June 14th, 2004


France Won

By day, it's 'zik - a mix of hip-hop/RnB videos and the chance to text message other watchers. I don't quite get the (that's a definite wrong tattoo to have on your body, dog-lord) meaning of some of them, but it's all pick up lines. Maybe this is how they generate their revenue, maybe some are made up by some program to get you to respond (.35€+Prix du SMS). By night, the station become the adult channel XXL. I quite enjoyed Emmanuelle 3, in part for its Gainsbourg soundtrack, but because the series was always marketed on its sexual content, which was minimal compared to what they showed later, and an intriguing museum piece. There was however some story to hang the music on. I can't say Desert Camp Sex Exchange [you can find a link yourself if you really want]... will go down as a landmark in the history of prøn. It didn't live up to its Carry On style title. So, no "oooh, I've got some sand stuck in my winkle" etc. It obeyed the established rules and, as I've written before, I'm intrigued (or rather dimayed) about the infiltration of hardcore into contemporary sexual etiquette, particularly for budding teenagers, since it's not a challenge to see such material anymore. Here are some of these said rules:

1. Women are not capable of making men come. Only men are capable of making men come. Ejaculation may only occur through the man jerking himself off. Then it's game over.
2. Women either do not climax (what a ridiculous word) OR they are in a perpetual state of climax. It's hard to tell. However, they do very quickly reach an highly aroused state that will continue until such time that the man decides he'd rather play with himself and even then it doesn't stop.
3. There's only so much you can do sexually without developing repetitive strain injury if you have no imagination. I'm not talking about the audience.
4. Shave it off.
5. No kissing.

For some reason, the film was set in Israel [it turns out they are supposedly art students on an exchange]. Now I'm not sure what the Holy Land had done to be the location for this festival of hardsnore (well, okay, I can, but that's not really addressing the Palestinian issue in the way I'd expected), but with the sound down (flicking between Audrey Hepburn being blind - Cronenburg's Spider - CNN - some French chat shows) it was curiously annoying. Now, I wouldn't pretend it wasn't vaguely arousing. No, but vaguely is the word. But everyone looked vague as well. I kept reminded of those electric prods used to tickle a bull's prostate - an action I'd recommend for any women tired of men who insist on pulling themselves off in front of you and then slapping their wet dicks against your face. Charmed, I'm sure.

On one of the other channels, they were showing Sex and Lucia, which actually looked better than I expected. Well, any sexual activity would look more natural after Death Camp Sex Desert and it did. But I didn't believe that she was really alone. No, hang on, I did. I just didn't believe that men got picked up by intriguing women like that in late night cafés. That stuff only happens in films. I've spent too long hanging out in such places and it's pretty much staring into your tea cup. Both the chair and the negative are wearing thin. I'll get to look at the sea later today. Ah, there's Pierrot...

Now that the UK broadsheets are gradually downsizing to the tabloid format, the idea of a quality tabloid isn't so bizarre. The paper I've always read when in France is, natch, Libération. I like the layout, the typeface, the articles, etc. Not sure if a Lib reader is the same as a Guardian one, but I assume that it has the same progressive metropolitan stance. I think it might be a bit more left. Anyway, the front of today's edition (Vendredi Juin 11) is a picture of Ray Charles: "No More Ray: Ray Charles, le père de la soul music, est mort à Los Angeles à 73 ans". So they're getting their priorities right. Also within is a good bio of Robert Quine, a guitarist who's influenced my playing quite a bit. Even if you can't hear it. Anyway, what else is there?

