Thursday, May 31, 2007

Burning at both ends

Yet again I'm in the throes of a concert - rehearsal - concert - translation - work cycle. G is still living in Paris (until next week) so I'm also trying to make the most of him before the world of wine-making absorbs him forever.

With The Mumblers we have a concert on Friday, so it's all hands on deck to get the ooos in the right place and the belty voice ready to pounce.

Exams in three weeks for my translation certificate and I don't really feel like I'm making progress. I've decided to read Annie Ernaux's Une Femme in French as a way of convincing myself I'm doing something towards bettering my language. In the mock exam I had 9/30 for written French translation, which I am utterly ashamed about, but it gave the kick I needed - or so I thought. Since receiving the results I haven't really done anymore than I did before.

Procrastination is making its home in my schedule and it looks like it's here to stay.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cereal with a side of cotton anyone?

I had a successful shopping spree today and the sales guys at H&M, Zara and Etam were pretty pleased as well. The reason for this was not any particular boost in my income, but that I managed to ruin at least ten items of clothing from my (and G's) wardrobe.

Last Wednesday, G and some friends of his were sharing an apéro and waiting for a roast chicken to, well, roast, and he heard a banging sound not unlike the noise metal makes when it gets hot. So, without thinking anything of it, he assumed it was the oven.

The next morning I put a load of darks into the washing machine and set it going. Arriving home that evening, I spun round the drum of the toploading washing machine and heard a sickening crunching sound. Now, even with my limited experience of washing machines I am bright enough to know that crunching and machinery do not usually make a good combo.

Opening the machine with intrepidation, I discovered that there was a box of cereal inside the drum. The cardboard from the box had totally disintegrated, leaving shreds all over the dark clothes. The plastic inner bag was slightly open, and a few handfuls of cereals had managed to escape from the packet and onto my lovely new tailored shorts. They were obviously having a great time because they'd stuck with such enthusiasm that I couldn't pick them off without yanking out clumps of material.

The bang that G and his friends heard must have been the box of cereal landing into the open toploading washing machine. I still have no idea how. Suffice to say that most of the clothes from that particular wash are now on their way to some landfill in a rubbish dump.

The cereal was Special K by the way. I have no idea why that's important but everyone I've shame-facedly admitted this story to has asked me the same question.

The moral of the story: always check the interior of the washing machine for children, pets, garden tools and of course, cereal boxes.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Paris Subway warms up...

I found this heart-warming video today, even though Sarkozy will probably ban it soon, métro music can still be good. I have to say that this group is professional and were on a tour of Europe. Their name is Naturally7 and I'm sure we'll be hearing more from them.

Yes, old Sarko made it, as everyone thought or feared he would. His first duty as President was of course to take a holiday, in true French style. Still, he wanted to make a point: money is not a shameful thing to have. All those single-parent families are very grateful to him for pointing that out, I'm sure.

As I said in my previous post, I'm neither for him nor against him and there are parts of his programme which do worry me. I just think we can't forget that he's been minister of the interior for the last 5 years and there has been little radical change.

Let's calm down and listen to the cool metro music...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

La France Présidente

The pun in her election campaign tag-line roughly translates into "France presiding" or "France on top" but with the added bonus that présidente is the word for a woman in that job. This doesn't really gel with how the media has been portraying Ségolène Royal in the last few weeks. I'm not totally sure, but I get the impression that France will be pretty crippled under all her generous reforms and I'm beginning to wonder where she's planning on getting all her funding for the projects she assures us she'll put in place.

On the other hand there is "Ensemble, tout devient possible" from Nicolas Sarkozy, which is really just as scary. Anything is possible, indeed. Where will he stop with his threats to clean out the rough suburbs with a power-jet washer? Economically he is the polar opposite to Ségolène Royal, choosing to emphasize the fact that France doesn't work enough.

I have to admit that there he may have a point. Today we are enjoying a very sunny 1st May public holiday, and there are more to come. Next week will be the same, Tuesday is a bank holiday, and like this week, Monday will be a pont (bridge - word used for a long weekend) so the week will only contain three real working days. There is another pont the week after that, on Thursday and Friday, and then a full week, then on the 28th a lot of companies still give Whitsuntide Monday off, although it's no longer a public holiday (since 2004).

It's hardly surprising then when we hear that the French resent their potential president telling them that they have to work more. Being used to 5 weeks holiday a year, plus all these public holidays, they consider them part of life, and a right.

Being English, I don't have a vote in the presidential election, and with the current selection of second-round candidates I have to say I'm almost glad. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to lie in the sunshine and do nothing.