Bloody literary agents
5 May 2016 04:36 (South Africa)
Politics

A secret memo from Hollande to the people of France

  • Richard Poplak
    HEADSHOT_Rich-Poplak_orange.jpg
    Richard Poplak

    Richard Poplak was born and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He trained as a filmmaker and fine artist at Montreal’s Concordia University and has produced and directed numerous short films, music videos and commercials. Now a full-time writer, Richard is a senior contributor at South Africa’s leading news site, Daily Maverick, and a frequent contributor to publications all over the world. He is a member of Deca Stories, the international long-form non-fiction collective.

    His first book was the highly acclaimed Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa (Penguin, 2007); his follow-up was entitled The Sheikh’s Batmobile: In Pursuit of American Pop-Culture in the Muslim World (Soft Skull, 2010). Poplak has also written the experimental journalistic graphic novel Kenk: A Graphic Portrait (Pop Sandbox, 2010). His election coverage from South Africa’s 2014 election, written under the nom de plume Hannibal Elector, was collected as Until Julius Comes: Adventures in the Political Jungle (Tafelberg, 2014).  Ja, No, Man was longlisted for the Alan Paton Non-Fiction prize, shortlisted for the University of Johannesburg Literary Award and voted one of the Top-10 books of 2007 by Now Magazine. Richard has won South Africa’s Media-24 Best Feature Writing Award and a National Magazine Award in Canada.

    Since 2010, Poplak has been travelling across Africa, seeking out the catalysts and characters behind the continent’s 21stcentury metamorphosis. The coming book, co-authored with Kevin Bloom, is called The Shift

  • Politics
Hollande - poplak - 7512 - FEATURE

Yup – it’s that time again! Socialist-president-of-France time. We take a moment to imagine what president-elect François Hollande is thinking, as he prepares to spend money the French don’t have. By RICHARD POPLAK.

Memo

From the offices of President-elect François Gérard Georges Hollande

To be circulated to anyone with an education not fleeing the country for England and Germany

Dear Comrades,

With a languid sigh and great shaking of the jowls, we note that we have become President of the Republic. For five long, interminable years, we have suffered, among other calamities, 20% cuts to the size of the Camembert slices on our cheese plates. Not since Algeria have we collectively suffered through such ignominy; not since the war (of 1812) has our national character sustained such a hammer blow.

The world must know: We are French. We do not diet. 

The small, shout-y Hungarian man is now free to cavort naked on yachts with his patroness; he will have great difficulty marrying supermodel chanteuses, now that he is a civilian. Pah! It is just such body blows to the fat underbelly of the rich that we hope to sustain over the course of our reign, by which I mean mandate.

We shall tax them on Cote d'Azur beaches, we shall tax them in the bistrots, we shall tax them in their Maybachs, we shall tax them at their underage prostitute orgies. We shell never surrender! Remember: 75% taxation rate on a salary of over a million euros is a small price to pay for the privilege of working in France. After all, was it work that made the republic great? But of course it wasn’t. The history of French socialism is the history of a trying to ensure that everyone in the country behaves like a slightly daffy courtier to Louis XIV.

No, no – the working rich shall no longer have it so easy in France. Even the elite shall feel the pinch. Indeed, prostitution rings servicing politicians shall no longer be fully government-funded, and all public servants will be asked to bring their own condoms and body oil when they are being bought off with sex at the homes of pimps and industrialists.

Schadenfreude? How dare we even use such a term, imported as it is from across the Rhine, where that woman and her unholy calculator reside? Twice in the last century they have invaded us, and they wish to baulk at underwriting our five-week paid vacations and our farm subsidies? Mon dieu, the absolute cheek of it! If they wish to tear up the European social contract and enslave able-bodied workers in their sixties to two additional years of hard labour, by all means, they are welcome to it. But the lady with the calculator will not have her way in the halls of Paris, mes amis.

Mine is not an economic Maginot Line. It is instead a fortress wherein all that Frenchmen hold dear shall be kept sacrosanct. We shall continue to insist that anyone with a tan live in a charmingly appointed ghetto, and we will occasionally let them burn cars when they get uppity. We will make sure that anyone with a vaguely un-French name finds it both impossible and humiliating to apply for a job anywhere outside of a McDonalds. We will sniff haughtily at all examples of innovation by pointing out that it is the workers who suffer under the weight of inexorable progress. And we will, of course, ensure that the public sector continues to employ so-called “workers”, by taxing the private sector all the way to Poland.

Yes, my fellow republicans, we are not happy today. Nor are we sad. Merely, we are French. No longer must we suffer under the American-ish ministrations of the small, shout-y man. Tighten our belts? This is not the French way! The German woman with the calculator says that we must pay our tabs, but that isn’t the French way either. We are a people of destiny. We want what we want, and we shall have it.

If I may employ a food metaphor, I urge you to consider a delicious sliver of foie gras. Who cares how it came to be on your plate—surely the process is an unkind one. Likewise is it with the French way of life. Some nasty stuff will be force fed to the Germans in order for us to continue to live the way we do. But so be it. This is the meaning of destiny, as we French have always understood it. They say we will bring Europe to its knees. We’ve tried that before; they give us too much credit.

I would write more, but I have work to do. Those French companies that do exist – most of them oil companies – have a list of small Middle Eastern countries they would like me to bomb. But I confess, I feel a great malaise. The campaign was gruelling, and I think I am due my five weeks paid vacation.

My fellow Frenchmen, I will see you in mid-June. But please, allow me to leave you with the following: Life is for the living, work is for your neighbours. Austerity? Pah! This is not a French word. We are a nation of gourmands. DM

Disclaimer: This, of course, was a satire. Yes, we do understand it is not 1 April. But beggars can't be choosers: French don't get to elect a socialist for president every day.



Photo: A woman holds a rose as she kisses a friend who wears a mask with the likeness of newly-elected French President Francois Hollande as supporters celebrate during a victory rally at Place de la Bastille in Paris late May 6, 2012. France voted in elections on Sunday and Francois Hollande becomes the nation's first Socialist president in 17 years. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier.

  • Richard Poplak
    HEADSHOT_Rich-Poplak_orange.jpg
    Richard Poplak

    Richard Poplak was born and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He trained as a filmmaker and fine artist at Montreal’s Concordia University and has produced and directed numerous short films, music videos and commercials. Now a full-time writer, Richard is a senior contributor at South Africa’s leading news site, Daily Maverick, and a frequent contributor to publications all over the world. He is a member of Deca Stories, the international long-form non-fiction collective.

    His first book was the highly acclaimed Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa (Penguin, 2007); his follow-up was entitled The Sheikh’s Batmobile: In Pursuit of American Pop-Culture in the Muslim World (Soft Skull, 2010). Poplak has also written the experimental journalistic graphic novel Kenk: A Graphic Portrait (Pop Sandbox, 2010). His election coverage from South Africa’s 2014 election, written under the nom de plume Hannibal Elector, was collected as Until Julius Comes: Adventures in the Political Jungle (Tafelberg, 2014).  Ja, No, Man was longlisted for the Alan Paton Non-Fiction prize, shortlisted for the University of Johannesburg Literary Award and voted one of the Top-10 books of 2007 by Now Magazine. Richard has won South Africa’s Media-24 Best Feature Writing Award and a National Magazine Award in Canada.

    Since 2010, Poplak has been travelling across Africa, seeking out the catalysts and characters behind the continent’s 21stcentury metamorphosis. The coming book, co-authored with Kevin Bloom, is called The Shift

  • Politics

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