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As you may have noticed in my previous posts, I will never be truly British. My manners are terrible, and I care about substance rather than style. I often forget to send Thank You cards and when I am bored I can’t stop yawning. The only way I get around this is by doing my pelvic floor exercises (25 reps) sitting at the host table or on a chair, and also by sucking my tummy in and then gently releasing it (25 reps). I once was so bored at a Christmas party that I managed to do 5 series of each. My husband credits this technique for my reasonably flat tummy.  On top of the physical benefits, it prevents me from yawning.

But I am a Londoner. Oh yes. How do I know it? Well, the start of July is always an emotional time for me. 6 years ago, almost to the day, I was back to work after a 6-month maternity leave. On 7th of July 2005, I dropped my elder daughter to school at app. 8.40 am and took the Victoria Line to go to Euston station. As usual, I was rushing –life as a Mum is about having to hurry up all the time-. I had a main line train to catch from Euston station at 9.25 am, to visit yet another factory.
London was in a jolly mood. The city had just been selected for the 2012 Olympics and it was a beautiful day. Then, on the Tube, something happened. My train started to go very slowly from Warren Street Tube station on and, when we finally reached Euston, all tube services had stopped. We were all evacuated at the same time, which seemed to take forever as the tube station was packed. The messages were mentioning a power surge over and over again. I didn’t realise that a bombing had happened. All I could think about was that I was going to miss my train. I was next to two gorgeous women who seemed to come from Eastern Europe. They were talking about catching a bus. I don’t know what happened to them (a bus departing from Euston station was bombed half an hour later). All the passengers seem relaxed –incidents on the Tube happen all too frequently-. Unbeknownst to us, four terrorists had detonated four bombs, three in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a bus. Fifty-two people, were killed in the attacks (excluding the bombers), and about 700 more were injured.
I managed to catch my train. Only later in the day did I find out about what had happen and the full scale of the horror didn’t dawned on me until a few weeks later. The rest of the day passed fast. I couldn’t call anyone as all the networks had all been shut down but I manage to reassure my family with text messages –go figure!!!-
Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t a victim or anything, and I got an easy escape. The whole experience has an unexpected impact on me: I am a Londoner. I belong here despite the fact that I am French. I have changed too: I used to think the terrorists were “freedom fighters”. Now I don’t think that they deserve any compassion whatsoever. They certainly didn’t show any to the commuters and tourists who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The whole episode made me more grateful about what I am, and also helped me to put things into perspective: life can change pretty quickly. And, by heart, I am a Londoner.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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If you live in the UK you can’t have missed it. A future stepmother in law, Mrs Bourne, sent a nasty email to the young woman her stepson wanted to marry. To make sure that she got the message, she even sent the email three times. In return, the bemused fiancée sent the email to some friends and it became viral. The email reads as follows:

It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.

Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.
If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around.


Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.
Here are a few examples of your lack of manners: 
  • When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something.  You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else. You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.
  • When a guest in another’s house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.
  • You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.
  • You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed.
  • You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.
  • No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.
I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters’ marriages.) 
If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2009881/Carolyn-Bourne-email-Fury-bride-Heidi-Witherss-father.html#ixzz1d1Jtw5Q2

It is fair to say that the whole British society is now divided in two: those who believe that Mrs Bourne is a Mother In Law (MIL) from Hell –as for me, I especially like how she implies that her future daughter-In-Law (DIL) is a gold digger-. On the other hand, I have read many articles supporting the MIL and blasting the generation Yers for their awful habits, as illustrated by the DIL’s behaviour.
As for me, I believe that both camps are missing the point. First of all, good manners are relative. What is considered to be polite over here might be rude in different countries. As an example, if you are invited at a diner at 7.30pm in France, you are not expected before 8pm. Should you arrive on time, you might have to witness the delivery of the so-called home-made meal by the local caterer. Very rude indeed and you won’t get invited again.
Even in Britain, good manners can be different from one family to another. I believe in respecting everybody and, above all, being flexible. This means that I will eat with my right hand when invited by my Indian friends and with my silver cutlery when I have a posh lunch at the Wolseley. Occasionally, I get it completely wrong: I once patted my friend son’s head and, as they are Indonesian you are not supposed to do this, as the head is supposed to be where the soul rests. My friends didn’t insult me in a nasty email, they just explained it to me and they knew that I didn’t mean to be rude. We moved on and got on with our life.
This leads me to my second point: do these people have a life? Do they have real problems (you know, as in health issues, relationship issues, real work projects…)? I can’t understand how they find the time to, on one side, write nasty things, and on the other, to circulate it everywhere. Isn’t the important point the fact that the Stepson is happy and getting married? Why didn’t they laugh the whole thing off, like I did with my Indonesian friends? I find it astounding that they have spent so much time on a “good manner” matter. The whole point of good manners is to respect each other and actually get on with your life. Good manners for the sake of them is, I believe, pointless. Apparently, I am the only one to be thinking this. Well, I pride myself in being unconventional then!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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One of the things I miss in London is a certain French pragmatism. Today, I had, once again, a stark reminder of this and for the first time in a long, long time, I missed France.

