I should warn you that this post is going to be a putrid sack of bile I intend to spit out about the French renting system. So if you are hoping to read about pleasantries after my hiatus from blogging, I shall be disappointing you I am afraid. From the moment that I stepped on this cheese loving country nearly two years ago, it has been one drama after the other. I have to admit in some masochistic way it all adds to the adventure of it all.
I have debated on whether I should coloc (share) or find my own place. Both have advantages and disadvantages obviously. I toyed for a while into going into another coloc, therefore did the rounds of going round to people’s houses where it is more or less an interview where they decide whether you are worthy of sharing their airspace. One of the more memorable experiences being a 50 yr old Irish guy who contacted me and then when I got there told me I was charming but he was looking for a ghostly student who was never going to be around. WTF?? Why did he waste my time in the first place. However at least he had the courtesy of giving a reply albeit negative when most of them never do. The other advantage of a coloc was that I could scupper without too much hassle if I didn’t want to stay in the country and this is probably the biggest worry for me. As I have been toying with the idea of leaving so I knew that this could be a real possibility. Also after my bad experience of trying to disconnect from SKY back home after two years of subscription, I was scared of a similar fate befalling me once I started to get connected to things here.
However I thought even if I was only here for six months having my own place would not be a bad move.
So started scouting ads like a drug hound looking for a fix, pouncing on everything that looked remotely interesting within budget. Went through the agency route, big mistake. The french letting market have this thing where you have to provide a guarant. A guarant in short is someone that vouches that if you don’t pay your rent, they will be accountable for it. They would have to provide documents like bank statements, tax bills etc. So as someone with no ties to the country, I don’t have such a person. They do have things in place for people like me to have ‘official’ guarants but 90% landlords refuse to even have this mentioned in their presence. So every possibility was thwarted with the inevitable guarant subject rearing its ugly head. Therefore I decided to head down the private route which I thought would be easier because when you deal with people directly, you are not talking to some faceless agency but to someone you can plead and cry to.
Dealing directly with the landlord was marginally easier. I contacted a woman who was very pleasant on the phone and from the get go told her of my lack of guarant situation. She did not run off screaming which was a positive sign. So we had a rendezvous to see the appartment. While waiting outside the appartment a Smart Car pulled up and this heavily made up lady steps out. Her perfume knocked me out for six and she was standing across the street. She saw me and gave me the same once over that Fagan gave Oliver twist in their first encounter. It was a look filled with a mixture of curiosity, trepidation, excitement and a soupçon of opportunism. I regretted not wearing matching bra and panties because I was sure she could see right through my clothes. She had those kind of eyes. As she looked me up and down I was trying to take my eyes off her massive knuckle duster gold rings. If someone told me this woman owned a brothel and was heavily involved in human trafficking and the sex trade, I wouldn’t even flinch with surprise. She had that air of wilyness about her. She leads me into the appartment block and there the real adventure begins….
Shamelessly pilfering from the lovely Liz’s post about things I miss living in France and not surprisingly for everything on her list, I found myself going ditto especially the tea thing. They love their bloody tea infusions here, The vert, The vert avec menthe, Tilleul, Tilleul avec menthe anything has a variety with menthe. The French get very excited if the tea is apparently from a distant land and with an equally exotic label from so far away like The Inde, Japon. I wonder if Indians would recognise what the French think they drink. Anyway here are my list of things that I miss.
I don’t expect Liz or anyone else is going to agree with what I am about to say but I miss industrial style cheddar sometimes. I know, I know I am a foule but hear me out. I love the choice of the cheese I have here. The comte (18mths aged) with the grains of salt is my idea of heaven, the little chevre apperitifs you can get, the Saint Marcelin in a filo pastry basket with walnuts and dried apricots is to die for but there are times when all you want is some cheese on toast and I have not found cheese that melts like the cheddar we have at home. Emmental does not do the job, too rubbery. Good compte is too expensive and would not use that for a bit of a snack. Any ideas for good melty cheese on toast cheese would be appreciated. I tried making a Cauliflower Cheese today, everything was going well, my leeky cheese sauce was heavenly. Put the whole lot in the oven…as you do and it came out as this weird curdled milk looking mixture. Culprit-cheese!!!!!
Primark, Matalan, New Look, Pound Shops, Charity shops, Book shops – Yes they have clothes shops in France, course they do but it is hard to find cheap places to buy things. I don’t know if people back home realise how lucky they are with the choices they have. I need a kettle, I am skint back home I know I can get a cheapo one for a fiver at argos. No probs. Can’t do that here, well not easily. I need a shirt for work, I am skint well can get a cheapo one from ASDA for £2.50, done deed. You get the point, the variety of cheap places is immense at home. However the French don’t seem to have a LOT of stuff therefore buy really good quality that last ages, if you don’t have the money for that it is not fun.
