I was musing the other day that in addition to all my other worries, like which socks to choose in the mornings, what if I had additionally to concern myself with the burdensome notion of Tax. Proposed tax increases by that little grey man, François Hollande, have prompted some wealthy residents to consider abandoning la belle France for countries with more amenable fiscal policies. But I am not among them, for obvious reasons. One of the more controversial parts of the 2013 budget is a 75% tax on those earning more than €1 million which some regard as nothing more than legalised extortion. The proposal has recently been revoked – quelle surprise – but Mr. Hollande is also attempting to raise taxes on capital gains and household wealth, squeezing the rich until the pips squeak. That’ll teach them to get rid of the posturing Sarkozy in favour of a technocrat. All of which has prompted some interesting responses. Gérard Dépardieu – the self-made enfant terrible of the French media who once described himself thus: “je te dis la vérité, je suis une vraie ordure” has first moved himself and his fortune to a small Belgian village, putting up his Left Bank townhouse for sale – then, improbably, striking up an unlikely alliance with Mr Vladimir Putin with whom he seems to have become big mates, a bloated Obélix to Putin’s courageous Astérix, perhaps. The man himself is no stranger to controversy – he made headlines a while back by relieving himself in the aisle of an Air France jet when asked to return to his seat and has more recently found himself in Hollywood’s spotlight with a suitably nasty role as the cannibal Cook in the visual masterpiece and allegedly unfilmable ‘Life of Pi’ which is on the Oscar list this year. Glorious music, incidentally.
In 2008, Naomi Campbell moved to Moscow to live with her billionaire Russian fiancé. Will Gérard Dépardieu follow? Perhaps when Belgium loses its lustre, which, to be honest, might not take very long and armed with a brand new Russian passport, he might decide to move to a chillier climate. Pravda ‘welcomed him with open arms’ it would seem, unlike the last time a Frenchman tried to get into Moscow in 1812. Clutching his shiny new passport, he visited Saransk, the capital of Mordovia where he was greeted at the airport by platoons of buxom wenches, folk songs and pancakes. The head of the republic, Vladimir Volkov suggested that Dépardieu might like to move to Saransk and be Minister of Culture. Inexplicably, he declined.
And, he’s not the only one. Brigitte Bardot, (Lancel even created a handbag just for her) has threatened to ask for Russian nationality if the French authorities decide to put down her two sick elephants. It’s becoming almost fashionable to be Russian, especially if you’re badly behaved or senile. I really must think about it, or, Я должен думать об этом as they say in Mordovia.