The President of the French Republic is buying a 'plane. He would like to have bought a new one, but, given the current atmosphere in France, even he does not dare to make such a gesture of conspicuous consumption, so he's getting a second hand one from Air Carraibes. It will, of course, be getting a makeover including a bath for Carla Bruni.
Aparently he feels humiliated by the size, age and performance of his existing equipment when compared with that of other world leaders, who may be more stupid than him...step forward the Prime Minister of Spain.....or who need more guidance than him....step forward the German Chancellor...but who manage to arrive at gatherings well briefed and relaxed thanks to having modern planes in which to travel.
Personally, I don't think the President should make the old plane in which he is forced to bum around the world the excuse for his infelicities of language.
Did he fly from the Elysee Palace to the Paris Agricultural Show on the other side of town where he met the man who refused to shake his hand, resulting in the lapid pronouncement
'Sauve -toi, pauvre con!' ?
A reasonable translation of which might be
'Go away, oh illegitimate one.'
Perhaps his car needs a makeover as well. And a bath for Carla Bruni.
Which brings me to another point. The President can address his fellow citizens in this fashion, but woe betide them if they attempt to use the same liberty of address with him. Presidents are protected from insult.....like prefects and gendarmes and goodness only knows how many other state apparatchiks.
Recently, a French citizen hoisted a placard as Sarkozy's motorcade passed him. It read
'Sauve-toi, pauvre con'.
The said citizen has just been awarded a fine of 1,000 Euros for 'outrage'.
The President has been under attack for his general sloppiness of language and for his scornful disdain for a classic of french literature, 'La Princesse de Cleves', a seventeenth century romance written in the high style, which seemed to be necessary reading for those studying to become apparatchiks. His predecessor, Jaques Chirac, was never held in his time to be a master of the language...a touch bucolic, ideal for patting cows' bottoms at the Agricultural Show or elsewhere, and certainly not up to the standards of the Academie Francaise, whose ex president, the novelist Maurice Druon, has just died, more noted for his attempts to prevent lady ministers from being called Madame la Ministre than for his lurid accounts of the lives of the medieval French kings. President Mitterand, nomatter how unlovely his history and activities, could express himself perfectly in classic French, but things have gone decidely downhill since his time.
Still, citizens can take heart. The President's wife is not protected by the idea of 'outrage', so I can say that Carla Bruni needs a bath without fear of the gendarmes beating down my door at three o'clock in the morning. That is not to say that I don't have to fear a bailiff arriving at 10 o'clock with a civil writ for defamation, but that's another matter.