How Penguins Part from their Partners

Wikicommons Pere Igor
Wikicommons Pere Igor
Driving to and from the hospital at Poitiers I would be reminded that this was a landscape known to man for a long time, and that my preoccupations were nothing new under the sun.
Megaliths abounded in that area; menhirs and dolmens, bearing witness to the antiquity of the human presence – and how many more would there have been had they not been destroyed by forces of, successively, religion and agriculture.
In the commune where I first lived a dolmen had been blown up as late as 1912…..it was ‘in the way’.
North of Taize was a group of four…one clearly visible from the road, that Roman road from Poitiers to Nantes which was frequented by St. Hilaire of Poitiers, Apostle of Poitou and his follower, St. Martin of Tours in the fourth century A.D.
St. Martin les Baillargeaux, Noize
St. Martin les Baillargeaux, Noize
The church of Noize, now standing out in the fields far from the village, was named for St.Martin.
Its earlier parts date from the tenth century A.D, and it is supposed that, like many Christian sites, it took the place of a pagan temple…but I can’t imagine that either St.Hilaire or St. Martin would have left such a temple untouched.
baptisiere St. Jean, Poitiers l'internaute.com
baptisiere St. Jean, Poitiers
l’internaute.com
Normally I would have driven on..to the hospital outside Poitiers at La Miletrie, and with some time to spare would have visited the Baptistry of St. Jean, said to have been founded by St.Hilaire in the period when baptism by immersion was the rule…but today I will turn aside between Taize and Noize to go to Oiron, via Bilazais.

fontaine de bilazais site officiel de la commune de oiron
fontaine de bilazais
site officiel de la commune de oiron
Bilazais is today, as it always was, an undistinguished little village……but it could have made its fortune had an entrepreneur taken it in hand in the great days of the spa, at the end of the nineteenth century. Its waters were the equal of those at Bareges in the Pyrenees…but in the late nineteenth century it was easier to go from Paris to Bareges than to Bilazais…so the fountains of Bilazais slumbered on…the source no longer even used for the health of the old people in the almshouses in Oiron, just up the road.

Those almshouses had been founded by Madame de Montespan.….once the mistress of the Sun King Louis XIV…. when, retired from the court, she took up residence at the Chateau d’Oiron.

Chateau d'Oiron monuments. nationaux.fr
Chateau d’Oiron
monuments. nationaux.fr
An ambitious woman, she had succeeded in becoming the king’s mistress by pretending to befriend the then holder of the title, Louise de la Valliere, and – with or without the aid of black magic – had succeeded in supplanting her.
The relationship was so notorious that in 1675 the Church refused to allow the king to take communion at Easter unless he parted from his favourite…..and eventually the his Most Christian Majesty agreed to the separation….which lasted no time at all and once reunited added two more illegitimate children to the quiverful already produced between them.

In her turn she was to be supplanted…first by a silly girl who died in mysterious circumstances….then by the woman she had hired to bring up the brood of royal bastards, Mme. Scarron, whose aim was to draw the King back onto the path of virtue….and did it so well that after the death of the Queen Louis married her.

But the Sun King was courteous where women were concerned….he would raise his hat in their presence whether the woman be countess or chambermaid…..and Mme. de Montespan was not banished from Versailles.
She remained at court until her children, now legitimised to the fury of the aristocracy, made splendid marriages and only then did she retire from public life. Comforted by a generous pension she turned her attention to improving her chances in the afterlife by taking to religion and good works. Thus the almshouses at Oiron.

Louis XIV had a sense of his own worth which attached to anyone to whom he had given marks of favour: the glamour of his attachment extended to seeing that his favourites – and ex favourites – were respected.

Francois Hollande, President of the French Republic, has a well developed sense of his own worth too….at his recent meeting with the Pope in the Vatican he had his backside well anchored to a chair while the other Francis was still on his feet. Someone should tell him that one may be an atheist without being impolite.

But the signs were there….at the handover of power he turned on his heel to enter the Elysee Palace, leaving Sarkozy and his wife to find their own way to their car, which may have been the inspiration for Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s song…Le Pingouin.
I don’t propose to inflict it on you….you can look it up for yourselves on Youtube….but the penguin of the title is popularly supposed to be Francois Hollande.

A clumsy gait, but a superior air; sure of himself; a sly narcissistic cheapskate; and cold hearted to those around him.

Judge for yourselves….

But he is scarcely the Sun King, our Hollandouille: where the former would have raised his hat to his former mistress the latter could only manage…..the finger.

Givingthefinger

Not Much Bread……..But Plenty of Circuses

hollande on scooter
Hello, Clement! You look a bit fed up! A glass of Claude’s rose?

Thanks….it needs something. I’ve been up to my ears all day: Plouc’s never in the office so I have to deal with all the old biddies…and if they’re not in the office they’re on the ‘phone.

I hear he’s standing for maire in the elections….so I suppose he’s out pressing the flesh.

