30th September 2012

Allons aux barricades.  No, it's not 14th July - it's the neighbours who're revolting! Something'll have to be done, but what? Regular readers of this post will guess what happened recently.  Yes - Bruno again.  After his second episode of climbing the fence and attacking the neighbour's chicken, we resorted to attaching him via a long rope to our terrace.  Sounds cruel, but it wasn't. It was long enough to allow him to go under nearby bushes or to come into the house to see us.  He's very much an outside dog and much prefers being in the open air. Then, when we brought him into the house, we would unclip the rope and shut the doors. This worked very well until the day we forgot one of the windows was open. He heard the crack of a nearby hunting gun (grr) and jumped out. The problem with the neighbours is that they have poulets tondeuses (chickens bought to run over the grass) as well as geese.  But, this isn't the countryside - it's a town. And the chickens provoke our chasseur dog by pecking near the fence. Well, the neighbours drove round to our front gate. I didn't let them in. They waved a letter and threatened to call the Gendarmes. I said I would pay one more time - but think they're diddling me by demanding I buy 6 more chickens when only one was attacked. Enough's enough. No more. Friends say have we tried electrocution. I say, what the fence?  Him indoors says, no, the neighbours....

23rd September 2012

If only......
Yesterday French President Hollande and his German counterpart Angela Merkel celebrated an important anniversary. 50 years ago Charles de Gaulle made a speech to German youth that marked the start of the two countries' close relationship, sealed by signing the new Friendship Treaty with Adenauer.  Yes, despite all the hate that Hitler had shown and the appalling atrocities against their own innocent countrymen, the Frenchman found it in his heart to tell the German youngsters that theirs was still a great country.  Even more amazing considering that De Gaulle was the only senior French officer never to accept the terms of the June 1940 armistice nor the Vichy regime following France's defeat by the Nazis. It was that speech that set the scene for an amazing reconciliation between the two countries that would have been inconceivable a decade before - yet still persists today.
Fast forward to 2012: where are the statesmen willing to do what De Gaulle did?  Why can't someone have the guts to talk to the youth living in Muslim countries around the world.  Tell them that, despite the past, theirs is still a great country and we would like to sign a friendship treaty with them.
The enemy may have changed, but the hatred persists.   So, do something.

16th September 2012

A funny old week for modesty.  First, France's education minister Vincent Peillon has called for 'secular morality' classes to be introduced in schools, leading his predecessor to recall similar calls by disgraced Vichy leader Marechal Pétain. But, wait a minute, isn't this the country known for its laissez-faire regarding sex? Then, everyone's 'horreur' at the topless pictures of Kate taken in Provence - yes, France, a country famous for its topless beaches.
Well, now an on-line petition has been launched in a bid to get rid of those awful open-back hospital gowns. - those that show a patient's backside.  The petition was actually started, not by a patient but a doctor on his blog. It's apparently already reached 4,000 signatures and when it gets to 10,000 it'll be sent to French Health Minister Marisol Touraine.  Clearly, patrons all along the boulevard cafés argue 'aren't there more important health issues to discuss than that?', whilst others say 'mais non, c'est une probleme du respect'.
Him indoors, recalling his August sojourn in an Albi hospital, knows exactly what they mean about modesty. When handed a suppository, he asked 'I'm s'posed to put it WHERE?'

9th September 2012

A week of blaring headlines.  The terrible massacre of the English family in the French Alps. The French police now have the world pointing an accusing finger - were they incompetent by not discovering that poor little girl early enough?  The police are so concerned in following the 'correct procedures' that they don't move in to a crime scene quickly enough. Various hostage scenarios in the past have shown the same pattern. Thank God firemen and doctors don't do the same!
The ECB 'hero of the hour', Mario Draghi, seems to have stemmed the tide of the dying euro - but for how long?  If only the working practices of each European country could be brought into line. Someone suggested the Greeks need to work 6 days a week. But, no good unless their fundamental working practices change.  They need to follow France's lead.  France certainly knows how to produce a really skilled workforce - much better than Britain or the rest of Europe.  But France itself needs to learn more about customer service and technology, like the US.
Him indoors is thoughtful. Tell them to bring in Hugh Jeffert (huge effort) to show the police how doctors deal with emergencies, and to teach Europe how to work efficiently. But, will they listen?

2nd September 2012

September. A month to be feared in France for all those who love animals. Hunting here is an absolute scandal, and I can't understand why nothing is done about it. It starts every September and hunting with hounds continues until the end of March every year.  Even going for a walk is dangerous, especially in wooded grounds where hunters may lurk.  Even the 1982 law introducing a residential safety zone doesn't help much as hunters are allowed to shoot as long as they fire away from homes. So that's all right then!  Now, before all farmers reach for their pen and shout that they must protect their livestock from 'marauding' animals, why is it that appalling cruelty and undoubted schadenfreude on the part of hunters are condoned? Hunters regularly send their terriers into badger setts who then bite the badger from behind so they can't move whilst others dig down to unearth them before stabbing them or throwing them to the hounds.  There's a big difference between 'necessary' conservation and taking gleeful pleasure in causing bloody and painful suffering. Him indoors says he'd like to cause gleeful suffering to the hunters themselves.
No hope for anything new from Hollande. Owners of hunting lodges even get tax breaks from this government!  If you go out in the woods today, be very very scared...