27th December 2015

Non, rien de rien.....
Saturday was the 100th anniversary of the birth of a remarkable Parisienne. Sometimes in life we can be born with deformities, illness and poverty as she was.  She grew up in Paris's 20th arrondissement amongst the prostitutes of the Place de Pigalle, suffered crippling arthritic pain from a twisted body but miraculously discovered a life-changing talent. As 2015 turns into 2016 that is a lesson from which we can all learn. Resolve to discover your talent during this coming year. It may not be life-changing like hers but it will give you a reason for living, evoke the very essence of your inner being, and maybe it will make your name memorable long after you've gone. If no-one remembers you in the future, what's life for? So, just like Edith Piaf (and the character David Klein in Vichyssoise, to be published during 2016), you can truly say:
.....je ne regrette rien!

A happy, healthy and memorable 2016 to all my readers, wherever you live and whatever your individual talents. Make the most of them.

20 December 2015

Santa can appear in many guises and from unexpected quarters....
When we moved here, the water meter was buried underneath an immense, concrete lid.  No matter how hard we tried, even with a crow bar, we were never able to lift it.  Sometimes we would be out and shortly afterwards receive the ubiquitous card asking us to read the meter.  So, I wrote to Veolia, the local water company, explaining it was impossible for us to read the meter and could they please replace the concrete lid with something lighter.  Nothing moves fast in France.  And look what happens to the escargot.  But then, surprise, a man arrived without warning and checked out the situation.  He recommended that they, Veolia, should move the heavy lid and meter and move it all to the other, street, side of our gate so that in future they could read the meter when we were out.  Knowing me, the inevitable question:  who's going to pay and how much?  Answer:  me, and 1K euros.  I said 'no way'. Stalemate until a few weeks ago I received a surprising email from them. They would do the job in a few weeks and that they would pay.  I re-read it.  Yes, it would be free!  Yipee.
So, job now done and only cost to me? Two cups of coffee for the workmen.
....Merci Santa Veolia and season's greetings to one and all.

13 December 2015

Watching the news can send you mad! Merkel wins Time magazine's Woman of the Year. Understandable that after the racist madness in Germany 70 years ago she's desperate to show Germany's compassionate side by admitting those of a different faith, albeit a bit late. Conversely, another woman, Le Pen, pulled off a 'historic' win last weekend for FN, topping the vote in the first round of regional French polls. One thing's for sure: she won't be showing any compassion to those of other faiths/nationalities. If she wins today, what would she do? She'd stop charity subscriptions to migrants, family planning and human rights groups and would burn the EU flag.  'We will absolutely respect the law until we are in government and can change it!' she said. Enough said. And while all this was happening, we see a 'historic win' at the Paris Climate Change conference. But for those who feel climate change may just be the result of a normal planetary shift, I'd urge them to deal with the after effects of such change:  the sea is encroaching everywhere. Build sea defences, move people inland etc. The week's news: a microcosm of the ebb and flow of global life today.

6 December 2015

On this day 68 years ago I was born into a very different world. I was malnourished and had numerous physical ailments not recognised back then. There would be another seven months before the NHS would be born, so few people called the doctor. Too expensive. Many babies were weak due to food rationing during their mother's pregnancy, and in my case there would be another 65 years before a congenital beance cardiale would be diagnosed by a far superior French health system. But, is the world in a better state environmentally and politically than it was in post-war '47? I'm not sure. Yesterday saw N. England awash with terrible flooding. And politically, here in France everyone goes to the polls today in the first round of council elections for the new, fewer but bigger regions. Early surveys show a poll surge for the Front National, boosted by the recent Paris troubles. They're ahead in 7 out of 12 regions, with the Republican right ahead of the parti-socialiste left.Yes, there is global terror that must be confronted and eliminated by a consortium of agreed democracies, but not by individual nations voting in extremist, racial party leaders! So, 68 years since my birth, all I can say is: will the world never learn?