Articles

Truth is funnier than comedy

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2011 by grahamharrowell

The new Dany Boon film is premiering in the north before opening in the rest of the country. It’s a comedy and goes back to the time (which many people here can’t remember) when there were routine customs controls on EU internal frontiers. La Voix du Nord recently asked older listeners to write in with their reminiscences of those bad old times. Odd then that Finance Minister Francois Baroin should be pictured in Steenvoorde this week defending his decision to close the local customs post. Steenvoorde is one of those places in France where people still speak Flemish having been brought into the republic as recently as 1793. Before that they were part of Austria (oh yes) and prior to that Spanish. They avoided being Belgian, unlike some of their neighbours, by only a few metres and spent the next couple of hundred years moaning about the inconvenience of the border whilst at the same time seeking to benefit from the fiscal disparities it brought with it. Even now French tobacconists in the area (those who haven’t gone bust that is) whilst apparently supporting the open frontier, at the same time demand an end to the importation of cheaper Belgian fags.

So when everyone goes to the cinema to laugh at Dany Boon enacting the story of the closure, years ago, of the customs posts along the Franco-Belgian frontier perhaps they should bear in mind that what actually happened was that the routine checks stopped but that they have carried on paying for the customs posts to remain in being and even now they’re complaining when the government tries to shut them.

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