I’ve never had to dump anyone: before I met my partner, my behaviour was bad enough to ensure I was always the recipient of the Dear John, rather than the signatory. And although this relationship has seen several revolutions in communications, I’ve never felt that email, SMS and WhatsApp? would ever be appropriate ways to break it off. Still, any of those would be preferable to being chucked by press conference, which seems to be what the President of France, Francois Hollande, is desperately keen to avoid doing to First Lady Valerie Trierweiler.
Trierweiler herself hasn’t earned many friends as, in the teeth of a recession, she enjoys a lifestyle lavish enough to earn comparisons with Marie Antoinette. As a speaker coach, I often tell clients that the messages have to match: don’t turn up to a conference in your new Ferrari and then fire half the workforce, which used to be a joke until this happened: http://cars.aol.co.uk/2013/12/05/company-boss-drives-ferrari-into-work-after-sacking-45-staff/
The French are a lot more tolerant of their politicians extra-marital activities, especially if Valerie is the injured party, and it seems the issue is not so much whether he was having an affair, so much as whether this involved a breech of security. The President, to clear up all doubts, has insisted that he has always had security while visiting his alleged girlfriend – so it’s nice to know he’s gone in using protection.
Axelle Lemaire, an MP from Mr Hollande’s Socialist party, described interest in the affair as ‘a very British way of seeing things.’ In which case there must be a lot of Brits in France at the moment: Closer’s publishers say that sales of the issue containing the allegations were 50% higher than usual. Quelle surprise!
Hollande might well come out of this smelling of rosé: if he can distance himself from an unpopular figure, look vulnerable and human, and have a bit of good economic news in time for the next election, well, les angais avez un mot pour ca: c’est un ‘hat trick’.