From the indiscreet—and sometimes improbable—memoirs of Paul Johnson.

General Charles de Gaulle, the postwar President of France, suffered from halitosis. The affliction was key to his character - to forestall people retreating from his bad breath in revulsion, de Gaulle himself rejected them with hauteur.

Diana Cooper, the wife of Duff Cooper, Britain's ambassador to France, told me about a dinner she gave for him and his wife after he had just resigned as head of the government.

Madame de Gaulle was a severe figure in black, a pillar of the church in their home village of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises.

At the dinner, someone asked her, in English, what she was most looking forward to now her husband was relieved of his onerous responsibilities. She replied, to the consternation of the table: 'A penis.'

In the silence that followed, De Gaulle spoke: 'no, ma cherie, you 'ave mispronounced the word. You mean 'appiness.'