26 March 2017

This week marks a number of events: 84 years since Hitler assumed full dictator pouvoir powers via Reichstag decree; 60 years since the Treaty of Rome, the founding of the EU; on Friday Trump lost his chance to improve on Obamacare; yet another brainwashed terrorist ran amok in London killing and maiming innocent civilians, and this Wednesday is the day the UK PM presses the Brexit button. So, where to start with all that mess?  For Americans reading this, I can only direct you to read my blog of 19 Feb 2017 and tell the President what he should have done. In France the health system works, so why not copy a winning system? Re Hitler and Europe, I know what my late father would have said:  keep away! Today's EU is moving too far towards an all-consuming federal state. The problem with the Muslim terrorists, unlike murderers of the past, is that they are doing what they do in the name of a widespread and burgeoning religion: Islam. That is what innocent Muslims around the world must deal with. What do I think? Life is never simply black or white, but a melange of things. The world must learn from the past and pick and mix the things that work, like the French health system, and the overarching goodwill of so many good and kind people around the world.    

Tuesday 21 March 2017

My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, is branching into non-fiction and my professionally-produced and revised book, Pensioners in Paradis, will be one of the first two published under the True Cats non-fiction line. (The other will be Life with Arfur by David Robinson.) Pensioners in Paradis is expected to appear in paperback and e-book later this year.  A contract for the book was signed yesterday afternoon and the formal announcement was made on Facebook and Twitter later in the evening. Here's the preliminary announcement. New artwork will be displayed soon.

Crooked Cat Books 2017

A few weeks ago I discussed with fellow authors on FB about the various genres they enjoyed reading in these worrying times.  Certainly humour came high on the list. In my experience anything that shows ordinary people finding themselves in ridiculous situations with which others can empathise, is always good for a laugh. Add to that the folly of trying and failing to mimic the lifestyles of other cultures whilst continuing a lifetime habit of self-deprecation and depression and you see what I mean.  I can already feel a FB event party coming on.....

19 March 2017

There's a new word in the dictionary. Cyberia....
I'm reminded of an early episode of Star Trek in the '60s where two warring peoples had stopped conventional war for centuries by peacefully choosing random people to voluntarily eliminate themselves. In today's real world the horrors of WW2 and subsequent fighting remind us every day of the horrors of war and the killing of millions - usually initiated by the pride of a single dictator or brain-washed, deranged groups constantly seeking more land to aggrandise personal motives. One reason why many Remainers voted to stay in the EU was to avoid such wars. But now we also have cyber warfare where warmongers are much more subtle, using the silent web to further their aims. Deterrence? You'd need to stop everyone using a computer - impossible. If we can't stop the proliferation of conventional wars, how on earth can we stop Cyberia?
....No point calling on Scottie to put up his defence shields. There are none yet for Cyberia. Come on Sir Tim Berners-Lee, on the anniversary of your invention: we need you. Otherwise we're all out in the cold.

12th March 2017

Oh to see ourselves as others see us, as Robbie Burns said so eloquently in 1786...
After near-hurricane winds we lost all our English TV programmes. So, on channel TF1 we've been watching Bienvenue chez-nous, the French version of the crassly-named 'Four-in-a-Bed' whereby fellow B&B owners score points off each other's establishment and facilities. One couple were English expats. First, the wife painted their volets her favourite colour purple. No! Then they served the other owners a full English breakfast of eggs/tomatoes/mushrooms. No! I recognised the wife's introversion when she greeted each new arrival far too affectionately by throwing her arms around each of them, rather than the standard French polite peck on each cheek. Then the host's French accent.  He spoke fluently, but his pronunciation!  Eventually, despite offering their guests a fab musical jam session in their barn, the English hosts couldn't undo the harm already done, scoring only 4s and 5s.
...Rule no.1 in France: Paint volets according to the commune colour in which you live. 2. Practise your French accent every day. 3. Serve food as the French do. 4. Cultivate French mannerisms.  So, quoting St. Ambrose, a mediaeval Latin poet: if you want to gain favour in France, when in Rome do as the Romans do!

5th March 2017

In the Foreword to Vichyssoise I note that "People in democracies all over the world, when casting their vote for leader, should choose the person who is the most educated of the selection." Of course in that book I was referring to the populist French choice of Philippe Petain in WW2 - a man far too-weak and politically-inexperienced. The problem is that no-one at the time of voting could possibly have known what their newly-elected leader would be forced to face. This week a French historian, ironically a specialist in WW2, was detained for 10 hours by armed US customs officials whilst on his way to an academic conference in Texas. Other innocent new arrivals have reported similarly that if you get called out of the arrivals line, you are screamed at and treated as a potential terrorist. What then can the world do about Donald Trump? He's certainly not weak as Petain was and may actually deliver some populist constitutional changes, but his political inexperience and gung-ho bravura, combined with a team bristling with 'mad dog' Generals, bodes just as much ill for the world as did the mild Petain when collaborating with Hitler. I wonder if on his Oval Office wall Trump's got a sign, emulating Petain, saying 'L'histoire me jugera'!