14th May 2017

Here's the new golden boy in France. Certainly better-looking and younger than all his predecessors. Result: Brussels much relieved, London anxious. Even Tony Blair has tried to get in on the act by writing to the new boy with Blairite 'words of wisdom', urging him to forget French bureaucracy - famous for keeping the status quo but hopeless for ever changing or modernising anything! Be bold, says Blair. Yes, well, look where that led him. So what has young Emmanuel got that has superseded everyone else? Well, he was known for juggling a high-stress job with tennis and cycling as well as being a prize-winning pianist with a Masters in philosophy. He's associated with French philosopher Ricoeur and Jacques Atali, who first arranged for Macron to join Hollande's cabinet. Atali was so impressed with him that he declared his young protege 'the stuff of presidents'. Well done Jacques - prescient indeed. Meantime, back in our rural gite, we visited the local historic Mining village. All went well until someone handed out miners' helmets and hair nets before ushering us all into a tiny, unlit, ancient miners' lift descending into the bowels of the earth. Did I go in? What do you think? I ran like hell, discarding helmet and net toute suite. Like the new golden boy in France, I never was one for underground movements.

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