27.3.08

Mountains on air

French Momentum.

If you live in the UK you could not escape it. It's as unmissable as a Jamie Oliver's merchandising item in a Sainsburry outlet... This week is France week in England. Our president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is visiting the British highest representatives in the person of Queen Elizabeth II, Gordon Brown and even Arsène Wenger. No one has been left aside on the agenda.

But it was not only about politics because obviously more superior matters were at stake this week when both England and France were facing each other for a football match in Stade de France. After all who cares about boycott threats for the China Olympic Games because of the critical situation in Tibet, who cares about the future of the Western military presence in Afghanistan, who cares about these minor events when David Beckham is about to celebrate his 100th cap?

Camera 1. Rolling.

Well, one TV channel did care: Sky News. Yesterday, on Wednesday 26th at 7:30pm, whilst Thuram, Ferdinand and other Gerrard were putting on their jersey, Martin Stanford was in front of his prompting roll, analysing this momentum. And guess what, I was sitting next to him. I had been contacted a few hours before and offered the chance (?) to take part in the programme as a French blogger based in the UK. Funny, scam, scary, new, intriguing... many words crossed my mind when I hung up the phone at the end of my conversation with the producer. I nevertheless decided to seize this opportunity to discover what live TV was and accepted.

But from the moment I said "yes" I started to freak out. It is one thing to write posts, and to try to be witty and interesting hidden behind my screen, now would I be able to do the same in front of a camera? Live? I started to think of all the intelligent things I could say. After all I was about to represent France's voice on UK television and there was no Laurent Blanc to kiss my bald head for good luck. So I was writing mental notes after mental notes. My brain turning yellow under the clutter of post-its about everything I should not forget to state. I was also trying hard to condition myself not to forget to stand straight, not to pick my nose or scratch my pants... France, home of Haute Couture and Savoir-Vivre. I had to be on par.

Sauf que voilà...

As my childhood hero, Hannibal, used to repeat: "I love it when a plan comes together". Except that in my episode, the only other member of the A-Team was behind the camera, and was Murdoch (sorry for the far-fetched pun!)... I have had some experiences behind the camera and one or two in front of it, but this was the first time that I would face the red-dotted Cyclops live. No room for errors, no editing to get rid of the hesitations. And in spite of the encouragements from the programme producer and Heckler Spray Stuart who was interviewed before me, I must admit that I was kind of afraid to fail matching the expectations. Especially since I had neither an idea of the questions which would be fired at me, nor am I a geopolitical expert nor a journalist.

Anyway suddenly everything paces up. A technician comes and picks me up, plugs a microphone in the back of my trousers, pushes me upstairs were a vacant stool is waiting for me. And here it goes.

When Andy Warhol mentioned the 15 minutes of fame, I had never realised how long this quarter of an hour could be. Overall, I think that it went well. Although my good intentions to shine vanished as soon as the light was on, I think that I have articulated some acceptable thoughts... But if you know me personally, you will acknowledge that I am a perfectionist and am seldom satisfied with myself.

France-England - Interview Take 2.

So instead of ruminating "I should have said that", I have decided to write the answers that I would have had the talent and inspiration to say on the spot. And you know what, do not hesitate to drop me your comments, I would love to get your thoughts on these topics.
  1. France-England, what do you think of the relationship between both countries?
    As mentioned during the programme, I think that Entente Cordiale has never been in a better state in 100 years. Nowadays, England has become one of the favourite destinations for French citizens and professionals. It might no longer be for the same
    sexy reasons as in the 80s, but nonetheless London is today the 7th French city in the world. We feel almost at home in this country and London is arguably closer to Paris than Nice or Bordeaux. As a result, more and more French artists include London in their Tour now and manage to get sold out performances. On the other hand, what to say about the hordes of English people investing in French cottages in Normandy and on the French Riviera... Nevertheless, like every passion there is a love-hate ambiguity, even if the later part belongs more to folklore than to a real resentment. It's is part of the custom that Frogs and Rosbiffs fake to hate each other. We are like to brothers who keep on teasing but cannot stand to be away one from the other.