As part of my job, I have to visit factories and depots in and around London. After one of these visits, which lasted quite some time, I felt the need to go to the ladies. As much as, sometimes, I pretend that I am a mysterious creature, full of charm and wit, I still need to go to the loo. After all, I am only human.

I saw the sign to the ladies, excused myself, went along the dark corridor of the industrial building and eventually try to open the door. Nope. I needed a code. A code! I tried to find fellow female workers but there were none. Only men. I still needed the loo. Bracing myself, I went to see my (male, of course) host and causally asked whether he knew what the code for the ladies was. He looked at me in a funny way and explained that no, he didn’t, and that was the whole point. Apparently, the (very few) ladies working in this unit had complained that their toilets were dirty because, they believed, men were using them. As a result, a programme called “dignity at work” had been launched (you have to admire the Brits for finding such names just to put locks and codes to enter the female loos and keep them clean) and here I was, not able to go to the toilet because of the dignity of some happy few.
I thanked my host with a dignified smile and a now furious need to excuse myself (the explanation was a bit long winded and I had to pretend that I was interested. It is all about good manners here). I managed to find the gents, hoping that they would be empty. They were. I locked myself in one of the cubicles and suddenly felt better. But my relief was short-lived: two guys entered the lavatories and used the urinals. I couldn’t get out. I was mortified. I didn’t move or breathe. I just waited. Eventually, they left. Sigh of relief. But when I opened the door to go back to the corridor, another male worker was on the verge of entering the loo. He looked at me in a funny way. I thought that he was about to say something, so I took immediate action: to avoid an embarrassing explanation, I managed a huge smile and quickly clicked my high heels. It did the trick. He didn’t say anything. To be fair, I ignored his pale attempt of an “excuse me…”
The French way of dealing with this issue would have been to put signs to keep the ladies nice and clean, or to name and shame the men who would have dared entering the ladies.
In this instance, you have got to love the French.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Join Me!
Blog-A-Licious Blog Tour

A necessity. Something in me that needs to get out. It is also about being able to say things without anyone hearing my French accent.
Writing to me is also a way to escape from my busy routine. Kids. Work. Stress. I leave it all at my keyboard.

Writing to me is a way to explore what I am, what I think, what I want. It is a way to make sense of the difficult times. Make them funny. Once written, problems seem smaller. Bad experiences become less painful. Writing helps the healing process.
Writing to me is a substitute of chocolate. Well not quite yet…

Please check out what writing means to my other Blog-A-Licious Friends…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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We haven’t heard about DSK for quite some time and this relative calm has allowed me to try to put things into perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I still firmly believe that the attitude of the French intelligentsia was unacceptable and you can read my previous posts here and here to understand my immediate thoughts on what has happened.


But I am now convinced that there is another collateral victim: the decent man. You see, most men are just decent, hard-working chaps who are trying to support their family or simply make a living and, on top of this, have to endure our mood swings during PMS.



Now that we know that Arnie is a cheater, Weiner an exhibitionist and DSK a potential rapist, I am reading everywhere that men will need to behave. Careful, those bad deeds will not go unpunished from now on! “Le Nouvel Observateur” (A French Political magazine) even reminds its readers of all the sexist comments made by some French politicians and personalities. I am not sure that it will help. The main issues for women are, I believe, education, affordable childcare and equality at the work place. But they are swiftly swept under the carpet. Gone with the media storm
Stigmatizing the men will not help anyone. Most men are reasonable guys. Actually, I am hugely indebted to them. Men in my family, my friends, men at my workplace. Or simply the chap who helped me the other day when my car broke down.


Normal men need to be celebrated a bit more. They are everywhere and without them, I am not sure that we would manage. And, sisters, let’s face it, if men have to analyze every word before speaking to us, it is going to be quite boring.


