Nationalist Francophobia

With anti-European sentiment running high at the moment, it really should come as no surprise to find that social networking sites such as Facebook are vast repositories of such views.

(Or should that be suppositories?)

However, some comments really stand out, such as this one (on an English Nationalist page) which tackles the current hot topic of Sarkozy and Merkel trying to shore up the Euro:

  Sarkozy is keeping up the famous French tradition of collaborating with the Hun.

Looking at the writer’s profile, they appear to be well-educated but there’s so much wrong with what they say, that I have to say that whoever awarded them the degree they claim to possess needs fucking sacking.

In one short sentence, they manage to cram in so much xenophobic feeling that you can almost smell the bigotry.

A 10 minute car journey from where I live will take you to a disused quarry where 27 French resistance fighters were executed by a German firing squad. Yes, of course there were French collaborators, but there were also many, many brave men and women who tried to keep France free and make life difficult for the occupying Germans.

Then there were the majority of ordinary people who neither resisted or collaborated but who just tried to get on with life as best they could whilst surrounded by deprivation and the constant reminders of the horrors of war.

People like this Facebook poster seem to forget that one of the main reasons that the Germans never invaded Britain was a purely geographical one.

Britain is an island and this was what saved us from being overrun like France was.

However, if Hitler had been successful and invaded us, then I have no doubts whatsoever that along with British resistance fighters, there would have been British collaborators.

The Nazis did, in fact, occupy British soil during the Second World War – the Channel Islands.

And yes, there were collaborators there, too – British ones.

Indeed, Facebook (and the same source) offers yet more anti-French ‘goodies’ which have emerged since I broke off writing this entry.

Here are a few examples:

"France; a beautiful country inhabited by swine…."

"The biggest trouble with France is it is completely overrun with the French."

"Lol I love France, just can’t take the arrogance of its inhabitants!!"

"I’m pro English, not anti-French. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. hang on a minute – that’s the same thing, isn’t it? LOL"

"I have just started using the French version of Twitter.
"Its exactly the same except it retweets really quickly.:-)"

My…they’re a fucking riot, aren’t they?

And so self-congratulatory and amused by themselves.

Well, having lived here for nearly 2 years, I can quite honestly say that the French we’ve met have been nothing but friendly, kind, helpful and welcoming.

Still, that’s some English Nationalists for you…

Xenophobic, intellectually-stunted and petty-minded.

 

english-bulldog-dog-muzzle-leather-dog-muzzle-bulldog_LRG

Or, to put it rather more succinctly, shit for fucking brains.

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DIY…demain

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As I’ve written here before, life in France is pretty idyllic, although it has its drawbacks.

I don’t mean to gripe, and I imagine that nowhere’s perfect, but when it comes to DIY stores then France certainly isn’t…

Commonly known as ‘bricos’, most DIY stores here – just as in the UK – exist as part of large national chains.

There’s Mr Brocolage, Bricoman, Bricodepot, Bricopro and Bricomarche, as well as Castorama and many others.

I reckon that we must have visited every brico within a 40km radius – and that’s a fuck of a lot of bricos – looking for everything from timber quadrant to tiles.

Shopping around doesn’t begin to describe this lengthy process and you have to if you want to find what you want at a reasonable price.

DIY supplies are pretty expensive compared to the UK and they also vary quite wildly in price and quality.

But there’s also another problem – availability.

Basically, if you see something you want, and it seems to be at a reasonable price, then grab the fucker!

Our local brico – Bricomarche in Renaze – has ‘supply problems’.

For example, I went in for some lasure – a type of varnish for floors. There were only two tins on the shelf, which I bought. I went in a week later and again there were only two tins on the shelf, which I also bought. This week I went in and there were none.

Strimmer line…I went in for a drum of it – the cheapest way of buying it and they had none. A week later they’d had a delivery – 3 drums, one of each of the common sizes: that’s all. Those three drums are still there two weeks later but there’d be only two gathering dust on the shelf if I hadn’t gone elsewhere in the end.

I went in today to buy finishing plaster for some plasterboarding and they had two bags left, so I snapped those babies up, I can tell you.

Light switches – two weeks ago they had about a dozen; today, two, which I snaffled.

Nobody seems too bothered, either…

But, you know what, I sort of like that.

In the grand scheme of things, if I have to go without a light switch or some strimmer line for a few extra days, it’s not really that serious, is it?

It’s just another reminder that life here is just that little bit more relaxed and, if the brico store manager gives me a Gallic shrug when I say that I need some 2.4mm strimmer line, then I can give one to Mrs Shark when I get a gentle reminder that the weeds in the corner of the garden are getting a bit out of control…

Time is an illusion…

…lunchtime doubly so.

 

Seafood_lunch

 

Perhaps Douglas Adams had France in mind when he wrote these words, because the 2 hour lunch break is something we’re still trying to get to grips with after over a year here.

Basically, if you want to buy something here from midday to 2PM, apart from lunch that is, then basically you can forget it.

Sure, many supermarkets now have all day opening, but that’s about it.

