the word. Yesterday, on my way to see a disappointing exhibition of drawings by an architect whilst he travelled on the trams of Strasbourg, I came across this building:
the home of DNA, the media group which produce the main local paper. A close-up of the clock shows: