The French have hot rabbits, we get old goats – Le Times britannique , le 17mai, 2011
Dominique Strauss-Kahn Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP
Robert Crampton (The Times)
May 17 2011 12:01AM
Say what you like about the Dominique Strauss-Kahn business but was he
really paying $3,000 a night for his suite?
Whatever the precise truth of what happened in the New York hotel room, what
is not in doubt is that the French head of the International Monetary Fund,
Dominique Strauss-Kahn is known as a great seducer. Which hardly makes him
unusual in a country requiring a specialist term — un chaud lapin — for a
male politician incapable of keeping it zipped. Significant, surely, that
such a species is common enough across the Channel to have its own name?
The British equivalent of “disgusting old goat” has to do service across many
Un chaud lapin, in English, means a hot rabbit. Something lost in
translation there, I think. I don’t know many women who are sexually
attracted to rabbits. Hot, cold, lukewarm, whatever.
Another fascinating aspect of this drama is that the New York branch of
Sofitel charges $3,000 (£1,800) a night for a suite. No disrespect to
Sofitel, but I stayed in its Paris establishment not long ago and it was
fine but not $3,000 a night fine, not even, to be fair, $300 a night fine. I
didn’t have a suite, admittedly, but I can’t imagine even the suites in
midtown Manhattan are so palatial as to justify costing ten times what I
paid in Paris.
No chocolate on the pillow, no end of the bog roll folded into a little
triangle, no complimentary flip-flops, nothing. Is it possible that, as he
emerged from the bathroom, the man in charge of telling debtor countries
they have to provide value for money was feeling a bit short-changed?
I am also intrigued to learn that the traditional cinq à sept, the two-hour
window when the whole of France comes to a standstill to pursue the national
sport of adultery, has recently migrated to deux à quatre instead. This
shift represents one of the few French concessions to the hectic pace of
It used to be you could knock off work shortly before five in order to knock
off another chap’s wife shortly afterwards, then home for tea with your own
wife, who had, of course, been busy entertaining another woman’s husband in
the meantime. Longer working hours, however, mean that the late afternoon
adultery slot has had to be moved to earlier in the day. The knock-on effect
of that has been the truncation of the traditionally long lazy Gallic lunch.
To summarise, the typical French working day has now shifted from the
pattern of “work — five-course lunch — work — adultery — home” to the more
streamlined model “work — three-course lunch — adultery — back to work —
then home”. Thus does today’s cut-throat globalised economy erode sacred
The other eye-opening claim was that Strauss-Kahn has (or rather, I suspect,
had) an arrangement with Air France whereby he could hop on any of its
flights, first class, without the need to go through that tiresome booking
procedure. Nice. No doubt on the rare occasions La Premטre was fully
booked, the world’s leading banker was only too happy to squeeze in with the
stewardesses in the galley.