Posted by / Category Politics /

An Intricate Network Of Lies…
I can’t believe that it is already 2014. I wish all my readers a great year, and I would like to thank you all for your continuous support. It means a lot to me, and thanks to you some great things are starting to happen to me. I haven’t made any new year’s resolutions…I am just too old for resolutions, and I never stick to them anyway. I just have a wish for 2014: I wish that we were all more honest, more direct, and less politically correct. Come on, wouldn’t it be great? 

Just imagine: my home country is in denial….Growth is starting to arrive in the UK, but France is still lagging behind, hindered by lots of structural issues that are simply not being dealt with. This was reflected in Standard and Poor’s credit rating cuts at the start of November. Unemployment keeps rising (10.5% of the population according to the latest figures, an increase of 0.6% compared to last year), and the government’s only response seems to raise yet again already punitive taxes. Despite an increased life expectancy, the French president cut retirement age last year. In the meantime, the state sector keeps growing, and much-needed reforms to make it more competitive have yet to be implemented. In short, billions are wasted every year, and nobody bats an eyelid. I would love someone to say: ‘hey guys, wake up and smell the coffee’. Nobody has done it just yet…

As for Great Britain, right now the newspapers are all about the so-called Romanian invasion, because some work restrictions have been lifted for a few Eastern European countries. Give me a break! On a similar note, I was walking close to the Lithuanian embassy, in Pimlico, the other day, with an American friend of mine. There was a long queue outside. Despite being an educated lady, she started a racist rant about the fact that ‘these people’ -i.e. the Eastern Europeans- had more rights than her in the European Union in general, and in the UK in particular. What a shame it was- she said. I couldn’t believe it. Isn’t America a land of immigrants? I didn’t say anything. Maybe I should have. After all, I am one of ‘these people’ -an immigrant- too. And it didn’t prevent me from becoming British eventually. I pay my taxes, I work, just like everybody else. Chances are, we all have at least one ancestor who was an immigrant. Nothing to be afraid of. We didn’t steal anything. We just came to make a living. And we are here legally. I wish I had said this to her. I didn’t.

That said, maybe all truths are not to be told. I wanted to say ‘I don’t want to see you any more because I think that you are a twat,’ ! But surely I can’t say this. So instead I made my goodbyes and left. It made me realise that the number of little white lies I have to say is simply huge. But how can I be more honest without being too hurtful? I really wonder.  I need to keep trying. How do you say such things?

I suppose that I will just have to keep trying, right? So, after all, here is my new year’s resolution: to say what I think a bit more, or a bit louder. To be more, well, French…How about you: what is your resolution? When was the last time you lied?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

It had all started so well. One of my old university mates is in town, and we have arranged to have a morning coffee together. Her hotel isn’t very far from my home. I am really pleased to see her after all these years.

She is late. Of course she is. Anyway, I am not in a rush, so I don’t really mind. There she is. I waive and smile. She looks a bit dishevelled. She is upset, I can tell.

“- What is going on?”

“- How do you find your way in London? All the streets have the same names, with different extensions: close, garden, villa, and so on, and so forth…”

“- Oh, I am sorry you got lost.”

I am not sorry at all. Come on, it is not that difficult, is it? Surely she can read a map? After all, she is an educated lady.

We order a cappuccino. This is my favourite coffee place in the area. It doesn’t belong to a chain and is run by a lovely couple.  I come here almost every morning.

When her cappuccino arrives, she is not happy. It is too milky, you see. I wish I could bury my head in the sand and escape somewhere really far.  She has it redone. What a bossyboots!

“- How can you survive here? When are you going back to France? You know, there is such a thing as economic patriotism. You have been trained in France, you need to come back!”

 I hadn’t realised that I was going to get a good old-fashioned lecture.

I try to change subject.

“- Well, we are all British now. How about you? How is C, (her boyfriend)?”

Wrong question. Silly me.

“- Oh, we broke up a few months ago.”

“- I am sorry to hear this.”

I am a bit sorry for her, but not that much. She is clearly a pain in the neck. We haven’t seen each other for the best part of a decade, and here she is, lecturing me. I totally understand the guy. And she hasn’t even asked how I am.

“- And I have had a few health issues.”

Here we go again. It is all about her.

You don’t want to know the details. Suffice to say, she gave them to me and it was a case of too much information.

Sadly, I slowly come to the conclusion that we don’t have much in common any more. I feel like she is in need of a good therapist, and I can’t really help. I have barely managed to say anything anyway. I just nod and smile, and eventually, I stand up.

