That crafty old fox Jacques Chirac is over in Blighty for a spot of fish and chips and amour violent to mark the end of the Entente Cordiale centenary celebrations.
Not being someone who watches the news or reads newspapers on a regular basis (there are simply not enough hours in the day, so I have resigned myself to remaining a bit of a political philistine), I admit that my opinions about Chirac are just that: personal opinions formed on the basis of tuning in to the odd documentary or presidential speech and following the guignols de l’info, a parody of the eight o’clock news which uses Spitting Image style puppets.
I was rather pleased about France’s position on Iraq, but not convinced that Chirac’s personal motivations for adopting this stance were altruistic. I cannot abide watching the President address the nation. I always have the impression he is forcing himself to s p e a k r e a l l y s l o w l y, in the hope that this will inject gravitas into his subject matter. Mr Chirac and his wife Bernadette were almost certainly involved in a grand scale misuse of taxpayers money during his stint as Mayor of Paris. Various inquiries have taken place into the funding of the RPR political party, the awarding of lucrative business contracts and the (literally) millions of francs siphoned from the town hall budget/allegedly spent on feeding the couple while Chirac held this office. But, regardless of the weight of the evidence against him, Chirac cannot be prosecuted for any of the above as long as he holds the highest office in the République. By the time he stands down, given that the French seem to expect (and even respect) corruption in their politicians, all will probably have been forgiven.
The French press is making much of the fact that Mr and Mrs Chirac will be staying with QE2 at Windsor Castle this evening and watching ‘Les Misérables’ in the ‘Waterloo Room’, which has been rebaptised ‘The Music Room’ for the occasion, so as not to run the risk of offending French sensibilities.
Across the Channel, the English papers are gleefully airing the best soundbites from previous confrontations between Blair and Le Worm (sic The Sun (news)paper). I’m afraid I did a double take when I saw the Sun headline, ‘le Worm raps Blair’. Maybe I’m focusing too much on that amour violent quote.