Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The Appearance

The boy was having his afternoon snooze and I was contemplating the shopping list when a call came through on the mobile.

Would I go on France 24’s programmed called The Debate to talk about Arnaud Clement’s comments about match fixing in tennis?

Having hosted a programme on RFI for 18 months called the Crossroads Debate, I know just how dodgy these things can be.

So I asked for details about what I would be expected to say.

“Oh just a few opinions about what the ATP should do about it,” said the researcher.

“Is there going to be anyone from the ATP there?” I asked.

“We’re trying to get someone…

“Anyone from the ITF?

“Not yet….

“Well,” I said. “I’ll just double check to make sure if there are no problems this end and I’ll call you back in half an hour.”

France 24 sent a taxi — a silver grey Mercedes. It arrived at 6pm and as soon as I arrived at their headquarters 45 minutes later, I was met at the entrance by a young lady who took me down to the make-up room. I was prettied up — as if that was necessary — for the cameras.

I was taken up onto the set where the presenter, Andrea Sanke, was at her seat chomping through a packet of crisps. She asked if I and the other studio guest wanted anything.

I said a piece of paper and a few crisps. The paper was brought for me.

This was nothing like the cosy comfort of the Crossroads Debate. When I did my programme, I went down to greet the guests. I would buy them coffee while Ariane, the studio producer, would get the water and more coffees if needed.

But then I did stop doing it after 18 months. Ravaged by the stress of setting up the guests and making sure they had something punchy to offer.

It was a tight ship the Crossroads Debate. There were no surprises and that was pre recorded.

On Tuesday night I was really not that fettered. Not that it mattered as I didn’t have anything controversial to say.

My main point being that if Clement was approached and declined the offer then he should tell the tennis authorities about it.

He said at his press conference on Monday that he didn’t want to say when it happened nor how it happened.

Though there was a lot of coverage given to his comments, it doesn’t really take us any further.

My line is that if he doesn’t give some details privately to tennis authorities then he should be punished.

I returned home to find that another French player, Michael Llodra, had also declined an invitation to lose a match.

Well wow.

I’m not able to gauge my TV performance as the family didn’t see me. We only get the French rendition of France 24 on our cable package.

I phoned this morning to ask for a DVD of the programme and have yet to hear from the researcher.

Maybe they aren’t even going to bother to do me a DVD because my input was so appalling.

Maybe she had a day off.

And it would have been well spent out and about in Paris. It was crisp and sunny. My girls were at the school holiday club and I was in charge of ailing boy.

Into the buggy and off to BHV to buy some light bulbs and actually just get out.

The great thing about BHV is that it’s within spitting distance of the Pompidou Centre, so on the way back home we took that in.

We headed straight for the sixth floor and the panoramic views from the café restaurant concept that is Georges. We were sent to a yellow pod in the middle of Georges. I perched myself on the fringe of the Zone Jaune so that I could see out into the distance as far as La Défense if I craned my neck.

The boy got his milk. I got my coffee. Georges got 6 euros.

That strikes me as expensive. It was 5.50 for a long time. And really the high outlay is only palatable because of the vista. But if I have to almost go into a yoga position to profit from what makes the place so pricey, then I’m on the very wrong side of being fleeced.

No problem with the costs when beholding the view is effortless.

But maybe the zone jaune is a pre-lunch thing. I’ll have to make the final decision after going back one afternoon.

And that will be quite soon as the reason for being at the Pompidou — the exhibition about Giacomettti — looks spectacular.

I breezed through it this morning. Firstly because I wanted to get the boy back for lunch and his afternoon snooze and secondly because the show was packed.

I thought that if he started to wail because he was suddenly hit by a combined wave of hunger and tiredness then it would be a most unseemly retreat out of there.

Perhaps if I remained with a bawling baby, a couple of gallery assistants would offer me inducements to leave.

But would I throw an exhibition?