Posted by / Category Politics /

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.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London, Politics /

Back by popular demand, here is the latest chapter of Carine & Archie’s story. You can read the last chapter here.

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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

 

Christmas 2011

 

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.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, Politics /

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.

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Posted by / Category Politics /

 

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.

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Posted by / Category Politics /

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.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London, Politics /

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.

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Posted by / Category Politics /

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I have told you countless times that we French are different. We can do things that the rest of the world only dream of doing. In fact, we can even make people come back from the dead. For instance, yesterday, the leading news agency AFP (Agence France Presse) announced the death of French billionaire Martin Bouygues. This was big news, and the rumour spread fast on the Net -as you would expect. Martin Bouygues is one of France’s industrial leaders, and such a news would inevitably impact the French economy, the share price of his company, and so on, and so forth. In short, it was a big deal, and could have massive consequences.

Except that there was one tiny detail: Martin Bouygues was alive and well. At least that’s what he tweeted. And his company formally denied that he was dead. Apparently, the AFP got it completely wrong, and got confused because someone of the same age died in the village he was from. The AFP apologised profusely for their mistake, and promised that they would investigate what went wrong. That said, I have just had a look at Yahoo News and it still says that Martin Bouygues died on 28th of February 2015. It looks like things got out of hands. You don’t know who to believe these days, right? Is he dead, or is he alive and well? It really makes you wonder. I know that we will all die eventually, but let’s say it once and for all: this is a massive cockup.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, Politics /

As you know, Netflix is releasing House Of Cards Season 3 today. I happen to be a huge fan. But I can’t watch it. I am banned from watching a single episode or reading any spoilers, because my husband is on a business trip, and I need to wait for him to start watching the series. It is hard. I don’t know if I will resist the temptation. What is it with marriage and always having to make compromises? In order to make it easier, I have decided to write the summary of what the French version would look like. Here is what I came up with. How do you like it? Should I continue? Let me know.

Disclaimer: all characters are fictional and the product of my vivid imagination.

 

PILOT

The French President, Arnaud Duchemol, is clinically depressed since his mistress, the gorgeous journalist Isabelle Demoulin has dumped him for the leader of the opposition, the charismatic (and very rich) Benoit Pouledor. This is an open secret amongst politicians and journalists, but the rest of France doesn’t know (obviously. That’s how things work in France). The president self medicates with cognac and is feeling suicidal. His Chef de Cabinet, the driven Arielle Boisneau (Chief of Staff) is running the country for him, always finding excuses when she has to lead the Conseil Des Ministres (Cabinet meeting) in his absence.

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Posted by / Category Politics /

Today we are all French. The turnout of the rally in Paris was huge, with almost two millions participants there.This is simply amazing, and it shows that the attacks were perpetuated by a minuscule minority, and that we can still win the war against extremism. That’s good news. That’s actually reassuring.





Can I just say that I was worried about the possibility of another attack during the march? The brutality of the recent events in France made me wonder whether my home country was under siege, and whether such atrocities were going to become more and more common. The fact that all went well today proves that we will not be defeated by a bunch of scattered terrorists. This is a fight we can win. This is a fight we have to win.

Now is time to regroup and fight for our values. It is time to stick together, respect each other while at the same time being able to make fun at each other.
And maybe, just maybe, it is time to appreciate the freedom we have a bit more. 

On this note, I urge you to get in touch with your French side and repeat after me #JeSuisCharlie
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /


I was about to tell you how the filming of my commercial went, and how happy I was with the whole experience, but because of the recent events in my home country, all of this seemed a bit futile. I am in shock. All of France is in shock. The only think that I would like to post today is something that I wrote a long time ago, about the 2005 bombings. Here it is:


As you know, despite my British passport 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, in July 2005, I was back to work after a 6-month maternity leave. On 7th of July 2005, I dropped my elder daughter to school at approximately 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, and I found out that a bus departing from Euston station was bombed half an hour later. All the passengers seemed 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 managed to reassure my family by 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.
Well, this weekend I feel very French. I promise, I will be back soon with something more light-hearted, but right now words simply fail me. Thanks for your patience and support!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London