“- Well, it was lovely to see you!”

I can’t believe I said this. That’s clearly a lie. I am becoming more British by the minute. I really belong here.

“- And you too…Please think of what I told you. You need to go back! Don’t waste your talents! ”

Chances are, I will not see her again within the next ten years. No need to say anything, right? I let it slide. I would like to snap back, but I don’t.

I walk on my own, glad to be rid of her. What a difference 10 years make! Have you had such experiences? Am I a bad person?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

I think that my home country is in denial. The French president told the nation yesterday that France is in recovery. France is in the midst of the deepest economical crisis but don’t worry, everything will be fine. The number of job seekers keeps increasing, but we are in recovery. Recovery, my foot.

This made me think. Maybe, after all, we need denial. We crave denial. Life would be so boring without denial. So, after all, denial might be a good thing, don’t you think?

Maybe, if we believe hard enough that we are in recovery, well, we will be in recovery eventually? If only it were as simple as this.

It made me think of an old flatmate at university. She was lovely, beautiful and intelligent. She was also dating a (French) guy who already had a girlfriend. She was in complete denial about the whole thing. It was love, you see. He was her soulmate. He was going to leave his girlfriend for her. He was the one, according to her.

Me being me, I told her to stay safe and use, well, rubber. She was shocked. How could I ? Silly old me. We drifted apart.

He did leave the girlfriend, but it took him a few years. Soulmate, my foot.

Fifteen years down the line, she is divorced with two young kids and he is married to a much younger woman expecting their second child.

Who am I to judge? She was happy with a lothario for a long time, after all. That said, I can’t help thinking that her denial didn’t help. Denial is not always helpful, after all.

So, are we all in denial? Wouldn’t it be better to face the music and implement some much-needed reforms before it is too late? The problem is that it takes a lot of courage to face the truth.

As for me, the result is the same. France and me are drifting apart.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London, Politics /

There is something going on in London. You just have to walk through the streets of Hammersmith, Kensington or Chelsea to notice it: the French are everywhere. Despite the fact that the French government seems to be denying it, the French are coming to London ‘en masse’. This is an invasion. Just go to South Kensington tube station if you don’t believe me.

I am not too happy about this. The sad truth is, I used to feel thinner over here. Well, not any more. Lots of Femmes Fatales are walking along the streets and I feel like I have put on some weight, which is not nice. Nowhere is safe: London is becoming like Paris, full of lovely brunettes with long legs and stylish skirts. What’s next? The menus in the restaurants are all in French, they mention ‘amuse-bouche’ , ‘brioche’ and ‘a la carte’ dishes. Crepes are trendier than pancakes. Most of the waiting staff in Kensington is French, and most waitresses look like off-duty models. I am starting to feel overshadowed by the beauty of the lovely creature bringing my food. And, of course, we are all sipping cafes as opposed to coffees. London is rapidly becoming a French city.

Apparently, new French schools will open shortly, because the French lycee is over-subscribed. Such schools will follow the French curriculum. Being French-educated in London is very posh, despite the fact that you barely learn to speak English!  It is supposed to give your CV some cachet. I can’t believe it.

In London you can easily find French brands –at a premium, of course. And if you are not a French brand, it looks like having a French name does the magic too. I never really understood why, but a French word is likely to increase your profits. Look no further than Agent provocateur: it is a British brand selling lingerie at a premium. Simple but effective.

What I love most is when French tourists are asking me for directions. I tend to reply in French to save them the embarrassment of speaking English. They thentell me that ‘My French is Excellent’. How funny.

The French seriously considered invading London during the 18th century.  Their various attempts were all unsuccessful. No need to send an army to invade Britain: just raise the taxes and all French will flock to London. And it is happening now.
C’est la vie.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

It is all over the news in France but for some reason nobody has reported it over here. A MP has asked how much Valerie Trierweiler, the current girlfriend of French president Francois Hollande, was costing the French taxpayer. The response was very diligently published on an official website (see here) : if the figures are to be believed, Valerie Trierweiler is costing a bit less that 20 000 € per month whereas the former First Lady Carla Bruni (who for some reason is not explicitly named) was costing more than 60 000€ per month. Right. So, what do we make of this?
Well, not much really. There is a big debate in France about whether Valerie Trierweiler is really a First Lady, because she is not married to the president. They haven’t even filed a joint tax return, which, according to some, only makes her the ‘official mistress’ (‘la favorite’). Right then, maybe a mistress is cheaper than a wife. As a pragmatic friend of mine pointed out, the problem with mistresses is that you can have more than one. It reminded me of an earlier decision of Francois Hollande: he cut the ministers salaries by 30% but increased the number of ministers from 20 to 34, and I have never understood whether there was a saving for the taxpayer in the end. Figures are never to be believed because, in France, the definition of an independent audit remains unclear, and costs are presented in a misleading way (e.g.: unit cost and not total costs if we take the example of the number of ministers).

