Oh dear! The Government has discovered that when it comes to Brexit, it isn’t possible to make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. The word ‘egg’ being a good old-fashioned Saxon term derived from the northern dialect, while ‘omelette’ is a fancy French name for an age-old recipe cooked the World over, from Persia to Japan.
The word ‘omelette’ first appeared in the Cuisine Bourgeoisie, published in the late 17th Century – a few decades before Napoleon Bonaparte reputedly insisted on serving an enormous omelette to his army, as they marched through the town of Bressieres in Southern France. According to legend, Napoleon so enjoyed the omelette concocted by a local Innkeeper that, the following day, he commandeered every egg in the town for the soldiers’ lunch. Every year at Easter, the residents of Bressieres celebrate by cooking and eating the World’s largest omelette – a possible metaphor for the scrambled hopes of the British public.
Of course the continental influence, that we’ve been trying so hard to distance ourselves from, extends further than just omelettes. Sir Walter Scott, who attended the local Grammar School in Kelso, observed that the Norman conquest of Britain led to a natural division of language between the conquerors and the vanquished.
The land-based Saxons, tending their livestock in the fields and forests, referred to their animals using the old English terms: ‘swine’, ‘ox’, ‘cow’, ‘calf’ and ‘sheep’. But once butchered and served at a feast, the same animals took on the French/Norman descriptions: ‘pork’, ‘beef’, ‘veal’ and ‘mutton’. At a distance of almost one-thousand years, none of those refinements sound particularly troublesome – maybe it just took a Norman invasion to teach us how to cook.
Having accepted that the greater part of British culture has been absorbed, over time, from foreign nations, it’s only natural that some Brits will want to retain a proportion of the influences that we’ve adopted during our membership of the European Union. Our separation from the EU was always going to be a compromise – there are parts of the relationship we want to retain and parts that we want to dump in the sea. We all want access to the Continent for trade, but many of us don’t want to be bound by the European rule-book.
Political events, following the publication of the Withdrawal Agreement, are moving so fast that, in the time it’s taken to read this post, we’ll probably have entered a completely new phase of Brexit altogether. Perhaps we’ll even have a new Prime Minister. You’ll find no special insights here – except to say that we really need to hold our politicians to account and ask the big question: Will Irish horses be able to travel over as easily for the Grand National, on 6th April, as for Kelso’s fixture on Saturday 23rd March (six days before the intended date of Brexit)?
Should we back Tiger Roll or not?
I’d also like to hear what the Cabinet decided to back at Cheltenham this weekend – there has to be a reason why their meeting took so long on Wednesday. Our selection is King’s Socks in the race that, when Britain entered the EEC, everybody knew as the Mackeson Gold Cup.