Happy Feck-off Farridge Day!

By |2020-01-31T08:49:57+00:00January 31st, 2020|Brexit|

Sometime ago I said that one of the few upsides to Brexit would be the departure of Mr Anarchy himself who has happily been collecting his MEP salary for the last 20 years while doing precisely nothing to warrant it (besides campaigning for re-election every few years.) Mr Farridge (note the the Anglicised spelling of a poncey foreign-sounding name) has been a waste on resources and a waste of European tax-payers money for two decades. No more. Indeed, another benefit for we Strasbourgeois is that there is now a much reduced chance of running into old gobby in the street, cycling through his cigar smoke or having to put up with his loud narcissism in a restaurant or bar. Yay! The other upsides to Brexit include... er, well I can't think of any right now. Perhaps we'll know in about ten years time what benefits it has brought to the UK and EU. Maybe it's time for a few predictions? Looking back at 2017 when I wrote this post - I wasn't far off what was to befall in [...]

Done? You have been.

By |2019-12-11T13:13:36+00:00December 11th, 2019|Brexit|

Get Brexit done. Three words. A slogan for the masses. Implying a vote for Johnson and the conservatives tomorrow will somehow put the whole sorry story of Brexit firmly into the past - so we can all move on. If only it were true, or so simple. God knows, I want to hear the end of it as much as the next man. The laughable hypocrisy of Johnson saying he "broke the deadlock" neatly overlooks the fact that he was as responsible for dithering, delaying and blocking parliament as his opposite number was. Who had the chance to get Brexit done when Cameron resigned? Boris Johnson. Who could have ensured a deal got through parliament by the 29 March deadline? Boris Johnson. The "new deal" Johnson negotiated, which did away with the backstop (the clause that might see the whole UK stay in the EU) and replaced it with a sea border (so Northern Ireland stays in the EU instead) - is pretty much exactly what his predecessor negotiated, if not worse. There's nothing to take credit for. But [...]

YATS is the word

By |2019-11-17T16:47:12+00:00November 17th, 2019|Strasbourg|

This is the life of illusion. Wrapped up in trouble, laced with confusion. What are we doing here? Having emigrated to France with only a rudimentary level of French, a six month old baby and no particular career to speak of - many people described our decision to set up life in Strasbourg, fourteen years ago, as somewhere between 'very ambitious' and 'flipping bonkers.' That said, the very same people have recently described our move as 'very lucky' or 'incredibly wise' following the Brexit shitschturm unleashed on our former home nation by the Conservative party. Nonetheless, it is comforting to know that, now and again, Strasbourg has welcomed other couples with an equal sense of adventure. We sat down for a coffee at Café Brant some years ago with one such couple. They were from the United States and were hoping to use Strasbourg as a base for a new chapter in their respective careers. Careers as - opera singers. Being at the very centre of western Europe - equidistant between Milan and London, Paris and Vienna, it seemed [...]

Housequake

By |2019-11-15T10:57:32+00:00November 15th, 2019|Strasbourg|

A mild shockwave of hysteria hit France soon after the Fukushima disaster. If locating a nuclear power station right on top of a fault line was now deemed a bad idea - then wasn't a disaster of the same magnitude also possible right here in Alsace? After all, the Fessenheim Nuclear power station, and France's oldest, was sitting on top of its very own tectonic plate boundary. At the time, I, like many others, thought that any comparison to Fukushima was nothing short of hysterical scaremongering. Shut up already, damn - we thought. When was the last time Alsace had an earthquake? When was the last time Alsace had an earthquake strong enough to crack open a nuclear reactor? This Tuesday however, I had to change my - admittedly hastily formed - opinion. When the first thud rumbled through the apartment block I was convinced that my upstairs neighbour was clumsily moving heavy furniture. The wooden floors had flexed slightly - as if a large 3-seater couch had been dropped onto its side by a couple of less than [...]

The Brexit party: in it for the money

By |2019-05-20T09:18:48+00:00May 20th, 2019|Brexit|

The European elections are upon us once more and once again the British electorate, if the polls are to be believed, are going to return Mister Farage to his very well paid position as uncooperative anarchist at the heart of the EU. However, despite the fact the Farage will continue to live life on easy street (as he has done since he was a child, despite his one time claim to be 'skint') it is hard to begrudge his success. After all, democracy is to blame, not Nigel. The fact that successive governments and the media have failed to explain to the common man what the EU is and how it functions has allowed Farage, Boris Johnson and others to paint their own picture of the institution, to their own, personal, benefit. And, as yet no-one has been able to hold them, convincingly, to account. There are a few simple facts that could do wonders to get the public to actually do something worthwhile with their European vote rather than simply use it as a protest for national issues [...]

