Tuesday, February 4, 2003

Our Founder President, Bill Porter, must have enjoyed his other role as an honorary British Consular Officer for Le Touquet and its region, during the recent visit of President Chirac and Prime Minister Blair for summit talks in that city. As the leader of the local British community, he was given a privileged position with his compatriots to take part in the arrival ceremony and they were among the first to shake hands with the two leaders, following their review of the ceremonial guard. This resulted in their appearance in many TV news reports and the main front-page picture of La Voix du Nord, , the Northern France main daily newspaper, showing Porter shaking hands with President Chirac. In another picture Porter is described as “Le plus Touquettois des Britanniques”, which loosely translates as “the most enthusiastic British Le Touquet Citizen”.

Porter was also interviewed for five minutes by the Arabic TV station, Al Jazeera, who were among the more than 200 journalists from all parts of the world. The serried ranks of photographers and TV cameramen on a special platform blocked the view of some of the crowd, rather reminiscent of the New Testament verse, “Zaccheus could not see for the press.”

Meanwhile the two leaders plunged into the crowds taking what the French describe as a “bain de foule”, a crowd bath, from which they emerged unscathed and moved into a specially prepared room, normally reserve for marriage ceremonies, for their serious discussions. These took place in a friendly atmosphere and resulted in many constructive co-operations in defence, treatment of asylum seekers and education, including the groundwork for an eventual Cross-Channel University. However, the issue of a possible invasion of Iraq remained on hold, and the lunch, prepared by students of the local hotel school, took place with contented good humour. “Vive l’Entente Cordiale!”