Journalists here are highly intimidated by the rigid, almost violent moves being made by Manuel Valls. They are moves like those of a padel player. Specifically, a player from the school of padel led by José María Aznar, who is the true padel-godfather of the former French prime minister's current political operation, in the same way as he adopted political orphans like Albert Rivera and Pablo Casado to get over the disappointment he had with his own natural political son, Mariano Rajoy. It can't be denied that Manuel Valls deserves a second chance after having been something like Truffaut's Enfant Sauvage, a kind of better-dressed Celestino Corbacho, a fake immigrant mayor for first-class immigrants and an enemy of second-class immigrants in a pretty dormitory town on the outskirts of Paris. His Barcelona project has a lot of merit and a lot of energy behind it, because Valls did everything in French politics wearing trousers so tight they were about to burst, walking like a bullfighter, showing off his bulge and playing the Captain Bollocks role, a vigorous man, a hyperactive type who gets down to business. He was a fearsome French interior minister, always with an open hand. It doesn't seem a coincidence that his first name can be translated in French as manual, one who uses his hands, the handcrafter, the one who has everything in hand. At times seen as on October 1st, 2015 in the France Inter broadcast studios mad with rage, as if he had to be restrained by force of arms, and at other times, as on 23rd February of the same year, busy raising glasses in front of the television cameras. It's a beautiful story.
You can see here (in the video) that at the Paris International Agricultural Show they were very happy to receive a visit from the then prime minister of France. And, graciously, at each stand of unbeatable regional products he was offered a glass, something to drink. A glass of red, a glass of white, now a beer, now a glass of something slightly stronger. You have to take into account that the country is very large and has a great many regions and departments, there are many territories in metropolitan France in which you must leave a good impression and be liked. In short, French onlookers got to see the head of their government knocking back more than ten drinks in front of the cameras. Everyone could see how the hyperactive Catalan politician started, suddenly, to trip over his tongue, to call out for the presence of one of his ministers, to turn red (especially his ears), to start trying to talk with his mouth full, and how he ended up shouting unpleasantly at those escorting him, especially those warning that he was drinking too much. "Be careful if you start drinking, because later...", someone says to him discretely whilst he ignores them.
And it is then, only then, visibly jolly and pleased with himself, that Manuel Valls starts to speak Catalan, a very natural phenomenon in that state of interior sincerity of his. In this splendid moment it does not take very long to notice that, in the agricultural show, a small set for the France 3 TV programme Midi en France has been set up. It is a great moment in the history of television. Although he hasn't been invited, the French prime minister, without listening to his escorts who are already leading him away towards the official car, walks into a live broadcast, completely by surprise. A prime minister goes where he wants and does what he wants, that seems to be his thinking. The problem is that to access the set there is an imitation agricultural fence that blocks his way. No problem: a leg up here, a leg over there, an "ahhhh", and his excellency the prime minister, converted into a true Catalan cowboy, finally reaches the place where the programme presenter awaits. Everybody cheers him because he has managed to avoid falling over, everybody laughs. Manuel Valls likes to be applauded. What hasn't quite been understood yet, however, is: for his inner Catalan to be let loose, what exactly are the necessary conditions for the phenomenon? And whether, as he confessed in his last speech in Catalonia, the time when he so emotionally declared his love with a t'estimo in Catalan rather than a French je t'aime, on that moment when his Barcelona patriotism poured out so spontaneously, whether he had first partaken in some libation or not. It would be good to know.