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Seeing my blank look when she gushes about covering the work of Christophers and Blake, she whisks me up in her internal lift to a small studio to play me examples of their work.Before our meeting, her publicist had warned that Hardy gives interviews only in French.There she found a comforting diet of Anglo-American pop.The inferiority complex began to fade as Hardy realised that she had something the music industry and public wanted: wistful, marketable songs and star quality.For fans in the English-speaking world, it helped to be doing French at school.Nothing too demanding, just enough to know what she meant when lamenting in seductive tones about all her contemporaries – Tous les Garçons et les filles de mon age – having boyfriends and girlfriends while she had no one."He took me to his hotel room after inviting me to a show in Paris, and played me two tracks he hadn't yet released, I Want You and Just Like a Woman, but he wasn't a very attractive man, and didn't seem well in himself. Her parents were separated, and she saw her father rarely.The notion of the absent male figure has pursued her into adulthood, so that her relationship with her husband, Jacques Dutronc, a charismatic pop singer turned actor, seems not so much turbulent as sporadic.
Yet, when you have to wait nearly 40 years to meet a woman you briefly worshipped, it is realistic to be prepared for disillusionment.
He spends much more time than her at their Corsican retreat, and they seldom dine out à deux.
Just as she buried her adolescent insecurities in pop, she has found rewarding distraction as an adult in astrology, and devoted four years to the most exhaustive of her several books on the subject."It took too long," she says. But it was an achievement and meant a huge amount to me. There isn't enough time in the day for me."It is easy to see the study and the writing as one of the grand solutions Hardy favours in life.
In 1968, she decided to give up live performance; she had no confidence in her voice.
"If I could sing like Celine Dion, it would have been different," she says, without obvious regret.
Hardy is much keener to talk about what she has done since and what she does now.