Simon Carr:

The Sketch: There's one thing we can teach the French: 'results-based' rhetoric

Related Topics

There is no word for "grandeur" in English. That's what we're up against over here. They have Versailles, we have Buckingham Palace. They have the Louvre, we have the National Gallery. They have the Elysée Palace, we have Downing Street. They have Christine Lagarde, we have (to cheat a bit) Vince Cable.

How glamorous they are. How well dressed. How little afflicted they are with our level of national self-esteem. Their history is a narrative of gloire – an amazing achievement, considering their history.

Here we are at the Elysée Palace waiting for our Prime Minister to meet their President. Yes, we just have a PM and they have a head of state. And he's another Nick. They're everywhere you look, Nicks, if you're David Cameron.

It's cosy for a palace. Nice little courtyard. Handy for the shops across the road. And if you walk out through the gates, the police stop the traffic for you. Mind you, you may have to be a sketch writer.

Never mind that. The two principals came in to the post-prandial press conference and Sarkozy started talking. The palace didn't supply simultaneous translations so we had to deduce what the President was saying. I got the impression they were going to work together on things. They'd had a nice dinner and – you know the rest. He doesn't half talk. Amazing how he goes on. That doesn't make it easy for his guest.

Cameron definitely needs to work on his listening-at-the-lecturn technique. The earpiece creates problems. It puts the voice directly into the brain, like a hypnotist's. Suddenly he was gone. His face assumed a transcendental expression. I've seen women look like that when I'm explaining the optimal rate of tax in a western economy.

On and on Sarkozy went. Pausing. Taking in the room with his continental eyes. Gesturing explosively. Dave was drifting. There was another look now, that mescalin look when suddenly it's like, the colours in the room are actually humming along in different frequencies...

He woke up because suddenly it was his turn. Without simultaneous translation I had to deduce what he was saying. It seemed that they were going to work together. They were going to... work together, yes. I caught the words "results-based". It's another phrase for which there is no French translation.

And then questions. English journalists first, the President insisted. Nick Robinson (Nick! Nick! Nick! Is it a code?) reminded Sarkozy he'd "loved" Gordon Brown, and what did he now feel about David Cameron?

Sarkozy thanked him for his "frankness" (French laughter). And he smiled as he said, "English journalists!" (More French laughter.) Blimey, we can be a lot franker than that. Adam Boulton's first question to Cameron was, essentially: "When are you going to resign?"

So, anyway, David Cameron. He must be playing himself in. He's not what you call fully formed, with his earpiece and the psychedelic look.

And yet, as we know, he's the only European leader who's had direct personal experience of his national currency being gangbanged by short sellers. He must have something to say to these people. Counsel, caution, comfort, constructive panic. Any of the above. But for the time being we must have, it seems, "results-based" rhetoric instead.

Cameron in France...

David Cameron stuck closely to his notes during his first speech abroad as Prime Minister. Scribbled blue pen marks reflected the emphasis he gave to a "partnership with a real purpose".

Mr Cameron also mentioned Nicolas Sarkozy's state visit to Britain next month on the 70th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's radio address from London to occupied France.

He said he was looking forward to "[Mr Sarkozy] coming with his wife". Just how much he was looking forward to it can be seen by the fact that the name "Carla" is underlined three times. Mr Sarkozy, who had not smiled until then, noticeably relaxed and beamed.

Gèneviève Roberts

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal  

What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson?

Memphis Barker
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits