I disagree with her about the French though.
There is is no denying that some parts of Europe are more assertively European than others, and for me crossing any border into France is still like entering the Big Time, the Real Thing. God knows the French have had their moments of ignominy even in my lifetime, but from every reverse they seem to spring back in crested-cock-like confidence.
I think the French are assertively French, rather than assertively European. I think over the last 50 years they have just done a good job and convincing some of the others that to be assertively French is to be assertively European. I think there are two poles of Europeanness, one of which is France and the other is Britain, and most of the other Europeans occupy more middle ground. As for more definitively "European", I go for the Germans, and the Spanish and even the Italians (somewhat problematically) over the French.(Not so much the Nordic peoples, who are more, well, Nordic. And the Swiss are Swiss). All of this, for reasons that I cannot go into now because I have a train to Portsmouth to catch.
You see, I yesterday read Morris' description of the joys of getting a ferry back to England across the channel and seeing the white cliffs of Dover. In any event, upon reading this, I was struck by the fact that I have never crossed the English channel by boat. I have gone underneath it by train a couple of times, and I have flown across it and the North Sea on countless occasions, but I have never gone by ferry.
My response to all this was to go to the P&O Ferries website, and book a ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre tomorrow afternoon, and a ferry back from Cherbourg on December 28. My plans are to visit Mont St Michel, the beaches of Dunkirk, and the Normandy Bridge, plus whatever else in that part of France takes my fancy. Plus I shall drink some wine and take advantage of a prix fixe menu or two. There may be a small amount of blogging over the next week, but I suspect not very much. Blogging shall resume in full force on December 29. (One thing that I shall blog when I get back is a lengthy essay on why I believe that the telco business (and if we are lucky the financial markets) have bottomed. Vast numbers of job applications shall be sent out from December 30. My life shall be back to working at full speed hopefully shortly in to the new year.
Of course, as I am going to Normandy rather than Brittany, the ferries go from Portsmouth, so I shall not get to see the White Cliffs of Dover as I return. This I shall have to leave for some other time.
Anyway, I am going to France, where I am going to have a damn good time. Happy Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Gurnenthar's Ascendance to everybody.