22 August 2012

How Did That Get There?

Today I happened to be looking down the list of Word documents on my computer, and I came across this title:

How Successfully Did Pitt Face the Challenge of the French Revolution from 1789-1801?

There it was, sandwiched between Hits of the 60s. doc and How to Read an Unseen Poem and Compare it to One in Your Booklet. doc – both unmistakeably work  of my own hand.

Now, I haven’t written a history essay for (loud cough)-ty years or so.   So exactly how Mr Pitt got in amongst my personal effects is unclear. 

I feel it important to point out to my future executors, should I ever go under a bus and should they ever need to comb nostagically through my written remnants, that this blip of erudition has not been penned by me.  Never in my life have I ever considered the agonisings of the British Prime Minister at the turn of the 18th century as he stared, possibly bleakly, into the shockwaves of the French Revolution. 

But looking at that Pitt document, standing as a proud bastion of oddity among all the other titles, gave me the same feeling I had back in June when I was examining my daughter’s cycle route through the Pyrenees.  According to the map, near the French town of Bourg-Madame  her route took her past  Spain on one side - yes there was the border clearly marked,  and………..Spain on the other.  I blinked.  I looked again.  How on earth could that be?

Llívia, Spain

It turns out that there is a little corner of France that is forever Spain.  Llívia, some 12.84 square kilometres with a population of 1,665 (data from 2011), is a tiny island of Spain smack bang in French territory.   Connected to its mother country across some two kilometres of road, the D68, Llívia is part of the area known as Cerdanya (Cerdagne in France).  In 1659 the Treaty of the Pyrenees established the borders between France and Spain.  Some 33 villages of Cerdanya had to be given up to France, but the town of Llívia managed to escape by dint of a loophole – the treaty stipulated that only villages were to be ceded to the northern neighbour. 

And so, as it is completely surrounded by France, Llívia is technically an enclave within France, or an exclave of Spain

Just as the Mr Pitt essay could be considered an enclave within my computer documents, but an exclave of what may be a copious output of essays gone astray from an A-level syllabus, possibly my son’s, possibly a scribing elf’s.  It will be there forever unless I exert jurisdiction over it, and delete it from my files. 

Which I choose not to do, because I like its quirky presence. 

So how did Pitt face that pesky challenge of the French Revolution?  Well, the conclusion of the exclave essay tells me that  “it is possible to argue that Pitt overreacted somewhat”.

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