Mixed feelings for British expats over London win

6th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

BORDEAUX, France, July 6 (AFP) - When the news came through Wednesday lunchtime at Madeleine Johnson's pub in Bordeaux, she could not contain her delight, releasing a roar of pleasure at London's success in winning the 2012 Olympic Games.

BORDEAUX, France, July 6 (AFP) - When the news came through Wednesday lunchtime at Madeleine Johnson's pub in Bordeaux, she could not contain her delight, releasing a roar of pleasure at London's success in winning the 2012 Olympic Games.

Johnson has been living in this southwestern French city for five years running the Oxford Arms, far from her native Cambridge in eastern England, and like many of her fellow-Brits and clients thought Paris was going to win.

"I'm not coming any more," said a regular female client, in this case a local from Bordeaux, with a smile. "Oh, no!" quipped Johnson.

The phone rings. It is her sister Marcelle, calling from London, to tell her of the mood of exuberance in the British capital.

This corner of France is home to tens of thousands of expatriate Britons and many more have holiday homes in the region.

Reactions were mixed, a blend of genuine surprise that Paris, the odds-on favourites, should have lost, national pride, sympathy for the defeated and a touch of guilty pleasure at French discomfiture.

In the pub Xavier Saget, son of a French father and English mother, remarked that "French chauvinism is only matched by its English counterpart." He regretted that the Olympics should have become a political issue.

"It's the Olympic Games: it's sport, it should be fair-play."

No such sentiments from Jennifer, retired and living in the Dordogne region of southwestern France, founder of a 135 member ladies' club, and "happy because I'm English."

"The French are so sure of themselves. This morning it was as if they had already won. I'm sorry for them but I think it is marvellous," she said.

"I am sorry for France," said Stuart Edwards, who runs the Entente Cordiale bar in a Dordogne village where French and British had gathered to watch the result.

"They all celebrated with a beer. We are not politicians. It's the 'entente cordiale' here."

At the Atlantic Ocean port of La Rochelle, a stage in an English yacht race, Peter Henderson, an English skipper of 22, had appreciated seeing the British flag raised at the entry to the port.

His crewmate Georgina Williams, 35, said she was delighted by the news. "I live in the east of London. Prices are going to take off."

*quote1*"Bloody hell!" said retired engineer John Davies, starting out of his chair in his apartment in the village of Salies-de-Bearn, near the Pyrenees, as the result was announced.

Davies, one of some 200,000 Britons who have bought property in France -- many of whom do not speak French -- was watching the ceremony on French television.

"Oh well," he said, "I hope this will have the same positive effect on London that the 1992 Games had on Barcelona -- that it will give it the transport infrastructure it needs, and develop parts that have potential."

Davies' son Tom, a London banker, was less sanguine even before the result was announced.

"I hope London doesn't get it," he said, "it's sure to hike up the council taxes."

Another British resident, Michael Price, was in two minds.

"I would have been happy for France to get it, because I could have gone up to Paris," he said, "but in fact these days it's pretty much just as easy to go across to London."

Said Jean Wilkins, a tourist from London: "That's great! I don't know about the crowds though... and the parking. I feel sorry for the French, though."

© AFP

Subject: French news

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