In short, I love men and I’d like to think that I am close to them. Very close.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Millbank Prison in the 1820s
This is a letter from my house…
Dear New Family,
I know that you are interested in me. I can feel it, and it is good to be desired again. I have been neglected for such a long time.
On the face of it, I am just another vertical slice of a Victorian terraced house. But come on, look closer. I was built in the late 1840s. I have seen it all. You know, the Millbank prison was just down the road. Every person sentenced to transportation was sent here first, and then to Australia. Several thousands of persons convicted of petty crimes, such as stealing an egg because they were hungry, walked here before leaving. You can still see the buttress on the embankment. I remember their fears and also their hopes of building a new life. Some were so young!
I am crumbling. The ceiling of the study is about to collapse, and the gutter on the roof is leaking. You see, they have never been changed, and are full of old memories of the sad faces leaving London.
I was rented by the room at the time. The turnover was high. Musicians, road sweepers, office workers, engineers and dress makers all lived here. Pimlico was becoming fashionable, and Millbank in those days was industrial with a Coconut Fibre factory, the Imperial Flour Mills and the Cement Works. I was stuck between the two, and loving the energy.
You know, I have seen lots of Chelsea men going to the house at the end of the street for some illicit entertainment. They looked happy and passably drunk.
The infamous prison eventually closed down in the 1890s and was replaced by the Tate Britain. You will love it. I can’t recommend highly enough the Turner collection. You could go there every week-end.
In 1928, all of Millbank and a good part of Pimlico were flooded. You had to be resilient to survive this. I was. All of Pimlico was. But you don’t need to worry. The Thames barriers will protect you now. You will be safe here.
I survived World War II. Some houses on this street were bombed. I wasn’t. Have a look at Atterbury Street, and you will see the scars on the walls. I was one of the lucky ones. I am a survivor.
I can see that you have two daughters. They are going to the same school than the family who moved in after the war. Both did very well and went to Oxbridge. What are you waiting for? I am exactly what you need. I am sure that their Dad will renovate me. He seems to like me too.
The last owner had two dogs and two cats. They were clearly passionate about their pets. As you have seen, I just have a small patio. I am still angry about having to accommodate so many animals, it is so unfair on them in central London. I think that you can smell it. Don’t worry, it will all go away. When one of the cats died, the owner stuffed it to keep the other cat company.
I know that, when you are talking about me, you are calling me the Stuffed Cat’s house. I don’t really mind. I am making my way into your heart and you know it.
What is the price of your own piece of London anyway? Welcome home!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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There is a big storm while I am writing – This is one of my collages – It says “In London, it rains all the time but we are happy”.
I am getting older and none the wiser. And no, I am not moaning. I have some evidence to prove my point today. Here we go: I received a friend request, on Facebook, of one of my 11-year old daughter’s friend.
First of all, I didn’t know that children could have a Facebook account. According to Facebook’s rules you need to be 13 but it seems that every girl in primary school has one.  Maybe it is specific to London. How come no one had told me? My daughter doesn’t have one (yet), I don’t want her to (but she writes a very good blog. I am an unconventional mother, I know and it is hard work). Anyway, it took me a while and a cup of coffee to understand that the girl, let’s call her D, who wanted to be my FB friend was in fact the one I have known since she was 4.
I accepted D’s request. And then, I made a major mistake. I posted a message on her wall, asking her how she was, and explaining how weird it was that she was so grown-up now.
This is against the etiquette. You are supposed to accept your daughter’s friend request and never say anything. Not a single word. It is embarrassing for her, you see. So here we go, I am an embarrassing Mum. The message got back to me via my daughter. I have posted something on her friend’s wall. What a weirdo I am! Mums are not supposed to do that. I didn’t know. How hopeless is this?
Maybe she will de-friend me? Let’s wait and see.  Anyway, I can’t help thinking that things have really changed since I was 11 (can you believe that we didn’t know what FB was then?) and I am officially old and out of touch.

But the good news is that I received a very good response to my last post on this blog. Thanks for all comments. I will keep you posted. Suffice to say that it is not a question of if but rather a question of when. Watch this space!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Do you remember The Clash? They were great. I especially liked their hit song “should I stay or should I go?”. And guess what: I live close to 36 Causton street, in London, where The Clash have recorded their songs.
The Vanilla Studio doesn’t exist any more -it has been replaced by the diocese of London:


 However, every time I walk along Causton Street, I have this tune in my head: “should I stay or should I go?”.
Anyway, today, I have a very personal dilemma to share with you. I am thinking of quitting my day job. You see, I am too busy doing the school runs, taking care of the girls, working full-time and my husband travels very often -too often, in fact. And also, I am knackered all the time. Simply exhausted -in a way that I didn’t think existed-. I always have something to do or to attend (I am writing this while watching The Princess and the Frog).
But I have a secret card to play: 4 years ago, I started my very own business, on top of my day job. It is now tumbling along quite nicely and will require more time if I want to take it to the next stage. Don’t understand me the wrong way, it is not going to make me  become Bill Gates. Let’s just say that being my own boss feels nice, and I could have more time with my daughters and my family, and take it easier generally. Financially, I could always look for another job or work free lance in the future if things don’t work out as expected.
But I spent a long time studying Engineering and I pride myself in being an Engineer in a male-dominated environment. I am reluctant to give it all up, after so much effort. I am finding myself excuses to keep my day job: it represents security, I know the Industry, I am reasonably recognised- whatever it means-… And wouldn’t I miss the interaction with colleagues ? It is difficult to be on your own all the time.
In short, I don’t know what to do. That said, I know that I am very fortunate to have a choice when people around me are struggling to make ends meets.
It is a funny time in my life. My grandparents have now passed 90 and, let’s face it, might not be around for much longer. It feels right to have more time with them now, and it simply won’t happen if I keep my job.
So come on and let me know: should I stay or should I go?
I am hoping that I will not have to make the decision myself, that I will be able to take advantage of one of the many reorganisation plans that my company is going through. It would be so much easier…
Maybe I just need a break and everything will be fine. Again, I know I can’t complain: I am in good health, and don’t have any real problem.
But it is a big deal for me.
I will give myself more time to decide. A few months. End of the year, top…
So come on and let me know:

