All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

I never thought I'd say this, said a friend.....

But I'm almost missing Sarkozy!

We both laughed, as Sarkozy hadn't been high in our popularity stakes though he might have done better if he had succeeded in pushing through his reforms of the French economy in the teeth of opposition from his own party.

Then it came back to me...from when I was first in France, at some point the incoming President would be judged in the light of his predecessor....and found wanting. It was just happening a little sooner than usual for Hollande.

That sinister man Mitterand was President when I moved to France and some of the veils were beginning to shift from his past...his service in the Vichy regime....the protection of top collaborators...the suicide of colleagues.....although the bombshell that he had been keeping a second family at the expense of the taxpayer would not be revealed until much later when both families turned up to his funeral.

Then came Chirac, mired in corruption from his time at the Mairie of Paris....and the faces were long.
What a man to follow Mitterand who, be he what he was, could at least use the French language properly! 
Chirac was a only to stroke rumps at the Paris Agricultural Show!

He could stroke a few other rumps too....his boon companion and chauffeur would collect him in an unofficial car at eight o'clock and they were off on the town.
No one knew where he was - probably least of all himself - so on the night that Princess Diana was killed in Paris his Interior Minister had to wait until the President rolled in from his night on the tiles before making decisions on how to handle the affair.
Mme. Chirac was unforgiving. The chauffeur was 'translated' to the post of inspector in the cemetery service.

And after Chirac, Sarkozy...the outsider. The man who was going to shake up France....once he had solved the problem of acquiring a wife to replace the one who had bolted....once he had finished holidaying on the mega yacht of a mega rich friend....once he had dined with his supporters at Fouquets in the Champs Elysees...

Mitterand had had a sombre dignity, Chirac had had charm.....Sarkozy had temper.

He showed emotion...if he was annoyed, everyone knew about it: no waiting a year to send someone to a cupboard in Limoges 'in the interests of the service' for not ensuring that only short arses surrounded the President on televised appearances - the official concerned would be on his bike in very short order.

His appearance at the Paris Agricultural Show was not the regal procession of Chirac either....
To a man who refused to shake his hand he replied
'Casse toi, alors, pauvre con!' which might be roughly translated as 'Bugger off then, idiot.'
For clarity it couldn't be beaten.....but it was felt to be lacking in class.

And now we have Hollande....the man in the baggy Bermudas. 
The man who announced that change was to happen now. 
Except that now was then, when he was campaigning. 
Returning from his holidays this week he announces that change will happen in the fullness of time........

So, while we wait for the reappearance of les neiges d'antan - the snows of yesteryear - let's take a look at  the irrepressible Chirac doing what he did best....enjoying the company of les girls.
Here he is on holiday at Dinan this summer, posing for photographs....note the left hand.

And here he is accompanying his grim wife Bernadette to one of her fund raising events...
And getting into he says to his delightful companion 'You have to watch out for women...'
And for the man sitting on Chirac's right hand....Francois Hollande, the great white hope of France.
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  1. Insightful as the description of Chirac. I didn't know about his mystery activities on the night of Diana's death...almost incredible. And yes.... with Hollande, we still wait and see.

    1. Chirac's encounters with les girls were said to last five minutes...shower included.
      At least he had a chauffeur...Giscard d'Estaing used to drive himself, which was how a President of France collided with a milk lorry in the early hours of the morning...

  2. Do the French only recruit their presidents from the cast of The Muppet Show?

    1. I reckon it's a necessary condition for selection....

  3. The clip is priceless, Fly - Chirac looking like a schoolboy caught out in mischief. :-) Mind you, Madame Chirac probably had reason enough over the years to look grim.....

    In a country where the press is muzzled by convention, your insights are invaluable. :-)

    1. A nasty piece of work, Mme. Chirac.

      Apart from the usual misgivings about the use of the funds raised for her 'Pieces Jaunes' foundation, one incident is telling.

      A lawyer, of Tunisian origin, was driving through Paris and found the road blocked ahead by two cars, one in each direction, the occupants, two women, having a chat.
      He walked up and politely asked if they could have their chat elsewhere, to which one, Mme. Chirac, replied

      This is our street in our country

      and carried on with her conversation.

  4. I loved that video clip, even though my French is limited, it didn't matter! The message was clear enough.

    France doesn't seem to have a good track record when it comes to presidents does it?

    1. I still laugh at it after seeing it years ago on the box.

      Tell me which country has a good record for politicians....Erdogan in Turkey....Cameron in the U.K.....Obama in the U.S....our own unbeloved Chinchilla....
      The last honest man in U.K. politics was John Smith, and in the light of David Kelly I now begin to wonder about his heart attack.

  5. I have a feeling that a politician rising to the top is like pond scum . . . . . .

    1. Unfortunately that seems all too true, Friko.
      People I know in the U.K. who would have been involved in politics in the past now shun anything to do with the various parties...and we all know what happens when good men do nothing...

  6. The awful thing about politicians is that if they do deliver, they so often deliver what you don't want. And if they don't deliver... well, they just don't deliver. I don't know what the answer is. I am just glad that here in England the press keeps something of an eye on them so they don't veer too far off the straight and narrow.

    Or at least, I hope not.

    1. Think it depends on which bit of the press...the Newscorp involvement with leading lights of the main political parties doesn't give me much reassurance....

  7. So if you extrapolate out the ‘judgement by predecessor’ theory, then one lazy Sunday afternoon soon, abstention will finally win a decisive vote and by a landslide victory, the ambivalence party will amble up to the Elysee Palace en masse to pick up the keys… with entirely mixed and carefree feelings as to who among them might actually play the ‘President’ part. The race for governance and a nation’s leadership is like some gaudy, never ending yawn of a circus. Same old cast of anal characters. Same old script. Same old worn out costumes.

    PS – I’m definitely ‘not’ missing Sarko either.

  8. The thing is...would anyone notice a difference?

  9. hilarious the video of chirac, it is the first time I see this !!

    1. Fun, isn't it! A T.V. sketch writer could not do better.

  10. Chirac was a only to stroke rumps at the Paris Agricultural Show!

    That made me laugh, as did the left hand. To be fair - I might have chanced the same!

    I wonder if / when you will stop thinking of yourself as connected to France, or if you will always be watching what happens there - I suspect you will.

    1. Well I still feel connected to Scotland where I spent a lot of my childhood and to England where I worked.

      I might feel more detached from France if I could sell my house there and stop paying blasted taxes for the politicos to waste, but I doubt it as thanks to Skype and the internet my friends there keep me in constant touch with the news...and the gossip!

      It's almost like being there to hear the latest from the postlady with the various ideas on how the local chemist acquired enough money to be buying racehorses under a tax niche scheme...