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La dernière chronique26/01/2017 - par Mark Tungate, journaliste
As Jim Morrison once sang: “This is the end.” After 16 years, first weekly and then monthly, this will be my last column for Stratégies. Don’t worry, I won’t starve: these days I actually have a surprisingly grown-up day job.
It occurs to me that of all the brands I’ve written about in these pages, I’ve never talked about Stratégies itself. I became aware of the title years ago, when I worked for a magazine called Media International in London. Stratégies was one of a clutch of overseas trade magazines we received in the office. It was one of the more colourful and stylish publications on the pile. At its best, Stratégies has always been about more than advertising or marketing: it is a reflection of popular culture, and those who forge it. When my younger self flicked through its pages, I never dreamed that I would work there – or even, for that matter, that I would move to France.
I owe two great debts to Stratégies. First of all, it was the magazine that brought me to Paris, as editor-in-chief of an experimental European edition, which unfortunately closed after the double shocks of 9/11 and the dotcom implosion. It’s hard to run a magazine when all your advertisers have run out of the door. Somehow, though, my strange English-language column – originally created as a bridge between the two magazines – survived long after its sell-by date.
Later, the column inspired a young woman to email me with an encouraging comment or two. That young woman, Géraldine, became my wife in 2009 and the mother of our little boy two years later. So you can understand why I have a certain affection for “Strat”.
An Englishman in Paris
I spoke barely a word of French when I arrived here in 2000, something I’ve remedied since. A lot of other things have changed too. For one thing, the ninth arrondissement, where I lived in a cramped fifth floor apartment (sans ascenseur), has become the second world headquarters of Airbnb.
I’ve written elsewhere about my first night in that apartment, which in true Parisian style was empty of literally everything when I moved in – including light bulbs. Too tired to start unpacking, I headed to a nearby brasserie called Au Général La Fayette. As the rain poured outside, I ordered a steak-frites and a glass of Côtes-du-Rhône, opened my book (Paris After the Liberation), and felt at peace with the world. It was the night of my 33rd birthday.
The American couple next to me noticed my accent. The woman asked me where I was from. “I live in Paris,” I said.
There’s no going back now. Britain is still planning its Brexit, but I exited Britain long ago. Many of my articles for this magazine have charted an ordinary Englishman’s struggles to adapt to a new culture and, to a certain extent, forge a new identity. More appropriately, many others have been about a print journalist’s attempts to adapt to a digital world.
Paris has also changed. It feels less safe now. But at the same time it feels bigger, less parochial. If London is set to retreat from Europe, Paris is playing a larger role in it. To a certain extent it reminds me of the city I grew up in – the London of the 1970s. Unpredictable, occasionally intimidating, but always inspiring.
However, this column was not meant to be a love letter to Paris, or even a farewell to Stratégies. Instead, it’s a “thank you” note to anyone who’s ever bothered to read my scribbles. You know who you are. The young woman on the métro who impulsively told me, “Thank you for your articles”, before vanishing out of the sliding doors. The bunch of you who sent me postcards from all over the world when I lamented that postcards were dying out. And the many of you who sent emails. I’ve kept quite a few of those, by the way.
Feel free to keep in touch. You’ll find me on Facebook, and very often on Instagram. Less frequently on Twitter, but with the same handle: @MarkTungate. My next book, The Escape Industry, a collection of stories from the travel business, will come out later this year.
We could even have lunch. Let’s go to L’Alcazar in rue Mazarine, which many years ago was a club called The Whisky A Go Go. Jim Morrison and The Doors played there. Those guys knew how to write an ending. I’ll never be as cool as them, so perhaps it’s better to sign off in a typically English way. It was nice chatting with you. See you again soon.