29 May 2011

Money, money, money...it's a rich man's world. And yet, if you retire to another country like France, don't be confused. Yes, you may have capital from the sale of your English overpriced home, but that means naught if you haven't got a decent monthly income or pension.
Why do we pay social security payments all our working lives?  Shouldn't it be to secure financial security for yourself in your old age? Seems not. It goes to pay for the young and feckless at the moment. Everyone says, when you yourself are old, those who are young then will pay for you. But, if you then move abroad?  Current UK expats in France who paid state contributions all their working lives receive just the basic pension, no benefits and no top-ups.  And France? They're stopping the only top-up benefit available to expats (ASPA) who become ill or hit hard times. What then is the EU for? Every country can't cop out of paying. Someone must pay the tab - the buck stops here.

22 May 2011

Is it me, or has the world gone mad?  First it was that mad US preacher who predicted an apocalypse at 6 p.m. last night. Don't know about you, but I still seem to be here. Then there was 'Houston, the Pontiff's calling' , as the Pope talks to astronauts. Right. A perfectly standard thing for the Catholic head to do. Doesn't he realise that religion and science don't mix? It's that old paradox: matter v the spirit. And now I read that the EU are going to pay French fishermen to fish for.....plastic!
At least this week's French news that extra traffic police are to be called in is more normal - if not typical. Signs throughout France warning of radar speed traps are to be removed. It's nothing to do with gaining more revenue for the state, though. 'Course not. So, in typical French fashion, there's to be a national road-block day on 2 June to protest. All well and good, except that it's being called not by the poor harrassed motorists, but by the radar sign manufacturers (who fear going out of business)!
It's all a sore trial to my sanity.

15 May 2011

What is it with France and culture? Financial austerity everywhere, but don't touch our culture, say the French. At last night's Eurovision song contest, William Hill's had French entrant M. Vasilie at odds-on to win. At last, an entrant who could actually sing, competing against pop dross all around. Of course, he lost. And then there's the ongoing Cannes film festival, where Woody Allen proposed his own 'idealised' version of Paris. What chutzpah - making a film full of touristy cliches, employing the French first lady and telling the French in France how Paris should be.  Of course, what all this proves is that it's not the individual merit of each entry that's important, it's political correctness that counts. If you belong to a national culture where supporting your neighbouring country is paramount, then forget quality - la politique essentielle is the thing. Secular France may not espouse public religion, but la cultur embodying national affiliations - now that's very different. Bring back De Gaulle, that's what I say.

8 May 2011

It may be VE day here, but for me stress abounds. What is it they say? Don't move house, don't suffer bereavement, don't move abroad and don't get old. Enough said.
So, I was interested to read that French women are the longest-lived in Europe. It seems that if I drink more water, take more olive oil, eat broccoli and dark chocolate (anti-depressant), walk more and climb stairs it will help. Age simply creeps up on you. Once that social status of working and living in your 'home' country has disappeared and your own declining physical image shouts back from every mirror and camera, what's to be done? Here's what. Get involved with other people in your new surroundings, 'be nice' and they will reciprocate. And, realise that it's only now you have the opportunity to do all those things you couldn't do when you were younger.
It may be VE day in France, but as I can't bring back family members who've passed on and I can't stop the progress of time, as I approach moving house in France I can at least take note of all the above things which would be an amazing personal victory for me.

1 May 2011

What a week!  Two people made an important commitment, there was much signing of names, officialdom everywhere and a future for the happy couple in new accommodation.  The royal wedding?  No, just Him indoors and me buying our new home in France.
It all started early last Tuesday.  What to wear?  It was hot, but I didn't want to be too casual. (And French women are so chic). I decided against wearing Sarah Burton from Alexander McQueen, so instead plumped for a simple black T-shirt, black trousers and a green jacket from that so chic Evans branch of Birmingham UK.
The notaire's office was crowded. The 2 vendor brothers, 2 notaires (one bilingual), estate agent and us. We shook hands all round in true gallic fashion. 4 hours later, arms stiff from signing G-d knows what, we'd bought our new house.  Hurray.  The French estate agent even pointed us in the direction of that free vendor website leboncoin.fr, our current house being too far away for him to deal with. Now that's good service. We then zoomed away in the ubiquitous Citroen - deciding against the open-topped landau with liveried postillions.
Wills and Kate? We beat them to it 44 years ago, and at least our initials aren't WC!