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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Fleur Pellerin - the French minister of culture who hasn't read a book for two years

Here's a question for you.

What was the last book you read?

Don't worry if you can't remember.

Or if your answer is that you haven't picked up on for a few months or even years.

Because you're not alone.

Fleur Pellerin (screenshot - clip from Le Supplément, Canal +)

Astonishingly enough (perhaps - although nothing should come as a surprise with what some might - unkindly - describe as the motley crew currently governing France)the country's minister of culture, Fleur Pellerin revealed at the weekend that she hasn't read a book for the past couple of years.

The admission came during Sunday's edition of Le Supplément on Canal + as Pellerin was being interviewed by the programme's host, Maïtena Biraben.

While waxing lyrical about a lunch she had shared with this year's winner of the Nobel prize for literature - French author Patrick Modiano - Pellerin was asked which of his books was her favourite.

The minister probably wished the ground would open up before her, as she let out the longest, "Er", smiling (or was that grimacing) with embarrassment before coming clean.

"I have to admit - without any difficulty - that I've not really had the time to read for the past two years," she said.

"I read a lot of notes, a lot of legislative texts, news, AFP stories, but I read very little otherwise."

A visibily gobsmacked Biraben gently pointed out that perhaps it was time to read something by Modiano who was, after all, "The Nobel prize winner this year."

All right, all right, culture isn't just about reading books. There's painting, music, sculpture, dance, theatre...heck a whole panoply of arts.

But from a country which has such a proud and rich literary tradition, and from the minister of culture to boot, such a disclosure comes as something of a shock...and of course opened the door for a deluge of criticism on social media.

That said, there was also support from some quarters for the 41-year-old's honesty.

Writing in L'Obs (Le Nouvel Observateur's new name) Dom Bochel Guégan defended Pellerin, saying that she had been "principled enough to recognise her ignorance and to admit it quite simply" and that maybe (as junior minister for Small and Medium-sized enterprises, innovation and the digital economy and then, since August, switching to the culture minister portfolio)  "she had perhaps been a little too busy over the past two years to find time to read."

True - after all politics is a full time job in itself.

Still...


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Perth opera company drops Bizet's "Carmen" for "smoking reasons"

Name an opera - a French one.

The chances are it'll be Georges Bizet's "Carmen" - famous among opera aficianados and those not so "in the know" if you like.

It's staged regularly worldwide and in fact - get this - is, according to Operabase, a company to which over 700 opera houses report their performances, only second (for the 2014-15 season) behind  Giuseppe Verdi's "La traviata".

It'll be performed at some of the most prestigious venues during the current season, including New York's Metropolitan opera, Dresden's Semperoper, La Scala in Milan,  and Prague, Hamburg, Madrid, Budapest, Saint Peterburg, London, Berlin...and so the list goes on.



Anna Caterina Antonacci (screenshot from "Carmen" at the Royal Opera House in London, 2013)

But, although it was also scheduled to be performed in Perth, Western Australia, the powers that be have decided to "cancel" it for the next two years.

And for, what on the face of it...and even when delving a little deeper...seems to be the most extraordinary - and not to say, ridiculous - of reasons.

Smoking!

The opera, which debuted in 1875 is partially set in and around a tobacco factory in the Spanish city of Seville with portrayals of smoking in the setting, action, libretto and text...at least during the first act.

And that's apparently reason enough for the West Australia Opera Company to drop it from its schedules.

You see, from March 2015, the (state-owned) company has a two-year A$400,000 (around €270,000) partnership deal with the Western Australian government health agency  - Healthway.

West Australian Opera general manager Carolyn Chard said the company had voluntarily made the change to its schedule to accommodate Healthway's policies, describing it as "not difficult".

"We care about the health and wellbeing of our staff, stage performers and all the opera lovers throughout Western Australia," said Chard, adding that the decision had been a "voluntary" one to fit in with Heathway's policies.

Healthway chairwoman, Rosanna Capolingua, praised the decision, although she stressed that no pressure had been put on the opera company to drop "Carmen".

“The portrayal of smoking on stage, in film and on TV normalises smoking and presents it as being attractive, which could dissuade smokers from quitting and encourage young people to take it up.” she said.

What a lot of tosh - at least when it comes to an opera that has been so consistently performed down the decades.

Whatever.

