Jacques Chirac and the language of love
After endless post US-elections articles about two nations divided by a common language, it is refreshing to encounter two divided by different languages. The French president, Jacques Chirac, speaking to journalists before his visit to the UK later this week, compared ties between the neighbours to a "a relationship of amour violent".
What could he mean? The British press were not so sure. The Guardian thought it was a "violent love affair", the Telegraph a "turbulent love affair" and the Independent - which evidently thinks Mr Chirac is just doing his best to stand by a wayward partner - talked of "tough love".
It was all a bit confusing, so we asked our in-house native French speaker, Gwladys Fouché, how "l'amour violent" should be understood in the sphere of cross-channel diplomacy. After a moment of shock that Mr Chirac thought of Tony Blair in such a way, she explained it could either refer to a love affair so intense it hurt, a love-hate relationship where passions could flare either way, or just rough sex - possibly with a sadomasochistic edge. She hoped Mr Chirac was positioning himself somewhere between the first two.