There's no such thing as a friendly international. It used to be the case. Nowadays they are always 'feeling out' exercises that by and large leave England supporters disarmed by futile optimism. Tuesday night at Wembley had none of that, unless you actually look at England's performance.
Two neat goals. A young side with a bit of pep about it. Dele Alli looking less of a whim and more of a winner. That was an irrelevance. The main thing was that the game was being played at all.
First of all, it's hard to imagine respect and empathy better demonstrated by a sporting crowd than the pre-match proceedings at Wembley. It was solemn, hugely dignified (not least by the French players who, reluctantly in some cases I'm sure, put on their kits and put in a shift in the most onerous of circumstances); it was not indulgent, there was a footy match to be played after all, but neither was it without passion - I belted out the Marseillaise myself from the comfort of a pub stool and I wasn't alone.
But Christ Almighty, Allah Be Praised and Atheists Shrug In Disbelief, it has been a shitty old week. Let's make that clear. So don't expect too much of the funny here.
I have always had a problem with people who say that sport and politics shouldn't mix. Well, especially in matters of international sport, they always bloody well do. Occasionally this brings out the worst in us and Sun headline writers, but often it brings out the best.
Anyone who thinks that Nelson Mandela handing Francois Pienaar the Rugby World Cup trophy in 1995 wasn't of huge political significance is an idiot. Or two black men clenching their fists on a podium, supported by a white man who only recently has had his bravery acknowledged - http://griotmag.com/en/white-man-in-that-photo/. Or the treatment of Basil D'Oliveira by the MCC.
Yes, it's a shame when the Olympic Games becomes a political football. (Sepp Blatter could make a fortune out of Political Football couldn't he? Hey, but let's not have a pop at the poor man, he's had a minor nervous breakdown and it's hard to sleep with all those rogue payments crumpling up your mattress.) But sport is political.
So similarly, but more solemnly, this harmless international fixture became a bold and emotional statement about what unites people, rather than what divides them. The tricolour on the Wembley Arch spoke volumes, as did the minute's silence while rivals came together around the centre circle.
That's what sport does - unifies, rather than separates. It's why it's so bloody infuriating that the men running it are so waist-deep in the sewage of their own corruption, and utterly unconnected from the passions of those that watch and practise it (except, possibly, in a ruthless exploitative way). If the likes of Platini and Beckenbauer, men upraised by the splendour of football and their place in it, have seen fit to grub around like hyenas in a carcass for the last five or so years I think we might as well all give up.
France of course weren't exactly at the top of their game. Conclusions need not be drawn form the result. But, what with more horrendous news from Mali today, these gatherings take on huge significance. There have been many more courageous acts in the last seven days, but nevertheless those French workers simply going back to work was impressive. Football has never seemed so important to the lives of decent citizens.
There have been other less momentous stories from the week's sport but one that should and has been properly marked is the very early death of Jonah Lomu. Me, I didn't care too much for rugby union. Not in England anyway. It was and still is the province of the posh lad at play. Its rules are murky, its occasional glimpses of wonder soon disintegrate under a pile of heaving steaming flesh, like a darting kingfisher suddenly crushed beneath collapsing cattle.
I couldn't help identifying more with the Wales team, peopled as it was by working men from grittty backgrounds. Plus they were way better than the lilywhite Englanders. But there weren't too many charismatic blokes around - Serge Blanco maybe.
Lomu blew a hole in all that partisanship. Here was a bloke who rewrote the rules. Your wingers were whip thin and swift, shimmiers and sidesteppers. Forwards were massive and slow. If your backs were fast-running streams your front five were glaciers, hard to stop but easy to catch up with..
Step forward Jonah, a wardrobe fixed with an outboard motor. Fast enough to go round you, big enough to go over you, strong enough to simply straight-arm you into the stand. And a lovely bloke. It's hard to remember quite how unbelievable he was until you look back at the clips of Lomu at the World Cup.
Occasionally there are sportsmen and women who outgrow the narrow boundaries of their sport for reasons of brilliance and sometimes outspokenness too - Muhammad Ali springs immediately to mind - or simply a certain unique genius that reinvents the sport they play. I'd suggest here is where Lomu sits, alongside current giants Federer, LeBron James, Messi, and of course Stewart Downing.
The idea that this behemoth could have been brought down so soon by an ailment he struggled with all his life makes me feel a little bit humbler. Lomu wasn't one to complain. We should celebrate him, too.