My bank has a penalty for using other banks cash machines if you do this more than a certain number of times a month. I can’t change my PIN number to what suits me, I have to use the one given to me. If I lose my card, not only does it cost a hefty sum for a replacement, but I have to sign a declaration, send it to them and wait approximately 10 days to get a new card. There is no sense of urgency about the fact that the holder will have a lack of funds available. Also I can only deposit money in MY branch which is not possible. So you can’t really deposit cash. I will never moan about British banks again as I see how I have been taking them for granted.
One of my unfulfilled ambitions is to be a dancer. I am a bit too old in the tooth to set the world of dance alight but I have every intention of living my dreams through my poor unsuspecting future children and being the stage mum from hell 🙂 If anyone knows how to convince a little boy that doing ballet and contemporary is totally ok, even though the idiots at school might pick on him please let me know, so I can be prepared for that inevitable eventuality. Kids are cruel!!
Back to my guilty pleasure numero uno. So you think you can dance (SYTYCD), this show leaves me in awe, envy, admiration, tears etc. I watched it on Living TV in the UK but thanks to YOU TUBE (loving your work) since I have been in France I haven’t totally missed out. Watch these and tell me it does nothing for you.
1. This is just breathtakingly beautiful to watch. This is the reason why my son WILL, I repeat WILL be a dancer (she says with a manic look in her eyes as she froths at the mouth).
2. Freaky, fun, and funky. One of my favourite choreography on the show. Love it!!!!!!
4. Brilliant Choreography from the best in my opinion (Mia Michaels)
5. Variety is the spice of life.
6. This is from the Ellen show. Check out the latin dancers, poppers and breakdancers. Geez!!!
7. Some that just boggles the mind and body
For the past few days, I have been reading and listening to the election forecast polls, as the time was getting nearer and the people on the TV were talking as though Barack Obama would be the new president. I couldn’t bring myself to think it was possible, and hoped it would happen. I mean I thought the nearest in my life I would get to see a black guy as president was watching 24. However I woke up this morning and switched on my computer and saw his picture in front of the American flag with the caption ‘THE NEW PRESIDENT OF THE USA’. I felt goosebumps all over my body, and just stared at my screen and kept saying ‘Holy Shit, it is true, he did it’. I felt strangely emotional and I knew I would be happy but I did not think I would feel the sort of emotion that I felt. Then I saw a picture of him and his entire family in Chicago and that just threw me over the edge. I spent the whole day not able to concentrate on work but just smiling like a crazy person. I just wanted to go home and watch the news and listen to his speech and the nations reaction.
I don’t know him, I am not a citizen of his country but I felt so proud of this human being. However I have to say as well as being proud of him, I felt so proud of America as a nation. I like many never thought they would vote for a black guy, (mixed race to be more accurate) but they did. What makes me even happier is that I strongly feel that the reason he was chosen was not his primarily about his colour but the fact that he promised change. Americans I feel have been hurt by the cock-up of Bush’s administration that if an armadillo stood up and promised change they would vote for it. This is not taking anything away from Obama (as if I would) but the majority of Americans want change and they are don’t care what colour or creed the person that will bring that change is, as long as he makes positive changes. Even ice queen Condeleeza Rice looked bewildered and moved in her speech.
This sounds cheesy but this election is so monumental because what it has done is to show people of All colours, wealth, religion that you can achieve big things if you put your mind to it. Today I tried talking to my French colleagues about some the events and they really didn’t give a toss. The common reaction was ‘God I am glad it is over, all I have heard is about elections’. Their is some serious displeasure that their news and TV programmes have been saturated with US election news, and there is relief that they can go back to hearing about all things French. I can understand this because it has been US election crazy here, even the daily news entertainment/magazine type show here ‘Le Grand Journal’ have moved their entire set to New York for the week including their weather girl who is reporting on French weather from New York, ludicrous. However it seems that the French think the world does not exist outside France. One colleague said ‘I don’t care what happens over there’. Ermm you should bloody care because as someone quite cleverly stated, ‘If the US sneezes, there is a chance the rest of the world will be in bed with a cold’. I don’t think that the US is the best country in the world (apart from at this moment of course :-)) but there is no denying that they have a huge influence in the world.
