British papers in French-themed April fools

LONDON, April 1, 2008 (AFP) - British newspapers drew inspiration from French President Nicolas Sarkozy's recent trip state visit to London Tuesday April 1st, notably joking about his height among a clutch of April Fool-style stories.


Carla Bruni - Photo : AFP

Playing on France's reputation for sophistication and savoir-faire, the Guardian reported that Prime Minister Gordon Brown had enlisted Sarkozy's glamorous ex-supermodel wife Carla to teach Britons how to be stylish.

"Continental good taste and sophistication should be a birthright for all, says PM," headlined the left-leaning daily, getting in a satirical dig also at Brown's regular promises of ever-greater rights for everyone.

Bruni-Sarkozy will spend three months in London this summer, notably holding talks with the boss of Marks and Spencers on designing an off-the-peg version of a grey outfit by Dior which wowed the British crowds last month, the Guardian said.

"The M and S versions will be roomier, and may incorporate several more practical features, such as zip-up pockets and mobile phone holders," it reported, citing a Brown aide.

Plans could also include encouraging British parents "to serve small volumes of red wine with meals to children as young as seven or eight," it said, in a piece bylined Avril de Poisson -- a play on the French for April Fool.

Bruni-Sarkozy would however "steer clear, for the moment, of the other popular British assumption about the French and Italians -- that they have more exciting sex lives," the Browne 'aide' noted.

The mass-market Sun daily meanwhile played with another aspect much commented-upon during the French first couple's visit.

"Docs to Stretch Sarkozy," it headlined, reporting that the French president -- whose heel lifts were highlighted last month, in contrast to his wife's flat shoes -- "is to have pioneering stretch surgery in a bid to make him taller."

"The patient is stretched on a traction bed for several hours and calcium supplements are injected in the bone shafts near the joints," it quoted a French government spokesman, with the unusual name of Luc Bigger, as saying.

In case the reader hadn't got the point, the newspaper helpfully provided photos and a "How it Works" graphic showing a man on a torture-style bed, which apparently could add five inches (12.5 cm) to Sarkozy's height.

The president would undergo the operation at the Poisson d'Avril Medical Centre in Geneva, it said.

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