Speaking about French ‘A’ Levels, one of those things you never realise is who people are before they become famous. This is true of people you went to school with but is equally true about people you meet as you go through life.
My school arranged an exchange trip for those studying French, in my case for ‘A’ Level. The school we were twinned with was in the leafy suburbs of Paris. It was a nice school, with lots of very keen students who were really enthusiastic about having English students in their midst.
As part of our fortnight with them we were lodged with students’ families and went on a number of trips as part of our tuition, including to the Champagne Caves of Epernay, though I personally think this was more for the benefit of the teachers, rather than the students.
Knowing my interest in politics the teachers at the school arranged for a few of the English students to go as a delegation to meet the Mayor of Neuilly, the suburb in which the school was based.
We were ushered into an office where a diminutive man, with moderate English, invited us to sit down. We discussed politics, he was a conservative, at the time I was a Social Democrat. I don’t know how well that translated in the French context, but nonetheless the busy mayor was interested to know about British politics and was a very warm and hospitable host. He made sure that we felt very welcome and thanked us for fostering good relations between our nations.
These are the sorts of events that happen to everyone really, but when reading about Nicolas Sarkozy appearing on the Simpsons I looked up his Wikipedia biography and I noticed that in the 1980s and 1990s he had been a Mayor in a suburb of Paris.
My curiosity was instantly sparked, surely it couldn’t be the same guy who had once welcomed us into his office for coffee and a chat?! Nicolas Sarkozy was Mayor of Neuilly between 1983 and 2002. Our exchange trip was in the Spring of 1987.
Chalk up the President of France as one of the most famous people I have met!