  2. France-England football match, your prognostics?
    Easy one, I initially prognosticated a 2-1 win for France, hoping that Spice Boy would score on his 100th cap. That would have been a brilliant way to write History and build a myth. Zidane left the football scene on a head-butting, Beckham could have done the same on a free kick. It did not happened, maybe he will be granted another chance... Maybe.

  3. Sarkozy in England to gain gravitas?
    As a matter of fact, people criticized Sarko for his actions which were picked up by the people magazines rather than the political folds of highbrow newspapers... To a certain extend he is the Beckham of French politics. Whilst Beck combined football and glamour by turning into a fashion icon, Sarko is trying to rejuvenate the role of President. This kind of glamorisation has been initially well received but a certain backlash operates currently. As a result our president has lost some of his credit on the French soil (read here) and need to boost his image with some high level actions on both domestic and international grounds. This certainly explains his intervention for the liberation of Ingrid Betancourt in Columbia, his visit in the UK and the recent declarations about Tibet. Sarko the hyper-active president is back.

  4. Carla Bruni (read "Brun-ee" and not "Brun-eye" as Martin repeated during the show), does this glamorous character makes any change to the deal in France politics?
    Carla Bruni has more than one string at her bow (even if she happens to pose naked for some shots too): former model, singer, man-eater... She can certainly bring something to the table. I was amazed to see her coming out of the official plane in her grey vintage-like suit. It was not without remembering another first lady renowned for her stylish look and strong political influence: Jackie Kennedy. Carla is said to have a strong character too and to clearly know what she wants. So maybe her contribution will be more than revamping the dusty image of the presidential couple (sorry Bernadette but competition is tough nowadays). Look at Lady Di: her sex-appeal combined to her determination have contributed to make her a figure of XXth century. One more thing about this fascinating couple: an Italian woman who sings in French and have flirted with a Rolling Stone and now gets married to a French politician with Polish ancestors... Overall this seems to be an interesting Euro-Pudding, ideal for the international jostles.

  5. Sarkozy being the first politics to take position about Tibet against China, a will to bring France back in the debate?
    Whether a fan or a detractor, you can only acknowledge that Sarkozy has been making things move. He is young and determined. He too reminds the 60s political rising star, JFK. As a matter of fact, he is shifting paradigms: for instance he broke the classical divide between Right and Left wings whilst on-boarding member of the Opposition in his government; he takes position on topics where the classical French diplomacy would have encouraged the right of reserve... He is energetic, frank, demagogue, outspoken (to the point of insulting a farmer in a fair). To be fair, he has made a statement in France, that needs to rapidly materialise now by real efficient actions, otherwise it will be a tribute to Shakespeare's "A lot of noise for nothing". But he is ambitious and he certainly does not want to stop at the domestic borders. I am sure that he will a source of fresh air in our policy which was tending to get rusted. And this will imply ups and downs, but overall I am indeed convinced that his ambition is to bring back France (and himself) in the spotlight. He one day claimed that he was thinking of becoming President every morning when shaving. And he is still impeccably shaved, so he must have something in the back of his mind...

The moral of this experience is that I am definitely not a journalist, but I remain highly interested in the media and its special prism on cultures. I hope you too enjoyed this post, so feel free to share your thoughts. And Allez les Bleus!

3 comments:

  1. Ah, you did great. And the next time that the French president visits the Queen and his wife gets naked and England and France just happen to be playing a football match at the same time, I'm sure you'll be invited back.

    Consider me a new regular reader, by the way.

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  2. Just one question:
    Do you have a video?

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  3. Thanks Stu... But I am not sure that my odds are that good. Such concourse of circumstances happens rarely. Must ask my friends at Ladbroke, just in case:)

    @Loic: Nope, not yet. I don't think that Sky has an online archive. It was apparently available on the specific night, but I could not find it anymore when writting this post yesterday. I might get a soft copy from the production though. Anyhow, I am not too keen on my image, so there is little chance I publish it outside the family circle... So you might end up seing it anyway:-)

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