|Someone Loves Unwrapping Presents|
|Someone Loves Unwrapping Presents|
It is all over the newspapers today: we French women are quite competitive. I am no exception. OK, I will go straight to the point: I need to be reassured. Right here. Right now. Let me explain: Valerie Trierweiler, the scorned ex-First Lady of France, is on the cover of this Saturday’s Times magazine.
I am gutted. It is all going downhill from here, right?
First of all, I think that I look better than her. Please tell me that I look better. Then, I think that it is totally unfair that she has such an advantage simply because she slept with the French president. Because I never have. And I never will. We have an expression in French ‘S’il etait dans mon lit, j’irais dormir dans la baignoire’, which translates as ‘if he was in my bed, I would sleep I the bathtub’. That’s exactly how I feel about Mr Hollande. I simply don’t understand what women see in him.
As much as I agree that she has been treated appallingly, the whole story is, after all, a common one. Of course, the President behaved like boor and a liar. And an amateur: some of my French friends believe that his main mistake was to get caught. That said, at the end of the day, he dumped her for a younger actress. Yawn. Something similar happened to a couple of acquaintances of mine and it didn’t make the headlines. The French way to get her revenge would have been to publicly go out with a toy boy and leave proudly. The fact that she completely broke down is at the same time touching and incredibly naive. I am of two minds about what she went through. Because what goes around comes around, right? After all, she was the mistress before becoming the girlfriend, and everybody knows that when a man officialise his relationship with his mistress, it creates a vacancy. Having said this, it was a very public humiliation, and I suppose that we can’t fully comprehend the magnitude of his betrayal. In short, it is a sad and slightly sordid story with no hero and no villain.
There is a happy ending for her: the affair allowed her to get a great publishing deal, and the publicity that she is getting is simply amazing. Would people be interested in knowing how my heart got broken when I was younger? I seriously doubt it. Damn it. I will never understand how these things work.
Today, I wanted to set the record straight: I don’t like it when women get famous because of the men they have relationships (or one-night stands) with. It must be the old feminist in me. Because, come on, I am sure that she is more than a scorned girlfriend. Could we please talk about what she has achieved rather than her sex life? Oh, and I didn’t sleep with anyone to be on the cover. Just saying.
|Me, 42. Picture by Alejandra Moral & make-up/hair by Anastasia Parquet|
|First Mince Pie of the year…Yummy!|
Today is Remembrance Day. All over the world, we recall the end of the hostilities of World War I and subsequent conflicts. WW1 started exactly 100 years ago. In London, poppies are everywhere to commemorate soldiers who have died in war. I used to wonder why poppies were used in such a way, because in France there are no poppies for Remembrance Day. I was explained that it was because of a poem, “In Flanders Fields”, by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John Mc Crae. Apparently, poppies were the first flowers to grow near the soldiers graves, in Flanders. Well, I will never see poppies the same way again, that’s for sure.
|The Dress I Bought…|
Maybe it has something to do with being French. Maybe it has something to do with being me. But here it is: I am always in love. Always. For the record, I am not talking about romantic love here: as most of you know, I have been happily married for, like, a century, and contrary to all the cliches on the French keeping one man (and a couple of children) happy more than fills up my days. That said, I can totally fall in love with a nice smile, a child, a relative I haven’t seen for ages, a British painter or a long-lost friend. I can also fall in love with something: it can be a witty word, a book, a place, a necklace or even an app. So here it is: right now I am madly in love with a dress I saw on a catalogue, and yes it is vain but I can’t get it out of my head. Argh….
When I was younger, a boyfriend dumped me for not being cynical enough. He was of the opinion that becoming more cynical was a normal part of getting older. So sad, right? French men have the reputation of being philanderers. Who would have thought that they could be killjoys too? But he was wrong. I never became cynical. And I don’t want to. I moved on, and I kept being in love. Because that’s who I am. I must admit that I googled him the other day, and becoming more cynical has definitively make him less good-looking (and that’s actually a British understatement). I knew it. I was right all along.
Whatever we do, I think that we must be passionate. Of course I sometimes get disappointed. So what? I fall on my bum (not literally, obviously) and stand up again. Should I change? I sometimes wonder. It is tiring to be like this, but the alternative doesn’t really appeal to me. Why should I become cold-hearted and bitter? I just can’t. It’s not me.
Maybe all the cliches on the French woman are right after all: we are all about passion. We kick asses. We haven’t forgotten the power of femininity. Why did I want to debunk all the myths again? Silly me. Tonight I will happily admit that I am still very French.
And oh, I bought the dress. I just had to. A woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do, right?
|Marseille, Old harbour|
My journey back to London was more eventful than initially thought. I had to catch a plane from Marseille airport, which is quite far from my small village on the Mediterranean. The traffic was of course terrible, but, me being me, I was more than two hours in advance anyway.
Once arrived at the airport, we sat down to grab a bite and started eating. I remember thinking that the airport looked empty compared to Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted.
Then, suddenly, when we were almost finished, we were given a paper saying that the staff at the restaurant was not happy with their salaries. My daughter asked me what the paper was about, and I tried to explain it to her.
A few minutes later, we head loud whistles and people tooting. A group has entered the airport: it was the staff of the restaurant, and they were starting a strike. There and then, before our very eyes.
|The paper That Started It All|
My daughter was bewildered. I explained to her that striking was a national sport in France, and that on top of this Marseille was probably the unofficial capital of strikes. After all, Marseille had experienced spectacular bin men strikes. The city was stinking for weeks on end, and huge rats were crossing the streets as a result. The situation was so unbearable that local residents started burning the rubbish on the streets. I am not sure that my little one felt reassured by my explanations. I was just trying to illustrate my point.
Shortly afterwards, the security teams started to follow the protesters. The police joined them eventually, and a chase ensued all over the arrival hall. I felt like I was in the middle of the action. It was hilarious. The group of strikers kept going outside and coming back, and every time they ended up running one after another and running around.
Things calmed down eventually. We went upstairs to board our plane. In London, everything was quiet and uneventful, which was nice. You have to give it us: nobody strikes like the French. Nobody.