Sunday, 26 January 2014

As I head toward the end (it's in sight!) I have to ask you both - what did you think of his choice of having Valery Giscard D'estaing, at the time the real President of France, appear as a character?  It kind of caught me off guard - and why does he speak in fluent oil industry expertise?  (answer:  because everyone else does!).


  1. And Rohmer describes him like Richard Lionheart at the end of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves-- bathed in a circle of light. (Or Ralph Richardson as God at the end of Time Bandits. Or JC himself, in our own bright future, returned to judge the living and the dead.) And then he does... not much, really. More disturbing question: Why do oil men love pipelines "like they have hair around them"? And why is this joke good enough to repeat, and for other characters to go, "oh ha-ha he-he, that's a hot one!"?

  2. I wondered about that joke - did I miss something growing up in the 70s? Was it a common joke? And do I really get it? I'm not sure.

    I loved that entrance where Giscard-D'Estaing is led in and we're supposed to be in awe. It reminded me of that Bugs Bunny scene at the opera where Bugs is dressed like Leopold Stokowski and everyone is whispering "Leopold!!" because the great man has arrived.

    And - I'm sorry, but I saw the graphic of St-Pierre and Miquelon because it's conveniently included in the book - but how could he "surpise" them with his arrival. I guess both the US and Canadian secret service didn't notice his plane landing at one of the only 2 airstrips on the island.

  3. Save Richard Nixon, no real politician, past or present, is so much as mentioned in Ultimatum. Porter says all sorts of stuff about his predecessors' failings, but won't name names.Then, jarringly, as Exxoneration hits the mid-point, "enormously successful President of France" Valéry Giscard d'Estaing appears - literally between the fictional prime minister and fictional president. Good thing, too. The man's a godsend, invoking goodwill and [k]nowing smiles" about St-Pierre and Miquelon (and, perhaps hair around pipelines).

    The French president would've just been elected to the office when Exxoneration went to press. The 1980 re-election campaign he's about to begin in the novel ended in defeat… but only in reality.

  4. Is the "hair around it" joke dirty? Is this a joke only vets get? Because otherwise Rohmer is pretty clean. (Setting aside the inuit and that hook up at the Royal York.) Remember in Men's Action, there were ads for fake fur you could put around the ignition key hole in your car? Was that dirty? The ads said, "Put Fur Around It!" Like it was ribald, you betcha. You know what would be fun? The chapter that ends in the hotel room with whatshername telling the bore, "stay with me" should be followed by that drawing of the rocket.