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…
As you all know, a referendum is being held on Thursday, 23 June to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union. I tend to steer away from political issues on this blog, but today I will make an exception. As some of you have already read, I have made my position abundantly clear on the national press (read the article 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)
It is an understatement to say that my position has surprised most of my friends and family, but hey, here we are. Once again, as much as I love the concept of Europe, I don’t think that it is working, and I am sick an tired of all the forms that I have to fill for my business in France (not to mention that it keeps changing). I sometimes wonder what would happen if I stopped doing it. I think that I would have fines to pay. Because that’s usually the way it goes, right?
It’s all over the news and I still can’t believe it. What am I talking about? Michael Gove’s wife Sarah Vine, a well-known journalist, hails separate bedrooms as key to a happy marriage. Oh, and for those of you who don’t know him, Michael Gove happens to be this country’s Justice Secretary. What can I say? It’s a small world. The article can be found here if you don’t believe me: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3361842/SARAH-VINE-Sorry-chaps-women-love-sleep-FAR-sex.html
As you will see, I didn’t invent anything, and the title of her piece is really ‘ Sorry CHAPS but women love sleep far more than sex !’ Wow! And it was in the front page -no less.
I tend to write light-hearted things on this blog. That’s the way I have always wanted it, because there are far too many people taking themselves far too seriously already, and I don’t want to be one of them. My blog is supposed to make you smile. Sometimes cringe, maybe. But that’s all. And, to me, that’s more than enough.
But today, I can’t really write about anything else than the Paris attacks. Because I am still in shock. Because I used to live in Paris. Because somehow I naively believed that we were dealing with a few ‘lone wolves’ rather than such a well-organised terrorist organisation. Because I still can’t believe that what has happened has actually happened. A part of me still expects the whole thing to be a nightmare. Let’s face it, it could have been any of us having a drink on a terrace, or attending a concert. We are all potential victims of terrorism. My daughters. My family. Me. My friends. Anyone, really. And anywhere too. Why would a group of human beings do something like this? We are dealing with monsters here, not humans. That’s the only plausible explanation, right? They are already dead inside.
Back by popular demand, here is the latest chapter of Carine & Archie’s story. You can read the last chapter here.
I need to prepare my citizenship test.
The UK did not join the European Economic Community (EEC) until 1973. Still today, it is a sore subject. You will not read anything else about the EEC in this guide. No questions on this subject will be asked during the Life in the United Kingdom Test anyway. There is absolutely no need whatsoever to revise this paragraph.
Life In the United Kingdom, (Almost) Official Study Guide
With a heavy heart I manage to get Alexandra and myself to France, in the small city where I come from near Nice. There is a direct British Airways flight, which helps. There is even a quirky Anglican church there, I don’t know why. My ankle feels a lot better. I think that I overreacted a bit. I must be tired. All I needed was a few good nights sleep.
I might be a self-proclaimed French Yummy Mummy but, as some of you know, I also have a British passport. I am not sure that it makes me fully British (I will let you be the judge of this), but it allows me to vote at the next general election. Obviously France and Great Britain are both Western democracies, but there are a few notable differences between the two. As a first-timer in the UK, here are the main ones as far as the voting system is concerned:
1. In the UK, ordinary citizen like you and me vote once, and your vote will be used to elect the Members of Parliament and the leader of the party that won becomes Prime Minister. In France, there are two elections: one for the President, and one for the MPs (‘deputes’). Obviously nowadays both elections happen at the same time, or within a few days. It used to be different, and it led to having a President of one political party, and a Prime Minister of another political faction. We used to call it ‘cohabitation’. Ah memories! ‘Cohabitation’ is a bit like the polyamory of politics: the French decide to commit to two different parties with the consent of all people involved (they didn’t have much of a choice, to be honest with you). What can I say? My home country used to be very progressive: it clearly anticipated this new polyamorous trend (politically speaking, of course). Things have slightly changed now. Cohabitation has disappeared, we talk about coalition. And it is the same in the UK of course. Coalition is much more of a practical arrangement, come to think of it. It is a bit like choosing another flatmate when the rent is too high. The main party will choose the flatmate who will make the most compromises.
For some reason, this weekend’s first round of local elections in France didn’t really make the headlines on this side of the Channel. Me being me, I tried to understand the results, and avidly read all French mainstream newspapers. The funny thing was that, for once, everybody was happy.
Is my home country in denial?
The socialists, who happen to be in office, thought that it wasn’t as bad as anticipated (they had c. 21.5% of votes nationwide). The right was extremely pleased with its 29% of votes, and said that France was seeking change. The far-right National Front managed to get 25% of votes and declared that they were the first political party in France. This is because traditional parties tend to be coalitions. That said, last Sunday was only the first round, and we should get a clearer picture of where France is heading this Sunday for the second round. Let’s not kid ourselves here: it clearly doesn’t look good.
That said, all was well for everybody. No, really.
It was mentioned in passing by some newspapers, but for some reasons it didn’t make the headlines. So here it is: you may remember that, in 2012, France decided that even non-residents who were renting out their flat or holiday house in France had to pay French social contributions on their rental revenues (we call it CSG/CRDS). This added 15,5% of taxes for hundreds of thousands of owners who happened not to live in France (and believe me, this can happen to the best of us!). Just like that. And as it was decided end of 2012, of course it was applied retroactively to all rental revenues in 2012. Of course it was.
We happen to own a studio flat in Paris. We decided to rent it out when we moved to London, and as a result, in 2012, our French tax liability almost doubled overnight (from 20% to 35.5%). Obviously I think that it is unfair to levy such a tax because, as a non-resident, I am already paying for National Insurance, Pension and the rest of it in the UK. Not to mention that, in France, we are paying for all the infrastructure through the local taxes. The new tax came on top of everything else. This is, to me, the perfect example of what a populist decision is: as most owners don’t vote in France, they are an easy target. Let’s make them pay more, nobody will complain! Populism at its best. Utterly disgusting.
It is this time of the year, I suppose: I am starting my spring cleaning. It feels nice to have a spotless house, and it has the added benefit of clearing my mind. I was tidying up when I found them. They were covered in dust and lying in a corner of the attic, as if they had fallen off an old pile. How long had they been here? I had no idea. Everybody had probably forgotten about them -the previous tenants certainly didn’t mention anything. What am I talking about? Old newspapers. Five of them. I kid you not. The oldest was a London News Illustrated dated Saturday, October 9, 1869, and the most recent was dated Saturday, March 19, 1898. Right in front of me, I had five snippets of a time in London I knew nothing about. It was my very own time capsule.