Take a slice of life across the Channel

I THINK I know why Mona Lisa has such an enigmatic look on her face. I reckon it is a wry grin expressing her opinion of the quality of sandwiches in Paris. I share her concern. One of my few disappointments with the French capital is the Gallic sandwich.

I THINK I know why Mona Lisa has such an enigmatic look on her face. I reckon it is a wry grin expressing her opinion of the quality of sandwiches in Paris.

I share her concern. One of my few disappointments with the French capital is the Gallic sandwich.

The first time I ordered one it turned out to be not two slices of tasty soft bread with a delicious filling inside but a partly open baguette containing a sausage covered in barely edible semi-melted cheese.

It was disgusting, not a patch on what I was used to at home. Now I hear that things could be changing for the better on the other side of the Channel. The French are seeing sense at last, it seems.


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Word has it that the English-style sandwich is taking the streets of Paris by storm. There is even a dedicated exhibition for sandwiches in the city.

This happy news comes as we are about to celebrate British Sandwich Week next month.

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I read that never, since 1762 when the fourth Earl of Sandwich first gave his name to the handy creation concocted so that he would carry on playing at the card table while eating, has the great British food been so popular.

All this thinking about grub is making me feel hungry. Perhaps I'll nip out and treat myself to a coq au vin sandwich.

It is not only the French who have been seeing the light lately.

On this side of la Manche, in recent years light pollution has become a growing problem with more and more of the UK left without a clear view of the night sky, I learn.

In just a few years, from 1993 to 2000, light pollution in England increased by a quarter and the amount of light-saturated night sky rose to seven per cent.

On the environmental side of things, councils spend a collective �532m on street lighting each year and these lights can account for around five to 10 per cent of a council's carbon emissions.

Eight out of 10 people who took part in a new survey by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) published today have their view of the night sky affected by light pollution.

Of these, almost half said their sleep had been disrupted by excess artificial lighting.

I remember from my boyhood days having a much better view of the stars than I do now. That came back to me a couple of weeks ago when I visited family in rural Texas and enjoyed a marvellous panorama of the night sky afforded by there being no street lights around.

So I say good luck to the CPRE and the British Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies which are calling on councils, businesses and individuals to take steps to cut their light pollution.

For once, I will be glad if my council keeps me in the dark.

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