Here's a clip of the most famous aria, "Habanera" from "Carmen", performed in 2013 at the Opéra Bastille in Paris and featuring Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci in the title role.

Yes, she was blonde.

No, she didn't light up.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Friday's French music break - Étienne Daho, "En surface"

Friday's French music break this week is from a singer who first broke on to the music scene back in 1981.

It's "En surface", the most recent single from Étienne Daho and taken from his 2013 album "Les Chansons de l'innocence retrouvée"

Étienne Daho (screenshot from official video of "En surface".

As you can tell, Daho has been around a while and has built up a firm and loyal fan base and has become (in the words of the promotional blurb) "one of the most influential personalities to have emerged on the French scene in the last 30 years"

Part of the problem (for those not quite so enamoured of his music) is that Daho seems to have been "singing"  (inverted commas entirely intentional as he has a "voice" that surely only the French could "love") variations of the same song since the 1980s.

And in fact, he appears to be well and truly stuck in that era, offering up little that is sparklingly different, not to mention tuneful and instead relying on a tried and tested recipe of electro-pop "synth-driven and rock-surf influenced" (his English language Wikipedia entry, so you know it must be right). music which has, admittedly, served him well over the decades.

Very well in fact with every album turning gold or platinum and a slew of successful singles.

Granted "the familiarity factor" could probably be said to be true for many artists who've proven their longevity, but in the process, Daho just sounds too moody and bored when he sings. Don't you think?

"En surface" is one of those songs that you hear and wish would be over quickly because the melody and the "low whispery voice" have a combined soporific effect (for some) which will simply send you off to the Land of Nod.

All right. That's not exactly fair - just an opinion.

There are plenty around who have enjoyed, and continue to do so, Daho's music. And the album from which this track was taken, received some pretty good reviews when it was released.

Writing in Le Journal du dimanche, critic Éric Mandel described "Les Chansons de l'innocence retrouvée" as an "ambitious and elegant album" and one that was "sumptuous with songs that stood out for their emotional power."

Oh well.

And then there are the diehard fans, some of whose comments on the "En surface" video on YouTube are equally gushing

"Magnifique chanson , magnifique clip, magnifique chanteur, magnifique voix !" for example. Really, you shouldn't need to run that throught Google translate.

Or

"Une très belle chanson."

And

"Ma chanson préférée de l'album.....octobre est encore loin  pour revivre la magie de ses concerts."

Ah October...and the "Diskönoir" tour which will, over the next few months, see Daho take the show on the road around France (with three dates at Olympia in Paris) Belgium and Luxembourg, plus a date in London on October 23.

Ready? Judge for yourselves.

Actually it's not so bad after a dozen or so hearings....

Monday, 20 October 2014

Paul McCarthy's giant "sex toy" inflatable Tree sculpture deflates in Paris

What's the difference between a work of art and an anal sex toy?

Well, according to some, only size - at least when it comes to the most recent work from American artist, Paul McCarthy.

"Tree" a temporary (very much so, as it turned out) 24-metre high inflatable green sculpture "adorned" the swanky Place Vendôme area of Paris last Thursday - but not for very long.


Paul McCarthy's "Tree" (screenshot AFP video report)

Even as it was being erected (no pun intended) "Tree" brought with it controversy as a passerby, clearly offended by its intended "ambiguity", slapped McCarthy in the face, saying that the 69-year-old artist's creation was "un-French" and "had no place on the square".

Organisers of La Foire internationale d’art contemporain (International Contemporary Art Fair , FIAC) set to run from October 23-26 and of which "Tree" was intended to be a part, leapt to McCarthy's defence.

"It's heartbreaking that an artist should be attacked in this manner," Jennifer Flay, the artistic director of FIAC told Le Monde.

"Of course this work is controversial, it plays on the ambiguity between a Christmas tree and sex toy: this is neither a surprise nor a secret," she continued.

"But there is no offence to the public, and enough ambiguity to not upset children. It has also received all the necessary approvals : from the préfecture of police of the city of Paris, the ministry of culture and the comité Vendôme, which represents the business owners on the square."

"What is art meant to be if not to disturb, ask questions and reveal society's flaws?"

Righty-ho. That's justification enough then.

Opponents though were having none of it.

And on the night of Friday to Saturday, a group of protesters cut through the cords holding the artwork in place.

