Dross 17

By | 2013-02-18T17:56:46+00:00 February 18th, 2013|Life in France|

If you've ever flicked through the channels on offer on France's digital terrestrial service (TNT) in search of some quality late-night entertainment, it is very likely that you will have skipped past channel 17 on more than one occasion... and I don't blame you. Currently labelled as "D17" (D for dross or diabolically-bad I assume) this low-level digital channel has proved itself to be somewhat of a waste of space since it's launch as Europe 2 TV in 1995.  It's barrel-scraping viewing figures are currently propped-up only by: the couch-potato favourite "le Zap" - a madcap clips show chock full of stuff downloaded from YouTube; and "Very Special Enquiry" - a magazine programme about the porn industry (or a flaccid excuse to fill the screen with tits and flesh for an hour or so). While you can forgive a channel for pandering to the lowest common dominator, it's entirely another thing when they treat the audience like memory-challenged goldfish and repeat their programmes from one week to the next.  OK, I admit it, I have watched both aforementioned shows [...]

I’m Cookie Dingler

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:32+00:00 January 14th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Antonia with THE Cookie Dingler It was Australia Day 1998, when I happily found myself being driven along the Great Ocean Road by a local Aussie lass - to see the Twelve Apostles (12 great hunks of eroded cliff-face separated from the coastline by a few meters of open water) just west of Melbourne, Australia.  There, as we cruised along the highway, which has to be said didn't really live up to it's title, we listened and hummed-along to Triple J's rundown of classic tracks from the recent past. Suddenly, Janey yelled (for that was her name - and probably still is) "Ah do you remember this one?" and cranked up the volume. "No" I replied after some reflection. She looked confused. How could I not know (insert name of band/track)?  Everyone knew (insert name of band/track)!  I mean you'd have to have been living on Mars to not know (insert name of band/track)! That is unless (insert name of band/track) was only successful in Australia..? Ah ha! Exactly. It was an Aussie band singing a track [...]

End of Semester

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:32+00:00 December 27th, 2012|Life in France, Strasbourg|

So what's it like to be an English Masters Student at the University of Strasbourg? Well after a whole semester there I feel I am now in a position to make an objective(ish) judgement. First off, I have to say that the quality of teaching is superlative.  I have had the honour to be in the presence of some very great minds, all of whom are capable of some quite profound elucidation, not just in English but in French too - and both flawlessly.  An inferiority complex is not hard to come by here.  I'm rubbish. Personally I found the timetable a bit of a challenge.  Up to 14 hours of seminars every week ... which in addition to 6 hours of teaching, 8 hours of freelance work and copious parenting obligations - made finding personal study time a near impossible task.  Which is my excuse for failing my exams... The teacher-training element of the course 'didactics' is handled by the IUFM from a brand new building down in Meinau.  While the facilities there are excellent, the positives in [...]

U2

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:32+00:00 October 27th, 2012|Uncategorized|

Firstly I should apologise to 'organic' surfers who have hit this page in search of the latest gossip about Bono et al. - because this post has nothing to do with ageing Irish Rock Bands.  Well, almost nothing. Actually, I have to confess, my fondness for U2 (yes, the band) has been on the wane since arriving in Strasbourg. Perhaps if Top Music, RFM, Virgin and just about every other 'pop' radio station didn't play their tracks incessantly - then I might not feel this way. One supposes that their popularity relates partly to Bono's crisp elocution.  After all, if you can sing along (albeit in a foreign language) then it adds a certain je ne sais quoi.  This would also explain the equal saturation of Phil Collins and Supertramp on the airwaves. I digress. U2 also happens to be the name given to the University of Strasbourg's Humanities Library ("U2-U3" to give it it's full title).  Why it was named suchly I cannot fathom, but it certainly paints the building as an enigma. The U2 sits unassumingly at [...]

Am I the only man in the room?

By | 2012-10-05T14:29:20+00:00 October 5th, 2012|Strasbourg|

Yes, you are. All of the students around you, including a not insignificant number on foreign exchange programmes, and the teacher are indeed ... female. Unfortunately you are also old enough to have fathered most of them ... except the teacher." ... said my ethereal self to my other inner self last Wednesday morning at approximately o'eight hundred hours (for we use the twenty-four hour clock in France); drawing my attention to the general genre of my surroundings.[...]

Mon Impasse Campus

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:32+00:00 September 12th, 2012|Life in France, pointless whinging, Strasbourg|

So my first week of studies seems to be going well. It has been a steep learning curve on all facets of University life. This is what I have learned so far:

  1. local dogs go for walkies on Campus at night - just so there's plenty of caca for us to step in by day
  2. the machine coffee is rubbish [...]

Let’s talk about fees, baby

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:32+00:00 September 10th, 2012|Strasbourg|

Traditional A-level disciplines such as French are in “freefall” following a record decline in entry rates over the last decade ... according to recent figures. It seems the youth of Britain remain wholly unconvinced as to the usefulness of mastering a foreign language. If you ask me, this is because the reasons for doing as much have never been presented terribly well. [...]

Back to school …

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:32+00:00 September 1st, 2012|Strasbourg|

Prisoner cell block Patio ... or 'la rentrée' if you prefer, is upon us. We, like all normalised French residents, have spent the past two months en vacances. In essence this means we have sent our kids away at every opportunity - so that we can enjoy some peace and quiet at home. Three weeks out of the eight were spent with number one son at sports, arts or revision 'stages'. Fortunately he enjoyed it all enormously - so we didn't feel too guilty. The rentrée is particularly curious for us this year, as I have signed up to do a Masters at the University of Strasbourg. My motivation is threefold: to improve my teaching skills for the benefit of my current students; to get a masters (because a man of my age needs one in France) and with a view to possibly taking the CAPES or Agrégation teaching for a future career teaching English in the public sector. So I shall be going "back to school" too, albeit almost twenty years since I was last at [...]

Planet Sushi: what planet are they on?

By | 2012-06-28T08:43:12+00:00 June 28th, 2012|Strasbourg|

When it comes to food I am always ready to try something new. However, since accidentally ordering whole, cold, curried squid for breakfast in Yogjakarta some years ago, I do now at least make a point of knowing what it is I'm biting into first. My gung-ho days are long gone. It is with this spirit that I approached a recent takeaway menu shoved through the door from Strasbourg's newest Sushi restaurant: Planet Sushi. [...]

Legislatives

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:33+00:00 June 7th, 2012|Life in France|

I took these pictures outside the International school last week: some posters pasted on the official election boards outside what will be the local polling station for France's legislative elections. I can't vote, but if I could - it would be a difficult choice as there are candidates from the whole political and philosophical spectrum: [...]