Yearly Archives: 2011


The French for brassiere

By |2017-01-06T11:16:34+01:00December 19th, 2011|Uncategorized|

Soutien-gorgeIt's a remarkable feat. I've been in France for over six years and never once have I been tempted to look up the direct translation of brassiere (or 'bra' if you prefer). This was because I had assumed that 'brassiere' was itself a French word and therefore must mean the same thing. Not so. In paying attention to the audio track of a TV spot for said undergarment last night (for which I usually focus my visual senses) I heard [...]

Ladies first? How to write your French surname.

By |2011-11-29T17:05:13+01:00November 29th, 2011|Life in France|

I discovered a little quirk recently that I thought I should share with you.  It concerns the application of double-barrelled or maiden-name with married-name surnames. In France it is common place for women to retain their maiden name after marriage.  This, one assumes, is primarily to leave a paper-trail as to their new-found identity and whereabouts, not least on the doorbell of their love-nest. Now, in Britain a married couple would normally put the husband's surname second place on the doorbell, with or without hyphen, but in France the reverse is true. I discovered this when the local distributor of sacs de tri came knocking to deposit our annual allowance of recycling sacks.  He had made note of all the names on the door-buzzers and so when it came to crossing me off of the list - he looked terribly confused as to why my surname was not on it.  He had, quite simply, written down what he thought were all the married (male) names of the families in the building.  However, because we had written our names on [...]

There must be a Politician in town

By |2011-11-25T12:21:59+01:00November 25th, 2011|Strasbourg|

Judging by the number of hits on this site yesterday - there were obviously a number of people (journalists and researchers I assume) desperate to know more about the meeting of the three heads of government yesterday. In case you didn't know, and if you're a financial commentator it is unlikely, that Sarkozy, Merkel and er, the Italian chap were in town yesterday to discuss a very important thing or two.  I knew something must be up when I cycled past a row of riot vans on my way to drop the kids at school. What they discussed, or why, I couldn't give a monkey's arse about. What does concern me however is why the security forces felt the need to cut off access to Place de la Replublique just before lunchtime. The Town Hall, just next to the Opera House on Place Broglie, is where most non-MEP politicians like to hold meetings. So it often becomes the focal point of any security operation. Meaning the CRS (riot police / armed guards) block off the roads in the immediate [...]

You call this a Nativity?

By |2017-01-06T11:16:34+01:00November 22nd, 2011|Uncategorized|

Book coverStumped as to what to get [insert name of loved one] for Christmas? Well, here's a suggestion: You call this a Nativity? A collection of rude, crude and downright blasphemous plays for Christmas by, er, me! You call this a Nativity? began life [...]

Students Fuck School

By |2017-01-06T11:16:34+01:00November 17th, 2011|Life in France, Strasbourg|

Students Poor EnglishAs an expat you frequently have to put up with the locals butchering your mother tongue in person, ("Air io ingleesh?"), in punctuation (sandwich's) and incomprehensible (mental wear, le fooding). Normally this doesn't bother me. If anything, it reminds me that however bad my French may be it will never be as heinous as some of the locals' English, and let's be honest now - sometimes it can be quite amusing! [...]

Solving the Greek debt crisis

By |2011-11-01T16:46:11+01:00November 1st, 2011|Strasbourg|

The whole of the Eurozone 'crisis' is based upon the level of confidence the 'markets' have in the indebted countries being able to repay their debts.  At the moment few believe that the Greeks will be able to repay anything any time soon.  This is primarily because in being Greek, they are known more for Moussaka and monuments than for their ability to make money. Now if the Greeks were actually German - there would be no Greek debt crisis. Which leads me to wonder why no-one has considered this startlingly simple solution to the debt problem: make Greece part of Germany. Call it something like Grecauslandreich, dissolve the national parliament, tear up the constitution, and make it part of Federal Germany. The markets would never doubt the German's ability to improve tax collection techniques, nor honour it's commitments to pay it's debts.  Problem solved. Sure, the Greeks might not like having German as their national language, but what price can you put on German efficiency in times of economic strife eh?  Just think of the fringe benefits: Athens [...]

Learning the hard way

By |2017-01-06T11:16:34+01:00October 24th, 2011|Life in France|

This school year (année scolaire) is proving somewhat challenging for me so far. On the one hand I have made things difficult for myself by accepting my first ever English-teaching role at a private adult education college in Central Strasbourg.  With a class of thirty or so overgrown adolescents ... sorry, I mean young professionals ... I am beginning to think that I may have bitten off more than I can chew. It would of perhaps been wiser to start my teaching career with a group of students who actually want to learn English rather than those who have to.  However a 'langue vivante' (modern language) is a compulsory element of the BTS business course which my students are taking. The BTS* is equivalent to a British HND. It is a 2 year higher diploma with a vocational focus; in this instance - business. English is the international language of business, so naturally some of my students are keen to learn it. Though some clearly are not, particularly those who see their future careers as being devoid of any [...]

The magic moustache of Marc Lièvremont

By |2017-01-06T11:16:34+01:00October 17th, 2011|Uncategorized|

As an avid rugby fan I have naturally been following this year's Rugby World Cup finals in New Zealand with more than a passing interest.  Although unhappy to see my home nation capitulate to the French last weekend, I was glad to see les Bleus overthrow the Welsh on Saturday morning.  Not because they deserved to win, but because it will keep the atmosphere alive here in France for another week. Rumour has it that the Zenith, Strasbourg's largest concert venue, will be opening it's doors to fans early on Sunday morning to soak up the big show-down.  The result of course is  guaranteed - you can be fairly sure that, win or lose, there will be drunken Frenchmen a-plenty by midday. Media buzz and talk of the giant-killing games of 2007, 1999 and 1994 when French flair overcame the odds to send the All Blacks out of the competition is already saturating the airwaves ... partly in an effort to convince the public that anything is possible.  Miracles even. Four years ago, I put the winning edge down [...]

Turning Forty

By |2011-10-10T20:32:58+01:00October 10th, 2011|Uncategorized|

The passing of my third full decade in existence has brought with it a few standard observations: Hair growth. While disappearing from my crown (as evident from recent high-angle photographs) my capacity for beard growth seems to have finally increased to the point whereby I actually need to consider shaving more than once a week.  It seems that life not only begins at forty, but for some of us - beards also. Hair colour. To dye or not to dye, that is the question. Whether it is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous, but fair observation, by those younger than myself, or to wash-in as doth the stars of screen and stage, unshape me. Scrotum. A lower left testicle there maybe but the length of extension on both sides is now cause for concern.  My knees now do not seem so far away. Well, maybe that last one's not standard?

Mais, sans blague

By |2017-01-06T11:16:34+01:00September 21st, 2011|Life in France|

Il y a quelques mois quelqu'un m'a suggérée que si je voulais plus de trafic à mon site je devrais songer de changer la langue d’écriture.  Mais, sans blague. C'est à discuter. Lorsque je ne me sens pas trop confortable en français, je me demande pourquoi pas? C'est clair que après, quoi, six ans en France mon niveau de compréhension n'est pas mauvais, malgré le fait que je suis pas Vladimir Nabakov quand je l’écris. Bref, je vous demande ce que vous pensez. Ça ne servirais à rien? Bonne idée peut-être?  Dois-je essayer les articles en parallèle texte?  Écrire en alternance français puis anglais? Des commentaires mes kikis ...

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