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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For the last few weeks, we have all been living with the Weinergate, DSK,  George Tron (a French minister who happens to be a foot fetishist-trust me, you don’t want to know more). I received a comment from Thom, a fellow blogger, who in essence asked: what about women? Are they as bad as men? Why don’t we hear more about them?

Well, I am sorry to break it out to you all, but I think that women can be as bad as men. They are just less likely to be in a position of power (just look at the statistics if you need to be convinced). That said, I tried to gather for you a few gems coming exclusively from sisters, in no particular order.
1.   –  Do you remember Edith Cresson? She was a French Prime Minister and eventually became a European Commissioner. Not only did she hire her dentist as an AIDS expert (see here) but she also famously said that “one in four British men [was] homosexual”.  Well, as a French woman living in London, I get a lot of unwanted attention. No later than this morning a (drunk – I hope) gentleman told me I was the most beautiful woman on earth. I was going to the dry cleaner (half asleep as it was early morning), I am dangerously nearing 40 and I have at least a stone to loose. I think that she misinterpreted the signs. British men were not interested in her, that’s all;

2.    –  While living with Jean-Paul Enthoven (a well-known French editor), Carla Bruni fell in love and had an affair with his son, Raphael Enthoven, who had the time was married with Justine Levy (a well-known novelist). –I hope you followed, I had to read it twice before getting it-. The affair and the end of the marriage inspired Justine Levy to write the very good novel “Rien de grave” (Nothing serious in French).  Carla Bruni denied having an affair with Raphael Enthoven  and went on to have a son with him. She is now the First Lady of France. Men love her as indeed she is very beautiful. As for me, well, suffice to say that I am getting my British passport as soon as I can. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in people’s right to a private life. But destroying other persons’ life, even if it wasn’t intentional –as I am sure was the case-, takes what she did to unbearable levels;

3.    – Gisele Bundchen said that there should be a “breastfeeding law” for the first six months of the baby. I was just trying to imagine what the breastfeeding police would look like. Would they knock at your door and try to extract some milk? Knock knock! Milk police here! We all say stupid things of course, but someone needs to explain to the gorgeous Gisele that, as moms, we are all doing what we can.
If you have heard about other gems please do let me know. My point was that no one is immune from saying or doing silly things. It has nothing to do with gender or nationalities. There is, however, one universal truth: sometimes –especially when you don’t know enough-, you might want not to say anything…
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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This post was first published on Technorati


This is something close to my heart. I am convinced that there are different levels of communication, and some don’t require words (before we continue, I am not talking about hanky-panky here. Please be serious, dear reader!). For example, when I was pregnant, I was very frustrated because I couldn’t have a conversation with my baby. My husband felt the same way (and was actually putting on weight at the same pace than me to show his solidarity).
To give you another example: my grandmother suffers from Alzheimer and even if, technically, she can speak, most of the time what she says doesn’t mean anything. So, how do you communicate?
Well, you need to try something called “
haptonomy” (haptonomie in French). This is about touching someone (or, when you are pregnant, touching your tummy) and trying to convey what you want to say with your touch, and concentrating on how the other person is reacting. It is actually amazing: my daughter was feeling my husband’s hand and she was tucking herself in it. She was reacting differently depending in the way we “touched” her. We felt like we knew her before she was actually born.
I am not talking about gently patting someone, just touching to say you accept and you care, or whatever you want to say, in an accepting and non-judgemental way. Words can hurt. Words categorise people : an unborn baby, a 90-year old lady who is losing her mind, …but some things never change: we have a body and we can feel how the other person is reacting to our touch: a slight hesitation, a sadness or an eagerness to be touched.
Touching is an important part of our life. That doesn’t mean that we are doing haptonomy in our daily life. Haptonomy is to touching what poems are to literature. Do not be put off by the way it is described, it doesn’t need to be complicated.
Haptonomy doesn’t seem to exist in the UK. What a shame! In France, it can be used to prepare women for the birth of their baby. I am normally a very rational person, and some people actually found it incredibly funny that I could even mention it. Well, my response is: if it helps me, if it makes me more accepting, it can’t be that bad!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London