Farewell, my love. I hope we meet again. An adolescent emptiness swells in the breast as the love affair ends. I will see her again, but it will not be the same. We will not have that informality of friendship where one can take up again where one left off the last time. No more will we lie long and easy under the apple bough. When we meet next I will have the same yearning, but I will be in a new position, a stranger, étranger, and you will be in a different situation too, having to regard me as a foreigner. Formality and reservation will be the order of the day. Likely we will need to make an appointment, obtain a visa, before we meet. Certainly, we will be supervised by authorities who believe they know better than both of us.
I must break from you because I and my kind have insulted you or at best wish to ignore you and what you stand for. Of your three graces of Beauty, Mirth and Elegance I would add the fourth of Athena, goddess of wisdom and culture. We had graces once, now we have hubris. Our next meeting will be as through a glass, chaperoned to counter any agreements between us and quell and glowing embers of passion in case they burst into flame. My admiration of Gide, Camus, Proust and Jaques Monod must be suppressed for the new nationalism. Your love of Austen, Elgar and Higgs, whose predictions were verified beneath your soil, will be curbed simply by the awkwardness of it all.
The future for us is bleak, as even our supervisors acknowledge. They spoke of sunlit uplands of opportunity but are now engaged in trying to limit the damage. A bleaker future for me than for you. You will still have other friends you will be able to freely visit but I will be estranged from them also. Your influence will live on in me, you taught me how to eat well, about flavours and presentation of food at the table. We learned about drinks of such delight and quality as the world has ever known. As for relationships, we have had a thousand years of teasing, fighting, working together, exchanging ideas and culture.
I have travelled with you by rail, swiftly, comfortably and reliably and with little expense. By car also, we have sped to our destinations. trouble free and safe. Together we have enjoyed the magic and culture of Paris, the excitement of the ski slopes, the sun and ease of Provence and, my particular favourite, gliding through the alps past sunlit snow-covered peaks and over turquoise lakes. I have had the best of you, but my children and their children will be denied the privilege.
We have had such fun with the interplay of language. How will you manage without ‘le weekend’ and life for us will be less exciting without ‘French kissing.’ Will Franglais still be spoken, will we still be able to intentionally confuse ‘foot’ and ‘foutre’, risky though it is?
So farewell ma belle France. The Bojos, Moggs and Goves have decided that we are unsuited. I know we have had our differences, but they have been as nothing compared to our gladness. Together we both would have been stronger, more content and happier. On March 29th the good times will end; we will have to observe one another from a distance. Those wonderful things we did together, the Euro-tunnel, Concorde, Airbus, the town twinning and educational exchanges, the reciprocal visits of our children and job exchanges may still happen to a small extent. The excitement of discoveries from the Large Hadron Collider and ITER will still be there but we will play only a small part. The way ahead for us will be narrow, dark and stony.