Yesterday was a busy day. In between checking my amazon rating, I interviewed Christine Ockrent, who is Belgian but one of those women you always think of as French because she made her career there. She was, among other notable things, France’s first female news anchor and also the only journalist to get an interview with Saddam Hussein during the first gulf war.
She was late due to lunch with a Sheikha and so I waited with her entourage of French women in the Business Centre at the Emirates Palace Hotel. There is one thing I had forgotten about French women. They all smoke. I couldn’t believe it. There I was innocently working out what to ask Madame Ockrent when suddenly I was being fumigated.
“Oh, do you mind the smoke?” said one.
“Well, I’m not mad about it, ” I replied.
“Oh, sorry,” she said making a lame attempt to wave her poison in the other direction.
What is the point I wondered, in asking someone if they mind and then carrying on? ‘Oh do you mind if I sleep with your husband?’ ‘You do? Oh well, try not to notice would you?’
Anyway Madame Ockrent was extremely interesting. She is now CEO of France 24 and here to launch the extended Arab version of the channel. She has done pretty much everything I always wanted to; including reading the news on national TV, writing books, working as a foreign correspondent all over the world and getting major scoops.
And, as far as I know, she doesn’t smoke….
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009