28th August 2011

It's been a mad week of dogs, chickens and building works. No, we're not moving again. You may remember that Bruno had scaled a high fence and attacked our neighbour's chicken.  I've read that French hunters expect to lose many of their gundogs, simply because they're known for running off, following their noses (the dogs, that is). So, nothing for it - we'd have to build a pen (not for the chicken, which would've been a lot easier).  Fortunately we've two amazing English friends who arrived, complete with their own logo 'FencersRus'. On the hottest day of the year, we set about measuring out a large area (Bruno's a chasseur, so needs to run), shopped for the required fence posts and tons of green wire. The men did the hammering and the girls did the fiddly bits. At last it's finished. And everyone's been giving me advice: give the dog treats in there, play with him, make him see it as a nice place to be. So we did.
Here's a picture.  But, yesterday, I caught a sly glimpse of our French neighbour, no doubt wondering what these crazy English 'rosbifs' were up to now. Sacre bleu, he thinks, looking at his own dog-hovel - it's better than Central Park.

21st August 2011

The canicule continues - 40 degrees today and rising. And CPAM, the French bureaucratic health body, includes those my age as those at risk! However, whenever I think I've got the health system licked, something happens to confuse me yet again. From E106, E121, S1 - the forms go on for ever, including the sub-bodies like Secu, CMU.
But now I hear even the locals have trouble with it. M. Rolland from Argenteuil was told by his pharmacist that CPAM  wouldn't reimburse costs because the patient was 'dead'. Secu refused to believe the pharmacist, so M. Rolland and his wife marched into the CPAM offices themselves to sort them out. However, a few days later his pension fund wrote to 'the heirs of M. Rolland' asking for a death certificate. When he rang to protest, they told him to get a 'certificate of existence' from his mairie, who subsequently said such a thing didn't exist. The pension company then asked him to provide a copy of his birth certificate with a signed note to confirm he was still alive. All well and good until he made a chasing call and was told he'd died a few weeks ago!
Him indoors says I never See Pam anyway, and I don't get ill 'cos I'm on a seafood diet - when I see food I eat it...

14th August 2011

Anarchy abounds. In Middle East dictatorships it was ever so, but in the democratic West?  Of course, the French have always been quick to shout revolution.  But in England?
Unlike societies of the past, modern media is awash with images of young people enjoying expensive lifestyles. I blame John Lennon. Ever since he stood on that stage at the London Palladium and showed no respect for older people in the audience, things started to change.
When I first started work 45 years ago, my wage of 8 pounds p.w. was standard, and it was expected that I run errands and make tea for more senior workers. But, over the years - and it was very hard - I climbed the ladder.  There was no alternative - no welfare benefits - so I had to be patient. And, because at 16 I was forced to work, I had to wait until I was 50 to earn my English degree.
But today, the impatient young see what they want and they want it NOW.  By every means possible: smash, grab, injure, shoot and steal.  John Lennon, instead of singing Please Please Help Me, should have sung I Will Work and Work until I Can Improve My Life. It can be done - I proved it!

7th August 2011

I've always hated guns, coming from a town like Birmingham famous for manufacturing them. I'm alarmed by the general unconcern of ordinary people to having a gun at home.  In France it's perfectly acceptable for private citizens to own a handgun.
Yesterday Bruno, our pet spaniel (who happens to be a gun dog) managed to shimmy over our normally adequate fence and attacked one of our neighbour's free-range chickens. We immediately went next door, full of apologies and explanations, offering to pay for a new chicken, but to no avail. We were met not only with alarming hostility but with the threat of using a gun!
In France, a kill is not seen as a function of a gun that has somehow run amok, but a problem of the inadequate detection and treatment of madness. And with livestock, the law always sides with the farmer. But we live in a town. This wasn't a farmer, but an ordinary citizen. Officially, persons treated for established mental illness are ineligible for gun ownership, but what about testosterone-driven rages when the rational flies out the window?
So, Bruno must now be kept on a lead at all times. For goodness sake, get rid of all guns.