Thursday, June 21, 2007


I've just been looking back over recent articles on famous females:

Christine Lagarde
Powerful French woman [display]

Hillary Clinton
US presidential campaign [display]

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet
Same name as Australian mountain [display]

Anne Lauvergeon
Nice TV spot [display]

Ségolène Royal
Simple direct talk [display]

Jelena Jankovic
Tennistic Amazons [display]

Laure Manaudou
Beauty and the beast [display]

Tzipi Livni
Time for Tzipi? [display]

A psychoanalyst, observing the way in which I've selected and talked about these women, might be tempted to come up with interesting ideas (?) concerning my general attitude towards the female sex. It's a fact that the eight above-mentioned women appear to share common attributes. They're all powerful individuals in their chosen domain. Nothing to do with the wishy-washy notion of females as passive creatures prepared to be dominated by males. Maybe our psychoanalyst might believe in the paraphrase of a familiar dictum: Show me the women who fascinate you, and I'll tell you who you are.

Be that as it may, I must point out that, with one exception, these are not in fact the kind of ladies whom I would be tempted to invite along to Gamone for an extended weekend. [I can hear Bill Clinton heaving a sigh of relief... not to mention Hillary herself.] The fact is that I've always admired women who are capable of acting like men, but this admiration doesn't mean that such females attract me in a more global sense. I remember precisely the moment in my existence when this admiration first manifested itself. I had just married Christine, in 1965, and I was working as a technical translator with a big company named CSF, located near the Place de la Porte de Saint-Cloud in the chic quarters of Paris. There, my boss was an elegant lady with a training in technology. I had never before encountered such a phenomenon. Normally, in places where I had worked previously (mainly at IBM, in Sydney, Paris and London), creatures of that soft and superficially fragile kind were employed as secretaries, prepared at all times to obey their male superiors. But here was a lovely lady with a mind of her own. Besides, she was theoretically my boss... except that she didn't know enough English to intervene in any way in my work.

My work? Among other things, I used to write the English-language speeches of the CEO [chief executive officer] of that multinational company. In doing so, I had my first experience of getting paid to be a lapdog... not with respect to the lovely lady, unfortunately, but for the CEO. I would slip tiny excuses into his speeches, such as: "Excuse me for speaking English in such an atrocious fashion. Please understand that my management activities leave me with little time to improve my knowledge of Shakespeare's language." The guy got a great ego-thrill out of reciting such words, in perfect English, at the start of his speech. So, I was already a kind of gigolo. For the wrong boss.

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