I was going to tell you that it’s officially the end of the summer holidays in London, which means that I can finally catch-up with everything I left on hold before the holidays as the children are now back to school and starting a new academic year. But then I received the first project of the cover of my next book, Madame La Presidente, from the talented Vanessa Mendozzi (check out her site here: https://www.vanessamendozzidesign.com)
What can I say? I had to stop everything. I just love it!
What do you think? You can read the first chapter here: http://frenchyummymummy.com/madame-la-presidente/
Are you as excited as I am?
There is so much to do that I don’t know where to start, and receiving the cover hasn’t helped as I keep starring at it. I am mesmerised. Damn it!
Today I need your help on my latest project. Call me mad, call me stupid, but I am thinking of writing another book. It would be in English -of course-, and it would be a French political thriller (chick lit style). What do you think? Would you read a book like this?
So what would it be about? Well, to cut a long story short, if would be about what would have happened if a French female President had been elected. My character, Veronique Boyer, would be a sexy older lady (a cross between Christine Lagarde and Brigitte Macron). She would be an outstanding president, but her private life would go from bad to worse (as in from REALLY bad to EVEN worse).
I have decided to share with you, my readers, the Prologue and the first chapter. Any comment/suggestions helps…
Oh, and before I forgot: I haven’t edited it yet, so please excuse any typo/gallicism…
Arnaud Dubruis, the Darling of the French media, was quietly sitting amongst the 300 guests at the Elysee reception speech. For once he wasn’t covering the event. He wasn’t checking his microphone or discussing with the cameraman. No, this time, he was just waiting for the President to enter the paved square, and he didn’t have much else to do. He couldn’t help thinking that things would soon become a lot more complicated: the newly elected President happened to be his wife.
Come to think of it, love stories between journalists and politicians were quite common in Paris. More often than not, knowing who had slept with who was a guessing game in his social circle. However, such affairs usually involved a young sexy female journalist and a slightly older party leader. Sometimes, they even got married. That said, it usually ended in tears, as had happened between the former President and his journalist girlfriend, who took it very badly when her lover was caught having a 5 a 7 with a younger actress after a popular theater play. The title of one of the many articles was ‘Caught In the Act’. The regular girlfriend found it extremely humiliating. It must be said that, in due course, she took the whole sorry affair in her stride, and wrote another popular play about the whole experience. Never underestimate a scorned woman.
Enough is enough. In case you have been hibernating, not a day passes without a flurry of articles mentioning Emmanuel Macron’s unusual marriage with a woman more than 20 years his senior. Forget about unemployment, Brexit, Chechen homosexuals being tortured and killed. From now on, it’s all about Brigitte Trogneux’ style, diet, clothes and unusual family set-up (because in case you have missed it, her children are of a similar age than her husband). Seriously, what is happening to this world? Read here if you don’t believe me: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4483918/How-DOES-Macron-s-wife-defy-age.html
Please spare me the judgmental vibe, and let me speak my mind: who the hell cares? After all, it’s their business. Their private life is, well, private.
And why is it so shocking to see a man and an older woman? Nobody bats an eyelid when older men marry a much younger woman, so why the double standard? I am starting to become prouder of my home country: we French still value mature women, and we have timeless icons such as Catherine Deneuve (73 years old). Over here, in the UK, women seem to become invisible after a certain age.
That’s it: the path is clear. Article 50 will be triggered on the 29th of March, and the divorce proceedings between the UK and the European Union will finally begin.
In such cases, the potential for things to turn nasty is high. Let’s face it, it will be long and complex. However, the optimistic in me believes that where there is a political will, you can make anything happen. There will be threats on both sides, but if both parties work in good faith I believe that we should get there in the end. Onwards and upwards, as they say over here.
As you may know, I am lucky: I applied for a British passport as soon as I could, and managed the applications of all the family. Yes, it was an expensive process, but for me it was a priority: I didn’t want my children not to be able to come back to the country where they were brought up. It must be said that we were the exception rather than the rule: most of my European friends didn’t bother applying for a passport when they could have. Some of them had been living here for decades, and I am still struggling to understand why they didn’t become British after all this time. I know that some of you disagree, but if staying in the UK was so important, then surely they should have taken every possible precaution to make sure they would be able to stay. Of course EU citizens came to this country because they were legally allowed to do so. It was their right. To me, it was also a privilege. It felt a bit like being able to stay at friends’ house indefinitely. You have their permission to stay, but after a while, the decent thing to do is to get your own place. As my (French) grandmother used to say: ‘My House, My Rules’. And sometimes, rules changed. Anyway, that’s just me. And don’t get me wrong: I feel for fellow European Citizen who haven’t had as much luck as I did.
It’s starting again. The French general election is looming, and I keep receiving emails from far too many candidates essentially saying ‘Vote for me!’
The truth is, I don’t read them any more. It’s like deja-vu all over again. Frankly, I can’t be bothered. I still read French newspapers, but it seems to me that, over the last years, France has remained stuck in its old way, and things are not going to change any time soon.
