23rd February 2014

You've heard of Da Vinci and that enigmatic smile?  Well now there's the Da Vinci robot.  It's the latest super technology in the world of men's medicine, able to remove prostates via key-hole surgery. Him indoors: 'What have I let myself in for?' These new techniques are world-famous, teaching doctors from all over the world. But would Him indoors have the courage to undergo the treatment?  The important thing is for all men to follow these steps:  1. take a simple blood test; 2. If the PSA reading is high (more than 4), wait a month then re-do it. 3. If the PSA has risen further, schedule a biopsy. 4. If the biopsy shows cancer cells, schedule an MRI and a bone scan to confirm that no cancer cells have leaked. 5. If the patient is under 70, in reasonable health, and the above 4 points apply, book key-hole surgery by robot in the most experienced centre you can find, i.e. the Tarn! Well, we already knew the French health system was the best in the world, so Him indoors - with his own enigmatic smile - underwent the whole procedure and is now back home again, improving daily. On leaving the hospital, a new patient asked 'what's the cure rate?'  Him indoors:  it's that Da Vinci man over there with the black hat and coat!!

16th February 2014

I was watching 'The Voice' on BBC last night.  It occurred to me, as a writer, that it's no longer enough to be able to 'perform' as well as those in the past - now you need to be different or extraordinary to have a chance of being noticed in today's world of myriad attractions. So, I've been reformatting some of my writing.  For youngsters I've written 3 of a series of 7 novels. The original (i.e. an attempt to be 'extraordinary') concept here is that each covers  a personality deficit of the girl which matches the voted-on motto of one of the 7 modern wonders of the world, the finale of each novel proving that each person can overcome their weaknesses in a highly-critical world.
For adults I've been reformatting Vichyssoise which I hope would appeal ultimately to the French. It covers an in-depth study of the mindset of the Vichy government. Admittedly it's a risk, and I may well be heckled, but hopefully falls into the 'extraordinary'. Previews can be read on the re-formatted buttons on the right - currently available on Lulu.com and soon via globalreach and Amazon worldwide.
Would Sir Tom Jones, Kylie Minogue or Will.i.am 'turn around' for it?  On verra......

9th February 2014

So, a person living alone in France needs at least  €1,490 euros a month to live in France, according to a new survey.  Try telling that to the many impoverished British expats living here - especially those living on just the British state pension - c.450 pounds a month!  I understand that the French state pension pays as much as 70% of final salary. Are you listening Mr. Cameron?  
Apparently, in Paris they say you need a net income of  €1,620 euros a month, while those living in more rural areas said they could live on €1,430, the poll of 4,000 people for the Directorate of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (DREES) revealed. Did they ask them if they could live on around  €700 a month, like their British pensioner counterparts I wonder?
According to France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee), the median monthly wage in France in 2011 after taxes was €1,630. In the same year, 8.7m people lived below the poverty line of €977 per month.  58% of those polled thought living standards were worse for pensioners. Are you listening Mr. Cameron?  The French poverty line is  €977 per month. TG we don't still have our old British bank manager, Mr. Ronseal - always treating us with dis-tain!

2nd February 2014

When will it ever stop raining?  Can't get into the garden, so daydreaming again. I suppose my love for France started over 50 years ago when I went on a school exchange trip to Paris. Ah Paris! Because I'd grown up poor, main meals just being one course, I remember being astonished in Paris being presented with a plate of just haricots verts. Didn't realise back then that this was just the first course. The beans tasted like nothing I'd ever tasted before. Can still savour the flavour - probably tossed in onion and garlic in olive oil. Today, although le bien manger is still the same, Paris is very different. Don't even think of driving in the city as you'll learn a language that isn't exactly French! So, to improve tempers, Paris has introduced new ways to pay for parking - yes, those dreaded phone apps. Soon there'll be no more parking machines; just pay using the Vinci-paybyphone app.  But, but, how will passing wardens know that you've paid, I ask?  Surely they won't walk all along a street, using their phones to check each car's database?? And, without the machines, how will you know whether you can park there or not? Visit Paris by train and metro, I say.  Much better. And apps?  Sends us in-Seine...