Clin d’oeil

‘Faire un clin d’oeil’ – literally to wink, figuratively to give a nod – is to reference another author or artist in a way that pays tribute to his or her work. It is not to copy their work, word for word, which is what Marine Le Pen did this week in a speech she ‘borrowed’ from François Fillon.

I was lucky enough to attend a course on screenwriting in London a couple of years ago, taught by the eminent storyteller and script doctor John Truby. In his seminar, during which I learned more about story than I had imagined possible, Truby talked about plagiarism in the film industry and joked, “Or if you’re French, you call it ‘homage’.”

If imitation is the finest form of flattery, Fillon must be feeling pretty chuffed right now. Or not, considering who it is coming from. If any doubt persisted over Le Pen’s ability to lead this country, it was vanquished during last night’s final debate between the two presidential candidates.

Almost everything she had to say was an outright, bullish attack on her opponent, and half of that she got wrong, mixing up examples and accusing Emmanuel Macron of being responsible for things that had happened before he took office. I found it interesting to note that she had a pile of folders and notes on the desk in front of her; he was paper free. Emmanuel knew his figures, Marine clearly did not.

I wasn’t going to talk about politics again this week, but merde!…there is just so much material.

We are off to England for a week of holidays on Sunday, but just to reassure you, it will not be before voting as soon as the polls open here in France. London is full of French expats, so we’re hoping to find a place to watch the election results in the evening. Any ideas?

After that, I’ll shut up about politics. I promise. And unlike certain politicians, I will keep my word. At least for a couple of weeks.


  1. Colin Bisset · May 4, 2017

    I’m glued to the French news every day here – and I’m not even French, let alone living in Europe! I lvoe seeing how Le Pen lets slip the monster when she is riled – the truth coming from within. Not sure if England is a good place to retreat but bonne chance with your trip!

    • MELewis · May 4, 2017

      Thanks, Colin! That monster was rather terrifyingly close to the surface during the debate. Someone must have told her to smile more, which actually made her even scarier. Especially as she switched back and forth between smiling and raging, which almost made her seem like some sort of evil villain out of Harry Potter. Not a retreat to England but it’s been awhile since I’ve been to London, which I love, and we are also visiting our daughter who is at U of Nottingham.

  2. davidprosser · May 4, 2017

    I hope if you do break your promise it will be to give your opinion on LePen’s losing the election. I’m sure it’s good for France even though it would have been entertaining seeing her try to convince France to leave the European Union.More fun than Brexit.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • MELewis · May 4, 2017

      Now that is the kind of wish that might make me break my promise! Merci, dear David, and massive hugs to you! xxx

  3. Parisbreakfast · May 4, 2017

    For all things French go to Bute Street off the Brompton road SW3. Full of Frenchie cafes, charcuteries, boucheries, papeteries, Fr book stores…known as ‘Little Paris’. The French lycee is nearby. The Saturday marché is trés French. Bound to be TVs going and a lot of bavarde…Underground-So.Ken Station
    J’ai croisé les doits..

    • MELewis · May 4, 2017

      Thanks a million for sharing this! We are actually staying nearby in Kensington, but had no idea about the proximity to the lycée and ‘Little Paris’. Really good to know! BTW – have followed your blog on Facebook for further inspirations!

  4. Osyth · May 4, 2017

    All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well …. please get it right this time, Sister Juliet of Norwich! ParisBreakfast is right – head for Bute Street for the celebrations for I continue to believe that France will not let me down as my own country and my husband’s adopted one did last year. Surely to whatever God you pray to, after that ‘performance’ last night she can’t have any credibility. And if you want a little peaceful, cultural and off the main tourist drag diversion on Sunday – head for Spencer House … London’s only privately owned palace ((Lord Rothschild bought it from the Spencer family some decades ago)) it is only open on a Sunday and it’s fine rooms are beautifully restored. I worked there (for one of Rothschild’s company’s) before I moved to France. It is tranquil and delightful and might just prove a soothing distraction. Hugs my soul sista. Heartfelt hugs.

    • MELewis · May 4, 2017

      ‘All shall be well’ sounds just like what I need to have playing through my head. Thanks for that, dear Osyth, and especially for the insider tip about Spencer House, which I would surely never have discovered otherwise. Looks like a stunning visit and will certainly help me to keep calm and carry on until we can hopefully raise a glass or two to our new president’s health! xx

  5. francetaste · May 4, 2017

    I’m biting my nails over it. I disagree with a lot of Macron’s program (I think it will be hard on those factory workers who aren’t going to be able to shift into high-tech jobs), but LePen doesn’t have a program beyond hatred. However, hate is easy to sell; policies are not. I would be horrified but not surprised if she wins.
    This is a region she won in the primary, and I hear lots of frustration about the economy and great distrust for the rich elites in Paris. People seem to realize that she will torpedo everything, including the economy. In fact, they almost welcome it, as if it can’t get worse for themselves, and at least the elites will hurt, too.

    • MELewis · May 4, 2017

      You are right – there is so much hate and anger in France against the so-called elites, and it explains the popularity of both the FN and Mélenchon. The thing is, though, Macron’s program addresses a reality that those factory workers (and others) will have to face. You can’t stop change, but you can adapt to it. That doesn’t meaning selling France down the river, there is a middle ground and for me Macron embodies it. Let’s hope enough people see sense to make a difference on Sunday.

