Le Métier is the title of a new book by Team Sky’s Michael Barry. The book looks wonderful, with big photos and fine print. Only I can’t help wondering if the book’s title isn’t a massive blunder. Why? Well read on…
“Faire le métier” : combien de fois dans ma vie ai-je entendu cette expression fourre-tout qui signifie tout et son contraire ? *
So writes Laurent Fignon in his autobiography. Literally le métier in French means “work” or “job” but in cycling it has another meaning. When Christophe Bassons was asking Philippe Gaumont about a move to Cofidis in 1997, Gaumont replied “tu dois savoir que chez nous, tout le monde fait le métier” **. Gaumont was saying that everyone was doping at Cofidis.
Faire le métier means to do your job, to be professional to the point of being competitive with the others. In the pro peloton, le métier means doping.
So is Michael Barry alluding to his time spent at US Postal, Discovery and Columbia and the methods used there?
No, I fear this is just another case of the English appropriating French culture, only to miss out the subtleties. Just as Rapha got the French flag upside down, now it looks like publishers Rouleur have a book with a title in French that implies doping to anyone who knows French cycling.
Now I’m imagining that the title is meant to portray Barry’s career, his professionalism and, by using the French, some of the sport’s romance and mythology along the way too. After all, “The Job” would be too boring. But there’s a world of difference between je ne sais quoi and je ne sais rien.
For a book claiming to give an insight into the world of cycling this is a terrible title, put simply you might as well call the book Le Dopage.
Finally, I wish Barry well and presume neither he nor his publishers realised this blunder. As I say above, the book looks good. But once again, if you want to borrow something from a foreign culture, get it right… otherwise that foreign culture is exactly that, it’s foreign and something you don’t understand properly.
* “Do the job”: how many times in my life have I heard this catch-all phrase which means nothing and everything at the same time.
** If you want to join us, you can. But you’ve got to know that with us, everyone “does the job”