In truth we might have left in the morning bleak if it hadn’t been for our quest to see Jim and Monika’s barge, and the need for just one more coffee, and perhaps to refuel, and to buy some bread if it hadn’t been Monday and the baker’s day off, so when we actually left Saint Jean it was under clear grey skies and temperatures that were verging on pleasant.
The bleak had returned by the time we berthed in Seurre though, and brought with it a biting wind which oddly enough did nothing for our enthusiasm when it came to actually summonsing the energy to get out and about.
Almost as chilling was the realisation that the young harbour master had responded to our clumsy introductions in his language, in perfect English. This is not a bad thing for us, in fact it would be churlish to say we don't appreciate it, except that it has taken one dimension from our travel experience, in the sense that we are not forced to think about communication, or worry when we cannot make ourselves understood!
We have become aware of the depths that our mother tongue has penetrated his country over the past decade in particular. It does not seem so long ago that we knew nothing of the French language, and often found it difficult to make ourselves understood. Now it seems that just as often, sometimes after only muttering a few words in French, the person with whom we are communicating will switch without thought or apology to our native tongue. The young are adapting to life in a multi-cultural world far more seamlessly than we could ever hope to do.
Sadly street signs and business branding are well and truly fighting the same battle. We don't notice it happening. It doesn’t seem out of place to see signs clearly written in English now.
Somewhere deep in the bowels of a government building in Paris, there is an old policy-maker repeating to anyone who will listen ; “I told you so”.