  6. acflory · May 4, 2017

    Good luck! I know we’ll be watching from Australia too. 🙂

  7. zipfslaw1 · May 4, 2017

    While watching her say little that didn’t sound intended to make Macron lose his cool, I was struck by the contrast between her shit and the carryings-on of the Republican candidates for the nomination during their primaries in the US last year: as worthless as her contribution to the conversation was, it was smarter than most of what came out of the Republican candidates’ mouths. I am so sad for my fatherland, and I so hope that my motherland doesn’t fall into the same bottomless pit on Sunday…

    • MELewis · May 4, 2017

      I see your point – MLP has little substance in her proposals but she is far from stupid. I did not watch the US primary debates but presumably the presence of Trump only dumbed it down. It is indeed sad to see a country fallen so low, and I feel your pain, while hoping the results on Sunday allows us to remain proud of our adopted land.

  8. Mél@nie · May 4, 2017

    I watched le débat-délire last night… holy Molly(je reste polie!): la “Comédie Humaine” de Balzac is nothing compared to the current French politics and politicians… 😀 it was like: EM talks about his programme, does his best to explain it, but the hater & liar MLP talks about… him and brings over “alternative facts”(lies!)!!! HOW can lots of French could believe a word spoken(barked!) by this perverse narcissique, sarcastic, ironic, manipulatrice who would invert the roles?!… simply déplorable!!! she did have a hair problem: she would push her mèche from her forehead(front national!) every 2 minutes… 🙂
    * * *
    when I recall how the French laughed at the US-elections, made (sick) jokes about the wigged orange Donny, etc… I’d suggest they sweep in front of their gate or door – traduction très libre! 🙂

    • MELewis · May 4, 2017

      Lol. I didn’t really notice MLP’s bad hair day – the stream of poison coming out of her mouth must have distracted me! You make a good point about how the French (including myself!) felt somehow superior to our American cousins, yet now find themselves uncomfortably close to a similar situation. And as one of the political analysts commented, democracy in America is far more advanced than in France: if MLP somehow got through, the damage she could wreak would be far worse. Hoping for the best!

  9. Worried and disappointed at the display of hostilities. Won’t be getting much sleep here on this side of the world early Monday morning.

    • MELewis · May 4, 2017

      It is upsetting – I felt like you two weeks ago before the first round. But now feeling fairly confident the vote will go the right way. It should be a wake-up call, though. And the road ahead will surely be bumpy!

  10. Suzanne et Pierre · May 4, 2017

    I wasn’t able to watch the debate (as it was in the afternoon in Montreal and I had other commitments) but I saw extracts on the news and it did seem quite vicious. I know French can be forceful debater but this seems to go beyond anything I have ever seen while living in France. Le Monde commented that it seems impossible to debate with the extreme-right. I am certainly crossing fingers for Sunday but I can understand that people are a bit unhinge right now as they feel that their choices is limited between two very opposite options that seem to both have drawbacks. Certainly a difficult time for France right now…(Suzanne)

    • MELewis · May 4, 2017

      Unhinged is a good description, especially for those who seem to feel we need a revolution to reboot the country. As for extremists, whether political or religious, I fear it is impossible to debate properly as they are convinced of their cause regardless. It’s funny though, I didn’t find the debate all that violent (although lots of commentators share that view). Maybe I’m now used to the violence of French emotions when it comes to certain topics!

      • Suzanne et Pierre · May 4, 2017

        I have often found French debates to be quite heated but French people seem to be comfortable with it and they even reveled in it. Even though we are of French origin, Quebecois dislike strong debates with a passion; they are very uncomfortable with heated debate as they aim for consensus. We actually never truly learn the art of debating in school. As I didn’t watch the debate I don’t have a first-hand impression so I am glad to hear that maybe it wasn’t as vicious as the media are making it to be…Good luck for Sunday, I cross fingers that the results are what you wish for!

      • MELewis · May 4, 2017

        Thanks for your wishes, Suzanne. Interesting about the culture of consensus – it is the same in Switzerland.

  11. poshbirdy · May 4, 2017

    I hope that France can buck the current trend of backing hatred over true policy. Fingers, toes etc are crossed

    • MELewis · May 4, 2017

      Everything crossed, yes! I think there will be a lot of pretzel people on Sunday.

  12. I find her fascinating. In particular her ability to shamelessly talk about the “elite” when her father was able to loan her new(ish) micro-party 6 million euros for campaigning.

    • MELewis · May 5, 2017

      I think you found the key word for MLP: ‘shameless’ — it describes her behaviour on so many levels. Le Pen has tried to distance herself from her father but people are not fooled. The real danger will be if Marion M. Le Pen ever takes over – she is smarter, younger, prettier…and probably just as shameless.

  13. jackiemallon · May 9, 2017

    Well, I’m assuming you’ll have a nice holiday now. Vive la France for being a beacon of common sense in a nutty world. Long live the famous French sense of superiority. They’ve earned it! 🙂

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