New ideas seem to emerge, like the basic income (which, as I understand it, means that everybody would receive an unconditional sum of money), and I feel like France, once again, hasn’t changed. It’s all nice and well to give money away, but who is going to finance it? France already has one of the highest tax rates in the world! This would cost c. 25% of France GDP, or over 550 Billions Euros. Where would they come from? The already hard-pressed taxpayers and businesses? Seriously? And what about the culture of entitlement that we are going to perpetuate if this is implemented? Who is going to do the hard work, such as collecting the bins, caring about the elderly, cleaning, stacking the shelves…if it’s easier to sit on the sofa and wait for a guaranteed paycheck? As much as the idea can appeal from a theoretical point of view, I find it completely unrealistic.
Where to start? I didn’t want to write such a post, but hey, here we go. To cut a long story short, I had a fantastic French-inspired dinner on the 13th of July, was about to write about it on Bastille Day but didn’t, and woke up on the 15th of July in a state of shock when I heard about the horrible attack in Nice. Words fail me. I could have been one of the victims: the only reason why I wasn’t in Nice was because my teenage daughter is doing some work experience in London, and we’ll all go to Nice when she is finished, in about ten days or so. In fact, anyone could have been a victim, because going out to see fireworks on display on Bastille Day is as normal as buying your daily bread in my home country. That said, this time, I am angry too: I have yet to understand how a 19-ton truck could end up on the Promenade des Anglais without being stopped. As usual, politicians and representatives are all blaming one another, and this lack of accountability, together with what seems to be gross incompetence on the part of whoever was in charge of security, are pissing me off in equal measure (excuse my French).
So where do we go from here? Well, as an ordinary citizen, I initially felt powerless. But then I realise that maybe, just maybe, it’s the small things that matter, because they give way to the bigger things. What am I talking about? Well, here it is: the things that matter stretch from the apparently anodyne, such as enjoying good food and wine, or feeling the sun on your body on the beach, to the much heavier weighted freedom of speech and democracy.
So yes, I will tell you about my lovely dinner in London, and I urge you to have a glass of Chablis to celebrate life in general and France in particular. Because that’s what life is about, and because that’s what our way of life is about. And yes, these things matter. Actually, maybe we have taken them for granted for far too long?
Well, if you have been living in London over the last week, you will know that things have been pretty rough. Everyday came with its own share of surprise resignations and bad news. But hey, stiff upper lip and all that. Not to mention that if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I removed the BBC news app on my iPhone. Simply put, I didn’t want to know what had gone tits up yet again (excuse my French).
Mind you, at a more personal level things have been quite hectic too. Yesterday evening I was driving back home, and happened to be on Shepherd’s Bush Green, right behind a white van. We were waiting at a red light. The driver suddenly lowered his side window, and threw up abundantly. I was stunned. As soon as the light turned green, he drove away, as if nothing had happened. Wow. I suddenly had a newfound confidence in this country’s resilience. Because it’s all about staying positive, right? I am a glass-half-full sort of person anyway. Come to think of it, that Green always had a weird vibe.
That’s it, we now have the results of the referendum, and as everybody knows the British people have chosen to leave the European Union. I must admit that the result came to a surprise to me. As I have made my opinion on the subject pretty clear (click here in case you have missed it: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12173177/Im-French-but-Ive-lost-my-patience-with-the-EU.-Ill-be-voting-Leave.html), I have been at the receiving end of various not-so-nice comments (can you hear the British understatement here?), and I must admit that I wasn’t prepared for them. So let’s start by making something clear: I am not racist, I certainly don’t feel old (According to the media only old people have voted Leave) and I am well-educated (I have two master degrees, after all). So enough with all the condescending assumptions please.
I can’t help thinking that, had the Remain camp won, we would have been told to accept it and move on (which I would have done). That’s what democracy is about: people vote, and you respect their decision, even if you don’t like it. Because of the unexpected result, some Remainers have been behaving like toddlers who have just been refused a sweet. They are now threatening to throw up a tantrum. It’s time to wake up, smell the coffee, and behave in a more responsible way.
What particularly annoys me is when I hear European expats of all walks of life complaining about the referendum results. Some of them have been living here for decades, and I am struggling to understand why they didn’t become British after all this time. They could have had a saying in the matter, but somehow they chose not to. So why complain now? Maybe we’ve had it too good for too long, and we took things for granted. It seems to me that our society is suffering from a severe case of over-inflated sense of entitlement. After all, being able to live in a foreign country is a privilege, not a right.
With the referendum tomorrow, and in my case the article in the Daily Mail (see here in case you have missed it: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3649689/What-French-women-REALLY-think-us.html) emotions seem to be running at an all-time high.
What is going on? Where has the legendary ‘stiff upper lip’ gone? Why has everybody taken up such entrenched positions?
Whatever the result of the referendum, I will still bring my children to school on Friday. I will continue to do my grocery shopping, and to go to work. Life will go on, one way or the other. Am I also allowed to say that it’s OK (and actually quite healthy) to disagree? In short, I think that it is time to put things into perspective, try a little kindness, and move on…