10 October 2021

Pierre Perret and Yvonne de Gaulle

I include a shot here of Yvonne de Gaulle as in the sculpture in Calais by Elizabeth Cibot but without her husband as it's not my style to photograph prominent political figures. Rather, I'm more interested in the forgotten, the hidden, the obscure, the middle finger. In September 2020 Europe 1 interviewed the singer Pierre Perret (then 86) and he said a few words about Yvonne in 1966, when she had attempted to ban one of his songs about summer camps, 'Les jolies colonies de vacances', from the airwaves by calling her friend Roland Dhordain, the director of ORTF. Her problem (although she used the word 'nous', implicating the Général himself), was that the expression 'pipi dans le lavabo' ('peeing (probably best translated as 'weeing' in 1966) in the sink') was in the song. Dhordain still, according to Perret, included it in the playlist, and the song was certainly a huge success and went on to sell 200,000 copies: in effect, a huge 'Up yours' to Yvonne de Gaulle, who surely needed to get a life! Pierre Perret was delighted that Yvonne had honoured him in such a way, calling him 'the shame of France'.

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