Jacques, Vous Avez Raison
British comedians often make jokes against the French, often quite vicious ones. Quite recently I saw the phrase 'Nazi collaborators' get a big laugh.
Yet Jacques Chirac makes some light-hearted comments in private about British food and there's a huge brouhaha.
But what Chirac said was essentially true.
The media have been wheeling out various high profile British chefs in defence of our gastronomic standards. But this is to miss the crucial point: ordinary, everyday food as eaten by the majority of the British is very bad. Away from the row over Chirac's comments, the massive problem of poor diets and obesity is never out of the news. Have we already forgotten the horrific revelations in Jamie Oliver's campaign on school dinners?
The Oliver campaign prompted people to take a look at the superb school meals served in France. Some French schools even give parents a print-out of the menus for the whole school year so they don't give little Pierre and Marie-Claire the same meals in the evening that they had at lunchtime at school.
The British and French have a totally different attitude to food, a fact discovered by generations of French children who have come to Britain on exchange visits. The dubious delights of Birds Eye and Bernard Matthews give many of them a lifelong dislike of British food and sometimes of Britain itself.
It's true that cookery programmes and cookery books have never been more popular but this is cooking as entertainment and something you do for a special occasion. Most British people are simply not prepared to invest the time in lengthy food preparation to prepare good quality, fresh, healthy meals on a daily basis. The French are and we should respect them for it.
I said recently that casting directors should exercise more caution, after seeing Coronation Street's detective pop up as a criminal in The Bill.
But here's something even more extraordinary from last night's Coronation Street.
A frequently shown commercial for one of the great probiotic scams shows a young boy standing outside a school waiting for his mother to collect him.
The mother, having ingested vast amounts of 'good bacteria', appears on roller skates and in a crash helmet and zooms around the playground at 40 miles per hour.
Cut to last night's Corrie. The same boy is standing outside a school waiting to be collected.
(Casting Director: have you still got the uniform from the probiotic commercial? That will save wardrobe getting you one).
This time he's collected by Claire from Streetcars, in a taxi rather than on roller skates. But he does the same puzzled look as when he saw his mother on roller skates. Maybe puzzled looks are this 12 year old's specialty and are mentioned in his Spotlight Directory entry. He might build a whole career around them. If he learns to scratch his head as well he could take over from Charlie in Casualty one day.
But once again this thoughtless piece of casting had me inventing my own sub-plot. Well, I had no choice. Corrie never explained why the bemused son of Probiotic Woman was suddenly being collected from school in a Weatherfield taxi.
The sad truth is that Social Services had sent the taxi to take him to a foster home because his mother was now in The Priory, heavily sedated, after gangsta tripping on probiotic milk drinks and speed skating round Sainsbury's singing 'Mmm, Danone.'
Poor little blighter.
BBC executives play a constant game of musical chairs but did you know that they also play their own private version of Changing Rooms?
I discovered this from an interview with the new head of children's television in yesterday's Guardian.
Her predecessor had apparently turned her office into a cosy front room, complete with a fireplace.
The new woman has "smartly restyled it, with stripped hard wood floor, leather sofas and a sleek desk."
Good to know that our constantly rising licence fee is allowing these people to indulge their tastes in interior design.
I know it's small change when children's TV alone has a budget of £100 million. But how many people at the less glitzy end of the public sector would be allowed to give their offices frequent, expensive makeovers on taxpayers' money?