There's an article on the back page that I'd like to be able to understand, but can't quite make out. A woman, Karine Duchochois (one of the 17 accused over the Outreau affair. Whatever that is), 26, hasn't seen her son Anthony in over two years as he's been in protective custody, or rather détention provisoire. It looks sympathetic as a piece. Anthony sees his mother in the courtroom. He's grown over this time. His father is also there, he's accused of aggravated sexual assault. As for the man she knew from the age of 14 and then left when 22, she calls him Monsieur Brulet, as if the rouleau compresseur de la justice had forced her to speak about him like a legal case. Mmm, what's this rouleau... is it an idiom for the heavy hand of law? Must be something wheel-like that exerts pressure. There's this scary sounding place called La Tour de Renard (The Fox's Tower, sorry, there might be some non-francophones), that must be where the abuse went on. Anthony doesn't remember it. He was only two. Karine was 20 at the time [it was 1996]. It was a small flat, furnished but cold. She was almost eight months pregnant at that point [with second son Christopher] and she and David Brunet were both unemployed. La demande de HLM les avait conduits là. Damn, my grammar's gone down hill. Why is that participle in the plural? Does it agree with the object? Dim memory of it doing so. The demand of the nasty-civic-council-concrete-housing-project-thing had lead them there. Well, demand isn't quite the right word. Request? Are talking about something formally issued by the housing authorities or rather a social issue of unemployment/deprivation. It was the HLM made me do it guv'nor...[Quoting Karine]... The Fox's Tower was the only solution since I was about to have a child. They told me that the people there (so maybe the housing bods after all?) didn't have any money, but it wasn't the zone. C'est le Nord, quoi. [The story takes place in Saint-Omer, near Calais. Echoes of L'Humanité...] I need a bit more French social background. I think it's along the lines of "Sure it was South London, but it wasn't North Peckham or nothing". Maybe.

There were loads of people who didn't work. They'd stand around chatting all in the hallway, the corridors, on their way back from school (en revenant l'école. En+present participle, while doing something, isn't it?)...I was very friendly. People would pop round for coffee. She then took up housework and Avon catalogue work around the HLM to help pay the rent. It was then she met Madame Delay. Myriam Delay, a maternal monstrosity of everchanging truths, was fond of feminine unguents (it say les onguents feminins. Okay so that's just a way of saying slap/make-up, but unguents in English has a nasty sound to it and Mme Delay is clearly the villain of the story so far). Delay's son Dylan was the same age as Anthony so they got to no each other. But we were never close, she was ten years older than me. A few of Delay's porn videos were...Quelques cassettes porno des Delay ont pu atterrir chez eux...They borrowed them? Atterrir...scattered around? Squirrelled away? Planted on them?... Did Delay film some porn at Karine's? Anyway...

Karine is like a resistance (Karen is resistance itself?). She speaks without hate. Her smile has not vanished. Her eyes seem essorés (judging by the photo I'd say they look slightly puffy). She recounts her life, their lives. A sum made of subtractions. Her name isn't her name, but that of her mother's first husband, who still hadn't left by the time she was born...(err, so that means that K's father isnt' the same as the first husband?), I'd cross out Duchuchois on my school books and write Penet, my father's name...Her mother and then husband had seven children between them and mum ran off to the South of France with two of her sisters when Karine was 12. She had a child by Brunet, her father told her to abort it.

She'd been living in the south of Paris until 15 October 1999, the time of the raid/arrest. Brunet was a caretaker and she was a sales assistant at Intermarché. But things turned sour and the relationship turned violent. FInally they broke up and decided that the son would live with the father, because he worked more suitable hours... I've done to my son what my mother did to me, left me with my father... They came looking for us in the small hours... April 2001. Six o'clock. Three police knock on the door and tell me that I am garde à vue (not to move? stay in sight?)... They ransack the appartment, ask to see the ID of the man sleeping with her because he says he's not David Brunet. The family who'd once lived on the fifth floor of the Fox's Tower are reunited (not sure. Is that Brunet in bed with her? Une fois la famille de cinquième étage de la Tour du Renard reconstituée), she's put in the back of a 306 and driven off towards Boulogne-sur-Mer... They're were doing 180... The three police tell me that Kevin Delay was accusing me of having abused Dimitri, Jonathan, as well as my own son, since he was with me at the time...A night in the cells (une nuit sur le banc en bois du commissariat. Okay, I'm taking liberties. Do try and stay awake. I'm just trying to pass the time. Almost there.)... Then faced with a little costume judge (petit juge en costume) who wanted to put her in prison.

Final paragraph. Her son seems damaged somehow. He hides under the desk from the psychologist (Lacanian probably, I don't blame him). He helped in the arrest of his father (remember he was only two), but menottes aux poignets? Haven't a clue. He answered yes when asked if his father had touched his penis. Oui, le doute l'a efflurée. Err, doubt flourished, spread? She manages despite being separated from him (Anthony). All the things she hasn't done and the things she can do with Christopher. Now she has Fred by her side. He's got a yellow car and kind words. He says "Her problems are mine". She still has her smile that refuses to vanish.

Phew! Well, that's the French homework done. And, we're almost in Quimper now.

(If you've managed to make it through this section, well done! I've since been looking for articles on Outreau in English. Now the story starts making a bit more sense.)