In the current French political climate, I often feel that, every time I dare to throw the term "naturalization" into my Antipodes articles, it's as if I were pronouncing a nasty four-letter word. The naturalization of foreigners is not exactly, at the present Sarkozian instant, the most glamorous topic in France. I don't know whether there are opinion polls in this domain, but I would say, as a guess, that the question of naturalization has a global popularity rating in France down around the level of subjects such as genetically-modified shit, nuclear wastes and global warming. Somebody with my background and accent would normally score much higher in present-day Sarkozy Land by saying "I'm a compatriot of Nicole Kidman" than by indicating that he hopes to become a citizen of France.
Be that as it may, it would be appalling if my only hope of receiving a French passport were to admire Sarko and his methods. No, in that case, I would prefer to sell Gamone and move out to Queensland. One of the countless things that stops me pursuing this line of reasoning is that it would be unthinkable for me to return to Australia without my dog. So, it's Sophia who's playing ceaselessly a silent role in holding me in France. Sophia probably doesn't realize this, but she's an everyday living symbol, for me, of everybody from Vercingétorix up to Yannick Noah, without forgetting Joan of Arc or Charles de Gaulle. Then I have another French heroine, intimately responsible for my presence in France:
Christine celebrated her 65th birthday yesterday.