22 February 2015

Noticed that 'Cinquante Nuances de Grey' was showing at our local Gaillac cinema. Jean-Francois Mary of the French classification board describes it as a romance. No queues and surprisingly only a 12 certificate (18 in the UK.)  Clearly the French get all the sadomasochism they need by watching the Strauss-Kahn trial nightly on free TV, or by reading the sexual antics of the President. But the E. L. James book has sold over 4.5m, so it got me thinking. Maybe I needed to incorporate something like that in my novels. But there again writers are s'posed to write about that which they know....Anyway, have just finished my latest, called 'Campus Revenge'. Certainly it draws on my experience of university life, but...horrors!...it does contain an element of sexual intrigue and revenge. A V-C, just before he retires, receives two formal complaints, one from an overseas PhD student, the other from a member of staff, both against the same professor. Worse, one of the plaintiffs alleges sexual misconduct.  Would E. L. James be impressed? Time will tell.

15 February 2015

The title above says it all really. Lost in France. Essentially I'm a sociable, spiritual person but it's difficult to connect with the French. English people tend to come over here for all the material things and France doesn't let them down. Gaillac's central Place de la Liberation is very attractive with its cobbled square surrounded by shops, market stalls, restaurants, banks, mairie, doctors, specialists etc. But, after 3 years here have I really connected with anyone?  So, Wednesday morning I was at the Cafe Bar Sports to meet a group, all members of Cancer Support France (CSF). Over coffee I agreed to join with them. Here was a way to socialise, yet support an important charity in memory of the 7 members of my family lost to cancer, and recognising Him Indoors' current struggle. I'm looking forward to Saturday when Entente Cordiale, which raises money for CSF, hosts a soiree of apero, repas and spectacle in Gaillac, and also the planned June garden party.  If we do nothing, every second person will get cancer in their lifetime. Dr. Wagner in Nice and my late family will be pleased I've put my name to the cause. Everyone should. No-one deserves to be lost.

8 February 2015

You'd think after 30 years in admin., clerical stuff should be easy. When my pink card UK driving licence was issued in England in 05 I thought o.k. Sorted. But, saw just in time that it was due to expire 21 Feb. 15, so now needed a dreaded French one.  Each Commune seems to demand different paperwork before they'll agree to exchange it. So, set off for the Prefecture in Albi with everything I could think of, all copied in colour (just in case). As usual, took the scenic route. Didn't need the Prefecture but the Prefecture Annexe - 5 mins away. Then, did I need the window labelled 'Etrangers' or the 'Permit de Conduire'?  Present situation: a steward's enquiry over whether my head is straight enough on my 4 photos! Second problem:The UK Pensions Office required Him indoors to complete a life certificate to prove he's still living so they can continue to pay him. But, where's mine? Eventually I managed to get them to send it me online.  But, if I hadn't known about it (and my envelope still hasn't arrived), presumably my pension would've stopped next month!! For something so important, no logic in putting complete trust in the postal services. But, what do I know.....

1 February 2015

My father once said they'll never cure cancer.  Since then, with six of my family succumbing to the dreaded disease, there've been many so-called 'breakthroughs' in the press.  But still the big C marches on relentless.  Or so it seems.  A certain Dr. Nicole Wagner of the Ircan Cancer Institute in Nice now thinks otherwise.  For years she's been working on a rogue gene called WT1 which stealthily and murderously forces the body's vessels to suppress the immune system.  Now her vaccine, by suppressing this gene, can cure all cancers, even those without a tumour like leukaemia, by helping the body fight WT1 from within.  Vaccine trials in Japan, which build on her initial findings, have already been hugely successful even on those with advanced cancer.  Amazing.  So, why the lack of global coverage?  This is something that should be shouted from the rooftops everywhere.  Is it because it's good news and the media are only interested in reporting the salacious, criminal or gory?  Well, I for one salute Dr. Wagner and her French team. Merveilleuse.