Brexasperated

By |2019-04-04T09:10:03+00:00April 4th, 2019|Brexit|

Like the Truman Show, we've all been asking ourselves "How will it end?" since the whole thing began back in 2016. Now, with the 'end' already in the past, we're wondering if it will ever end at all. I hate to think of the hours I've wasted following the 'crucial votes' over the past few weeks - naïvely thinking each time, it would be settled once and for all. But no. Next week maybe - when there will be another 'crucial vote' in the house of commons. Cliffhanger followed by cliffhanger. Currently, the representatives of the people of the UK have until the 10th of April, 6 more days, to come up with a viable plan to leave the EU on terms with a majority backing in Parliament. If they don't, then there is a very strong chance the decision will be made for them by the EU - and the dreaded 'no deal' scenario will come into force on the 13th of April. The problem is, of course, is that there are so many differing views and agendas [...]

Cretinism takes hold of France

By |2018-12-14T10:43:33+00:00December 14th, 2018|Strasbourg|

I write this with a heavy heart. Strasbourg, my home town, was torn apart this Tuesday night when a gun-wielding cretin took to the streets. Having randomly picked out innocents to execute he fled into hiding. Three days later, with his killing spree brought to an end by the forces of order, the city and its people are still coming to terms with what happened. I spent much of the evening watching the #Strasbourg twitter feeds to keep track of developments, the first time I have done so, and for news of the victims; for, I have made so many good friends in this fair city, I knew the chances of knowing one or more of them was a distinct possibility. I shall not bother with Twitter again. News of real events was muddied by egotistical cretins simply trying to ensure they got more likes or follows than anyone else, cretinous politicians who wanted to make capital out of the deaths of innocents, cretinous extremist sympathisers, cretins in general (gilets jaunes), racists, conspiracy theorists, adolescents sharing memes and idiots [...]

The Gilets Jaunes – France’s answer to Brexit

By |2018-11-20T08:43:56+00:00November 20th, 2018|Brexit, Life in France|

Reading the BBC's "Have your say" comments yesterday, at the bottom of an article about Mrs May's attempts to sell her deal to the populous, I was once again struck by the ignorance of the Brexiteering public. One comment particularly stood out: someone complaining that May's deal to reduce immigration from the EU was not what he/she had voted for - it was immigration from OUTSIDE the EU they were concerned about! For me, the only thing that the Brexit vote underlined, was progressive governments', and to a large extent the EUs', inability to explain/educate people as to the way the EU functioned for the good (or bad) of the populous. After all, good education is fundamental to a tolerant, cohesive society - and likewise fake news (like the myth of the straight banana) will achieve precisely the opposite. Yet self-serving politicians, concerned only with their own prosperity, since the 1980s, never saw the need to invest in education. I recently had an online altercation with a old school-friend who thought that the camps in Calais were because of [...]

Has Le Monde gone populist?

By |2018-10-09T08:03:25+00:00October 9th, 2018|Life in France|

When I became a student again back in 2013 I took the opportunity to benefit from a very attractive student discount on the nation's daily, Le Monde. For a mere 16€ a month I could get it 6 days a week, including the magazine on Saturdays, and get into the habit of keeping abreast of French news, politics and opinion while improving my level of French. However, in recent months, perhaps as my understanding of French politics has improved, I have become a little concerned with the political agenda of the editorial team, leading me to ditch my daily subscription in favour of a weekly one in the hope that their machinations will become less obvious. What am I talking about? Well, Le Monde is supposed to be centre-left leaning in its politics. That is largely supportive of a social agenda, balanced with practical economics. A position which I applaud. Or at least would, if they actually wrote articles that made you think as much. Since the election of Macron, Le Monde appear to have decided that they are [...]

Please update your list of acronyms

By |2018-09-05T07:45:34+00:00September 5th, 2018|Strasbourg|

RCS (not to be confused with RCS) If there's one thing the French love it's a good acronym. Acronyms are basically sequences of capital letters that serve as a shorthand way of referring to something that would take far longer to say or write, or indeed to avoid rewriting or repeating the same words over and over. For example, it's a lot simpler to write UNESCO than it is to write the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, especially if you plan on referring to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization more than once in a sentence (see what I mean?). However, as there are no strict rules about how and when acronyms should be used or invented, the French like to create them ad-nausea with the deluded assumption they will make your life easier. So, if you're new to Strasbourg, here's a handy list of local acronyms to get you through the day. AFGES: University service which runs the two large campus restaurants. Beware the bums at the door asking you to put [...]