Tell me about it! I just wish he’d find a bit of time to do his job as a notaire! I’m sick and tired of forging his signature.

What’re his chances?

Pretty good…mark you there’s not much opposition given old Georges’ antics – he won’t be re elected and people are none too keen to join his list.

Not surprised when you think of that water tax he dreamt up!

Well, there’s not much you could do about your yard, was there….you could hardly take up the tarmac with people parking and deliveries and all…

They get you all ways with water!
First it was ‘Cut down your usage…be responsible….buy water butts’.
So you do that and then the water bill goes up all the same because they don’t have enough money to keep the system going. Or so they say!
Then along comes Georges with his bright scheme to avoid paying for a new sewage works….wants the rainwater to soak into the ground instead of going into the drains….so he charges you an arm and a leg for every square metre on your property that is covered by roofs or tarmac!

Yes, even Plouc pulled out that old outhouse when he saw the bill for the tax.
Old Georges couldn’t care less if Plouc is going to be the next deputy……he reckoned that Plouc would have to splash out round here as it’s his own backyard so he didn’t have to worry about keeping in with him.

Yes, but why’s Plouc standing for maire if he’s going to be the deputy? I thought they were going to stop politicians having two jobs….

Well they haven’t…and there’s not much chance of getting it through the parliament any time soon. The turkeys won’t vote for Christmas, so Plouc reckons it’s safe to stand for maire and that it will help him when it comes round to the general election….you know, planning permissions and whatnot.

So you’ll be seeing even less of him, then?

Not really…they don’t stay up in Paris all week….they clear off on Wednesday night to spend time in their constituencies….so I suppose he’ll he in the office about as much as he is now…
Oh, hello Victor!

Victor! We’re just talking about the elections! Claude’s rose?

Ah yes…he made a nice drop this year. Elections? Well, I’m voting for Georges!

For Georges! After what he got up to!

Oh, that water tax…didn’t bother me…us farmers were exempt…
But you talk about old Georges…what about our beloved President? Now that’s one who’s really been up to something!

Well, no more than others before him. They’re all at it….always have been.
Look at Chirac – yes, thanks, another glass…the night Princess Diana died he was off with some woman and no one knew where he was until he turned up in the early hours.

And Giscard d’Estaing..colliding with a milk tanker…

Not to speak of Mitterand! Though that was more of a settled sort of thing – a whole other family rather than tarts – he had female ministers for all that.
No, Victor he’s not the first and he won’t be the last!

And anyway, it’s his private life…he has a right to privacy.

Oh, does he? And if he does why don’t we?

But we do, Victor…people can’t take photographs of us without our permission,, so why should they take them of Hollande without his?

It’s not photographs I’m talking about! Young Laurent’s been telling me that now the taxman and the police can bug our ‘phones and monitor anything we do over the internet without even having to get a judge to agree to it!

That won’t bother you Victor! You’re too mean to sign up for the internet anyway!

That’s where you’re wrong! It does bother me!
They go on about terrorism and security – but you watch! One mention of where you keep your money and there’ll be a posse of gendarmes carving up your mattress before you can blink!

Yes but that’s different….Hollande wants what everyone has – the right to do what he wants in his own time.

What own time! He wanted to be President, didn’t he? Wasn’t too bothered about having Strauss-Kahn’s private life splashed all over the papers when that knocked out one of his rivals!

Yes, but you can’t confuse his public life with his private life…

No? Well just tell me how it is then that some young policeman who works as a security guard on the Ministry of the Interior can be suspended because he does what he wants in his free time?

It must have been something illegal…

No! Perfectly legal! He worked at the Ministry in the daytime and was a rent boy at night.
And how did they find out? Snooping on his bank account.
And they want him suspended because being a rent boy isn’t compatible with being a policeman.
So if they can ‘confuse’ his public and private life then why should Hollande be exempt?

Well, he’s the President, not some young kid doing something on the side….and even you aren’t going to say that Hollande is a rent boy!

No of course he isn’t, but you can’t say what he’s up to is very savoury.
And what’s more, aren’t they bringing in a law to make criminals of men who visit prostitutes?
Doesn’t that apply if you’re the President either?

But she’s not a prostitute, Victor! She’s an actress!

Takes off her clothes for money doesn’t she? Same thing!

But that doesn’t make her a tart, Victor! Hollande’s not paying her!

No, I don’t suppose he is – doesn’t pay for anything himself – but you want to look at who owns that flat in the rue du Cirque!
Some bint married to an actor who’s well up in the Corsican mafia.
Now you tell me what’s worse…some kid trying to make a bit of extra on the side, or a President of the French Republic who, with all the snoopers in the country at his service, gets himself mixed up with bandits!

Here, Alain, lets have another. A whisky this time…and none of your Clan Campbell!

Right you are! A Johnny Walker – a double – and on the house!
Go easy Victor! One free drink and you’re anyone’s rent boy!
What’s that, Clement?

Well, I tell you what….private life or not, Hollande’s not much of a man is he?

