Thursday, 29 November 2012

Happy 80th birthday to Jacques Chirac, one of France's most loveable political rogues

Happy Birthday Jacques!
So you're 80 today. Ah Jacko, I know I used to think some rather less than charitable thoughts about some of the things you did during your long stint in politics and as prez but I must confess to having missed you since you decided not to seek a third mandate in 2007.

You drove me up the wall with your daft decision to sell a nuclear facility to Saddam, I tore my hair out when I heard you say that immigrants smell and sponge off the state, and I was very angry at your 'banana-republic' style arm-twisting of the Constitution to stop you being tried in connection with a whole slew of corruption and jobs for the boys scandals. The list was long.

Still, no harm was done in retrospect because Israel subsequently blew your nuclear facility to bits, you were manifestly half-drunk when you made your anti-immigrant speech (and who has never said something they shouldn't have when they have had a drink) and, concerning the corruption charges, well, given how notoriously corrupt French politicians and French politics are it would be unrealistic to expect anyone to be clean.

So forgive and forget as they say and it must also be said that you were quite a loveable rascal in some ways. I mean, who but you would have the indelicatesse to invite Queen Liz to the Place de la Concorde, where French kings got their heads chopped off? She wasn't happy with that, and nor was she happy when you clumsily if well-meaningly tried to guide her with your hand, thus breaking all protocol about touching Queeny and inspiring The Daily News to print the banner headline 'Get your hands off her!'

I also admit to an admirative snigger when you said that "the only thing the British have contributed to European agriculture is Mad Cow disease" and that "you can't trust people whose national cuisine is that abominable." You may be French, but your biting humour is almost perfectly à-la-British in many ways.

Then there was the time when a young TV interviewer thought he'd try being clever buggers and try to find out the motivations for an opinion you had offered by asking "Who is talking here? The mayor of Paris, the President of the RPR or the future presidential candidate?" You drily replied "I'm Jacques Chirac. I know you're only a young journalist but even so I would have thought that {your bosses] would have told you that." Even the journalist couldn't conceal a smile.

And I loved your almost impossibly naive opinion on the Web whilst prez and just when the Internet was taking over the whole planet. In all seriousness you solemnly announced that "My dear compatriots, yes, it's true, the Anglo-Saxons have the Internet. But we, the French, have.....Minitel"!!! Hi-la-rious! (Oh and R.I.P. Minitel by the way.)

Finally, who can't have a soft spot for a man who announces that he didn't have a teddy bear when he was a child, but a furry rabbit instead, and who mistakenly referred to the World Cup winners trophy as "the French Cup."

Yes, those were the days alright.....

I read that you haven't been in the best of health since your stroke in 2005 and that you are rumoured to be suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. That's bad news of course but on the other hand it's good to know that you are still able to stop off almost daily for a quick apéritif at the Brasserie de la Concorde and that you are still active in your decades-long support for culture and the arts worldwide. I also hear that your morale is good and that you are keeping yourself as busy as you can.

You have led an event-filled life so far and although you had the good sense to quit politics when you did you are sorely missed by friend and foe alike. In fact I'd almost be tempted to ask you to come back and knock Copé and Fillon's heads together, the silly sods. Then again, you've seen it all before so I would imagine that you quite rightly consider that whatever happens in politics is ephemeral in the greater scheme of things. Besides, you deserve your retirement just as much as anyone else.

So Jacko, congrats on getting to the big eight-zero, have a great evening and I sincerely hope to be writing something similar for your 90th.

Happy Birthday!

(p.s. You were quite right about that impudent young upstart, what's his name, oh yes. Sarkozy. To use an expression you yourself coined, his presidency went "pschitt" and disappeared.....)

No comments:

Post a Comment