What happened the other Sunday morning had to be heard to be believed. Our man in Hyde Park was patiently explaining the mechanics of inflation to a fair crowd when a French television crew arrived (TFI, no less) with a polite request to interview the Party. This was an offer we couldn’t refuse, and off we went, s’il vous plait.
First question: “‘Est le Parti Socialiste de Grande Bretagne (yes, they got it right!) contre la Monarchie?” Now, it so happened by some quirk of Fate that our bloke on the platform, at that moment, had a smattering of French (apparently picked up in the more sleazy joints behind the Pigalle). The word rapidly shot round: they came running from all quarters to enjoy the fun.
Deuxième question (Second Question, to you): ‘‘Est le Parti Socialiste contre l’Aristocratie?” Réponse: “Oui. Socialisme will abolish all titles, ranks and privileges, Lords, Dukes and Queens as the French bourgeois did in 1794. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité — remember? But they replaced aristocracy with plutocracy. Socialism is social equality.”
By this time our bloke’s slender stock of French was rapidly running out. Third question: “What do the British people think of Princess Margaret and her affairs?” This was a question for the British people, not the Socialist Party, and the speaker therefore translated to the audience. “. . . !” shouted a large man at the front. “. . .? Qu’est-ce que e’est . . .?” said the TV producer. So they had to be content with “Rien” — nothing. “We don’t think about Princess Margaret at all. Nothing.”
“Nothing?” “Don’t you understand any English at all?” roared the exasperated speaker. “Mais oui” responded the TV man. The speaker then proceeded, as we usually do, to interview the interviewer. “May I ask if you are a member of the French working class?” The TV man gave a typically Sacha Distel shrug: “Je ne sais pas: I don’t know!”
“Well, we do,” said the Socialist party speaker. He turned to the audience: “Come on, somebody — ‘wage-slave’ in French?” And from the inexhaustible resources of working-class knowhow, back the answer came — in a piercing girlish treble from a pretty mademoiselle in the audience: “l’esclave salaire”.
“That’s it! You are an ‘esclave salaire’. And what’s more, you’re working on Sunday while we’re all enjoying ourselves discussing Socialism.” By this time, the the interviewer was in the van amid mutual “Au revoirs”, “Venez chez nous encore” and “Merci beaucoup”. Cheers! handshakes! Formidable, magnifique, etc.
So now we need linguists. All Party speakers must learn at least two foreign languages. Anyone who knows French, Swahili, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese or Urdu should come along to Hyde Park and help the Workers of the World unite.