FIAC decided to deflate it to prevent any damage being done, saying that McCarthy requesting them not to reinflate it because, "he was worried about potential trouble if the work was put back up."

"Instead of a profound reflection about objects as a mode of expression with multiple meanings, we have witnessed violent reactions," said the artist who had also admitted earlier that the idea "started with a joke".

"Originally, I thought that a butt plug had a shape similar to the sculptures of Romanian artist Constantin Brâncusi," he said.

"Afterwards, I realised that it looked like a Christmas tree. But it is an abstract work . People can be offended if they want to think of it as a plug, but for me it is more of an abstraction.”

For those of a more um...more timid temperent or delicate disposition among you who've no idea what an anal plug looks like, try typing those words into you search engine and then click on image.

You'll quickly get the picture...and what all the fuss was about.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Friday's French music break - Christine and the queens, "Saint Claude" and the album "Chaleur humaine"


All right, so the last "exception" a couple of weeks ago about not featuring an artist or group more than once as Friday's French music break, is about to be broken again.

And with good reason.

Because the choice this week is "Saint Claude" from the excellent debut album "Chaleur humaine" from Christine and the Queens.

Released in May, "Chaleur humaine" has not only received critical acclaim (and deservedly so) in France, but also internationally as witnessed by this review in The Guardian.


Christine and the queens/Héloïse Letissier (screenshot from "Le Grand Journal" on Canal +)


You might remember earlier this year that Christine and the Queens - actually a one-woman musical project from Héloïse Letissier "combining music, dance, art videos, drawings and photography" was featured as a Friday's French music break with "Nuit 17 à 52".

It was the song Letissier had performed at Les Victoires de la musique (the French equivalent of the Grammy awards), in the category Group or Artist Stage Révélation of the Year for which she was nominated - but didn't win.

The long-awaited debut album "Chaleur humaine" was released in May and it reflects  Letissier's  artistic eclecticism, leading music critics to describe ot as an album "without frontiers".

Sure it's pop, but in the widest sense of the word.

Her music is stylised, melodic and classy - head and shoulders about most of what you might expect to hear on French radio.

And as many journalists have pointed out, it's hard, if not impossible to categorise Letissier's music simply.

The studio versions are as polished and well crafted as you would expect and the videos are similarly outstanding with some natty and intriguing dance moves.

But live, Letissier adds another level, as you can see from a recent appearance on Canal + "Le Grand Journal" and of course that performance at Les Victoires de la musique.

Speaking of live,  Letissier/Christine and the queens is currently on a nationwide tour, including Olympia in Paris in March 2015, and several dates have already sold out.

If you get the chance to see her live, then give yourself a treat, and do.

Also, if there's just one French music album you should buy this year, then make sure it's  "Chaleur humaine".

Oh yes, and here's a prediction.

Not only will Letissier be nominated in several categories at next year's Les Victoires de la musique, she'll also perform (again) and win.

For the moment though here's "Saint Claude" the most recent track to be released as a single from the album ""Chaleur humaine".

But don't be satisfied with that. Discover the rest of the album too.

Bon week-end.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Gisèle Bündchen stars in Chanel N°5 latest commercial

After all the teasing and taunting the new commercial for Chanel N°5 has been released.

Starring Brazilian supermodel (such a cliché) and directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann, it is without doubt an advertising "masterpiece" (which means it captures your attention, if only for its extravagance), running to over three minutes at its longest version and featuring all the glamour and style you would expect.

Gisèle Bündchen (screenshot from Chanel N°5: "The One That I Want - The Film"

But does the self-proclaimed "world's most desirable fragrance" need to spend the spondoolicks on a campaign (and a launch party) for a product which already projects an image of unobtainable luxury.

Bündchen alone was reportedly paid $4 million for her role (admittedly less than the $7 million Brad Pitt apparently received for his yawn-along part in a previous commercial) - and that launch party in New York?


Gisèle Bündchen (screenshot from Chanel N°5: "The One That I Want - The Film


Well, as usual, Chanel is keeping mum about the figures. But the marketing people must know what they're doing - n'est ce pas?

Opinions are divided over the new commercial. "Wonderful" for some, "average" for others.