Even in the large out of town shopping districts – the zones commerciales – finding something like a brico (think B&Q, and of which more in a later blog post) that’s open is a task akin to seeking the Holy Grail and marginally less fruitful.

Want a tin of peas or a lump of cheese?

No problem.

Want a tin of paint or some wall plugs.

Fat fucking chance.

Organising a comprehensive shopping trip has to be done with some care if you don’t want to hit lunchtime and a potential 2 hour wait until the shop you want is open. So, it’s either leave home early so you get there with plenty of time before noon, or set off during lunchtime so you get there for 2.

Then there’s the traffic…

When we were looking for houses early last year, we were told that houses situated some distance from main centres of work weren’t popular as a long lunchtime commute cut into the lunch break too much.

Consequently, properties lying over 20 minutes or so from employment areas are less desirable – although potentially slightly cheaper and less sought after, which may offer a small advantage to potential buyers.

However, those people living close to their work then behave like lunatics on the road as they drive as if their heads were on fire to get home as quickly as possible – and the same disregard is shown going back to work, of course.

But why a 2 hour lunch break in the first place?

Well, it may be due to the working week in France being very short – a statutory 35 hours – but this has been modified since it was introduced and is really just a reference point for calculating overtime. Besides, the 35 hour maximum doesn’t go right across the board:

The 35-hour rule applies to all employees except those with special working conditions, such as sales representatives, executives, limited liability company managers, caretakers in residential buildings and domestic staff. There are many other exceptions, so the main beneficiaries are blue-collar workers and those in large organisations.

I can understand a 2 hour siesta type break as in Spain, because of the heat, but France doesn’t enjoy such good weather – especially in the north.

I’d hate a 2 hour lunch break.

When I became self-employed in about 1990, I used to prefer to work without a lunch break. So, if I was doing a 6 hour day and paid per hour, I’d work straight through from 8.30 or 9 and then try and leave as soon as possible. My philosophy was that I wasn’t getting paid for lunch breaks so I’d rather have any down time at the end of my work. Sometimes having to take a lunch break was unavoidable, however, if the person I was supposed to be seeing was at lunch.

Anyway, there’s no point in resenting the two hour lunchtime here as it’s just something we have to adjust to, but when it gets to 11.45 in the morning and you’ve just run out of paint and you have over two hours to wait to get it, it can be irritating, to say the least!

Fussy eaters…

…always awkward buggers and especially when they’re your own bloody cats.

Since we had Django and Oscar as kittens, and up until we moved to France, they’ve both eaten the same food.

Django ate Felix Choice Cuts pouches – fish only – and some dried Royal Canin Maine Coon food:

 

P1010722

Oscar on the other hand ate nothing apart from the Royal Canin food. In fact, he still doesn’t eat anything else. Each bowl is attacked with equal relish and as if it was filet steak, foie gras or caviar…

 

P1010719

 

Fortunately, we’ve managed to wean Django onto Whiskas which is often on special offer here and he’ll now eat the pouched poultry varieties as well as the fish.

However, supplying Oscar with what he likes has become rather less easy. Last year, we ordered 30kg of the Royal Canin food from a company in the UK. It cost us about £140 with free delivery and arrived less than 48 hours after I placed the order – fabulous service and a great price.

Here, in France, it’s amazingly expensive, about 50% more, which is bad enough, but when you think that Royal Canin is a French company, it’s fucking ridiculous.

And that’s the main problem relocating to France – some things are stupidly expensive, although we reckon it just about evens out when you take into account the fact that some aspects of the household budget are cheaper.

However, after discovering that the company we ordered from last year no longer delivers here, we found another UK pet suppliers that will deliver to us and, although more expensive, 20kg delivered here will still work out about 33% cheaper than buying it in France.

The moral is, I suppose, to shop clever whenever possible. So, we keep our eyes peeled for special offers – although the BOGOF culture hasn’t really reached here yet – and then stock up:

  • Pork leg joints at €2.50 a kilo? Grab half a dozen and slap ‘em in the freezer!

  • Twin pack of Palmolive washing up liquid at just over the price of a single bottle? Get 3 packs for the store cupboard!
  • Cheap tomatoes? Make a vat of pasta sauce and freeze it!

Also, French value brands seem to be better than their UK counterparts, with Super U’s Bien Vu dark roast coffee offering amazing value, for example.

However, it’s clear that what was once a cheap country, compared to the UK at least, is no longer cheap.

So, it’s by no means all biere et boules here.

On the other hand, I haven’t seen a single chav since I was over in the UK last December and that counts for a lot…

Berrying bad news

Brambles – les ronces to the French here – are utter bastards.

I’ve just spent a useful but bloody hour armed with a pair of loppers and some welding gloves cutting some out of the trees along our boundary.

I pulled some out that were easily 30 feet long with vicious fucking thorns on them.

A quick look at the Wikipedia entry on them has been mildly interesting.

I already knew that you could get blackberries from them and that there were various cultivars developed from the bramble, like loganberries and tayberries, but I never knew about some of the others:

 

544px-Brambleberries.svg

Olallieberry?

