The German Culture and German Humor

Driving up through the Ostkantone on the motorway to Aachen (Germany) prepares you for what lies ahead. There is an orderliness about the architecture that contrasts starkly with the anarchy you are leaving behind in Belgium. In my book We Europeans I dwelt on two...

Saint Nicholas, Turkey and the Garden Gnomes

Saint Nicholas of Myra has a lot to answer for. For a start he was responsible for a Nordic Council meeting that was devoted to a bitter dispute over claims to his namesake, Santa Claus. The Norwegians presented a carefully argued but sentimental case for ownership,...

Are the French “Autistic”?

Travelling From Belgium to France Travel southeast down the valley of the Viroin and, just beyond the border, you find yourself traversing a wasteland of scrubby hedgerows and bits of abandoned corrugated iron that shrieks “France”. You are witnessing the...

The Curse of Campanilismo?

Trend Spotting in Europe Media commentators are talking about the long-term risk that the European institutions will “disintegrate”. But thefoundations on which these institutions are based – the subsoil of the European Union – are also shaky. There are a number of...