Author: FRANCE24

“A liberal fantasy dream sequence”, “a bromance,” “insanely romantic”.

The Internet was abuzz Friday with pictures of French President Emmanuel Macron and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau schmoozing at the G7 summit in Sicily, strolling through flowered walkways and chatting against the backdrop of a sparkling blue Mediterranean sea.

“Apparently Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron flew to Sicily for their wedding photoshoot,” netizen @sherlockify joked on Twitter.

The reaction to the telegenic pair’s encounter in the picturesque, hillside town of Taormina, immortalised by Macron himself who tweeted a video of their meeting, provided some light relief from a summit otherwise devoted to thorny issues such as climate change and the threat of extremism.

“The Franco-Canadian friendship has a new face,” Macron tweeted after sitting down for talks with Trudeau and taking the now famous stroll.

“@JustinTrudeau, it’s up to us to take on the challenges of our generation!”

“Sitting down with @EmmanuelMacron for the first time, talking jobs, security & climate -? looking forward to more conversations, my friend,” Trudeau responded on Twitter, posting pictures of both smiling, shaking hands, and looking out over the Mediterranean, their dapper suit jackets billowing in the breeze.

Trudeau, 45, is popular with liberals worldwide for his commitment to fighting climate change and easing the refugee crisis — in stark contrast to the United States, Canada’s powerful neighbour.

Macron, 39, has only been in power for 12 days but enjoys similar kudos, particularly abroad where he has been compared to Trudeau.

“This image of Trudeau and Macron in Sicily is right out of a liberal fantasy dream sequence,” tweeted Dhruva Jaishankar, an expert on foreign policy at the India section of the Brookings Institution think tank.

Others were even more explicit.

“Le swoon, le sigh,” tweeted netizen MissMary, above a photo of both leaders in apparent earnest chat.

“Is there a budding bromance between Macron and Trudeau? Two hunks!” added @MaureenRamsden.

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Since the terror attack, Manchester’s tattoo parlours have been swarmed by requests for tattoos of bees — a symbol of the city and its residents’ deep community spirit.

To beat the crowds, Naomi Johnson arrived early on Friday at a parlour called Tattitude, after its owners said they would donate proceeds to a fund set up to help people affected by Monday’s suicide bombing.

“I just felt I wanted to do something to signify how we are all feeling,” said the 32-year-old neurologist, her left leg lifted on a stool as tattoo artist Jordon wielded the ink needle.

“No city is as good as Manchester,” said Johnson, who wore a summer dress, pink lipstick and sunglasses perched on her forehead.

“The bee is a symbol of hard-working people but also of standing together.”

Jordon, 28, etched the image onto her leg and then added on the words: “Stay strong our kid” — a phrase as Manchester as they come, in a city built on hard work during the Industrial Revolution.

“I did 15 yesterday. There are already six people queueing and the morning’s not over yet!” the tattoo artist said.

Jordon said he was working on his days off.

The worker bee was adopted as a motif for the city during the Industrial Revolution, during which Manchester rapidly expanded from a small town into a major city and a world centre of factory-based industry.

It symbolises the hard work of Mancunians — as residents are called — and the city being a hive of activity in the 19th century.

The bee also features on the city’s crest, ship HMS Manchester, Boddingtons beer, on the mosaic flooring in the Town Hall and on lamp-posts around the city.

– ‘Hundreds of messages’ –

Owner Paul has three parlours called “Tattitude” and is busy fielding calls from eager Mancunians, as Manchester residents are called.

“We’ve changed some appointments round so we’re going to do some bees today and we’re going to do a few hours tomorrow afternoon.

“I’ve also got some other artists from other studios from out of town. They’re coming from out of town to help us on Sunday and Monday. But we’re getting hundreds of messages!” he said.

The tattoos cost £50 ($64, 57 euros) each and the money goes to a special fund set up by Manchester city authorities in conjunction with the Red Cross that has already raised more than £4 million.

Before the attack, Paul said his parlours were getting requests for 10 bee tattoos a week.

Paul, who is covered in tattoos and piercings, including on his face, has been so busy he has hardly had the time to process the attack on his city which killed 22 people and injured dozens more.

“I live 10 minutes away from here. I had friends at the concert. They weren’t hurt but everybody’s affected by it,” he told AFP.

Paul said he was supposed to be looking after his seven-year-old daughter, who would normally come to the parlour with him, but did not want her around in a city that is still jittery.

“I’ve sent her to my mum’s 40 miles (65 kilometres) away,” he said.

The day after the attack, a massive shopping centre near the tattoo parlour had to be evacuated after an alert that turned out to be a false alarm.

In the waiting room, Stephanie Gilchrist, a 19-year-old blonde, looked nervous. She said she had finally decided to get a tattoo on her wrist after thinking about it for a few days.

Gilchrist, who works at a jewellers, said she wanted “to do something”.

“After the attacks, I heard all of the proceeds would go to the families.

“I was visiting family in Wales when I heard (about the attack). I was heartbroken.

“I’ve set my heart on it, I can’t back out.”