Anyway I have to say watching the John McCain speech, my heart went out to him. You could see he fought for this so bad but he really had no chance with the legacy that was left by Bush and he did not do himself any favours by picking Palin as his running mate. People can’t over the fact that if the poor man kills over they will have a woman who thinks Russia is in her back garden as President.
Now as we look forward, even if you didn’t support him, pray that he does great for his country and delivers on his promises.
My last post was a bit premature methinks…. As I came out of hibernation, I went right back. Why because to be perfectly honest, there has been nowt going on. However I have been reading the blogs as always. I heard something recently that made me think a lot and I thought I ought to share (Be proud Oprah be very proud). The summary was what we don’t like in others, we don’t like in ourselves. I am not sure what to make of this because there are some qualities in people that I really don’t like and I know I am totally the opposite. I like to think I am very self aware 🙂 So I decided to make a mental list of my defauts (as the French like to call it) and share them with you. I feel a bit exposed listing my ‘defaults’ but I admire other bloggers who are honest, and think it is brave and I am taking comfort in the fact that no one I know personally will read this. Yes I am a big chicken. Here goes:
- I give up WAYYYY too easily. Which means I am one of those people that tries things, if it gets too hard or looks like it will be hard, will abandon it and move unto something else.
- I REALLY care what people think but pretend I don’t.
- When I am wrong it is hard (virtually impossible) for me to admit it. I will argue the shit out of my point, knowing full well the other person is right.
- When something is done to upset me by someone else, I am too scared to say something about it in case they stop liking me.
- I hate that I am not tidy. I can’t keep tidy. My room, my car, helluva mess. When I try to tidy, it still looks messy. I have no organisational skills.
- I get upset when people don’t invite me to things but when they do I find a way to avoid going (Yes I know, I am weird).
- I don’t seem to have any self-control/discipline.
- I can hold a grudge for a longgggggggggggggggggggg time. No I mean longggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg time and I totally sweat the small stuff.
- I can be manipulative (hate this so much).
- I buy a lot of things I don’t need just to possess it. Wasting a lot of money. I am bad with money.
- I seek and need validation.
- I hate asking for things that I am within my rights to because I don’t want to be perceived as a pest – this one comes from knowing someone who demands so much it is exhausting and in an effort not to be like that I go the other way.
- It is important to me that people think I am clever.
- I can be quite selfish
I am not going to tag anyone to do this but if you are brave enough and want to put your business out there like I have. Feel free. I recommend it, it is quite therapeutic to get it out. If you do use this on your blog, and you are not on my list of blog links, please tell me so i can pop over to your blog to have a look!!!
- Oh forgot one, I am well nosey 😉
It has been a while, a long while because like with what seems to be the entire population of France, I am on holiday. Back home and enjoying the schizophrenic (sp) summer weather. I have been doing the usual catching up with friends thing, which is always nice. Some of the niceties of being back include:
- Observing a punk with the highest mohican in the world get on the tube and no one bats an eyelid (so cool)
- Having conversations where I understand every single word
- Getting my fix of trash TV (mainly imported from the States, no offence guys) and not feeling guilty. [Aside: Ladies, would you go on TV to test up to 8 guys to ascertain the paternity of your child?]
- Double Sausage and Egg Mcmuffins, Nandos Veggie Pittas and Curry
- Boots, Superdrug and One pound shops
I nicked this off Cat’s blog, and as someone who proclaims to love reading, was a bit embarrassed at the classics that I have not actually read.
“Someone” reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. It’s not the Big Read though — they don’t publish books, and they’ve only featured these books so far. In any event . . .
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you started but did not finish.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 or less and force books upon them.
1. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
2. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
3. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
4. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
5. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
6. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
7. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
8. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
9. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
10. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
11. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
12. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
13. His Dark Materials (trilogy) – Philip Pullman
14. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
15. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
16. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
17. Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
18. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
19. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
20. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
21. Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
22. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
23. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
24. Animal Farm – George Orwell
25. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
26. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
27. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
28. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
29. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
30. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
31. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
32. Complete Works of Shakespeare
33. Ulysses – James Joyce
34. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
35. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
36. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
37. The Bible
38. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
39. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
40. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
41. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
42. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
45. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
46. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
47. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
48. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
49. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
50. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
51. Little Women – Louisa M. Alcott
52. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
53. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
54. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
55. Middlemarch – George Eliot
56. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
57. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
58. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
59. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
60. Emma – Jane Austen
61. Persuasion – Jane Austen
62. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
63. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
64. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
65. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
66. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
67. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
68. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
69. Atonement – Ian McEwan
70. Dune – Frank Herbert
71. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
72. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
73. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
74. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
75. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
76. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
77. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
78. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
79. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
80. Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
81. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
82. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
83. Dracula – Bram Stoker
84. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
85. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
86. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
87. Germinal – Emile Zola
88. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
89. Possession – A.S. Byatt
90. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
91. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
92. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
93. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
94. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
95. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
96. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
97. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
98. Watership Down – Richard Adams
99. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
100. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
It was quite funny looking down this list as I was thinking, I have read a lot of these. And then had to go back and revise the list as I realised that actually not read the ones I thought I had but in fact have watched the TV or film adaptation of them, which does not really count as reading!!
