Monthly Archives: May 2013

Stretching the Metaphor

 The sun and lightning From where I am, at the centre of the world, in France, it is obvious that the government is responsible for the abysmal spring weather we have been experiencing. In fact since Mr. Hollande has been in office we can count the number of fine sunny days on one hand. It has been so appalling that we are likely to start referring to the weather forecast as something “scandaleux” on a par with the recently revealed personal wealth of our cabinet ministers. We are even in danger of becoming as adept as the English in the art of discussing the weather  although it will take a lot more bad weather to displace the Brits as the world’s connoisseurs of the ill placed rain drop. On this Pentecostal Monday when we are enjoying yet another long weekend, I am wearing 2 sweaters and only just refusing socks. I am sure I am not alone in this shameful springtime practice.

So far the sun has not shone upon François Hollande’s reign as president of France. He was late for his first meeting with Angela Merkel because his plane was held up by an electrical thunder storm and since then it would seem that it hasn’t stopped raining for him or us. He appears to be carrying on regardless, displaying the same stoicism that won the war for the allies. The war lasted 6 years. He has another 4 years to endure but if he doesn’t do something about the weather it is not certain he will go the full distance. Traditionally we expect a bit of sunshine in May to accompany the intermittent work we do between the bank holidays. Politicians can usually count on a slight let up in discontent while we are all enjoying May 1st; May 8th, Ascension and Pentecostal long weekends but not if it rains on all 4 public holidays! The proof: the streets of Paris have been inundated recently by people who cared enough about homosexual marriage and same-sex couples adopting children to let their anger flow freely despite adverse weather conditions. The water level of the Seine near where I live has risen so high that no one can walk along its banks; in fact even the rubbish bins have disappeared beneath the water line. It is a dismal state of affairs and there is no immediate end in sight despite national diversions like the Cannes Film Festival and the French Tennis Open.


Had Mr. Hollande checked the solar weather report before running for president he would have known there was to be a heavy increase in the number of sunspots on the surface of the sun this year. What he couldn’t have known however is that scientists would be puzzled by the lack of these sunspots just when the sun was supposed to be at peak production level in the middle of a predictable 11 year cycle. Solar activity is at some kind of standstill. Is it the calm before the solar storm? Solar storms are not unusual but solar winds of up to a million miles per hour within the earth’s vicinity apparently do impact the earth’s magnetic field and can, therefore, influence the earth’s climate. Quite frankly I am not sure to have grasped the connection between blemishes on the sun’s skin and the weather in Paris but that’s irrelevant. It provides me with a metaphor with which to talk about the first year of François Hollande’s presidency in the sixth season of the fifth Republic: instead of a peak in production levels, we are at a standstill and the rain simply will not let up. Is it the calm before the storm? And what kind of storm could that be? Are we dreaming here in France of influencing the magnetic field of the world’s social and political structures as was once the case in 1789? Or are we all just out to lunch on good food and wine, praying for better times and doing our best to keep our head in the sand or wherever else it is warm and comfortable enough to put it?

I am cynical or realistic enough to know that political and social power is dictated to by economic power but oddly enough I sense that people power has a similar energy to solar power and that, should it continue to rain, a storm may unleash itself causing more than the rubbish bins to sink below the water lines. And if that happens, who knows what will happen to the banks of the river.

You can read about sunspots by typing “sunspots” on Google.

Death to Umbrellas in June


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