All entries for Tuesday 10 May 2005
May 10, 2005
I apologise for and disclaim responsibility for any offence I may herebelow inadvertantly and unintentionally cause to French or Francophone visitors to my weblog.
I could just as easily produce a longer list of things that I like about the French but it wouldn't be so funny.
'My Year in Merde' is a reference to a recently published book in the UK. Over the last academic year I have been studying in Lille, Nord (59) and my observations are for the most part first hand experiences. They may therefore not necessary be reflective of France as a whole.
1 Smoking is a national pastime (cigarette manufacturing was once a state monopoly – quelle surprise!)
2 Their streets are paved with dog turd (in England we have what is known as le 'pooper scooper')
3 Their streets are lined with beggars (this rather whiffs of social problems/ industrial apathy, doesn't it, Monsieur le Ministre de l'Interior?)
4 They speak French
5 They have a habit of meaning what they don't say and saying what they don't mean – rather like women (sorry girls)
6 No one gives a frigging centime for anyone else
7 The state or 'l'administration' has its own courts, police and legal rules, which I have to learn :-(
8 They overwhelmingly drive Pergeots, Citroens and Renaults and buy French – whatever happended to the Internal Market and the Free Movement of Goods?
9 Generally speaking they effortlessly look stylish, slim and tanned
10 Their economy is about as stagnant as a cess pool – job security is very high meaning that the incompetent remain employed while the newly qualified remain out of work
11 They are obsessed with sex and the body image
12 They drive on the wrong side of the road
13 They cannot pronounce 'h' – eg. 'Ello 'Ello
14 They cite the separation of church and state as a motivation for religious intolerance – the banning of muslim chadars and Jewish kippas in state schools etc.
15 Their mobile phone companies enjoy charging hidden fees 'hors forfait'
16 Despite being president for 10 years Jacques Chirac still regularly puts his foot in his mouth at international conventions
17 VAT stands at 19.6%
18 Unemployment at around 11%
19 In order to terminate a contract you are obliged, by law, to send a letter by registered post to the other contracting party (no wonder La Poste has managed to stay afloat – in contrast with Royal Mail)
20 Cheddar cheese is not available
21 Baked beans are not available
22 Disgestive biscuits are not available
23 Blue tac is not obtainable (got bored with 'available')
24 Students write on graph paper – lined paper is not obtainable
25 You could be forgiven for thinking that their gyms haven't received investment since the 1980s
26 Holding protest marches and strikes is a national past time
27 They are going to vote 'no' to the EU Constitution (despite having created the EU themselves 50 years ago – Jean Monnet, French foreign minister, long dead white man, remember him?)
28 Their formalism can be OTT (my lecture note print outs are headed 'Madame le Professeur…') Documents have to be stamped and you can't simply sign and date a contract – you have to state where it was signed and write out 'read and approved' as well
29 They get away with having substantial 'overseas departments' – French Guyana; Guadaloupe; Martinique etc. while the British are still labelled internationally in certain quarters as colonialist pigs.
30 They think they are internationally significant – to be fair they do have a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, rather like the British.