Cameron, Hollande and handball diplomacy

David Cameron (CL) and Francois Hollande (CR) at the women's preliminaries Group B handball match France vs Spain on July 30, 2012 (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/GettyImages)

Perhaps it was David Cameron’s Olympic dream to watch France vs Spain in the women’s handball.

In any case, there he was in the Copper Box at the Olympic Park on Monday afternoon, leaning forward and following the group game with apparent avidity, even as most of the other Brits there looked bored and bemused by the alien sport.

Cameron barely even spoke to the chap sitting next to him: François Hollande, the French president. When Hollande had something to say, he mostly said it to his companion on his left rather than to Cameron. The French president did not employ the technique of his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, who when chatting during a rugby match tended to cover his mouth, either to hide bad breath or to prevent lip-reading.

When France scored the crucial 18-18 equaliser in the last minute, Hollande rose and cheered while Cameron smiled and clapped. The moment the match ended, Cameron shook hands and left – he had come by Tube and was possibly expecting a long trek back – while Hollande stuck around posing for photographs with any tourist or French fan who wanted one. Judging by the scant contact on show here, there may be a certain lack of chemistry between the French socialist and the British Tory.