From one type of lottery to another - no this has nothing to do with the level of childcare nor hospital facilities (thankfully) but er... postcodes. While I accept that being abroad, and expecting to be able to carry on as if I still lived in the UK is somewhat of a high expectation, but that's what the EU is supposed to be all about. You should be able to live where you want, buy and sell where you want - without much ado (provided of course you pay your taxes)*; and you would think that with the dawn of the 'virtual' commerce and 'e-business' it would be possible to do this, and pretty much anything else, from anywhere, provided you have a computer and internet access to hand? Happily this is true most of the time, indeed if it weren't I would not be in France working for a British firm. However some things are still as painful as queuing at a UK post office on the first Monday of the month (behind all those pensioners). One righteously [...]
This, unfortunately, is now a subject very close to my heart - which is now not beating quite the way it should without medication. I have just completed my third year as a 'liberal professional' in France, and while I thought I had things well under control, the French accountancy system coupled with the fall of sterling and the tightening of banking practices means I too may have to throw in the towel, like so many others before me. (or throw in the sponge, as they say in France) Now, I have an accountant, a nice man who made me feel very secure about the whole thing when I first signed-up in 2006, saying 'your tax payments will be based on actual figures, so there's no need to worry about nasty surprises'. What he failed to tell me, and he confessed this was indeed a bit of an oversight, that when it comes to social security payments - it's an entirely different ball game. Why? Well over an above your income tax (which incidentally is peanuts by comparison) you [...]
I couldn't help but laugh at the TV coverage of Obama's arrival, which was hailed as a 'rapturous welcome by the crowds at Palais Rohan'. The semantics of 'crowd' would lead you to believe that these individuals applauding the glorious president, were in some way representative of the common people of Strasbourg, of course nothing could be further from the truth. This stage managed event kicked off at Strasbourg Airport where Air Force One touched down. Obama waved and smiled as he stepped off of the plane, giving the impression there was someone to wave at. Who exactly? As the security at the airport was so tight that anyone not carrying a NATO gun or press-pass was unlikely to have been allowed within five miles of the place. The same can be said of the foule at the palais, being in the heart of the 'red zone', the only people who could possibly have had the opportunity to shake the hand of Mr Obama were most likely local dignitaries or indeed the press themselves.
A neighbour told me that this morning's tear-gassing of protesters in and around the Contades Parc was, as far as he could see, total over-reaction by the security forces. And living in an apartment that overlooks the park he was well placed to see events unfold. The most telling event of the morning being that the Police and 'troublemakers' were neatly separated by a line of journalists snapping pictures from the middle of the supposed 'melee'. The cops were probably just upset at being so unprepared for a group of teenagers and students that actually had bothered to get up before midday. (events unfolding at around 7am)
Just a quick update on the NATO debacle - it seems the security services have decided to close access to all roads north of the central island. So we've just been told that if we want to get from Contades to Les Halles - we will have to do so - via Etoile / Porte de l'hopital. (i.e. circumnavigate the entire city.) Bastards.