This has a pedigree that has more twists and turns than the Windsor family tree:

berries

 

Well, all very interesting, I suppose, but it doesn’t help to staunch the flow of blood from the lacerations on my arms.

Note to self – even though it’s a hot sunny day, wearing a t-shirt to cut back brambles isn’t the smartest thing to do……

An English Democrat gets his wish

Well, he must have his own private fucking genii because the moronic EDP motherfucker who seemed to want to see a bit more ‘get up and go’ in evidence on the streets of the UK certainly got his wish today.

School pupils as young as 14 decided to take the day off school and protest against the hike in student tuition fees and the involvement of the Lib Dems in all of this.

Fortunately, most of the protests passed off peacefully, although as I’ve just seen on the local London BBC regional news program tonight, it got a bit fraught in the capital – particularly around Whitehall. Indeed, as I write this, I’ve just seen a report from a ‘kettled’ area where a bus shelter has been set on fire. Earlier, steel barriers were thrown at police lines and an isolated police vehicle was cut off by protesters and vandalised.

Even worse, I’ve just seen Lenny Henry – surely one of the most overrated UK comedians of all time – on the One Show cracking a joke that the protests at least meant that students had stopped eating Doritos, put their trousers on, turned off Trisha and gone out to do something.

So what about the 14 year old school kids kettled in Whitehall while you’re in a nice cosy studio, Lenny? Pleased to see them go out and do something instead of that boring old schoolwork – like bunking off school and getting kettled, perhaps?

Cunt.

And speaking of cunts…

Who knows, perhaps the EDP shithead who wanted to see a bit more UK street action has a son or daughter kettled at this very moment in Whitehall!

It’s possible, as I understand that the party has a bit of a presence in Kent, and in its towns such as Dartford, so it must be easy enough to nip up to the capital’s streets where ‘guts were being displayed’ today.

Although it’s easy enough to mobilise large numbers of people – mobile phones, Twitter, Facebook, etc – when the various groups of school pupils got to the protest, many of them interviewed seemed upset that what they had intended to be a 100% non-violent event had been hijacked by certain elements who were intent on violence.

And there’s the danger.

When you’re 14, 15, 16, you’re not always aware that you might be being manipulated and your enthusiasms subverted by people whose aims are rather different to yours. That’s not a criticism, it’s just part of being young, and manipulation is manipulation, whether it’s by anarchists or record company executives. To many people, the young are fair game.

They certainly were today.

I’m not totally without sympathy with the broad thrust of the protesters today. After all, I benefited from a cheap degree with no tuition fees, but then I’ve also seen a blind dogmatic rush towards degrees for everybody at any cost by the last three Labour governments. This created an unsustainable demand on public money for cheap university education which we now simply cannot afford. And that’s another inevitable and inherent problem with being 14 or 15; a failure to appreciate that money will only stretch so far (after all, you don’t have to earn the fucking stuff), such as when you ask your parents for a new pair of £100 trainers. 

So, Mr Englsih (sic) Democrat, I don’t know whether your child’s shivering its arse off inside a police kettle in Whitehall at this very moment, but someone’s child certainly is.

Quite a few of them in fact.

Maybe you should be more careful what you wish for…

Here in strike-torn France…

…the local fuel situation (Mayenne – 53) doesn’t seem very hopeful. We went to Pouance (in the neighbouring departement)  today – a 20km round trip – to get some bits and pieces and we would have filled up at the Super U if they’d had any 95 unleaded but they only had diesel. We found the same situation at the Total garage next door.

We still have over three-quarters of a tank left, but with two more strike days announced (one for next week on the 28th) and the unions obviously heartily pissed off with the retirement legislation, as well as the broader grievances they have with Sarko, it’s anybody’s fucking guess when things are going to settle down here.

The interweb seems curiously short on information as to where you can still find petrol. Although some details are available on the ex–pat forums they’re very sketchy and seem to concentrate on where there isn’t any petrol, which is rather unhelpful.

Where we are – in the arse-end of nowhere – fuel’s important and it’s not as if I can see if there’s any fuel after a 2 minute walk, which is what I could do when we lived where we did in the UK.

That’s not a moan though – I wouldn’t want to be back in the UK. With Halloween coming up there was always the risk that your house or car would get an egging and, with Bonfire Night close behind, fireworks being let off at any hour of the day or night.

Luckily, neither occasions are celebrated here in France and even if they were, stuck out here in a hamlet in one of only 5 houses I don’t think much would be kicking off.

The strikes and industrial action are a nuisance, admittedly, but with careful use of the car we should be OK for a couple of weeks. We’re well stocked-up with wood, food, cat food, booze and other essentials and we can bake our own bread. The only thing we might run out of is cigarettes and the bar-tabac in the village is only a 10 minute walk away.

We’re quite snug here – Mrs Shark has a glass of sparkling wine, I have a beer, the cats are sacked out with us by a blazing log fire, there’s a pot of beef and dumpling stew on the go and the house is clean and tidy. Although there might be more exciting ways to spend a Saturday night – Miss Marple and then Wallender are on TV tonight – it’s a remarkably relaxed and stress-free one which suits us just fine.

Time to crack open another beer methinks.

A votre santé!