DERNIER MOT - WOMAN POWER
The goings on in the outside world don't normally affect life in Moisson. Fads come and go un-noticed; Parisian scandals and political crises are accorded scant attention by the gossips round the fountain. But suddenly everyone is gripped by the Sarko/Ségo saga: will the next president of France be male or female?
There's a fair amount of head shaking on the subject. A woman governing La France? Is such a thing possible? Is such a thing desirable? What would a female president mean for France?
A large minority in the village is muttering about the Green Party, and we all know that at least two households always vote for the National Front.
"He could get in. Why not?" mutters Gerard. "At least he don't wear skirts."
"No chance," scoffs Marie-France. "Voters got their fingers burnt last time, but they won't do it again. You mark my words, once the first round of voting is over, it'll come down to Nicolas and Ségolène."
"And why not a woman?" asks Eglantine. "I bet she does a better job than all these men who've left France in such a bad state!"
"But is she the best candidate?" asks Jean-Marie.
"She's not married!" says Gerard.
"So? Neither are you!" cackles Eglantine. "And she's prettier than you are..."
"Probably smarter, too!" says Marie-France. "It's time we had a woman in charge. Show these men how to run the country."
The friendly bickering rolls on. The arguments are familiar - men are political heavyweights, women are touchy-feely; men are stupid, women are smart and vice-versa.
Ségolène Royal seems to score extra points for retaining her figure whilst being the mother of four children. Nicolas Sarkozy on the other hand appears to lose points for patching up his marriage - perceived as a cynical move aimed at firming up his presidential bid.
"His eyebrows!" says Eglantine. "Too bizarre!"
"He's a real toughie," says Jean-Marie. "The Americans won't get the better of him."
"We don't need tough. We need smart. Royal is tougher than she looks. That's the point. Look charming, be tough underneath."
"Women aren't tough!"
"Ha!" shouts Eglantine. "You're only saying that because your wife's gone shopping. When she gets back you'll jump into line fast enough."
Everyone chortles, remembering the fête last summer. (Poor Jean-Marie made the fatal mistake of buying a second drink for a woman in a low-cut top and his redoubtable wife Gwendoline sent him home in public disgrace.) Jean-Marie goes bright red.
"Did someone mention my name?" says his wife, appearing suddenly. She's a tiny perfect doll of a woman in beautiful jeans and kitten heels.
"Not unless you're running for the Presidency," says Eglantine.
"Not this time," says Gwendoline austerely. "I've got better things to do than mess about having dinners at Booking-Am Palais. The posters for the May Day apéros at the Mairie have been distributed with the wrong date on them."
The struggle for the French Presidency is instantly forgotten. Confusion about a Moisson booze-up with free pastis and bacon-flavour crisps is seriously bad news. What if people turn up on the wrong day? What if people miss out on the free cocktail snacks, or (gulp) the Maire's speech?
"But luckily the mistake has been noticed in time," continues Gwendoline. "So Jean-Marie will drive around the commune this afternoon and replace all the old posters with the news ones that I printed off this morning."
"Yes dear," croaks Jean-Marie.
Behind his back, Eglantine cracks up. "They're wasting their time with these elections," she gasps. "Madame La Présidente is already here, living in Moisson!"
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