29th April 2012

Enough politics already. Had to laugh when I saw that the Maire in a tiny French village called Sarthe had come up with a wonderful plan to deal with all their rubbish.  Back in England, the mounds of rubbish piling up in the streets is a big problem. Birmingham, for instance, had this stupid idea of telling all residents to leave black bin bags on the kerbside the night before collection days - a field day for the urban foxes strewing everyone's rubbish far and wide.
But, back to the village Maire...her idea is to give each villager a pair of laying hens. Yes, hens. She says they're eco-friendly, they eat kitchen waste, lay 300 eggs a year, produce fertiliser for the garden and improve everyone's diet (cutting down on health costs).  The Maire calculates that each laying hen should cost around 10 euros each and she hopes to negotiate a bulk discount before distribution in September.  You may think all this an April fool joke, but I kid you not. Belgium (yes, of course) already runs such a scheme with considerable success, I understand. The way councils pay for rubbish collection is changing, being charged on how much rubbish is actually collected, so economies with this new scheme can be made.
Him indoors says all this is just a poultry(!) excuse...

22nd April 2012

Election day. Many French won't vote in this crucial first-round as they're not bothered. I used to be like that, but life has taught me you can't just do nothing. Be alert! Things can change: slowly, slowly and before you know it, your life's changed alarmingly. After 7 years away from England, I already notice the change.  Years ago England, misguidedly, tried to be fair and polite to all newcomers from around the world. Result? The whole tenor of the country has now changed beyond recognition. I remember receiving council notices printed in as many as fifteen different languages - and English wasn't even at the top of the list! Why did the government allow that to happen?
However, maybe it's the fear of the far-right that'll be the reason why today 57-year old Mr. Hollande, the quiet, grey man of politics, is on course to succeed the late Mr. Mitterand as France's first Socialist President in 24 years. The French compare Sarkozy with Margaret Thatcher. Heaven forbid they should have as leader someone as strong and opinionated as that. And yet......socialism can lead to the situation we currently have in Britain, where weak politics of the past has created a situation where strong-willed people attempt to change fundamentally the culture and way of life of the whole country.
Him indoors, if faced with a voting slip:  'None of the above!' And who would I vote for in France?  That's easy....anyone but Marine Le Pen!

15 April 2012

Must be dreaming....a thin, reedy whistle's emanating from downstairs. Is it a bird, a plane?  No, it's Him indoors staring at his new baby yet again.  His life-long dream's finally arrived and he can't believe it.  But, we had a few scary moments.  No, it wasn't trying to find the garage in Montauban. This time, we actually drove straight to it in our old Citroen C4 - you know, the one where Bruno had chewed the corner off the driver's seat and the inside roof material. But, relief  - the garage still paid us the promised 4000 euros. And the new Freelander? As you can see, it's in Galway Green - modern equivalent to the old British Racing Green.  And, it's got GPS!  Hurray. Now, surely, we won't get lost all the time?  Wrong.  Well, not exactly.  We managed to change the system from French to English, and en route home, sure enough there was the Queen's voice (with a hint of Brummie thrown in, just for us).  However, I found myself shouting at ER all the way - she sent us double the distance, via all the autoroutes.  Next problem - don't panic. It's so big - will it fit through our narrow entrance gates, and worse - is there enough roof clearance on the garage?  Yes, yes, yes. It just fits.
So, now there he still is, staring at his new baby. Sudden thought from a mere woman: where's the key-hole in the door handle?  Where's the ignition keyhole? Patiently, he explains 'you have to use the telecommande'. Sounds like Star Trek - beam me in Scottie.  But, but, what if the battery goes flat?? In the old days, if the engine didn't start you'd use the starting handle and could always camp out inside the car.  But, with this system.....
Why do I always have to worry about everything?

8 April 2012

Did you read about that man from Maine-et-Loire who was published globally, relieving himself in his own backyard? Him Indoors says: fancy making a fuss about a little thing like that......
But, seriously, what's happened to our privacy?Yes, the internet and IT technology have brought huge benefits and ease of living, but at what cost? Every time I use my debit card, it gives literally carte-blanche for every bank clerk (and subsequent advertising agencies) to know private details of my life. They know where I shop, what I buy, where, when and how I go on holiday, when I'm ill, which prescriptions I use, which doctors I visit and for which illnesses!  When did I give permission for them to know all that?  I suspect it's the same at doctors' surgeries and hospitals everywhere:  when you give your name at reception, I dare say the receptionist calls up all your medical records. Does this mean that even if you present with a sore toe, all your gynae(!) details are on view for all to see??  And, don't even mention airport x-ray machines.
Back in the old days, we used cash or cheques, and your private details were kept in the manager's office under lock and key.  I'm sure that bank records of cheques had only the date and number listed.  And, of course, cash was much much better.  Then, you could spend with absolutely no record anywhere.  Certainly nothing published globally on Google!  When will this unwarranted intrusion into our private and personal lives stop?  I agree with that Frenchman. Orwell must be turning in his grave.

1st April 2012

'Twas on a Monday morning....April Fools' Day it may be, but...After two weeks, absolute chaos in the house. Furniture covered in brick dust. A large plaster hole has appeared in the ceiling. No kitchen, no bathroom, plates and utensils in Outer Mongolia and the electric plug converter for the old cooker downstairs missing. But that wasn't all. Various electric sockets had been moved and no dial tone on the phone. No hot water at all, and a peculiar sewer smell emanated from the bathroom. Oh, and the TV: 'No satellite signal is being received'. Aargh!  
Coincidence, he said, when confronted with the useless phone, TV and the fallen plaster. For the phone (and what do I know, I'm no engineer) I suggested he try putting the phone wire up in the loft. Voila. It now works. Later, when I asked the tiler, he said that the plaster problem happened when the electrician was up i the loft. Finally, our friendly (English) SkyinFrance man arrived. In the loft he found that the TV cables had come loose and someone(!) had refixed them wrongly causing the diplexor to blow. At last, someone who knew what he was doing. When I asked the electrician for a reduction due to all the problems, he replied 'Ah, non'. Trouble is, our French electrician is also the plumber....last seen scratching his head over the foul drain.
....It all makes work for the working man to do.