Freelance in France 2015

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:31+00:00 March 6th, 2015|Life in France|

Freelance in France 2015 When I moved to France in 2006 there was almost no advice or support for people who wanted to work as freelancers in La République. There seemed to be books aplenty for people wanting to convert a barn into a gite, run a ski chalet or retire to the Dordogne; but nothing, rien, for those of us who simply wanted to earn a living in our new home away from home. Upon arrival in France I was not short of information, though it was often of little use because almost no-one I met had actually had any first-hand experience of being self-employed themselves. Which meant most of the advice I received was either ill-informed or just plain wrong. Trial and error seemed to be the only way forward and I made my fair share of errors, which ultimately resulted in the demise of my first freelance business in France. Thankfully things have changed for the better since then. All the information you need is now freely available online and it’s possible to complete [...]

A bunch of Charlies

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:31+00:00 January 13th, 2015|Life in France|

150114chSo satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo lives-on. It's mission to raise a chuckle from the absurdities of life and poke fun at hypocrites will continue unabated - and for this I am glad. No-one should be considered above criticism. Religions, politicians, businessmen, celebrities all deserve to have their words and influence deconstructed. And this is where the whole "Je suis Charlie" campaign falls down...

Pope Frank

By | 2014-11-26T08:46:09+00:00 November 26th, 2014|Life in France, Strasbourg|

A bloke in a chasuble Frank was in town yesterday to nag the bureaucrats about their lack of enthusiasm for encouraging peace and cooperation between the peoples of Europe. He came, he spoke, he left. The only difference between him and the elected officials in the audience, as far as I can tell, is that he wasn't required to sign-in to claim his parliamentary attendance allowance. They came, they signed in, they sat, they politely applauded. It is unlikely however that a single MEP actually thought anything Frank said was going to make an iota of difference.  Still, it was nice seeing his chasuble pass through town. His what? His chasuble - you know the thing football players wear on the training pitch? Now I'm confused - the Pope plays footie? Er, I doubt it. No - the word chasuble (which exists in French and English and means exactly the same thing: the outermost liturgical vestment) is used in sport to refer to the bib players wear when training.  Why the French use the same word as [...]

Farts de ski and New Beaujolais

By | 2014-11-21T10:25:48+00:00 November 21st, 2014|Life in France|

A juvenile observation for you today: the wax you put on your skis is known as "fart" ... ;-)  Sorry. I was genuinely pleased to see New Beaujolais on the shelves of my local corner store yesterday.  What's not to love about a young, fruity wine eh? Best of all - it's only 12% proof, so you can drink it without passing out after two glasses (which is the effect most 14-15% wines have on me).

Paying by card from abroad

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:31+00:00 November 20th, 2014|Life in France|

So how exactly am I supposed to pay for anything online if TSB consistently block me from making online payments? You'd think things like click-safe, double-password protected cards would get processed without much ado by your bank - seeing as the secondary "clicksafe" password is there to ensure you are who you say you are when you attempt to pay for something? Alas, it seems that many banks have a safety algorithm programmed into their systems that says something along the lines of: If this payment is taking place from outside the UK - there must be a Nigerian/Bulgarian gangster holding our client at gunpoint and therefore approving this sale would not be a safe thing to do. Reject. Reject. Reject! Why a Bulgarian gangster would want to buy a TFL oyster card or a music CD worth 12.99GBP is neither here nor there, obviously. Gone are the days when I used to get a call from the bank saying "Someone just tried to use your card from France!" - to which I almost always answered "Yes it was [...]

Sturp sturp sturp

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:31+00:00 November 19th, 2014|Life in France|

There are many Anglicisms that have made their way into the French vernacular. I have already mentioned the 'F' word - which the French seem to think is no more offensive than saying 'bottom'.  My latest find in this regard is a digital radio station self-baptised "Fuckin' Good Radio" or Radio FG for short on which they play "Fuckin' Good Music" - apparently.  But if you ask me, the only time the F-word should feature in the same sentence as this music station is in the word "fuckwit" - which no doubt epitomises the individual who came up with the name. On NRJ a few weeks back we heard an advert for a new party service called "Myfuckingbirzday" - who, one presumes, organise club-nights for fuckwits. Anyway, the word I wanted to bring to your attention is actually far less offensive: stop. Yes, the verb "to stop". In French this means precisely what it means in English. I stop, you stop, they stop, we stop, he/she stops.  In it's infinitive form it is written "stopper" (pronounced stoeppay). The French [...]

Masterized

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:31+00:00 September 30th, 2014|Life in France|

You may have noticed a slight down-shift in the number of blog posts here over the past two years. This is because I have been somewhat busy doing a Masters at the University of Strasbourg during this time.  It is over now however, so I can finally find time to bring AEIS back to life. Indeed, writing for pleasure is once again a possibility.  Over these past 24 months I have been regularly putting a thing called a "pen" onto sheets of "paper" in order to complete these things called "assignments".  Much to the protestations of the muscles in my writing hand - who'd forgotten what it was like to move a pen across a page for hours on end.  I've also had to take "exams" and write "dissertations".  (What made the latter of these particularly taxing was that I had to do so in French.) I've had to read countless books and articles and have spent many days sitting resolutely in the languages library pawing through pages and pages of research.  I've had to get my spoken and [...]

Juncker and all that

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:31+00:00 June 27th, 2014|pointless whinging, Strasbourg|

The staggering level of hypocrisy and anti-EU venom gushing forth from the political mouthpieces of the United Kingdom at the moment is really starting to get my chèvre. What makes matters particularly nauseating, for those of us who are little more seriously invested in the European project, is that the rhetoric is not confined to right-wing Europhobes. Shame on you Ed, Nick et al...

The Secret Throne

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:31+00:00 March 21st, 2014|Uncategorized|

Instead of a rambling post about the layout of the University Arts faculty I thought you might appreciate my musings presented in a more creative manner, today.  There follows my March offering to the Strasbourg English Writers Group - a true story - enjoy! ****************** With his belly still luxuriating in its recently added contents Barney sauntered back across the campus to the arts faculty where he had an increasingly urgent appointment on the second floor. Why it was on the second floor, and not the third or the first, was a mystery. It probably had something to do with its location relative to other equally well furnished facilities in the faculty, of which there weren’t many of course. Barney was worried however that his little, secret, corner of the University could soon be destroyed in the same way so many others had been before. Indeed, evidence suggested that it had recently been discovered by those less stable members of society who revelled in the destruction and defacement of public property. At his last visit he had noticed that [...]

Cheese and Zombies

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:31+00:00 February 25th, 2014|Life in France|

Stromae_2011 I first stumbled across the World Music section in Tower Records in my late teens. This, I thought, is where all the hippies must come to buy their whale and pan-pipe music. Considering it was supposed to represent the musical capacity of the majority of planet earth - it was pathetically small. [...]