26 April 2015

I've always been fascinated by history...  History reveals who we were:  we must learn from it if we are ever to improve.  On Monday a Frenchman called Robert Maloubier died aged 92.  Most have never heard of him, and yet he was awarded France's highest honour, the Legion d'Honneur.  He was one of the last surviving French agents from Winston Churchill's Special Operations Executive (SOE) during WWII. For the allies, he was a hero, carrying out special missions targetting German soldiers in occupied France. But in real life, things aren't always like James Bond movies. On one occasion, after being shot several times, he managed to escape a German guard by knocking him to the ground and throwing a motorbike at him!  Like Maloubier, rapid, intelligent and lateral thinking is sometimes required if we are to live our lives unscathed.  Unlike leaders of the past, e.g. Vichy leader Philippe Petain, those who are elected to the top position must be selected for their mental agility above all else, because you never know what's round the corner. Note from the world's biggest worrier: learn from history and be prepared...

19 April 2015

Man never learns.  Three weeks away from a General Election and what are the British concerned about?  Domestic policies. Full stop.  It's the 21st century and, despite all that warring history to learn from, still each country only thinks about themselves. The English in particular have an incredibly insular mindset. I'm disappointed in Cameron. He's made 2 big errors: one he escaped from by the skin of his teeth - the referendum to separate from Scotland - and the second agreeing to a referendum on the EU. Globally, who're still killing each other? Undemocratic, uncivilised, insular people. National security and immigration can only be seriously addressed if all nations act together. France knows that, Merkel knows that. The only way to alleviate tensions and negotiate seriously with uncivilised warring factions is from a position of collective strength. A Brexit will only make Britain weaker. Since the EU was formed: no wars in Europe. It eliminated extreme forms of lethal nationalism. Where's a Gorbachev now to break down walls when you need him?

12 April 2015

A feud was reported between a retired English man and his neighbour in France.  No, not Him indoors this time, but a Mr. King who lived in Calvados. The horrifying story appeared in La Voix - le Bocage newspaper. The poor man had been reported missing but the gendarmes had done nothing because they thought he was visiting his daughter in Australia. This was despite his passport and heart medicines being found. At last, after efforts by the English expat community of Caen, his body was found in the neighbour's well, who is now in custody on suspicion of killing him!  A very sobering thought as we finished planting a line of fast-growing laurel hedge plants between us and our neighbour, although one plant opposite the infamous 12' no-entry sign, has mysteriously been uprooted in the night!  Can't move house because of poor exchange rates and two dogs, but maybe the germ of an idea is sprouting in my now very lateral thinking. Let's hope that all goes well that ends well. Meantime must keep a careful eye on Him indoors and see if all augurs well near the deep pit at the bottom of our garden....

5th April 2015

It's Easter. Which shops are open tomorrow and which ones shut? French websites never tell you. No commercial spirit.The Lidl and Aldi car parks around here are empty most days anyway!  Now that does tell me something. When it comes to food, the French always know best. I was watching Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (US) on TV. The Americans, like the English, have their priorities all wrong. They go for food bargains, quickness and quick-chill options served in large portions. That's also why Lidl and Aldi do so well in the UK.  Here, although the French in the poorest banlieues obviously look for food they can afford, they go to the popular Food Coops or the street markets. With French living costs constantly rising (a retired couple here apparently need 2,437 euros/mth), France is hoping to open a food co-op like Paris's Louve in Toulouse soon. Ramsay, although a millionaire, with all his bluster knows a thing or two about food: go for fresh, simple and quality food. Your own body will thank you in years to come. When the chips are down, get your priorities right.