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Downloadable video of Warren Hill (16.8 Mb, 29 seconds) next day, frost gone.



I had always thought the phrase après moi le déluge (after me the flood) had been uttered by Charles de Gaulle with the meaning 'after I'm no longer in charge all hell will break loose'.

I then reinterpreted it as a bon mot to illustrate a piece of political wisdom: if you are in charge never choose your successor whatever the books about power say.

Let instead the strong candidates fight it out (but not literally) and the best, and possibly the strongest, leader will emerge.

If you choose your own successor he may be weak, incompetent, renounce or rubbish your legacy or otherwise disappoint you.

Better to let a strong candidate win the succession in open contest and change direction, which may be necessary anyway, and be a worthy successor to you as, in all events, you are unique and cannot be copied.

Looking back, we did not need Anthony Eden succeeding Winston Churchill, for instance.

The exceptions, though, prove the rule.

Two of the most successful chosen successors - deputies who had to step up to the plate - in the past 50 years have been George Pompidou and Anwar Sadat, essentially because they were more moderate, less full of themselves and yet as strong as their predecessors, de Gaulle and Nasser.

Pompidou did not reverse de Gaulle's policy and admit Britain to the Common Market out of weakness.

The phrase nowadays is attributed to Louis XV and may be apocryphal. It is said that it is more likely to have been uttered by Madame de Pompadour or even more likely by one of them referring to themselves jointly in the form: après nous le déluge.

It is also very possible that neither of them said it at all but that de Gaulle did in reference to the war in Algeria.

As I write there is an icy wind blowing on Warren Hill, Newmarket. Anecdote says there is nothing as high as it (and it is not all that high) from here all the way to the steppes.

If that is true we could have predicted to Napoleon Bonaparte without him getting on his horse that he would have to retreat from Moscow, take his leave of the Old Guard at Fontainebleau and go to Elba. It's freezing.

It is not such a prediction that is bothering us, though.

It is the one that Louis XV made (or didn't make). It accounts for Brexit.

When the tsunami comes Warren Hill sounds like the safest place in Europe.

Apparently you get 40 minutes warning of a tsunami (or 300 years if you listen to Louis XV).

So we and all the horses and dogs who exercise there will make our way up the hill to join the rabbits, moles and foxes who live there already and await Noah's Ark.