Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon: Global

Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon: Global

Article excerpt

In spite of our late and grotty trains, it comes as a relief to return to work in Britain. A fortnight in France reveals a country that has been greatly affected by the obligatory 35-hour week since I last took the family on holiday there in 2001. It is peculiar to be driving through the middle of a holiday district, Brittany, in the middle of August to find restaurant after restaurant shut for business. When we do eventually find somewhere to eat a pizzeria, a supposed 'fast-food' outlet - the food takes an age to come. After several days of this, we give up and cat at our rented apartment instead.

Fortunately, the flat faced away from the street, which in the absence of any effective cleaning smclled like a toilet. The French-owned ferry, by contrast, was clean and tidy, thanks to an employment policy which seems to sidestep the ban on Frenchmen working more than 35 hours a week. Descending to the bowels of the ship to find our cabin, I run into the cleaning crew: several dozen of them, all of Asiatic appearance and few of them apparently able to understand a word of either French or English. …

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