What do you mean?

Think about it.
He was living with Valerie Trierweiler when he was elected.
He doesn’t marry her, so that puts her at the sharp end of a lot of nastiness about being or not being First Lady.
Then he installs her in the Elysee Palace with a staff….making it as public as possible that married or not she has a status as far as he is concerned.
She goes with him on State visits. Except the Vatican, of course.
And then he has this affair – which he’s not denying – and leaves her twisting in the wind, a target for anyone who pleases.
You can’t live with someone and then treat them like this. Not if you have any decency.

Yes, I see what you mean. He could have told her what was going on…given her the chance to leave with a bit of dignity.

What! Him!
If he’d been straight with us, the electors, about what he was going to do he’d never have made President, nomatter how much everyone hated Sarkozy.
No, with his women he’s like he is with power….sits on his arse and waits for better times….

The way things are he’d better watch out that performing in the rue du Cirque doesn’t lead him to performing against the lions in the Circus Maximus…

I tell you what!

Yes, Victor?

When they cut out his prostate they should have been a bit more radical.

Paris is Rather a Mess

palace elysee guides.restaurants.frThus the Sellar and Yeatman version of the end of the sixteenth century Wars of Religion in France where the Protestant victor, Henry of Navarre, turned Roman Catholic (again) in order that his victory should gain acceptance.
Paris, he is reported to have said, is worth a mass.

Given current conditions…the Sellar and Yeatman version seems distinctly appropriate.

Eighteen months into his five year stint as President of the French Republic, Francois Hollande is not a happy bunny.
Things are not going according to plan.

Hollande is a graduate of the ENA – where the elite of France are formed to be worthy leaders of their country’s institutions.
Where to succeed you need to know that not only is there only one answer to a question…but also only one question to be asked.

Accordingly Hollande knew the one question to be asked….how to be elected in 2012?
He also knew the answer….be anyone except the retiring President, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Nowhere in this process will you find matters such as how to conduct the governance of France.
All ENA graduates know the answer to that one….carry on as before with all the posts of power, private and public, in the steady hands of themselves or other graduates of the ENA.

The ENA would have been gratified at the success of his plan.
He was elected President of the French Republic and set about proving he was not Sarkozy by getting shafted by the German Chancellor at their first meeting and wandering round in baggy bermudas on his hols in the south of France.

Then he got the bit between his teeth.
Sarkozy had given a tax exoneration for overtime worked. Hollande removed it.
Sarkozy had overseen the setting up of the auto-entrepreneur scheme, whereby people setting up in business paid social charges only on what they earned after they had earned it…not on what a bureaucrat thought they would earn and so charged them upfront before they started. Hollande wanted to overturn it….but met opposition, especially from those who found that if they sold the business they had founded they would have to pay a 60% tax on the proceeds.

The grand plan began to run off the rails….

Even the EU had noticed France’s budget deficit and urgent measures had to be taken to reduce it. The people had to be prepared to make sacrifices.
Well, some people.
Not politicians for a start.
Nor top civil servants.
Nor big business.
Nor the state.

No, the little man could stump up.

To have the least malcontents, keeping hitting the same people all the time
To have the least malcontents, keeping hitting the same people all the time
The ENA teaches its students to operate on the Shadok system…..

If there is no solution it is because there is no problem (the only one question principle)….

If there is only one chance in a thousand of success, hurry up and make the first nine hundred and ninety nine cock ups.

This was an unfortunate moment for the budget minister to be found to have had secret Swiss bank accounts.

Then foreign manufacturing companies started to pull out of France….jobs have been lost.
Taxation is hitting hard.
And the one Sarkozyism that Hollande did not boot out – the ecotax on heavy goods vehicles – has provoked riots in Brittany and vandalism to installations elsewhere.

But the ENA has the answer…the only one…..the traditional one.
Bribes.
So billions to Brittany, billions to road transport groups, and probably billions to buy off the Italian firm who were going to run the ecotax

Buit who is going to pay the bribes….yes, the little man through increased taxation.

And the deficit? …Oh; that….

Paris is rather a mess.

Normally when disatified with one main stream political party people turn to the other…but the UMP has its own scandals and infighting to occupy it….so no leadership there.

The journalists (given a whopping tax break by Hollande after Sarkozy had previously removed it) worry about people looking to a strong man…they see the rise of totalitarianism in France….they fear the Front National coming to power.

So today, on the anniversary of the death of General de Gaulle, his tomb has been visited by a range of politicians on the make, anxious to wrap themselves in the mantle of the last strong man to rule France.

They could all be put into one of the pockets of his greatcoat and pass unnoticed.

One, however, has not made the journey.

Moi-je, Francois Hollandouille, President of the French Republic.

Perhaps he worries that, should he pay a visit, the speed at which the General would be revolving in his grave would be sufficient to achieve lift off….and that the resulting encounter would be a re-run of the finale of Don Giovanni….

Hollande going up in flames.

memorialcharlesdegaulle