Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

The road - or motorway - to good international relations

There's no equaliser greater than the motorway - we all feel superior to those ultimately making us targets of their abuse

The road - or motorway - to good international relationsOn a two-lane motorway, the juggernaut just ahead of me suddenly drifted over from the nearside lane without hint of a signal. At first I thought the driver had fallen asleep, but he then spent at least five minutes inching past an even slower vehicle as a queue built up behind him.Forgive me for saying the -element of danger took me straight back to the Abu Dhabi-Dubai motorway. But it happened in northern France and the juggernaut was from -Belgium, reinforcing my belief t-hat Europeans can claim no high -moral ground over the drivers of other continents. Rotten driving occurs wherever there are roads.But people are very sensitive when it comes to comparing their road manners with those of others. ---- For example, driving is one of many things a certain kind of Briton likes to think he does better than the French.I once harboured the same thought, persuading myself that the fabled courteousness of the British prompted them to make allowances for anyone in a car bearing an F-for-France symbol, whereas Brits could expect no such concession on trips to France.Now I am able to put that old -theory to the test; I drive a French-registered car but am currently in the UK. In France, my instinct has so far been confirmed. The history of Anglo-French relations is packed with enough discord to make the phrase entente cordiale seem like someone's little joke. Accordingly, on French roads, I am free of the hostility I occasionally felt when at the wheel of a car bearing a GB plate. I naturally assumed the hostility to have something to do with my country of origin (no driver, of course, ever being prepared to own up to anything that could warrant reproach). On the other side of the English Channel, the results have been a -little more complicated. Having paid careful attention to the way I am perceived, however, I can present a preliminary report. This spot of unscientific research reminds me of a London minicab driver, white-skinned but with an unusually swarthy complexion, who dressed as a Sikh for one day. He was appalled by the routine prejudice and insults he experienced from passengers and other road-users.So in my impersonation of a Frenchman, have I received the special consideration I once imagined to exist? Not exactly. Instead, I have lip-read the abuse and encountered aggression. And that is just from pedestrians. I have also used up a portion of brake lining in avoiding collisions with cars cutting straight across my path without warning or priority. But my conclusion is not quite what you might expect. I do not suggest I have been singled out for unfavourable treatment because I appear to be French. My theory has not been smashed to pieces by wicked Anglo-Saxons intent on -re-enacting centuries of enmity.In fact, I do not get the impression I am seen as a foreigner at all. What happens to me seems to happen to everyone. Something tells me -Londoners have accepted me as one of their own.crandall@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Thoughtful tailoring at Asudari

The womenswear label Asudari showcased a collection that featured sharp masculine tailoring, but with feminine silhouettes.

Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games.

Designer Lamia Asudari says she was influenced by Delftware ceramics from the 16th century, as well as the imagery of weaponry and artillery. Indeed, pistols, grenades and guns were emblazoned over jackets and dresses.

 Several of Jo Baaklini's pieces featured fruit prints. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: At Starch, watermelon shirts, anyone?

“We need to cultivate our own fashion heroes — our own regional brands,” stressed Fashion Forward’s honcho Bong Guerrero in a press con two weeks ago.

Aptly, the slot for this season’s opening runway show was given to two newbies: Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek, whose talents were scouted by Starch, a group dedicated to launching emerging Lebanese designers.

Between the two, Mr Baaklini had a stronger showing.

 Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece. Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Jean Louis Sabaji’s debatable debut

Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece, the floral crop top, and the radiant yellow pleated skirt.

But most of the time he went too far. There were bell-bottoms, separates that looked like costumes from The Jetsons, and a yellow dress reminiscent of Bjork’s infamous Oscars swan dress — several disparate elements in one multicoloured, multilayered show.

 Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all.” Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Kage pleases all palates

Did the designers of Kage aim to showcase every type of basic clothing on their latest show?

Because there were skirts, shorts, trousers, off-shoulder tops, short dresses, cocktail dresses, long flowy dresses, spaghetti straps, jackets, hoods — and even pyjamas, which with the incoming summer heat, looked especially appealing.

Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all”, they said in their statement.

 The standout was a grey hooded cape that created a tension between edge and elegance. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Polish, craft (and fur!) at The Emperor 1688

The best show of Day 1 at Fashion Forward was delivered by the three Golkar brothers behind The Emperor 1688.

The coats and capes were the clear winners: they came in all sorts of interesting colours and sizes — and featured exceptionally tailored proportions. There was a lot of volume, but also stiffness.

And whimsy: two favourites were a green double-breasted suit and a blue overcoat with a red clover pattern and gold buttons.

 Midway through Ezra's show, snow started falling from the ceiling. Ian Gavan / Getty Images for Fashion Forward

Fashion Forward: Ezra stuns in snow-covered show

Turns out the Filipino designer Ezra, known for his dreamy couture, still had a few surprises up his sleeve.

Midway through his show, snow started falling from the ceiling.

It created a starkly beautiful atmosphere for his intricately constructed gowns that seemed to be designed for an Ice Queen transported back to the 1950s.

He showed a collection that had a lot of technical firepower behind it: glittering iridescent fabrics paired with head and neckpieces that were moulded and stiffened to stand out in odd angles.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National