How the President of France Became My Penpal
Did you know that Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, is my penpal?
Probably not. I don’t think he does either.
Yesterday, I sent a letter to him and it’s a masterpiece. It’s probably going to fix Brexit.
I even put three second class stamps on it, so if you don’t see him this weekend, it’s because he’s working on his response.
It’s such a great story that I had to share it.
Get ready for an epic episodic tale of brotherly love, political espionage & learning French.
I’d wager you’ll enjoy this even more than the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Even that bit when the train crashes and all those people’s face’s start melting.
Here’s how it happened.
How I Started To Feel Like French Toast
Imagine you’re French toast. Damp, sticky and filled with intrigue – at least when I make it.
That’s how I felt at the start of this adventure.
Despite achieving a commendable C in GCSE French, today, I can’t hold a conversation in the language.
You’re spitting your coffee out right now, aren’t you? Exclaiming, ‘Why’s that a problem?!‘
And you’re right.
If you’re English it’s your birth right to assume that everyone else can speak your language.
However, I had a predicament.
You see, at least four of my friends are French and sometimes they speak French to each other (for those who doubt I have four friends, they’re called Jean-Pierre, Jean-Claude, Jean-Renault and Jean-Bic).
While I’m pretty sure I know what they’re saying, I don’t.
I’ve worked out that it’s one of these three subjects, but I need to know which one:
- Who fancies me the most
- How they’re not as handsome or successful as me
- What they’re having for lunch at the studio burger van. Probably breaking the fourth wall in French, while picking apart my lead role in the half-scripted reality tv show, Ultra Warrior (have you seen my abs?)
I’d quite like to know what they’re talking about. If it’s no.3, I’d be really interested in whether I have a clothing line of oversized print t-shirts. If I do, maybe I will make rent this month.
How I Paid To Learn French
When I had a job, I was enrolled on a French course for children at the Institut Français du Royaume Uni in South Kensington.
It was great, except everyone else in the class was twelve. They weren’t from England and they were much better at French than I. English too.
However, despite these formidable challenges, I made a lot of progress on the course.
I learned great phrases like, ‘tu est mon petit chou,’ which is how all students should address their teachers. I also learned that ‘why’ is pronounced ‘i-grec’.
But at £340 a term, after reneging on my job, I didn’t have the cash to start Baby-French-Plus.
Yet I needed to learn more.
You see, after the course there was only one verb that I understood: ‘manger,’ to eat.
Je mange une orange
Je mange un ordinateur
Je mange un petit chat
Je mange la rue
You get the idea.
It was the linguistic equivalent to being a one year old.
I was unable to do anything except stick things in my mouth.
How To Master French For Free
No one gives out baguettes or visits to Élysée Palace for free. So I’ve had to devise my own ingenious strategies to master the French language with limited resources.
It’s a pretty great three pronged strategy:
- Point at something, then ask your French girlfriend what it is in French. Ignore her response. Repeat
- Repeat the same lesson on Duolingo again and again and again (yes, I am calm & rich)
- Trick a very important French person into becoming your pen-pal so you can move to Paris and fully immerse yourself in the language. Finally, I’ll have that column in Le Monde. It’s the only thing that’s going to raise my Grandfather, the great Francophobe, from the grave.
So that’s it! This is point three of my master plan to learn French for free.
Why Write To President Macron?
In France, there aren’t any monarchs. They got rid of them during that revolution. According to Napoleon, that makes the president the king. Writing to a king is WAY better than writing to someone in jail.
Also, President Macron fits a lot of important pen pal criteria:
- He can speak French at least as well as I can
- French people hate him, so he doesn’t have many friends
- We have a lot of common interests. He’s advising the EU on Brexit, and he like I would like to watch the UK burn
- He has to reply, because he’s a public servant
- He wants letters. Check it out. This website says that if you’re interested in current events & would like to share your thoughts you SHOULD write to President Macron. So he kind of had this coming
He’s the best person I could have written to.
A Breakfast of Champions
But what could I write to him want to be my new bosom?
Inexperienced at friendship, I figured it was probably like life. Everyone’s always saying that you should start things with the most important meal of the day – breakfast. So why not start there?
I was in luck too! At this stage I knew how to say most things about breakfast in French.