Perhaps the most captivating element as, in the words of the New York Times review, Bündchen "an overtaxed modern gal" struggles with the complexities of every day life (as if) such as "surfing in the Hamptons, sending her daughter off in the care of a nanny, getting in a quick photo shoot and reuniting with her man for a canoodle at a jazz club" is the background track.

It's an almost soporofic but at the same time hypnotic remake by US singer-songwriter Matthew Hemerlein - better known (apparently) under his stage name Lo-Fang - of the appropriately entitled (for the purposes of the commercial) "You're the won that I want" from the 1978 film version of the musical "Grease"

Conclusion - beautifully shot, definitely bewitching on first viewing (it holds your attention) but as triumphant as previous campaigns - the jury's out.

And whether, as Luhrmann insists, Bündchen "is the perfect modern No.5 woman" - well the answer is a resounding "no."

That accolade belongs - and this is going to appear entirely contradictory to many probably - to the woman, who when asked what she wore in bed, famously said "Chanel No. 5, of course".


Marilyn Monroe surely remains as modern today as she did back in April 1960 - a fact Chanel recognised in a 2012 retro (in fashion you just have to wait a bit for the "old" to become "new" again) campaign.

Marilyn Monroe (screenshot from "Marilyn and N°5 - Inside Chanel")

Marilyn Monroe (screenshot from "Marilyn and N°5 - Inside Chanel")

Anyway, here's Bündchen in Luhrmann's "mini-film" commercial.

You judge for yourselves.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

François Hollande renames Kobane, "Konabe"

Even if you're not especially interested in what's making the news, the chances are that you've heard of Kobane.

The town on the border of Syria and Turkey has been the scene of fighting between Islamic State militants and Kurdish defenders for the past month and has received extensive coverage internationally.


So you would think that leaders from around the world would not only be familiar with what's happening there but would also be able to say the town's name properly.

All right, there might be differences in spelling, accents and stress between different languages (and those helpful people at Wikipedia provide a few alternatives) but there's surely consensus as to the order in which both the letters and the three syllables come.

Right?

Wrong.

Not, apparently, if you happen to be the French president, François Hollande.

François Hollande at the Institut du monde arabe (screenshot from Le Petit Journal on Canal +)


Proving once again that he is a verbal law unto himself, Hollande managed to mangle the town's name not once, but twice, during and after a speech he gave at the Institut du monde arabe (Arab World Institute) on Tuesday.

Kobane in Hollande-speak became Konabe.

And both he and his advisors seemed oblivious to the fact that he couldn't pronounce the town's name correctly.

You can hear Hollande's gaffe from 12 minutes 45 seconds until 13 minutes 45 seconds - the  "L'instant président" segment of the "Le Petit Journal" on Canal + with host Yann Barthès broadcast on Tuesday evening.

Classic Flanby...unless, as Barthès pointed out, Hollande really was referring to the village of Konabe in Japan (yes, it exists).

Now that brings back memories.

Wasn't it in Japan back in June 2013 that Hollande, while wanting to pay tribute to the 10 Japanese nationals who had died in the Algerian hostage crisis in January of the same year actually expressed his condolences to the Chinese?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

It might not be easy understanding Bernadette Chirac...but

If you've been following French politics recently, it will surely not have escaped your notice that Bernadette Chirac has been making the headlines.

Bernadette Chirac (screenshot Europe 1 January 2014)

Her outspoken (and some would say "fervent") support for Nicolas Sarkozy in his campaign to become leader of the centre-right Union pour un mouvement populaire (Union for a popular movement, UMP) and possible run to be the party's candidate in the 2017 presidential elections has most probably both amused and bemused many French.

Especially as it has been accompanied by unapologetic salvoes fired at Alain Juppé, the man who would most likely present Sarkozy with the strongest challenge in the planned primary to choose the party's candidate for 2017 but of whom Bernadette said, "he's a very unwelcoming person. He doesn't win over people, friends and potential voters."

In a recent piece in Le Figaro entitled "Dans la tête de Bernadette Chirac" writer and journalist, Irina de Chikoff, gives some insight into the behaviour of France's former first lady.

And it certainly seems that Bernadette, wearing her trademark sunglasses whenever she's being interviewed, is far from being the cantankerous old lady set on saying and doing anything and everything to annoy her husband, Jacques Chirac, French president from 1995 to 2007 of course.

