Monthly Archives: January 2010

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There are no gastro pubs in France

By | 2010-01-24T17:13:10+00:00 January 24th, 2010|Life in France|

When a word sounds exactly the same in French as it does in English, yet has an entirely different meaning, it is often referred to as a 'False Friend'. Indeed some words can have a meaning far removed from what you intend. For example a 'chauvinist' in French means 'nationalist' in English. It is for this reason that no pubs or bars, serving great food, in France are referred to as 'gastros', because while in the UK the word might conjure up connotations of exquisite gastronomy, in France the exact opposite is the case. To say you had a 'gastro' at the weekend is to imply that you had something approaching gastroenteritis i.e. diarrhoea, vomiting or both. So before you take any of your French friends to a 'gastro-pub' in the UK, make sure to explain the meaning of the word first!

Le racing, racing the wrong way

By | 2010-01-21T09:15:16+00:00 January 21st, 2010|Strasbourg|

While historical successes of Racing Strasbourg, or ‘Le Racing’ as they are known hereabouts, have not led to high expectations from their devoted fans, recent developments have made even the most football-phobic residents of France’s ninth largest city groan with embarrassment. Can it really be the same team that lifted the league cup in 2005 languishing in the relegation zone of League 2? Posting only 5 wins out of 21 league matches so far this season, all at home obviously, and booted out of the cup by Lyon two rounds before the quarter finals? Things are not looking rosy for the end of season dinner. Indeed, should Le Racing repeat the same shenanigans they under-took at the end of the 07/08 season, when they tumbled out of League 1 due to eleven consecutive defeats (a post-war record for French club football), then we might as well knock the stadium down and stick up a housing estate or shopping mall. Lord knows it would make better use of the space. It is somewhat ironic that across town in a stadium [...]

A date for your diary

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:41+00:00 January 20th, 2010|Life in France, Strasbourg|

31st December 2010, New Year's Eve, the last day of the year. Okay, I know, you might be doing something in the evening, but between the hours of 9 and 5 (excluding lunchtime of course) will be your last chance to register to vote in any forthcoming European or Municipal elections. If you don't register before this date, then you won't be entitled to vote in any election in 2011. So alas, if you didn't register by 31st Dec 2009 you likewise will not be able to vote in any of this year's elections (2010). As a foreign resident in France you are entitled to vote in the Municipal and European elections, but not the nationals, that privilege is reserved for French 'citizens' only. So if you believe in exercising your democratic muscle - get down to your local marie du quartier with your passport and evidence of address by the end of the year.

How spurious

By | 2010-01-18T18:26:58+00:00 January 18th, 2010|Life in France, pointless whinging|

I've had one of those days. First off, my meeting with the Strasbulles web team was put asunder thanks to a spurious general error on the Strasbulles website. Secondly, I was unable to connect to the internet because my laptop had spuriously decided that it couldn't remember it's name. Thirdly, as I set off for French class, I cycled over a spurious piece of debris in the street and got a puncture. I'm hoping spuriousness only comes in threes ...

limited connection

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:42+00:00 January 18th, 2010|pointless whinging|

Ever had that annoying little yellow triangle alert symbol appear over your network connection, and no matter what you do to alter your network settings, you just can't seem to get connected to the internet? This happened to me this morning - but thanks to a little program I found here I'm back online! Unfortunately I deleted half my network settings in the process - so I'll have to retype all those WEP keys! Argh! Am now seriously considering buying an Apple Mac - the stress is starting to make the hefty price tag seem worth it. Herein lies the problem with working for yourself - thou must rely on one's own IT knowledge to stay online, or suffer the consequences.

International sports rights

By | 2010-01-16T16:44:53+00:00 January 16th, 2010|Life in France, pointless whinging|

There's nothing more frustrating to sit down in front of your computer 5 seconds before the match starts to be presented with a standard copyright notice, usually along the lines of "Cannot play media. Sorry, this media is not available in your territory." While I have nothing against international copyright law, the way media companies use it to their financial advantage and the disadvantage of the sport-watching public annoys me immensely. For example, today's H-cup match between Stade Français and Bath was broadcast on TV by Sky in the UK and Canal+ in France; which means you have to watch the match in French in France and English in the UK. Likewise for the radio rights. You can listen to the match in France, in French, or in the UK in English. i.e. you do not have a choice of which language to watch/listen to the match in, because it is assumed that if you are in that 'territory' you must be a native speaker. Now, fortunately my French is good enough to have been able to enjoy the [...]

A note from your health insurers

By | 2010-01-12T13:00:20+00:00 January 12th, 2010|Life in France|

I received an 'oh-so-helpful' response to my plea for financial aid from my 'mutuelle' yesterday. To paraphrase: Your letter has reached my attention. However it is impossible for me to respond favourably to your request for your anticipated revenue for 2009. Ordnance 2003/1213 of 18/12/2003 states that estimated revenues must take into account, by anticipation, the civil year in which they will be settled. As such if you give me, in writing, an estimation of your revenue for 2010, I will be able to send your request to the treasury of the provincial freelancer health insurance trust, in view of your anticipated contributions. Be aware though that if your actual revenue for the year 2010 is more than one tier above your estimate an increase of 10% will be added to your contributions. In other words: "we can't reduce your contributions until we have an estimate of what you are going to earn this year, and if you underestimate what you are going to earn, you'll have to pay 10% more when you submit your accounts in May 2011" [...]

Snow chaos

By | 2010-01-11T09:37:55+00:00 January 11th, 2010|Life in France, Strasbourg|

Just typical. Monday morning after a wee bit of snow and guess what: no trains have been cancelled public transport hasn't ground to a halt the roads were gritted before dawn and no schools are closed Which means I have no excuse but to knuckle down and do some work! :-(

The swinging tit’s of Olivia Ruiz

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:42+00:00 January 5th, 2010|Life in France, Strasbourg|

When Russian Vladimir Nabakov released his first English novel, Lolita, he was heavily criticised for choosing such a shocking subject matter, no-one really bothered to congratulate him on writing flawlessly in a foreign language. But that's the Anglophone world for you - few of us really appreciate the difficulty of learning and applying a foreign language to the heights that Nabakov achieved in English. Alas, not everyone has Nabakov's talent. Mathias Malzieu for example. Who he? Monsieur Malzieu is a French singer-songwriter who took a stab at writing a few lyrics in English for the second album by the then not-so-well-known Olivia Ruiz, winner of France's first season of Star Academy. Her first album having sold a mere 85,000 copies, M. Malzieu obviously thought it wasn't worth getting his work double checked before getting Mlle Ruiz to record his little creation. "I need a child" is the third track on Olivia Ruiz block-busting album 'La femme chocolat'. Tracks 1 and 2 from the album were both smash hits in the French charts, which is why this third ditty sticks [...]