Well, not really. At least, not offensive to me, but apparently offensive to some French people. Time to rewind. Do you know who Johnny Hallyday is? In France, he’s touted as the French Elvis and indeed, he’s loved as much — if not more — than The King. Johnny’s getting on a bit now, but the post office proudly displays the Johnny stamps you can buy for your Christmas cards, or indeed as part of your stamp collection. Each year, a new Johnny DVD is released just in time for Christmas. In fact, as I walked through a supermarket the other day, I saw a man grinning and shaking his head at a television which was screening Johnny live in concert. I could just tell this guy was thinking “bah oui, he izz just too gooood.”
You may also be aware that Johnny had to cancel last-ever tour after some back surgery in France last month resulted in further surgery in the US (where he spends lots of time, apparently, because he’s not recognised). He was in so much pain that he was placed in an artificial coma for several days. French TV was all over it. Copenhagen climate summit? It barely got a mention, with Johnny being the first headline on every news programme. The latest news, now that Johnny is back from coma-land, is that he will be suing his French surgeon who allegedly bodged the initial operation. Fans in France were so upset about Johnny’s pain that the very same surgeon was attacked and beaten. That also made the news, but only because it had something to do with Johnny.
So, where’s the joke in all this? I overheard a French couple talking the other day when Johnny was put into the coma. The man, with a playful grin, said to his wife: “So, did you hear? Johnny Hallyday is dead.” She glared at him, paused, then said: “There are some things you just don’t joke about.” That was the end of the discussion. She was, of course, right. Nobody in their right mind would joke about Johnny being dead unless they want the same lynching that his surgeon received. Indeed, I was too scared to even publish this before Johnny came out of his coma just in case. Long live the king!