It’s not been a good couple of weeks for Gordon Brown’s supposedly closest allies, Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama.
First of all Sarky, who has been lambasted in the French press for his ‘misuse’ of the French language which is so important to the French people that it’s felt that any deterioration of the language itself, will result in the total demise of the Republic. They’ve even got a minister of state whose job is to ‘protect' the language and the culture of France which is no bad thing but in the past, the department has taken a fair bit of flak for adopting words like ‘le weekend’ or 'le hot dog’ but they are now fighting back, but good old Sarky is not helping their cause.
Sarky is no intellectual but he is French and he’s expected by the electorate to speak ‘proper’ French and desist from using colloquialisms which is a cardinal sin in the eyes of many and a criminal offence for one in such high office. Apparently, he uses slang phrases and words in his everyday speech and last year, famously told a demonstrator to ‘Casse-toi pauv'con’, which politely translated means, ‘Get lost, jerk’. There are other translations of this saying but I cannot print them here! The influential newspaper, Le Parisien, stated that, ‘Molière must be turning in his grave’. It seems that Sarkozy was quite impressed by the semi-casual way Tony Blair wandered around the world being chummy with his mate, George Bush, who greeted him at one summit with the words’ ‘Yo Blair’. It seems that Sarky is doing his best to emulate him.
If his actual use of language wasn’t bad enough, a couple of weeks ago, no doubt to a French audience whom he desperately wanted to impress, he had a real go at Gordon Brown’s economic policies, stating that they were unworkable and he, (Sarkozy) had got France’s financial stimulus spot on. Now I am not a fan of GB but there is an unwritten rule in diplomatic circles that one leader does not criticise another leader’s policies if they do not impinge upon your country. Apparently, old Brownie was absolutely furious and if reports about his frequent rages are anything to go by, I’d love to have heard what he called his French cousin.
And then we have the newly inaugurated Barack Obama. It is common courtesy when a new President meets other world leaders that gifts are exchanged and it seems that the Browns, having done their homework, took some dresses for the Obama’s daughters. Obama reciprocated by giving Brown a series of popular DVDs including 'Gone With The Wind' and 'ET', which, I suppose, given that Brown shuns anything remotely populist, is like giving Herod a book on childcare.
There are moves by the Americans to try and recover the situation (what do you do - say you gave the wrong present?) and I suppose old Sarky was thinking about this the other day and laughing into his Chateauneuf du Pape, desperately trying to ignore the fact that Brown was chosen to be the first European leader to meet Obama. But then he got a letter from Obama…….. addressed to Jaques Chirac saying that he (Obama) looked forward to working with him to resolve the world's issues! Quel problem!
And so, as the world leaders gather in London to try and stop the world going into financial meltdown, three of them will be apologising to each other. Sarky to Brown for being a bit of a dope. Obama to Sarky for being a bit of a dope, and Brown to the other two for just being a dope!