The Telegraph terms it 'disillusionment' that has come to France, but it could as well be the realisation that the post-war model of ever-increasing national wealth funding ever-increasing social welfare has come to an end. The astonishment is that the character of French rural society has survived despite this post-war wealth rather than because of it; "That spirit of solidarité – the instinct of people to help their fellow man — runs wonderfully deep here. The sun is still shining and the trains still run on time. Entire villages conjure up feasts and sit down to them together, just as they always did". It is, in human history, more frequently adversity and shared hardship that forges bonds of community.
In Germany, the wheels are falling off the Industrial-Educational compact. If the essence of France is the bond between commune and terroir then the essence of Germany has been its system of industrial apprenticeships. As Der Spiegel reports, a dual-track system of vocational and academic educational streams has helped maintain Germany's competitive advantage. Now, just when the UK is moving to adopt the German model, Germany is moving to adopt, er, the British model.
And in the UK it's with mixed emotions that I must report the demise of the Quantity Surveyor; India and Malaysia both still base construction mensuration on SMM7, published by the RICS, and consequently 'taking off' a bill of quantities from a set of drawings is something that can now be done in Mumbai or KL at a fraction of the cost of employing a chap from Richmond. Consequently, QSs have been re-inventing themselves as Project Managers or Cost Consultants, and the merest suggestion that they might usefully do a bit of taking-off is met with the expression of a surgeon asked to change the patient's bedsheets. Ah well.