Friends in high places

Article published on July 27, 2006
Article published on July 27, 2006

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Some people work their way up the greasy pole of success on merit and hard work alone, while others get a little help at the right time from the right people. But let’s not resort to using that vulgar word, ‘nepotism’. Much better to use a nice euphemism; there are plenty to choose from after all. In Britain, for example, it pays to ‘pull strings’ and to have ‘friends in high places’. And we’re not talking about Snowdonia. Likewise, a German might put his good fortune down to having ‘Vitamin B’. But it’s not nutrients he’s referring to - the ‘B’ stands for ‘Beziehungen’ (contacts). The French, if propelled towards power and material gain through their relationships rather than their talents, might simply talk mysteriously of having ‘du piston’. Whichever way you look at it, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.