Union Jacques

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The Independent Online
Union Jacques

PRESIDENT Chirac? How did he get dragged into this? I don't know - the thing is he just keeps reminding us of a penguin; and half-way through a few remarks about ducks on ice, suddenly there he is. Certainly though, as befits a president of France, he's a penguin of the highest possible dignity - an emperor, or at least a king.

Consider the splendid suiting, the serene shirt-front, the incomparable tie-knot. Note the coolly lofted eyebrows and the little oeuf atomique, which like all good male penguins, he suddenly and regally hatches without warning.

As our Paris correspondent wrote on Tuesday: "Throughout his trip to the United States this week, Mr Chirac is presenting himself not just as leader of France but also of Europe."

To judge from the disgraceful response of the Foreign Office last week to the French announcement of renewed nuclear testing, (alone in all the world, Whitehall had "no problem" with the plan), the supple-waisted gentlemen who run our foreign policy are only too eager to acknowledge Paris as the dominant partner in the new Anglo-French military entente.