JULIAN BETTS (@BettsJulian) returns with a sixth episode of his hugely popular Round The World In 80 Leagues series. This time, we’re off to France.
AC Ajaccio v Orleans | Friday 19:00
On the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States commentators in America talk of the ushering in of a new era of post truth politics.
It’s basically a flowery way of saying bullshit rules.
In the age of social media facts have become an irrelevance and truth has been shunted to the periphery. Ironically we are being led to believe that fake news is a modern phenomenon when in reality fiction and myth have been around since the dawn of time.
19th century fake news
Take Napoleon for example. Born in Ajaccio, Corsica (of course there’s a link, I don’t just pluck these names from thin air!) this military genius went on to become Emperor of France, conquering swaths of mainland Europe with his original and unique strategies and tactics.
Yet for centuries the “little general” has been mocked and caricatured for his size. What almost certainly started with confusion between the French pouce and English inch (his death certificate recorded his height as 5’2 in French units) has morphed from myth to accepted truth.
Compounded by the fact that he surrounded himself with his elite guards, towering specimens of physical perfection, who added to the illusion of Napoleon as a tiny figure in their midst.
The actual truth is he was 5’7 and although no giant this was an average height for his time, no more no less. Fake news right there in the early 19th century.
French pig-naming law
That’s not the only myth associated with Napoleon. Trawl the internet and you will find many references to a French law which makes it illegal for anyone to name a pig Napoleon.
Added credence was given by the fact that in early French editions of George Orwell’s literary classic “Animal Farm”, the main protagonist Napoleon the pig had his name substituted for Cesar.
By the by despite obvious similarities the pig is inspired by Josef Stalin and not his namesake but I digress. The fact is there is and never has been such a law so if any French farmers find themselves reading this, rest easy.
A fascinating truth about Napoleon is that he was the man primarily responsible for right hand drive in mainland Europe and one of the reasons we in the UK still drive on the left is that we were never conquered by him.
Ajaccio surely won’t need much of a strategic genius to help them overcome newly promoted Orleans on Friday night.
Orleans’ historical heroine
The visitors can of course lay claim to their own historical heroine in Joan of Arc, the maid of Orleans.
A teenage peasant girl without the benefit of a keen military mind she was instead driven by visions of angels imploring her to drive out the English.
Somehow she managed to convince Charles VII to send her to the front line and inspire a French revival during the Hundred Years War. This she managed until her capture and subsequent burning at the stake for witchcraft and repeated heresy.
The betting angle
How Orleans need someone with vision now.
Without a single victory on the road, they have lost seven of their nine away games and have not even scored in the last six. Ajaccio already have five wins under their belt on Corsican soil and it is this home form which is keeping them away from a relegation battle.
Coupled with the away terrors of Orleans, 21/20 (Ladbrokes) on an Ajaccio victory seem too generous to turn down.
In case you were wondering and to bring this back to the beginning, New Orleans is indeed named after the Duke of Orleans who ruled as regent between 1715-23. Many of the French influences still remain.
I will leave the last word to Napoleon himself with a quote that is no less relevant today than it was 200 years ago – “In politics stupidity is not a handicap.”
AC Ajaccio v Orleans – AC Ajaccio to win (21/20 Ladbrokes)