Just when you think things can’t get any worse, just when your political fortunes have hit rock bottom, just when colleagues start to turn against you, just when a stubbornly moribund economy tells you all your efforts have been in vain, just when by all the laws of natural justice, common sense, reason and logic it would seem that nothing else could possibly go wrong, that’s when your ex-girlfriend publishes a book about you.
French President François Hollande is said to be stoic in the face of revelations about his stormy relationship with Valerie Trierweiler but they could surely not have come at a worse time.
When it rains…
His government is still reeling from a rebellion last month which culminated in the eviction of leftist ministers who had urged Hollande to turn away from severe budgetary policies that have helped make him the most unpopular president of modern times.
If those policies were showing signs of curing France’s long-running economic woes then he could at least take hope and forebear. But current data from France and across the eurozone provides grim evidence to the contrary; amid near-record unemployment, stagnant growth and nagging deflation concerns, all the tough love he has asked the French people to endure appears to have been for nought.
Against this bleak background Ms Trierweiler emerges with painful disclosures about her troubled relationship with the President.
In the long-awaited publication, the Paris Match journalist claims that months after their public break-up Hollande tried to win her back with flowers, dinner invitations and barrages of text messages.
Trierweiler lived with Hollande at the Elysée presidential palace for a year and a half until a gossip magazine exposed his secret relationship with actress Julie Gayet, 42, in January.
The book also describes an episode in which Hollande allegedly ripped a bag of sleeping pills out of the author’s hand as she tried to swallow them one night during their protracted and tempestuous breakup.
She did manage to swallow some and was briefly hospitalised after the incident.
The 49-year-old also characterises her former lover as cold and mean-spirited and suggests the presidency transformed his personality.
Such are the savage teethmarks in the Socialist leader’s reputation that the writer’s name might be more accurately written ‘Rottweiler’ on the front cover.
Still, an eager nation awaits, if not the government and its chief.