The time when Bernadette dutifully (and most often quietly) remained in the shadows of her husband is over and now she feels able to speak freely.

But it's not something that has happened overnight.

Instead, it's a process that began, by Bernadette's own admission,  back in 1997 when Chirac dissolved parliament a year before its term was up thinking the French would support him and return a majority allowing the re-appointment of Juppé as prime minister.

Chirac though had misread the electorate and it was a left-wing coalition of the Socialist party, Communists and Greens which obtained a majority, enabling Lionel Jospin to become prime minister and forcing five years of cohabitation or what Chirac described as "paralysis" as his political influence on domestic policy was "constrained" - to put it mildly.

"I was absolutely against the idea of dissolution and I told him," she admitted to Laurent Delahousse during a recent edition of "Un jour, un destin" on France 2, dedicated to France's former first lady.

Bernadette's  dislike and distrust of Juppé is as deep-rooted as her husband's admiration and support for the man he has described as "the best among us".

And her support for Sarkozy?

Well for Chikoff, it's not a case of Bernadette trying to annoy her husband.

Rather she sees in Sarkozy the same sort of energy and resilience Chirac once had.

"She holds no grudges against him (Sarkozy) - well almost none - for the times when he might have been politically disloyal to her husband," writes Chikoff.

"She would have liked to have had a son like Nicolas and that's why she's prepared to indulge him...as any mother would."

So, if Sarkozy wins November's battle for the leadership of the UMP and decides to take a run for the party's primary, we can probably expect to here more - plenty more - from the lady behind the sunglasses.

Be prepared.



Bernadette Chirac se mobilise pour les... by Europe1fr

Monday, 13 October 2014

Nicolas Sarkozy scores poorly among French on perceived honesty ratings


Whoopee!

Yet another poll.

Yes, the country which seems to delight in publishing a legion of surveys on an almost frighteningly (well, it would be if you were really to take them seriously) basis has now explored how "honest" some of the leading lights in the centre-right Union pour un mouvement populaire (Union for a popular movement, UMP) are.

All right, to give the free daily Metronews and TF1's all-news channel LCI credit, it could well be argued that the poll, which they commissioned CLAI to carry out, has a deservedly newsworthy angle.

There's an UMP leadership contest scheduled for the end of November with former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, the favourite to beat Bruno Le Maire and Hervé Mariton, the other two declared candidates.

And of course Sarkozy, currently touring the country with his "one man show" (below is a BFM TV video report, if you're interested), is widely thought to be considering a run to be the party's candidate for the 2017 presidential election.

Should he, as many predict, eventually decide to enter the party's planned primary (some time in 2016) he'll find himself up against the likes of Alain Juppé and François Fillon.


Nicolas Sarkozy "One man show" (screenshot BFM TV)



So, a poll to measure how honest the French perceive UMP politicians (in this case) to be, would seem timely...if not exactly a good use of...time (and money that is).

Surely nobody - or at least, very few - would rate politicians high in the honesty stakes.

After all politicians, of whatever persuasion, are famous for saying one thing when running for office and then another when faced with the reality of having been elected.

Plus they seldom take responsibility for mistakes, errors of judgement, failure for policies to deliver et yadda, yadda, yadda. It's always someone else's fault (or that of the global economy, which might well be partially true) and besides it's far easier to pass the buck.

Anyway, all that set to one side, none of the UMP's leading lights does especially well - at a national level - in the honesty perception poll.

Among those surveyed, Juppé came out top with 46 per cent, followed by Le Maire at 45 per cent and Fillon with 44 per cent.

Mind you, they were all streets ahead of Sarkozy who scored...wait for it...just 20 per cent.

Oh well, maybe when it comes to politics, "honesty" really is as much of a "lonely word" as US singer Billy Joel suggested in his 1979 international hit of the same name.

And besides, if the French population at large doesn't expect its politicians to be particularly honest (ooh - now that sounds like good material for yet another survey, surely) maybe this poll is nothing for the former president to worry about.

Fancy a little Billy Joel to finish off?


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Health insurance company's mixed message?

Television advertisements can be a wonderful, don't you think?

Imaginative, creative, inspiring, amusing - take your pick.

And for the less enthusiastic, well they provide the chance to channel hop or pop to the loo when the commercial break interrupts TV viewing.

Currently showing on French telly is a spot for the health insurance company, Malakoff Médéric.

