John Terry: the miniseries

At last, our very own sex scandal!

So, farewell then, John Terry (from the England captaincy). And what a week it's been for lovers of a sex scandal. At last we had our own! Tiger Woods's string of affairs was titillating, but too remote: sex scandals are better home-grown. And Terry, now ex-captain of the England football team, "Dad of the Year 2009", husband of childhood sweetheart Toni, is carving out the genre all over again.

He ticked the necessary boxes with ease: best friend's woman, "romping" after training (to romp: the tabloid word of choice, somehow making it all sound like a bawdy country dance), secret assignations at the French model's mock-Tudor home. But Terry then added his own, unique touches: scoring a goal the day the story broke and failing to get a super-injunction to prevent it oozing out into the public domain.

That gave the Sun the glorious opportunity to revel in its moral superiority for reporting the story at all, as if they were investigative journalists in Yemen, uncovering an international terrorist plot by their wits and sleuthing alone. The headline: "Freedom wins".

And so follows the wonderful cast of characters and global range of locations for this, our very own miniseries (title: Transgression). Enter stage left, Max Clifford, publicist to the stars, and stage right, Fiona Shackleton, divorce lawyer to same. (Apparently, though, Toni's sticking by her man. Or so the reports from Dubai claim, accompanied by photos of Toni in a bikini.)



Dubai, the recently collapsed holiday destination of choice for X Factor judges and Premiership footballers, was, of course, a "special place" for Terry and Toni -- they had their honeymoon there. What better setting for her agonised deliberations?

So that's the first episode. The rest of the series will run, replete with twists, cliffhangers and cameos, until the end of the World Cup.

Fabio Capello is making his star turn. There will be an experimental episode devoted to an England training session, tracking the internal monologues of Wayne Bridge (aka: The Cuckold) and Terry, culminating in them eyeball to eyeball in the centre of the pitch.

The ending (spoiler alert!) will see Terry scoring the winning goal at the World Cup final in South Africa; at the final whistle he collapses in grief and self-admonishment, tears splashing against the trophy as he clasps it to his chest.

Or not. More likely, the grand arc of Greek tragedy will be sacrificed for grisly details, drip-fed by the tabloids.

But we can be grateful for one thing. The ingenuity of the English football fan when it comes to creating tailor-made football chants. Try this to the tune of "Lord of the Dance": "Chelsea, wherever you may be, don't leave your wife with John Terry". Perhaps that could be the theme tune to Transgression.

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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En français, s'il vous plaît! EU lead negotiator wants to talk Brexit in French

C'est très difficile. 

In November 2015, after the Paris attacks, Theresa May said: "Nous sommes solidaires avec vous, nous sommes tous ensemble." ("We are in solidarity with you, we are all together.")

But now the Prime Minister might have to brush up her French and take it to a much higher level.

Reuters reports the EU's lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, would like to hold the talks in French, not English (an EU spokeswoman said no official language had been agreed). 

As for the Home office? Aucun commentaire.

But on Twitter, British social media users are finding it all très amusant.

In the UK, foreign language teaching has suffered from years of neglect. The government may regret this now . . .

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.