One photo a day until I meet Jonathan Harris

6th May

Riding past their shop window I saw that Moschino had really hit the nail on the head.

The detail of window display was fantastic, right down to the bank-like poster which read "Love is Free.* *Terms and conditions should not apply."

It reminded me of the poem,  The Value of A Smile at Christmas, which I quoted in the 3rd part of that series on Love.

Just between us, the poem wasn't actually sent to me in an email. I'm hesitant to admit it, but I actually discovered it while secretly reading Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. I could tell you a long story explaining why exactly I was reading that, but lets keep it short and just say that I got sucked in by the advertising on the front which claimed it was the most sold book in history.

Anyway, the reason I brought all this up is that one freezing, snow-laden morning about 6 months ago I wound up in the photocopy room of a small university just outside of Paris. Stuck to one of the walls of the poky, machine-filled bureau I noticed what looked to be a word for word french translation of the poem stating that it was written by a Mr. Raoul Follereau. This struck me as odd because I distinctly remember that in Dale Carnegie's book, the poem was credited to anonymous. I made a mental note to investigate this discrepancy, imagining it could be another case like the song Autumn Leaves which I once mistakenly and very embarrassingly asserted was an English song later translated into French. Coming out of the photocopy room and into the freezing air however, I promptly forgot about everything except getting home and turning the heater on.

Today, seeing Moschino's amusing bank-notes and wondering what the "1" printed on them might signify I thought back to The Value of a Smile and finally decided to investigate. I first discovered that some people credit the poem a Mr. Frank Irving Fletcher - a mysterious copywriter who apparently made a lot of money in the 1930's on the premise that "The aim of modern advertising is not to make people think, but to save them the trouble and effort of thinking". Obviously he saved himself a bit of thinking if the French are correct. They claim that the poem was written in 1920 by a 17 year old Raoul Follereau.

If you don't read french, Raoul Follereau is a rather amazing character who apparently dedicated his life to fighting social injustice, misery, fanaticism and the selfishness of the rich and powerful. His first book in which the poem Un Sourire (A Smile) appears was called the Livre d'Amour (yes, published when he was just 17). Even at such an early age Follereau already had very strong opinions on his understanding of the Hidden Economny of Love. Translating from the webpage of his foundation he wrote:

Living is helping others to live.
One must create other happinesses in order for one to be happy.

In a later work (Une bataille pas comme les autres, 1964) he writes:

Civilisation is not numbers or force or money.
Civilisation is the patient, passionate and obstinate desire that on the earth there will be less injustice, less pain and less suffering.
Civilisation is to love one another.

Since the Livre d'Amour is out of print, I can't verify easily whether Un Sourire does actually appear in it, and so can't be sure of whether he, Mr. Fletcher or Mr. Carnegie are right, but I certainly know whom I'd rather believe.

I wonder if the estate of Mr. Follereau are aware that Simon & Schuster are continuing to reprint an uncredited version of his poem in "the most sold book in history"?

And by the way, yes, I did ask at Moschino if they were giving away or selling their their "banknotes". Apparently access to the window display is locked by a key that no one in the shop possesses. Even though I was disappointed that I didn't walk away with a souvenir, I was somewhat comforted by the fact that even in the most chic of Paris boutiques, Love isn't for sale.