20th August 2017

Barcelona. Las Ramblas - such a lovely wide boulevard, thronged with laughing, joyful holidaymakers, all mingling with each other along its cobbled thoroughfare. And now this. People despair and ask why is this happening in the world. But it's always happened. Man feels threatened unless he can 'protect' himself amongst his very own group, fighting off all those 'others'. However, centuries ago man only fought those who lived in the next village, unaware of what was happening in the rest of the world. Ironically today technology is at fault, opening up global vistas, showing how green it is the other side of the fence. Well, that was ever the reasoning. The difference today is that one group is fighting not to try to achieve what others have but with one aim only - to proselytise the rest of the world to their own 'group'.  Pure tribalism but with a global, evil twist. Let us hope they are never successful.
Meantime, technology's better side:  today I'm on fellow author Vanessa Couchman's blog, talking about the lighter side of cultural exchanges in Europe. Do pop over to www.vanessafrance.wordpress.com and read about my forthcoming release, Pensioners in Paradis: French Notes From A Broad. Thank you Vanessa.

13th August 2017

Immigrants....Years ago we were used to Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants. In France we'd read about EU immigration but not experienced it. Back in the UK the builders sent several workers to our new house. Couldn't quite place the first one's accent. Russian? No. Polish? No. Bulgarian! And when another builder came round, he sounded a bit similar. You must be Bulgarian, I said. No. Albanian! Oh the changes here post-war. From '48 to '62 the UK saw a wave of immigrants from Britain's imperial family. 500,000 arrived, mainly from the Caribbean, India and Pakistan. In Mirpur you earned 50p per week, in Wolverhampton £33. A no-brainer. Everyone thought they were here just temporarily, but it eventually turned the UK multicultural. And now the latest EU wave. After 2004 it was impossible for the government to control numbers, so Brexit was born. My conclusion? We must all learn how to deal with neighbours of a different culture.
...Hence the new published edition of my non-fiction book Pensioners in Paradis: French Notes from a Broad. How did Him indoors cope with dealing with a different culture? And how did the French cope with him? Now available for pre-order: click on the image on the right.

6th August 2017

Now I'm back in England, my head's much clearer. Must be all that rain, washing away my confusion. 12 years ago I still viewed France in awe - full of sun, cobalt-blue skies and gourmet food. We all looked for the same thing: a natural-stone cottage in glorious countryside, surrounded by acres of your own land and perhaps metres from a shimmering lake. You're going to speak French and integrate. And all for a mere fraction of a UK house. But after say 10 years, reality sets in. You're not getting any younger and the essentials of life like supermarkets/banks/petrol stations/cash machines/doctors are miles away, so what to do if either your eyesight's failing or only one of you drives? Land maintenance is fine if you're fit, but will you still be in 10 years' time? And those living near a lake/river: wait for the flooding to start. French living costs, once cheap, are steadily rising. Ultimate question: do you want to die there? (I know, you don't want to die anywhere!). And me? TG back in reality land, no longer foreign (even though I speak good French), shops open 'til 11 pm, no lunchtime closing, everything easier, quicker and more friendly. I can tell you straight: the French do not like the English - they are 'ferme', closed to outsiders. TG I've at last come to my senses. The English living in France are still in a dream world, still in long-term HOLIDAY mode. England has its faults, but it's HOME.