The other day on the French News there was a story about a plan by the City of Paris to build housing for the homeless at the edge of the Bois de Boulogne which rather upset residents of the chic, not to say filthy rich, 16th Arrondissement. City officials convened a meeting to talk it all out, but it was a complete shambles consisting of mostly shouting from the audience. It was quite something to see an apparently respectable man-of-a-certain-age calling one of the facilitators « salope* » but it was even stranger when he called out « brosse à caca » — “poo brush” to put it politely. This was subtitled so it wasn’t just my ears playing tricks. I’ve not found this particular terminology anywhere but I suppose it’s either a childish or silly name for a toilet brush (balayette pour toilette, brosse à toilettes or more familiarly balai à chiottes).
In my searching though, Facebook helpfully contributed the result above assuring me that all I had to do to communicate with Toilet Brush was to log in.
* « Le terrain est inconstructible, salope! » (“The land can’t be built upon, bitch!”)
Seen in a promo for a current affairs program (Envoyé Special) dealing with Salafism in France.
La majorité des habitants de l’enfer sont des femmes
L’imam Al-Bukhâri (1/583) a dit: […] Ibn ʿAbbâs rapporte du Prophète (ﷺ) qu’il a dit « Allah m’a montré l’enfer et j’ai vu que la majorité de ses habitants était des femmes, car elles renient. » On demanda : « Car elles renient Allah ? » Il répondit : « [Non mais] parce qu’elles renient les bienfaits de leurs époux et les faveurs qu’ils leur font. Tu peux être bienfaisant envers une femme toute ta vie. Il suffit que tu la contraries une fois pour qu’elle dise : “Tu n’as jamais été bienfaisant envers moi.” »
The majority of the inhabitants of hell are women
The imam Al-Bukhari (1/583) said: […] Ibn ʿAbbas tells that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Allah showed me hell and I saw that the majority of its inhabitants were women, because they denied.” He was asked, “Because they denied Allah?” He replied, “[No but] because they denied the charity of their husbands and the favours that they did for them. You can be good-willed towards your wife all your life. You only need to contradict her once for her to say: ‘You never cared for me.’ ”
So I had to go back and check what fine publication this came from. Ah, Ibn Baz, the loony flat-earther from Saudi Arabia. All is explained.
Alain Juppé, at the age of 70, has been in French politics since the early 1980s and the most consistent question he’s asked these days is whether his age is a problem. This must be very annoying, but mostly he seems to lightly brush off such questions.
Perhaps in a response to this he has gone with a very minimalist poster—AJ! pour la france—in his bid to become the presidential candidate for Les Républicains, in competition with Nicolas Sarkozy (80% of the public say they don’t want him back, but he’s very popular with the party faithful) and François Fillon (Prime Minister under Sarkozy).
In the French alphabet J is pronounced “zhee” /ʒi:/ (rather like our G) and G is pronounced “zhey” /ʒe/ (rather like our J), so his initials in the poster read like Agit! pour la france (“Act/Take action for France”). Some wags have altered it to AG, i.e. Âgé! pour la france (“Elderly for France”).
His latest campaign appearance was hanging out with Jeunes pour Juppé (his young supporters) at un pub playing beer pong in a (clearly just purchased) casual shirt, so perhaps his team are a little concerned about the age thing. Is this the solution? I’m not so sure.
All in all, if you have to have a conservative, Juppé doesn’t look so bad these days, though it might just be the contrast. He comes across as the least divisive and does seem concerned about the National Front, rather than racing to court their vote like Sarkozy. It’s a sign of the times that he is both praised and condemned for approving the construction of a mosque as Mayor of Bordeaux. Sad that it should even be in question.
Actually, what’s fascinating in this manuscript is the unfinished decoration allowing an insight into how it was done in the 15th century. On folio 23v only the gilding has been done, but later everything’s only sketched in. The feather-work pattern seems to have been such an obvious thing it wasn’t even sketched in, only the larger details (e.g. flowers) it connected.
See also: Fully bordered page (folio 1r)
So Christiane Taubira has finally resigned as “Keeper of the Seals” (Garde des Sceaux aka Minister of Justice), riding off into the sunset on her bike. There have been rumours about it for a while since she was the last leftist remaining in the cabinet, a succession of others having left since the arrival of François Hollande’s ‘pragmatic’ Prime Minister Manuel Valls and former investment banker, now Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, Emmanuel Macron.
So what was the issue that finally went too far? As in Australia, the French government plan to allow French citizenship to be removed from people with (at least notional) dual citizenship convicted of certain crimes (including, but not restricted to, terrorism). The whole idea of the droit du sol (jus solis) vs. droit du sang (jus sanguinis), citizenship based on where you’re born rather than your parents’ citizenship, is an important part of leftist conceptions of the republic, so the idea that citizenship, the central mechanism of qualifying for all that liberté, égalité and fraternité, should be conditional is offensive to many including Taubira. The French have done it before, of course, in 1915 and in the 1940s. With Jews.
Taubira will be most remembered for her lively and passionate defence of the gay marriage legislation and her many literary allusions and quotes, such as the following extract from Damas’ novel-length poem Black Label. Damas was one of the founders of the 1930s Négritude anti-assimilation, anti-colonialist movement which sought a provocative re-appropriation of terms like nègre (not as offensive as nigger, but certainly…ahem…a ‘coloured’ term).
Nous, les gueux
nous les peu
nous les chiens
nous les riens
nous les maigres
nous les Nègres
qu’attendons-nous pour faire les fous
pisser un coup
sur cette vie stupide et bête
qui nous est faite.
extract from Black Label (1956) by Léon-Gontran Damas
We the villains
we the littl’uns
we the slurs
we the curs
we the beggars
we the niggers*
what are we waiting for to muck up
to take a piss
on this stupid, idiotic life
that we’re given.
* translation by Kathleen Gyssels & Christine Pagnoull
At first I thought this was just an example of Itanglese/Anglitaliano, but it seems this word is known in a few European languages and there are even English speakers who use it in this sense. It has also taken over as the main meaning on Wikipedia.
It seems to be one of those buzzwords favoured by ‘experts’ in some new, often self-invented, field. Not to suggest that they might not be doing something useful, but the obsession with creating your own niche term is a rather sad and predictable.
It seems to have been taken over from the biological sense where groups of animals take part in collective aggression, usually against a predator, but other species can be the target too. Birds are well known for this behaviour: e.g. both Indian mynas and (native) noisy miners will drive smaller birds out of nesting hollows.
So now you know. If you’re driven out of your workplace by a group effort of harassment (like Checco in Quo Vado?) it’s not bullying, it’s mobbing…apparently.
Sometimes the French are least comprehensible when they’re using English words.
Plastic bags are soon to be outlawed (at least in supermarkets) so the news did a piece on the alternatives: paper, cloth & biodegradable potato-plastic. At first I thought they were saying that paper bags were to be used for purchases en dry. Dry goods perhaps? No, ‘dry’ is not a word they’d borrow. Actually what they said was…
“… ces sacs servira pour les achats en drive.”
“… c’est important* pour une enseigne de drive comme… pour un fast-food.”
“… these bags will be used for drive-through purchases.”
“… it’s important* for a drive-through store as… for a fast food (outlet).”
What I think they’re referring to (and the Carrefour logo on the bags was a big give-away) is a newish service in France where you order your groceries online then drive through and have their flunkies load them into your car.
* i.e. a paper bag’s ability to stand by itself