I miss my copy of Le Canard Enchaine (the duck in chains) every Wednesday.
The editorial buggers are so French that they refuse to have an online edition...probably because they don't have enough women on the staff to make them see sense.
There you would find all the scandals, all the whitewashes, all the things the governing classes did not want you to know....until Hollande took power at which point, so Guy tells me, criticism stopped dead. Even a chained duck of a journalist likes his 30% tax exemption.
I'm ambivalent about cartoons.....loved Steve Bell's earlier stuff, loved Giles completely, and had odd moments for Posy Simmonds...but those in the Canard Enchaine on Edouard Balladur gave rise to a pleasure in understanding the society in which I was living by reference to them.
Like living anywhere abroad...once you master the small ads and the cartoons you are well on the way to getting to grips with things.
One strip cartoon particuarly intrigued me...Les Nouveaux Beaufs.
So I asked Madeleine what is was all about.
She explained that, to her, 'les Beaufs' was a Parisian phenomenon.....guys with big moustaches whose lives revolved round beers at the local zinc and holidays at the same campsite in the same mobile home every summer, playing boules with the same holidaying neighbours over copious amounts of pastis.
But 'les nouveaux beaufs'?
Their sons. More money, white collar not blue like their dads, their 'bobonnes' ( female helpmeets) underclad chicks as opposed to the rolling pin wielding harpies of the previous incarnation but the underlying passions were the same....cars, football, booze....and holidays.
I came across them once...not being addicted to campsites...on an Iberia flight from Madrid to Paris. Behind me there was a group of about twenty middle aged men and women, returning from holiday.
First gripe....the 'what to do in an emergency' instructions were broadcast in Spanish....and English.
Uproar... even though a stewardesss then came forward and repeated it all in French. This flight went to Paris, didn't it...so why wasn't there a French broadcast!
Second gripe....not that they had to pay for refreshments, but that the beer they all ordered was....Spanish! This flight went to Paris, didn't it...so where was the French beer for the French clients!
And once the Pyrenees were crossed, what a sigh of relief went up....soon be in Paris where people spoke a proper language and served proper beer.
I saw Madeleine's point...and that of the cartoonist who invented 'les beaufs'...Cabu. He memorialised them as men who never let a thought enter their heads, who swallowed any brand of popularism, who were mindlessly sexist, who thought that their car was their juggernaut......so even if you don't have any French you'll see from the clip below that they're not a breed you'd welcome into the family..
I don't for one moment imagine that they are a purely French phenomenon....in fact I know they aren't. We all risk having one of them somewhere in the entourage.....because the term 'beauf' comes from 'beau-frere'...the brother in law...and most of us have one of those.
And because 'les beaufs' like to celebrate daft things...I thought I would celebrate them in this my three hundredth post.