Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bread and meat

It often pays to memorize an important principle in the vivid form of a vulgar proverb. In Australia, where we've always had a healthy habit of calling a spade a fucking spade, I learned, as a young man, that it's an error to look around for your meat in the same shop that provides you with your daily bread. [I can hear you correcting me. Supermarkets provide us today with almost everything we need. Meat, bread, sugar and spice and all things nice, you name it. OK, I'm old-fashioned.] Wise and experienced Aussie elders told me that, to succeed in a professional career, it's preferable to avoid trying to pick up office chicks [I'm talking from a male viewpoint]... unless, of course, you happen to be engaged in the honorable process of looking around for a legitimate spouse, in which case no legal behavior is barred. When I settled down in France, though, I had the impression that this great Australian proverb was largely unknown, or in any case unpracticed, no doubt because both French bread and French meat are, well, rather different to what I had been accustomed to eating in my native land.

Most people in France admire the Socialist politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, seen in the above Gala photo with his wife Anne Sinclair, a former TV journalist. When he left for the US to take up an appointment as director of the IMF [International Monetary Fund ], the first premature question that sprung into many left-wing minds—such as mine, for example—was: Will Strauss-Kahn be back in France in time to oppose the current president, if need be, in a future election? A couple of weeks ago, Strauss-Kahn spoke with authority on French TV concerning the current financial crisis. Naturally, his economic talents and wisdom, not to mention his role at the IMF, lend weight to his analysis of the situation. Then everybody was shocked to hear that DSK [as he's called in France] was accused of being on over-friendly terms with one of his female colleagues. Today, it's reassuring to hear that the IMF has concluded that there was no genuine misdemeanor on the part of DSK, merely a serious but forgivable error of judgment of a bread-and-meat kind.

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