It's a 30 second salutary reminder of the importance of health insurance and showing us how we can be inspired by the younger generation.

screenshot from Musique de Pub's YouTube channel

It features a young cyclist who, first of all, rides past a woman trying to hail a taxi.

The cyclist reaches over and rings the bell of a rental bike, one of many in a rack close to where the woman is standing. A less-than-subtle message that it would be a healthier option - as the woman heads over to them.

Next up, some workmen, with the cyclist tapping on their helmets, which have been left on a table. As he rides off, the workmen are seen putting them on.

Another subtle message.

Finally, a woman whose glasses have broken. The cyclist stops and gestures towards an opticians. She's last seen entering.

Throughout the commercial, which incidentally uses "Temps à nouveau", the first single from the excellent Jean-Louis Aubert's 1993 album "H" as its soundtrack, there a voiceover telling us (just in case we hadn't got the message) that the young generation fully understands the importance of health insurance and that Malakoff Médéric gives both employees and companies the means to look after our health needs better.

The message is reinforced by the wording on the cyclist's tee-shirt changing throughout the commercial to coincide with each brief encounter: "What do we do to look after our health?" to "less stress", "protection" and "make savings".

All well and good.

Except there's one glaring oversight surely.

The cyclist - so concerned about the health and safety of others - isn't wearing a helmet.

Oh well, never mind. There's no legal requirement to wear one in France and besides some would argue that statistics show they offer little or no protection.

So that's all right then.

Here's the commercial on Musique de Pub's YouTube channel.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Jacques and Bernadette Chirac's political devide


It must be...er...interesting in the Chirac household at the moment.

The former French president, Jacques, and his wife, Bernadette, are apparently at odds over who to support in the primary to choose the candidate for the centre-right Union pour un mouvement populaire (Union for a popular movement, UMP) in the 2017 presidential elections.

Yep. It might seem a long way off, but hey ho, that hasn't stopped the political posturing.

Mind you, it's not exactly Jacques who's saying anything.

Rather it's the former first lady, Bernadette, who's taking potshots at one of the candidates already declared, Alain Juppé.

Bernadette Chirac (screenshot Europe 1 interview, January 2014)

Bernadette is a fervent supporter of Nicolas Sarkozy - both to head the UMP when the party chooses its leader in November and in the race to be its candidate for 2017, even though he hasn't officially declared his interest in running (although only a fool would vote against him doing so).

And the 81-year-old apparently has little or no time for Juppé - widely seen as Sarkozy's main challenger should he actually decide to seek the party's nomination.

"Juppé? What has Juppé got in common with Sarkozy?" she said when interviewed at the weekend.

"Alain Juppé is a very unwelcoming person. He doesn't win over people, friends and potential voters," she continued.

"You know, when important elections are approaching, you need someone with exceptional qualities. There are very few people around like that. I know, because my husband was president twice," she added.

Surely a clear indication that, as far as she's concerned, Juppé lacks the "exceptional qualities" which presumably Sarkozy has.

That might be Bernadette's assessment of Juppé's qualities - or lack thereof. But her husband apparently doesn't share her opinions.

Chirac didn't actually say as much himself.

Instead it was Juppé who revealed that the former president, under whom he served as prime minister from 1995-1997, was as loyal to him now as he had been in the past.

"Bernadette Chirac's remarks don't concern me at all," he said.

"The image of being seen as 'cold' is something that belongs to the past and there are stereotypes that always stay with you. Do you think the people of Bordeaux (the city of which he is mayor) consider me to be 'cold'?" he continued.

"I saw Jacques Chirac recently. We spent a great together and he confirmed his feeling that I was 'probably one of the best among us' (a reference to what Chirac had said of him back in the early 1990s)

And finishing with style and flourish, Juppé added, "You know, Jacques Chirac is loyal. He doesn't change his mind. And besides, I don't really want to get involved in matrimonial differences - whatever they might be."



As a timely aside, Juppé, who received an 18-month suspended sentence and a 10-year ban from running for political office (reduced to 14 months and one year respectively on appeal) in 2004 for abuse of public funds, was awarded the Press Club of France's prize for political humour 2014 on Monday for a comment which just about sums up French politics (and certainly Juppé's political career).

"In politics, it's never over. Look at me!"



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