A B&B breakfast chat with a dusting of politics…

I AM waiting for the French woman to come downstairs. Toast and black coffee is her usual breakfast, with a bit of chat on the side.

She is not a new woman smuggled into my life, but the latest in a long line of guests. Her plan is to find somewhere more permanent to live and a job, and then stay in York for a few months to improve her English.

So many people have passed through now that I have begun to lose track. Although the circumstances behind throwing open our house to overnight guests were not cheerful, having people to stay is enjoyable and enlightening. Well, there was that man who said he just felt safer with David Cameron running the country. The evening chat ran aground shortly after he lobbed that conversational hand grenade.

And there was a woman who half-jokingly complained in the write-up of her stay that there had been a spider in the bedroom. Look, lady, there are no barriers to spider immigration in this house: it was autumn and that is when spiders like to cross borders.

But most guests have been either lovely or no trouble – and often both.

People seem to enjoy my little sketches of life as an accidental B&B host. The ‘viewing’ figures for this blog usually rise when I write about Airbnb, although they don’t ascend quite so quickly as they did at the weekend when I posted about my wife having had her gardening column dropped after 24 years. More people read that than just about anything else since I wrote about my own departure from the same location.

Our guest is downstairs now so I have just broken off to make her toast and coffee. I tell her that France is in the news this morning because of the far-right Front National failing to make any ground in the last round of regional elections.

Our guest tells me that she doesn’t think that much of politicians as a rule, believing that banks and big businesses possess the real power. A decent point, even if it is always encouraging to see the extreme right get a bloody nose.

The defeat is said to be down to mass tactical voting, a rising turnout and warnings by the left that Marine Le Pen’s party was anti-Semitic and racist and would do great harm to France. This helped to stop the FN in its tracks for now, after it won nearly 28 per cent of the vote in the first round.

Le Pen and her pugnacious party complain of “calumny and defamation” – which is the Gallic equivalent of whatever sour excuse Nigel Farage of Ukip comes up with in this country after an election disappointment.

Sadly, the French nasties still secured around 6.6 million votes, so they are not going to go away.

I am less sure of many things in life nowadays. But I do remain stubbornly attached to the idea that in general right-wing views, especially extreme right-wing views, can only ever do corrosive harm. As, in fairness, can extreme left-wing views. It’s just that right-wingers are the ones who still get my blood to rise.

Our guest has finished her breakfast now and is off into York to look for temporary work. She’s already found somewhere to live. Not bad for a few damp days in the city.


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