That’s why my first letter to President Macron begins with our favourite meal of the day:
Read on. It’s delish!
Coucou President Macron #1 – The Breakfast of Champions
Cou Cou Presidente Macron
Le petit déjeuner des champions
Je suis Henry, et je suis anglais. J’ai trente ans, et je ne travaille pas parce que je n’ai pas le droit de traverser la route. C’est trop dangereux !
En ce moment, j’apprends le français, et je pense que j’ai besoin d’un ami de crayon! Un correspondant et un ami très important !
Vous connaissez beaucoup de politique et moi aussi! Et je pense que vous avez besoin d’un ami de crayon aussi pour vous aider avec le Brexit et pour les affaires domestiques des français !
Toutes mes félicitations ! Je suis votre nouvel ami de crayon !
Parce que nous sommes amis maintenant, je vais écrire “tu” et non “vous”.
Comme toutes les belles amitiés commencent avec le petit déjeuner!
Maintenant, le petit déjeuner des champions commence avec Henry (moi) et toi (Président Macron)!
Je te promets que ça sera savoureux, très intéressant et délicieux.
En général, je mange un petit déjeuner traditionnel ! En anglais, ça s’appelle “English Breakfast” !.
Dans le “English Breakfast” il y a deux saucisses, un œuf, des haricots de fuer, trois tranches de bacon, du pain frit, une tomate de frite et des champignons! C’est parfait, parce que les champignons sont pour les champions !
Mais, aujourd’hui je n’ai pas mangé de petit déjeuner traditionnel, parce que nous prenons le petit déjeuner ensemble et nous ne mangeons pas la nourriture ! Nous mangeons de bonnes idées !
Et toi ? En France, quel est le petit déjeuner traditionnel ? Je pense que c’est différent.
Je sais que tu parles avec le Premier Ministre du Royaume-Uni sur les achats préférés de la population. Et tu veux le meilleur prix ! Je sais qu’il adore manger du cochon. Tu dois lui dire, “Les cochons français sont bien meilleurs que les cochons anglais !”
Ces informations sont très utiles pour ta discussion sur le Brexit !
Hier, j’ai lu que les photographies de la police étaient interdites. Pourquoi ? Est-ce qu’ils sont très moches ? Je sais que les gens très moches gâchent les photographies, mais ils doivent se sentir très mal maintenant.
Peux-tu les prendre en photo pour moi et me les envoyer ? Je vais à savoir si c’est trop mauvais !
Quel super petit-déjeuner ! Je suis très content que nous soyons amis. Passe-moi le jus d’orange s’il te plaît !
Ecris-moi vite !
Henry (ton ami préféré)
What I Think It Says
It’s a masterpiece, isn’t it?
For everyone who can’t speak French as well as I can, here’s what I *think* it says:
To break the ice, I begin with a lighthearted joke about how I don’t have a job because crossing the road is dangerous. Now Emma’s warmed up, he’s now ready to hear about the exceptional political expertise I have to offer him.
I’m confident that we’re going to be friends, so after introductions, I drop the formality and start using ‘tu’ instead of ‘vous’.
Next, I explain the complexities of British culinary habits and how a deep understanding of them can and will improve Brexit deal outcomes for everyone.
Ever the caring friend, I invite him to tell me what the French people usually eat for breakfast, even though I already know it’s nesquik.
I then engage him directly on the Assemblée Nationale’s lower chamber’s recent passage of the Global Security Bill, which proposes to circumvent journalist’s ability to publish photographs of policemen and women online. Now, I’m worried that this wasn’t his decision, as he’s French and loves liberty. I assume because of this, he must have been kidnapped by someone who didn’t want their photograph taking. So, I help him alert me of his captor with a clever ploy – I invite him to send me a picture of them, in confidence.
Finally, I congratulate him on a superb breakfast and implore him to write back soon.
I have every confidence that he will.
The Exciting Next Episode of Coucou President Macron
Next week we’re going to take an imaginary trip to the countryside for a relaxed weekend.
We might also talk about why French cockerals say such stupid things.
I can’t wait. Can you?
What would you do if President Macron was your penpal? Stop dreaming. He’s mine.
Still, this week I learned that it costs the same amount of money to send a letter from the United Kingdom to France, as it does to send it to Azerbaijan.
Incredible. Maybe you can find someone to talk to there.