Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dish towel on fire

When a merciless conflict is about to erupt between two individuals, there's a saying in French: Between the protagonists, the dish towel is on fire. Well, today, we can smell a burning dish towel between French prime minister François Fillon and his beautiful 32-year-old state secretary in charge of sport, Rama Yade.

The young lady disagrees with a government plan to deprive professional sportsmen and women of a certain big tax cut. This morning, the prime minister stated explicitly and publicly that Rama Yade's behavior was not in harmony with governmental solidarity, and that she would have to face up to the "consequences" of her lack of discipline. This surely means that, sooner or later, France's most popular political personality will be kicked out of Fillon's government... which, to put it mildly, would be a great pity.

Incidentally, I should explain that the above-mentioned saying—le torchon brûle—only seems to evoke a burning dish towel, when you take the words at their face value. Although the word torchon does in fact designate a dish towel, it also evokes a potential disaster that might be "torched": that is, transformed into a blaze. Besides, when French kids play a kind of hide-and-seek game, a seeker is said to "burn" if he approaches the hidden player. So, saying that the torchon is burning simply means that a conflict is imminent.

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