The supremely stylish actress and singer Jane Birkin has died in Paris aged 76. French President Emmanuel Macron said: ‘Because she embodied freedom, because she sang the most beautiful words of our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon.’
He seemed to overlook that Jane Birkin was English — born in London and educated on the Isle of Wight. But perhaps he should be forgiven. After all, don’t most things stylish come from France, while Britain lags behind?
They have Jane Birkin. We have Joan Collins.
They have Serge Gainsbourg. We have Benny Hill.
They have Je T’Aime… Moi Non Plus. We have Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West).
An empty boat travels the river Seine in front of the Eiffel Tower
They have madeleines. We have Hobnobs.
They have lobster thermidor. We have fish and chips.
They have omelettes. We have scotch eggs.
They have Jacques Derrida. We have Jeremy Clarkson.
They have Rodin’s The Thinker. We have Damien Hirst’s Mother And Child Divided (aka a cow and calf cut in two).
They have Debussy’s La Mer. We have I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside.
They have the Eiffel Tower. We have Blackpool Tower.
They have poisson-frites. We have fish fingers.
They have culottes. We have hot pants.
They have Christine Lagarde. We have Ann Widdecombe.
They have the Ritz Paris. We have Premier Inn.
They have Francois-Henri Pinault. We have Alan Sugar.
They have Monsieur Hulot. We have Roy Chubby Brown.
They have Francoise Hardy. We have Cilla Black.
They have Johnny Hallyday. We have Johnny Rotten.
They have Brigitte Bardot. We have Barbara Windsor.
They have Dubonnet. We have Ribena.
They have foie gras. We have pork scratchings.
They have champagne. We have Babycham.
They have croque monsieur. We have cheese on toast.
They have Simone de Beauvoir. We have Pam Ayres.
They have petits plats. We have nibbles.
Patrouille de France jets fly over the Arc of Triomphe and the Champs Elysee during the annual Bastille Day military parade
They say: ‘Sacre Bleu!’ We say: ‘OMG.’
They have Marie Antoinette. We have Fergie.
They have Bichon Frises. We have Jack Russells.
They have Tintin. We have Thomas The Tank Engine.
They have bombe glacee. We have arctic roll.
They have the beret. We have the hoodie.
They have the Moulin Rouge. We have the Raymond Revuebar.
They have French toast. We have eggy bread.
They have Jean-Paul Belmondo. We have Sid James.
They have the deux chevaux. We have the Austin Metro.
They have Gitanes. We have Players No. 6.
They have Francoise Sagan. We have Jackie Collins.
They have pain aux raisins. We have sausage rolls.
They have Jules Et Jim. We have Carry On Camping.
They have baguettes. We have chip butties.
They have Alain Delon. We have Terry-Thomas.
They have the Cannes Film Festival. We have the Skegness Knobbly Knee Competition.
They have Disque Bleu. We have Woodbines.
They have croissants. We have buns.
They say: ‘Bon Voyage!’ We say: ‘Mind how you go.’
They have Monet’s Water Lilies. We have Tracey Emin’s messy and unmade My Bed.
They have camembert. We have Primula.
They have Yves Saint Laurent. We have FatFace.
They have Chanel No 5. We have Lynx.
They have Versailles. We have Poundbury.
They have ennui. We’re bored stiff.
They say: ‘Comment ca va?’ We say: ‘How you doing?’
They reply: ‘Tres bien, merci.’ We reply: ‘Not too bad.’