French nudists, furious librarians and twin commissioners
Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.
How do you make a Frenchman angry? Tell him to put his clothes back on.
Yes, it’s been a tough few days for French nudists. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin was forced to intervene following an incident on the beach at Sainte-Marie la Mer, close to Perpignan in southwest France, when three women who were bathing topless were asked to cover up by police after complaints from a family with children.
“Freedom is a precious commodity,” said a (probably) topless Darmanin.
Nudists fearful that they might be, er, stripped of their rights have more to worry about. Health authorities said there had been a “very worrying” outbreak of the coronavirus at a naturist holiday resort on the Mediterranean coast, with around 150 people testing positive.
The authorities said 95 people staying at the Cap d’Agde Naturist Village, south of Montpellier, were found to have COVID-19, while a further 50 who had been at the resort tested positive on their return home.
Known as “Naked City,” Cap d’Agde is the world’s largest clothing-optional beach resort and visitors have now been told that they must wear a face mask, if nothing else.
And if it really is “Naked City” then there are certain jobs it must be very hard (if you’ll pardon the pun) to fill: butcher, rugby player and barbeque chef, to name but three.
It wasn’t the first time nudists have been in trouble during the coronavirus pandemic. In March, police in the Czech Republic issued a warning after complaints about maskless naturists enjoying warm weather in the small town of Lázně Bohdaneč, east of Prague. And in May, authorities in the Belgian region of Bredene announced the closure of the country’s only nudist beach for the whole summer.
But if there’s one group even angrier than fully clothed French people, then it’s librarians.
When Boris Johnson gave a speech at a school on Wednesday — during which he tried to blame England’s recent exam chaos on a “mutant algorithm” — the librarians were ready for him. On the bookshelves behind the prime minister were some strategically placed books with rather unflattering titles, including “Betrayed,” “The Resistance,” “Fahrenheit 451” (a dystopian novel about a society in which books are banned), “Guards! Guards!” (about a secret brotherhood that attempts to overthrow a corrupt patrician and install a puppet king), and “The Twits.”
Alas, there don’t seem to have been any copies of Johnson’s hilariously bad 2004 novel “Seventy-Two Virgins — A Comedy of Errors.” That would have been too cruel.
However, the display apparently wasn’t intended for Johnson, but for school management. “I actually feel a little bit sorry for the prime minister because it wasn’t ever intended for him — I did it as a message for the school management before I left in February,” the now-former school librarian told the Huffington Post.
Speaking of trolling, Irish singing twin weirdos Jedward were quick off the mark when fellow Irishman Phil Hogan resigned as European trade commissioner, tweeting a picture of them standing behind an EU flag lectern. Two days earlier, Jedward had tweeted “We have more EU connections than some people! We did do Eurovision twice!” and got a ‘like’ from Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The heavily gelled singing twins have already made it clear that they don’t play golf, so maybe they have a chance at the Commission job.
“The remake of The Karate Kid looks rubbish.”
Last week we gave you this photo:
Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).
“OK, you left me with no choice … karaoke!” by Giovanni Cellini.
Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.