1st January 2017

Enfin. The end of a poor year. The good news? For the Jewish people it's 5777 - any year that has sevens in it is good. Plus, 2017 also has a 7 in it. Yes, four 7s in one year! All good omens. 7 things about the French: 1. Orgueil means arrogant, denoted by the ubiquitous French cockerel emblem. Unlike the English, the French will always crow for their country. 2. They take their health very seriously and recognise that if you want the best, you must be prepared to invest more into the system (note: the system, not in salaries!).  3. They don't like being told what to do, hence marching on the streets. Think la Marseillaise. 4. Use of imaginary English words, e.g. le lifting (facelift), le sweat, le jogging, les warnings etc. 5. They invented condescension by using the 3rd person 'monsieur' when talking directly to you. 6. They like to touch/kiss you at every opportunity - great if it's someone young; not so good if it's the old hag down the road! 7. Contrary to public opinion, they do have a sense of humour, but it's difficult for the average English person to tell a joke in French that they understand or can relate to.
My thoughts for 2017? When levons nos verres with French neighbours, remember to keep eye contact; otherwise they might think you've something to hide (maybe you've poisonous intentions)!  To all my readers, a very happy and healthy New Year. And to my US friends: let's hope we can Trump the opposition.

25th December 2016

To some the best day of the year!  Normally we look forward to watching some great TV on this day, (English of course; French TV is rubbish), but Him indoors is grumpy. Why must all the schedules be full of kids' programmes at the time we want to watch?  We hate animated kids' films. Don't older people exist any more? The only decent programmes are scheduled too late for us as we're an hour later than in the UK, and of course we haven't got the multitude of i-playbacklater devices. Only one way to cheer up: read what happened in Xmases past:
2013: The best-laid plans oft go astray.....
I had been reading the best little book in the world: Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.  In it he tells anyone who ever asks what's the point of it all, to focus on 2 things: responsibility and attitude for your own life. Ask not what life can offer you, but what you can give to life. So, in this vein (and because 'tis the season) I made some vegetarian mince pies using dried fruit, honey and a touch of rum and decided to give them to 4 neighbours - you remember, those who wanted to shoot the dogs, who complained about a garden bonfire and had never welcomed us. So, first I ventured next door armed with a paper plate of 6 pies covered by cling-film.  Up the drive and up the step, pressed the door bell...but just when the door opened I foolishly stepped back, fell down the step and 5 pies slipped onto the floor!  Him indoors' response later? Do as I did at the medical clinic. What? You remember, when I came out bent over, you asked 'are you in pain? And I said Look at the sign over there. It says Toulouse-Lautrec Clinic, walk this way!'
Season's greetings to one and all.

18th December 2016

Oh I'll be glad when 2016 is over. The 'horror Thursday' syndrome continues. Thursday I understood that the Geometre land-surveyor was arriving early, but I didn't know that he'd invited all our 'friendly' neighbours round too! Seems it's normal when applying for a building permit for the neighbours to assess boundaries etc. So at 8.30 a.m. Thursday there was a crowd in our drive, whilst Him indoors, blissfully unaware in his pyjamas covered with coat and knitted hat, was busy clearing the morning dog deposits!  A scene from Fawlty Towers came to mind as I loudly whispered across the drive:  come in, come in, get dressed now, as if to a recalcitrant child. Meanwhile the whole world of British expats and family continue to ask why on earth we're going back to the UK - currently suffering from a return of the 1970s with carefully-timed strikes galore, as usual to cause the maximum inconvenience possible to the suffering public. To all those sympathetic to the Unions I would say:  ask your Union leader what he earns.  They, like charity CEOs, have a completely different agenda (to self-agrandiose themselves) so never tell you their earnings because many earn more than the PM, but that's another story.  And so it continues...

11th December 2016

On Friday American actor Kirk Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch, from immigrant E. European parents, was 100. What changes has he seen in his life, what lessons learned?
Here our French friends Gerard et Monique tell me that it's odds-on that Le Pen will reach the second round of the presidential elections. Socialist Valls has all to play for, and Fillon, the centrist Conservative, may be neck and neck with Le Pen. Gerard says there'll be masses of tactical voting for sure: if Valls does well, a majority will vote for the FN to keep the socialists out, and if Fillon does well, the FN will lose because rightwingers will vote for him plus many from the left to keep out Marine! And across the pond: Putin accused of tampering with the US election and recounts galore. In Italy the leader's resigned and in Germany there's the insidious rise of the neo-Nazis. It's tragic. As Boy George says: we're all clinging to a rock and some have got a better grip than others. Ordinary people globally just want to improve their lives, so in order to do this, they think by voting in someone else, things will get better. No. Tactical voting and voting for someone 'different' can let in the devil! Just ask the Germans.
...as I'm sure Kirk Douglas, winner of the US Presidential award for freedom, will say. The way to live to 100 is: moderation in all things - including your choice of leader.

4th December 2016

Monday marked 50 years since Him Indoors and I got engaged!  Yes, 28th November 1966.
Such a lot has changed in everyday attitudes: back then children were to be 'seen and not heard'; we played outside all day during the holidays, only coming home at tea time, and people in authority were to be obeyed without question. Computers were unheard of, social media was talking to others in the local pub, and growing up in the '50s we had no car nor telephone nor TV. Today is like living on another planet. Unbelievably we're living in another country, France, so everything should be rosy shouldn't it? Then why are we going back 'home'?  Ah, that is the question. Could it be that when push comes to shove we all need, as we get older, that comfort blanket of being near family and old friends in person - rather than this strange virtual reality we call the internet.  But, the world looks increasingly dangerous today. I can't get away from it. It's rammed down our throats on all social media. There's that loose-cannon, unsuitably-prepared leader across the pond - please, American readers, don't make him angry - and a new Conservative to be elected here in France: either the centrist Fillon or, heaven-forbid, the far-right Le Pen.  Please can I go back to the '60s?