Hit & Run: Sarko's sexercise class

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The Independent Online

Nothing diminishes a man's self-esteem more than a feeling of comparative sexual inadequacy. Phrases such as "had better" are likely to move even great men to madness. So sincere feelings of sympathé, empathé and fraternité go out to Nicolas Sarkozy. As we all know, even if we'd rather deny it, women never accept excuses. Not even if you're the President of France.

In fact, make that especially not if you're the President of France. Imagine the anxiety when the diminutive 53-year-old M. Sarkozy mulls over, in his crowded mind, the catalogue of the former lovers of his exquisite First Lady. Over the years she has dated the following inter alia: guitarist Louis Bertignac; Mick Jagger; film director Leo Carax; actors Charles Berling and Vincent Perez; and former French prime minister Laurent Fabius.

Carla must have had favourites. Any woman would. Perhaps Berling or Perez adopted one of their coarser roles as an axe-wielding villain. Maybe Jagger sang "Paint it Black" to her, or Eric Clapton whispered "Tears in Heaven" in her ear as they ascended to that very place. Maybe Fabius gossiped about Jacques Chirac. There are stranger fetishes, you know.

In such circumstances, a man is faced with two options. He can collapse inwardly in an orgy of self-doubt, and so only fortify the impediments to his sexual success. Or he can take immediate, decisive action to destroy those obstacles. The former implies switching off from the possibility of arousal; the latter means waking up to it. M. Sarkozy, influenced no doubt by a nagging sense of public service, took the latter path.

What's more, he created a job for a beautiful woman. What a guy. With deep brown eyes, sharp nose, thrusting lips, and delicate, feathered hair, Julie Imperiali, M. Sarkozy's personal trainer, seems the very embodiment of an effeminate and a noble Gallic tradition. Renowned in Paris for the rigour of her regimes, the 26-year-old has been charged with expanding her empire into the French President's trousers.

A little disconcertingly, she refers to her modus operandi as "the Tectonic method" (did the earth move for you, darling?) Two or three times a week, the twice-divorced M. Sarkozy runs and stretches for an hour, often in the lush gardens behind the Elysée palace walls. The aim is to strengthen the perineal muscles of the pelvic floor (you'll forgive me if I don't go into anatomical detail – my mother may be reading this).

"Sexual relations are better if the male perineum is in good shape," the former dancer and gymnast revealed. "The problems of premature ejaculation are often due to the perineum." The full details of this extraordinary transaction are best left between Carla, Nicolas and Mme Imperiali, but the technique would appear to be achieving results: M. Sarkozy has lost almost 4kg (8.8lb) and two trouser sizes since last March.

This is sexercise, the French way. Whether or not it enhances the nocturnal proficiency of France's head of state may be revealed only in the memoirs M. Sarkozy will one day produce. Clearly, I have limited experience of these matters. But there is an instinct in every mediocre man that will applaud M. Sarkozy's decisiveness. He won't take it lying down. Or maybe he will.

Amol Rajan

Tony Hart would have wanted it this way

Creative, flexible and a fetching shade of terracotta, Morph was my childhood TV hero, and one of my favourite Christmas presents last year was a DIY Morph set. Appearing in art programmes for more than 20 years, the Plasticine chap provided a mischievous counterpoint to the late, great Tony Hart's cutting, sticking and painting. Now, fans of Hart are lobbying to have a commemorative statue of Morph erected in the artist's home town of Maidstone. As an old Maidstonian, I'm thrilled that my childhood idol could be a permanent fixture there; may I suggest a spot by the river Medway?

Rebecca Armstrong

So, real men don't drink bloke Coke

After a hard day's heroism, a man needs a refreshing drink. But no calories. And no girly words like 'Diet' in the name. So Coke Zero was born. Zero sugar. 100 per cent ruggedness. That wasn't the slogan, but it might as well have been. Still, it's hardly been a runaway success. The drink – which took Britain by damp squib in 2006 – ended 2008 with a market share of 3.2 per cent, compared with Diet Coke's 25.8 per cent. And that's after spending £17m on marketing. Is it game over for bloke Coke?

Oliver Wright

The worm that wriggled its way into Windows

Some experts call it Conficker. Some call it Downadup, some call it Kido. But if your Windows PC has been affected by this highly infectious worm, you probably don't care what it's called – in the same way that heartburn sufferers aren't bothered about the spelling of "gastro-oesophageal reflux". What you're more interested in is how it got there, and how to get rid of it.

The worm spreads via a Windows vulnerability that occurred via an auto-update from Microsoft back in October – but it's estimated that 30 per cent of PCs are unprotected. (If you're not sure, you can download a patch at bit.ly/removal). Computers on large networks are particularly at risk – hence the outbreak at the MoD and hospitals in Sheffield – because the worm uses password guessing techniques to replicate itself across machines and on to USB sticks.

What does the worm do? As yet, nothing. If your PC has it, you won't even notice. But with an estimated 9 million machines under the theoretical control of hackers, it's potentially the largest botnet – AKA an autonomous bit of software – ever created; this could be used for identity theft, to send spam, or to mount an attack on corporate machines. According to Graham Cluley at security experts Sophos, there are two possibilities: either the hackers are waiting for the optimum moment to strike, or they've been so spooked by the magnitude of their success, so terrified of the power they've unexpectedly been handed, that they're simply too scared to use it. Let's hope it's the latter.

Rhodri Marsden

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