Je Suis Desolé
Mike has kindly pointed out that it was Chirac not Mitterand that the Queen entertained at Windsor to celebrate the Entente Cordiale. It's always difficult to distinguish between these Frenchmen with their Gallic shrugs, garlic breath and white-tipped Gauloises. However, the clue I missed in this case was that Mitterand is dead and knocking back Pernod and singing je ne regrette rien in some ethereal bistro.
In case anyone thinks the above remarks are un peu 'racist', I should say that when I worked for and with the French we hurled these kind of comments at each other all day long without anyone taking offence.
"It's bad enough that we had to win the war for you without me answering your phone", I would say. "Fucking roast beef!" they would shout back. This ability to tease each other in a good humoured way endeared me to the French as did their ability to laugh at themselves as much as the English do. And I have to say that the constant histrionics and tantrums made a French workplace much more fun than the repressed emotions and silent back-stabbing of an English office.
As mentioned in the Windsor Castle TV programme, when Chirac attended the State Banquet at Windsor Castle, the Waterloo Room was re-named the Music Room for the evening. By coincidence, I was reading a book at the time which revealed that when Victoria and Albert entertained Napoleon III at Windsor the Waterloo Room was also temporarily renamed - on that occasion they called it the Portrait Gallery. However, on that occasion, instead of importing a West End musical to the Castle, Victoria whisked him off to a performance of Fidelio. She recorded in her diary her glee that, just as they were about to set off, the Emperor upset a cup of coffee over his cocked hat. Presumably, if his cocked hat hadn't been in his lap he would have spilt it over his cock which would have amused the Queen even more.
Oh dear, I've managed to squeeze a cock joke out of a serious piece of historical trivia. What am I like?
I've decided that the expression 'God love him' is even more sickeningly patronising than the ubiquitous 'Bless!'
If I catch anyone saying 'Ah, God love him' about me I shall tie them to the Blarney Stone and beat their brains out with a shillelagh.