Monthly Archives: June 2010

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Austerity

By | 2010-06-29T21:03:52+00:00 June 29th, 2010|Life in England|

It's Zeitgeist, the word of the moment, and seems to be in use a great deal across the channel in the U of K. In context, it's use seems to consistently accompany a justification for the slashing of public expenditure. "The age of austerity" has been introduced to the vernacular and there's even a wikipedia entry* to help you decipher the meaning of this, until now, unfamiliar word. Given the way the British government and financial media present this adjective you would be given for thinking that it is a byword for "prudence" or "fiscal responsibility", but you'd be wrong. The literal  meaning of "austere" is far from being so cosy: "dry, harsh, sour, tart"; and "austerity" well ... Sourness and harshness to the taste. Severity of manners or life; extreme rigour or strictness; harsh discipline. Freedom from adornment; plainness; severe simplicity. The age of spin is not dead it seems. *though as yet no-one has written a wiki-dictionary entry for "austerity measure" [here's my suggestion: A way of spinning massive cuts in public expenditure to make it sound [...]

Bloody Ryanair

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:40+00:00 June 28th, 2010|Strasbourg|

Ok, so we were fairly stupid to leave our son's Thomas and Friends back-pack on our Ryanair flight into Stansted last weekend, but that doesn't justify the frankly secretive way in which Mister O'Leary's bunch of cowboys handle lost property. Information on the Ryanair website would lead you to believe that there is some sort of procedure in place to ensure passengers are reunited with their property.  Not so. There is only a number to call which acts as nothing more than a crafty revenue stream for Ryanair, connecting you to an answering service that says 'please hold while we connect you' but of course it never connects - and the longer you hold the more you spend.  Brilliant! The only way to find out for sure what had happened to our luggage was to show up at Stansted in person and speak to someone at the ticket desk.  They handed us a photocopy of the details of their outsourced luggage handling providers - who apparently get sent everything that's found on a fight. Why Ryanair don't publish this [...]

A french haircut?

By | 2010-06-25T22:43:24+00:00 June 25th, 2010|Life in France|

One of the few things that unnerved me soon after moving to France was the thought of visiting a hairdresser's to get my hair cut.  This might sound a tad idiotic or even downright cowardly to those who value their regular trips to the barber. I however, have always seen it as a chore, and so the thought of having to undertake such a chore in a foreign, unfamiliar language makes the whole idea seem quite terrifying. The fact is, even when in the UK, I rarely consider getting my mop trimmed more than twice a year. It usually has to reach that "just stepped out of a hawthorn bush on a windy day" look before I admit defeat and begrudgingly trudge down to the nearest, cheapest, salon.  So even in my native tongue I'm not that used to communicating "what I want". Er.. a haircut? Since moving to France I have let my low standards of barnet topiary slip even lower however thanks to a variety of post-crop mops that could only be described as "a bit girly".  [...]

The gods of Bande Dessinée come to Strasbourg

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:40+00:00 June 8th, 2010|Life in France, Strasbourg|

Soon after we moved to France my interest in Franco-Belgian comics was reawakened, partly due to the necessity to master the language. When there are pictures to go with words and dialogue it really helps you to understand the context and meaning of a language - as well as introducing you to the everyday verbalisation of phrases (not necessarily grammatically correct) and new vocabulary. The last time I'd delved with such aplomb into works by the likes of Goscinny and Hergé was a good decade or more previously, and in English. Initially I started where I'd left off - with second-hand Asterix books picked up for 5€ at the regular book market in Place Gutenburg, then shortly after joining Alsace Bande Dessinée (the local association for fans of comic-strip) I was introduced to more authors and titles than I could get a handle on. In similar fashion to French music, little of this popular art makes it's way across the channel - which means upon arrival in France comic-book fans like myself are overwhelmed not just by the current [...]

Comics, cows, theatre and music

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:40+00:00 June 4th, 2010|Strasbourg|

There's a bit of an arts and culture pile-up this weekend in Strasbourg.  You'd think the CUS (who sponsors the majority of these events) might point out to the organisers of said events in advance that they might clash so a bit of rescheduling could have taken place.  Anyway - it is entirely possible I suppose that you could find time to get around everything in the space of two days. But, because I happen to be part of the team involved in organising the Festival Européen de la Bande Dessinée (see the website www.strasbulles.fr), I'm going to suggest you forget all about the cows and chickens in Place Kleber, reserve your tickets for the Premieres Theatre and Contretemps Music seasons for the evening or midweek and get yourself down to Place de la Bourse for Strasbourg's internationally renowned comics festival. Today's unmissable event is THE PERFORMANCE whereby 50 or so authors tackle a predefined subject and come up with an original comic strip in just 5 hours.  The results from last year's event were hilarious!  Tomorrow and Sunday [...]