On September 25th as Boris Johnson re-opened Parliament to face a phalanx of feminist termagants filled with rage and venom for squeezing a thigh – and an upper thigh at that.
In Paris, Jacques Chirac, former French President and well known philanderer, was breathing his last to the plaudits of a French media exulting in the former President ‘s long career of squeezing hands and arms openly, and other areas not in camera, yet always to the delight of the participants and certainly to a grateful public. Chirac reassured them that life could be lived as they themselves hoped to live ; to the full, with joy in eating, drinking and loving.
Chirac’s womanising was neither hidden nor shamefaced; it was as open and congenial as that of France’s favourite monarch, ‘ Le Bon Roi’, Henri IV, who took time to write lyrical love letters to the mistress of the moment, while seeking to unite France after the protracted period of civil strife.
Meanwhile the British are haunted by fear of a return of mid 17th century Cromwellian figures causing the memory of Pride’s Purge to hang over Westminster. In such an atmosphere Boris Johnson would do well to recall Henri IV’s grandson, Charles II ‘Whose word no man relied on’, yet who, thanks to his humanity, mistresses and all, brought peace and pleasure back to a severely riven country.
So is there currently an unbridgeable cultural chasm between the two old enemies, or are they simply out of sync? France has had its episodes of angry, aggressive women, the Revolutionary tricoteuses and the early feminists of the Commune de Paris in 1871 have become footnotes of history, as will no doubt Charlotte’s Thigh, if Boris Johnson can go on making the people feel at ease with themselves, sharing his buoyant optimism and at long last, enjoying the everyday , accessible pleasures of life, he could come to represent a new, happy national identity, like the very one which the French people have been remembering with the passing of Jacques Chirac.
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