We've been won over by the Gallic sex god

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The Independent Online

Was there not something un peu bizarre about the photos of Pierre-Yves Gerbeau in the papers yesterday? The beaming EuroDisney loon was surrounded by five Ministry of Sound lovelies in plunging scarlet frocks as he revealed his plans to put the Dome project to rest on 31 December with a 15,000-strong rave in the surrounding buildings. Staging the party will not cost the New Millennium Experience Company a cent, as he pointed out. Nor will it make a penny out of it. Not that that is altogether a new experience.

Was there not something un peu bizarre about the photos of Pierre-Yves Gerbeau in the papers yesterday? The beaming EuroDisney loon was surrounded by five Ministry of Sound lovelies in plunging scarlet frocks as he revealed his plans to put the Dome project to rest on 31 December with a 15,000-strong rave in the surrounding buildings. Staging the party will not cost the New Millennium Experience Company a cent, as he pointed out. Nor will it make a penny out of it. Not that that is altogether a new experience.

But my eye kept being drawn back from the details of this Stygian nightmare to the image of M Gerbeau himself. How pleased he looks. How radiant, how content. He bears the smile of a man who has done a job well, has reaped his true reward and is entitled to his place on the sofa of lurve.

So, do we all love him now? I detect a murmur in the air that P-YG is becoming better liked for having defied his political masters, who wanted to switch off the Dome lights at 6pm on New Year's Eve and steal quietly away. Gerbeau's determination to go out with a 12-hour bang is a sweet, desperate echo of the gung-ho spirit that launched the Dome project in the first place.

But what did he do? He came into this horror movie halfway through, when all the big decisions had been made. He slashed prices. He cut the queues. He improved the signs so you could now clearly tell what new classroom display of half-witted, bien-pensant environmentally friendly Euro-bollocks you were going to be entranced by next. He established the Free Day Out. He was, by all accounts, very good to the staff, even helping them to find jobs after 1 January. He discussed, or began to discuss, the possibility of turning the middle section of the Dome into a football stadium, and of hosting Miss World there.

Oh, and he organised a shouting competition, which was won, surprisingly, by a classroom assistant from Kent rather than an Opposition MP baying for Lord Falconer's resignation. That's it, I think. The rest of the time Mr Gerbeau has been a sweetly-grinning cipher, a head-scratching Stan Laurel trying to run the Burning Fiery Furnace. He reminds me of that French viellarde in the French Revolution who went on knitting grimly away beside the guillotine as blood flowed, political heads rolled past her uncaring gaze, the aristocracy crumbled and rebellion howled before her. Gerbeau has rearranged the deckchairs on this very British Titanic, but he could do nothing about the gaping hole in its side, namely, the NMEC's complete failure of imagination about what the Dome should have had in it; about what people might actually have wanted to see.

British people love the little guy, the chap facing impossible odds, the underdog, the Eddie the Eagle, the Eric the Eel, the smilingly hopeless one-trick pony. So they will wish Pierre-Yves well in his new job which, some say, is to be chief executive of Madame Tussauds. His ordinary working day will bring him into constant contact with dead people, waxwork figures, dummies, forgotten politicians from days of yore, staged battles, and an awful lot of tourists wondering when they're going to see something amusing. He should feel right at home.

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