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Tuesday 20th January 2004

I had already met the team behind “Qu’est-ce que sexe?” last night and they were all charming and friendly people. The director Gerard and the translator Serge (who I was worried to find out was Belgian. Would he have filled my masterwork with stupid song parodies, like his compatriot in Antwerp?) had taken me to a party, which had confirmed the fact that Paris is populated almost entirely by willowy and debonair women and short, grotesque old men. Hey, it’s my kind of town!
The language barrier would work in my favour in that it would take much longer for my slight nerdiness to become apparent, but work against me in that I would be unable to communicate with anyone here, beyond using a series of grunts and obscene gestures. Which, I donÂ’t have to tell you, is pretty much what my seduction technique consists of, even in English speaking countries.
Serge introduced me to a succession of actresses (the party was being held by a big casting agency), each more attractive and insane than the last. I found it overwhelming and rather than taking advantage of the fact that it didn’t matter what I did as I would never see any of these people again, I sort of just clammed up. No matter, it was fun just looking around and as always with this foreign jaunts I enjoyed the surreal experience of being in a place I would never have been to if it hadn’t been for my stupid cock show, with people I would similarly never have met. I also ate some strange French canapés that were it not for this strange twist of fate would have ended up in the stomach of a French person (probably one of the grotesque men; I don’t think any of the willowy women eat more than a leaf a week).
Nicole from off of the Papa-Nicole adverts was there. Beautiful taxi drivers? Nicole from the Papa-Nicole advert? Surely I was in some strange and wonderful dream. Going to a party in France to find that Nicole from the Papa-Nicole advert is one of the guests is the stuff of ludicrous fantasy. It is the equivalent of a French person coming to a party in England to discover that Norm from the Twix adverts is in attendance. They love Norm from the Twix adverts in France. He’s a national hero. In fact the adverts were so popular there that the actor, Kevin Eldon has his own TV series over there, based entirely on the antics of his hilarious “nerd” character. It’s mainly slapstick stuff, plus a fair amount of humour based on bodily emissions of various kinds. The actor, Kevin Eldon likes to keep this secret in the UK, often going to the ridiculous lengths of denying that it was not even him in the original advert, but you can’t walk down the street in Paris without seeing his face beaming back at you from a T-shirt or billboard. Of course in France he is known as le acteur, Kevin Eldon. But that pseudonym would only fool the most stupid of British fans.
I was a little drunk (the wagon has got so far ahead of me now that itÂ’s in danger of making it all the way round the world and being right behind me again) and considered saying hello to Nicole. And perhaps making some kind of Papa-Nicole based joke to break the ice. Yes, definitely. SheÂ’d like that.
Fortunately, my crippling shyness came to my rescue and prevented me from doing this. This was especially lucky as at the time I was convinced that her character had been called Michelle. To quote someone’s annoying advert catchphrase back at them is an annoyance (just shout “Norm” at the actor, Kevin Eldon and see how irate he becomes), to get the catchphrase wrong is possibly the most insulting thing you can ever do.
Instead I slunk off back to the hotel before things got out of hand.

Tonight I met up with Serge, Gerard and Guy, the producer to see the show. Serge had been worried about what I would make of his translation, as obviously as with everywhere some changes had been made. I told him that provided there were no musical pastiches tacked on that everything would be fine. Serge looked concerned and headed off towards the dressing room with a frantic look on his face. Surely he was just going to wish the French me, Michel Leeb the best of luck. There couldnÂ’t be time for a re-write, could there?
As it turned out the show was one of the better ones. Michel Leeb is a popular actor in France and the 600 seater theatre was pretty full. The main difference to the British version is that Michel had taken on the role of a teacher, giving a lesson on men and their batons. As a conceit this worked very well. The original version has often been compared to a comedy lecture. Apart from that the piece remained fairly faithful to my text and mercifully free of musical numbers. The audience enjoyed it and Michel was a very likeable performer. Even though French is the only language that I have any real experience of, I could still not understand the vast majority of what was going on. Though it was a relief after the Belgian show to see that the structure and tone of the show was the same as in “Talking Cock”. Out of all the productions I think this version has the best chance so far of being a hit. I think the Finnish experience was still my favourite, but this one was a close second. If you want to travel to Paris to see it, it’s on at the Theatre Fontaine, 10 Rue Fontaine, from Tuesday to Friday at 20.30 and on Saturday at 18.00 and 21.00.
ItÂ’s easily reached from London on the Eurostar and if you get a cab at the station you have about a one I a thousand chance of being taken to the theatre by the worldÂ’s sexiest taxi driver.

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