A Royal Farce…On French Terms…

The fallen

The Fall of France – An Army Paratrooper gets blown off course during Bastille Day Parade and injures himself.   ©The Baltimore Sun

“A Royal Farce On French Terms” follows seamlessly on from the last “French letters and Sentences” post at englistics where we considered some of the French words the English Language has adopted. The original terms featured were those that would be useful on a Bastille night out, risqué but inoffensive. However what smolders below the surface of the next set of applicable terms is the distinctly French aspect of seduction, fuelled by high-octane politics and salacious behaviour driven by a lustful affair.

It is my hope that this follow on is not a “faux pas” as its tone tends towards “farce” (whose meaning is a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations (Oxford dictionaries)).  Though perhaps Farce is precisely the term we seek and apropos after all. If we are to conceive of ageing politician having passionate affairs and lovers tryst then why not use a word whose etymology is from the Old French for “stuffing” .  And any one who watched Raymond Blanc’s christmas cooking programme in 2011, will know the French are partial to a “nice bit of stuffing” (methinks this is a “Very English” example of a “double entendre”)

Perhaps we really have been indoctrinated. How could we fail not to think farce after “the drama-filled, yacht-littered presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy” (Telegraph) and his meetings with Angela Merkel where she towered over him.  In current times French Politics, the celebrity Affaire de Coeur (e.g. Affairs of the heart – which has in my opinion a strong case for English adoption) and French Sport (remember Nasri’s outburst after the Spanish Euro 2012 defeat) – all subjects within Hollande’s La Fête Nationale  speech – seem able to descend back into farce at the drop of a hat … or perhaps the drop of a presidential …paratrooper?

The Bastille Weekend procession appeared to go off without event, excepting an intervention from said  army  paratrooper. He had managed to veer off course in the high winds and missing his landing target hurt his ankle. However first impressions can be deceiving.

The incident with the parachutist gave the new President, François Hollande, the opportunity to show his sensitive side as he enquired about his well-being, but the slight jarring sense of the incident set the tone for the whole occasion. A malaise (.i.e. a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or unease whose exact cause is difficult to identify) appeared to hang over the whole event.

The counter balance to the political edginess was the joie de vivre emanating from the crowds thronging along the main route and larger allée , particularly the Champs Élysée. The President returned the smiles, with the same and dignified waves. There was however tension in the air and the The President’s first Bastille Day, or La Fête Nationale, speech  (as it is more correctly called) was at a counterpoint to the general festivities.

The President was not short of serious topics to ponder and each would require sensitivity and tact. The lack of growth in the French economy, the redundancies at PSA (i.e. Peugeot, Citroen), French unemployment and behaviour in Political Life and Pantourflage. However the issue everyone was waiting with expectation for President Hollande to comment on was “The War Of the Roses” between his current partner and his ex-wife Segolene Royal.

It appears during the recent legislative campaign Hollande’s companion, Valérie Trierweiller, tweeted her support for Olivier Falorni the PS candidate. Though he was not strictly a member of an opposition party he was a dissident

Valerie Trierweiler Paris Match Arts Columnist

Valerie Trierweiler France’s controversial “Tweeting” First Lady is embroiled in “Tweetgate”

socialist. The tweet was controversial not just because of the conflicted allegiances of the recipient but because the person he was contesting the election was Hollande’s ex-wife!

Segolene Royal, the mother of his four children, was standing for election to the national assembly in La Rochelle, and was expected to win her seat until Trierweiler went public with her support for Olivier Falorni. It was reported by the Daily Mail that “Mr Hollande, who lived with Miss Royal for 30 years, wanted to make her the speaker of the National Assembly but backed down when she lost the election….Miss Royal is said to have told friends that Miss Trierweiler is a ‘traitor’ who her treated her disgracefully.”

Miss Royal claims Treachery is all around. But not from her children who have rallied round to support her.

The Daily Telegraph’s Peter Allen writes “In comments to Le Point magazine, Thomas Hollande said his father had been  “devastated” by the tweet and it had “cause him a lot of pain”.

Saying that he was “flabbergasted” by the Tweet sent by Ms Trierweiler, the  young Thomas said: “I knew that something could come from her one day, but not  this huge, it’s surreal.”

Mr Hollande confirmed that neither he, nor his brothers and sister wanted to see Ms Trierweiler again, saying: “It makes sense, right? And what’s important is that we normalise relations with our father.”

 The controversy is bound to rage on. Especially as the young Thomas Hollande has so publicly criticized the French “first lady.”

Against this backdrop President Hollande’s Bastille Day speech was confident and assured without being a performance of great éclat (i.e. a brilliance of success, reputation). It would have been understandable if having a domestic situation bubbling away under the surface – and one that would present a challenge to his carefully cultivated I am not Nicolas Sarkozy image – that he may have chosen to avoid some of the sensitive topics, but it is to his credit that he elected to just waded in. He dealt with the wayward economy,  errant Football players, unrest in the military and extremely high levels of unemployment early on in his Bastille day TV broadcast: however he reserved his most pointed remarks for a partner who appears to have impaired judgement. Hollande opined  “I am in favour of a clear distinction between professional and private life. Private disputes must be resolved privately.” And he must hope they can be going forward.

However with seven offspring, two women (one scorned), one with a failed political career,  a Paris Match Journalist unwilling to give up a career and a very deep economic recession it could be a very difficult and long-term.

Epilogue: (from Old French epilogue, from Latin epilogus a speech, usually in verse, addressed to the audience by an actor at the end of a play):

Dictionary.com gives the definition of éclat as:  “French: splinter, fragment, burst, flash, brilliance, Old French esclat, noun derivative of esclater to burst, break violently, probably < Old Low Franconian *slaitan to split, break” Hollande must be hoping when he does find his éclat it is the modern meaning of “brilliance”, rather than the obsolete meanings of “burst and splinter”. Both seem possible at the moment.

Vive la “Tweetgate.