I am tickled pink right now and do you know why? I am now a published author. Okay I shall explain. I don’t know if any of you regular readers remember this post. Well lo and behold, my blog entry made it into the book. I am so excited, I think I might just cry or pee my pants. O what the heck I think I might just do both. The frustrating thing is that no one in the world knows that I have this blog, so I can’t share the news with any of my friends and family. That really sucks big time. But part of me enjoys having this little secret of my own. However when you get good news, you tend to want to share it. Well I am sharing it with you all.
My excitement aside this book is for a super good cause, War Child and I feel proud to have contributed to this. The amazing Peach organised all this with the assistance of four other bloggers. The book costs £12. 50, of which £6 goes to Warchild and the rest mainly goes to the production. However if you buy it as a download, a whopping £10 goes to Warchild. You can purchase the book from here. So go on buy a copy, you know you want to.
Right I have some tears to mop and knickers to change.
I have not seen him in a long while but since our email exchange, I have not been able to think about anything else or wipe the silly smile off my face. Roll on Wednesday!!
I have to admit being a single girl, I am on the look-out (yes, yes, I know it never happens when you look for it). Well I wasn’t looking for it and it happened. Well not happened, happened but happenedish or might happen. Anyway explanation necessary methinks. [Aside:I have just polished off an Auchan version of pringles in a space of ten minutes and I wonder why the scales aren’t moving in the right direction]
Back at the ranch, arrived at my bus stop carrying my Mary Poppins bag (called that because it could fit a mercedes, swimming pool and has roomfor a pony), and spent a good five minutes trying to locate my mp3 player. Found it and spent another five minutes trying to detangle the headphones. A man at the bus stop I had not paid any attention to came up to me and said in French, “Are you going to turn that on so no one speaks to you?” [Aside: My french is getting so much better yay]. I smile and say no that it is just a habit I have when I commute. So to summarise this encounter, bus stop man is from Paris, doing a course, on his way back to Paris, enquires about my relationship status and invites me to visit Paris for the weekend. To summarise my response, I tell bus stop man that I am in a relationship and my boyfriend is around (big fat lie, as if I will go to Paris to visit a guy I met at a bus stop and talked to for ten minutes. I am hungry but I have not reached starvation point, if you know what I mean). I was rescued from this uncomfortable situation by the timely arrival of my bus.
Later that day on my way back to the office, as I exit the metro via the escalators, I realise I am being one of those annoying people who stands smack in the centre of the escalator, annoying that person who wants to walk up it. I am not usually this thoughtless but I was playing with my headphones again. So a guy nudges me and I turn to him and apologise letting him past. I reach the office, trying to retrieve the keys from the MP bag and turn around to see the same elevator guy next to me. He tells me he sells womens clothes (nice and random conversation opener), I smile and say ‘good for you’ (thinking, ooookay weirdo). Summary of conversation, he lives in Italy, visiting his sister here, is half Italian, half Trinidadian, he enquires about my place of residence, and relationship status and he doesn’t carry a pen or a phone 😉
As you can probably deduce, I decided to give him my number because besides the weird ice breaker, it was quite a normal pleasant conversation and I thought I shouldn’t be soooo cautious all the time. Do something crazy and give a random stranger your phone number. As he didn’t have a pen and as I couldn’t be bothered rooting inside MP bag to get one, he memorised my number. One of my flatmates thinks he will remember it and the other thinks he will forget it. I am hinging my bets on the latter. I have had my number for over a year and I still don’t know it by heart, so what chance has he got. We shall see.
The thing is I am always wary of these sort of random encounters because call me weird but I think it IS weird when a man tries chatting you up within a space of seeing you for around five seconds. In my head, I think I bet he does it a lot. I imagine that the thought process for them is like fishing, cast your net wide enough your bound to catch something. Maybe I am being too harsh about this but last time this happened, it didn’t turn out well, remember Jean and the date.
I would be really interested to hear the weirdest and most random ways and places you have met people you have dated, or gone out with or even married.