So, what can we make of the comparative costs of the First Ladies/Mistresses/girlfriends?

I am not so sure. France has a long tradition of having a king initially, then a President with a roving eye. Francois Mitterrand even had the taxpayer foot the bill of a second family on the side. There is nothing new here. I think that, if a meaningful comparison must be made, then some ground rules must be established. I have come up with an initial set. Feel free to add to the list. The costs will include:
– the wife and all actual mistresses and girlfriends, their accommodation and other advantages (bodyguards, jobs offered to them, etc…)
– the cost of getting rid of all the exes (or keeping them at arm’s length, if you want)
– the surveillance of potential new girlfriends (sometimes Presidents use their prerogatives to listen to their phone conversations and try to get to know them before making a move…)
– the costs of all the lovely meals in even lovelier restaurants to seduce new targets
– the cost of redecorating new official residences once a relationship is finished and a new conquest wants to erase all traces of the old one.
Did I forget anything?

What I am just trying to say is that we must be careful what we wish for here. Too much information might sometimes hide the real points at issue here (i.e. France is going back into recession). Don’t get me wrong, as a taxpayer, I find the cost of any First Lady/girlfriend/mistress too high. I don’t understand what we get in return and I am sure that there is more to the costs than what is shown anyway (knowing my home country, it is only the tip of the iceberg). But please, can French politicians just get back to work on the real issues ? As for wife or mistresses, well, I don’t care as long, as I don’t finance such a lifestyle. Come on guys, back to work now. Please.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London, Politics /

Monday mornings are always that little bit more difficult… So here I am, having a lovely cappuccino in the independent coffee shop around the corner of my house.

I love this time of the day. For me, it is an opportunity to organise the week and to try not to panic about the long list of tasks ahead of me. Two guys then enter the coffee shop. They are French, reasonably good-looking and fashionably unshaven. Typical metrosexual, with Armani jeans and Hollister T-shirts. They believe that nobody can understand them. Of course they do. Typical behaviour, isn’t it? They sit down and start a passionate conversation about their respective trading positions while sipping their skinny lattes. Things are not well. The French bankers have the blues.
Taxes are too high, you see. It is not worth staying in London any more. One is considering going back to France, the other feels trapped because his children are going to British schools, but might consider a move to Singapore. And the school fees are soooo high and have even been raised. Can you believe it? His wife is having her annual health check-up, paid for by the lovely private health insurance. She then has a spa appointment and will pick up the kids later today. One of them is going to the Philippines for their holidays (where do they find the time and the money?). Life is really difficult.
The trading floor has been reorganised and half of the team has been made redundant. It seems to me that even less traders are needed given that they have been shouting behind my back for the best part of an hour, and it is mid-morning only. When do these guys work? How do they make their money? Their concerns range from the French exit tax to their latest equity investments. The problem is that their company won’t pay them their generous housing allowance after a few years and they have been asked to go local. How rude! You see, it is not worth it, and they can’t finance their lifestyle on a local salary. Maybe they would like to be expats for life.
Finally, they stood up and left. They were still complaining. I couldn’t believe it. Come on, how can you complain when you obviously have so much? This got me thinking: my target for this week is to be grateful for what I have.  Time to stop complaining! I might be French too but I will make a point of NOT complaining. 


Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

Let’s start with the fact that I am upset. To me, French politicians in general and the actual government in particular have lost any credibility whatsoever. The last straw was a few days ago when the Budget minister, who was in charge of tackling tax evasion, admitted to having a hidden account in Switzerland with €600 000 on it. In itself, this is not illegal. What is illegal is the fact that he didn’t declare it and repeatedly said that the allegations of tax evasion against him were false, even threatening to sue anyone who would report them. He lied to his colleagues, to the Parliament, and tried to intimidate anyone who would dare to mention the matter until, eventually, he had no choice but to admit the truth. The whole saga lasted a few months.
The French media were surprisingly polite and considerate in reporting this. You may remember that a newspaper insulted businessman Bernard Arnault (f… Off, rich c****) just for wanting to become Belgian and our Prime Minister said that the actor Gerard Depardieu  was ‘pathetic’ because he wanted to move to Russia. Well, I couldn’t find any insults in the newspapers this time around and the word ‘pathetic’ wasn’t used at all. A clear case of double standard. Journalists and politicians have always had a cosy relationship in France. Very cosy indeed.
But fear not: in order for my readers to understand what this is all about, I have decided to compile a list of the skills that you need to have if you want to make it as a politician in France. This list will be useful next time you hear another big fat lie or another lecture citing French philosophers coming from one of our beloved leaders.
1.    Being a sex pervert is seen as a quality (DSK);
2.    Having lots of affairs is a sign of good health (F. Hollande, J Chirac, F Mitterrand….the list is too long and I would need several posts to be exhaustive);
3.    You don’t need to apply the principles that you preach. Principles are completely disconnected from the reality and laws don’t apply to you anyway (see Jerome Cahuzac). Of course they don’t;
4.    It is all about scoring points and not doing things. Debating is much more important than solving problems. After all, you need to be popular, not solve issues, right?
5.    If something goes wrong, just create a new law/decree/rule (it is a shame that there is no law against hypocrisy and incompetence). See, you have done something! No wonder we end up with so many laws and rules;
6.    It helps to be married to a journalist (a lot), or to have one as a lover;
7.    It also helps to have a degree of Ecole Nationale d’Administration (for some reason, most French politicians have the same academic background. Exactly the same. And it is not about what you learn, it is about your grades. Go figure);
8.    No need to speak English or any other language. Who needs anything else when you speak French?
9.    No need to have any work experience. Having worked in the private sector is actually frowned upon;
10. You can change side. Clearly, it doesn’t matter as long as you remain in power. Francois Mitterand used to support Petain before becoming a resistant of the eleventh hour at the end of WW2. He then became a socialist.
In short, I am gutted. Is it the same everywhere? Older generations have fought hard for a democracy and this is what we get! I can’t believe it. I am so angry that I am considering getting rid of my French citizenship. I probably need to calm down. What would you do?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

Have you heard the news? David Beckham will be playing for a football club in Paris. A British icon in France! Apparently, his family will remain in London, because he only has a contract for a few months.
I can’t wait to hear him speak French. That’s something to look forward to!
He has also decided to give all of his French salary to a charity, which I believe is great. However, he has been at the receiving end of a torrent of abuse because of his decision. French newspapers especially have had a field day: they say that he did this to pay less taxes.
I don’t get this logic. He could have kept his salary for himself. Instead he gave it to a deserving charity. What is the problem? Why are some journalists (especially French ones, actually) giving him such a hard time? Shouldn’t we all be happy that children in need will benefit from his action? Why are people trolling him?
In fact, I really wonder why we have all become so cynical. Yes, David Beckham doesn’t have any end of the month worries, but does this fact make him a bad person? Don’t you think that people are in fact, well, jealous?
Maybe it is in our genes. Maybe we like nothing more than a good old scandal. Maybe giving to a charity is a good deed that doesn’t interest the newspapers. They would have preferred him to have been unfaithful to his wife or to have done something against the law, it is probably better for their business. How pathetic.
And who would blame David Beckham because he prefers to give to a charity rather than to the taxman? Well, not me.

That said, I believe that David needs to go even further. To show his real involvement and proves that he means business, he should strip off. For a charity, of course. I promise that I will contribute if he does it. David, don’t disappoint me! I am sure that lots of women will join me. I am not talking about Armani sultry shots here. We want the full monty – all for a good cause, of course. Come on, David, it has been a difficult start of the year and I still have a stupid cold. I need some cheering up here!

On a similar note, please note that, on 4 February, ActionAid launched our Ready for Anything campaign, which will help the world’s poorest people everywhere from Afghanistan to Burma to prepare for the next big disaster, helping to save lives NOW. Throughout the campaign from 4 February to 3 May, every donation made by people in the UK will be doubled by the government, helping twice as many people. 

Finally, a big thank you for your support. Thanks to my readers, I sponsor a child in India. His name is Suresh.

Do you know what? If we all do something, maybe we will make this world a better place.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

As you may know, DSK has settled with the maid for his, let’s say, indiscretion in a top New York hotel. Until today, the amount of the settlement was not known. Well apparently, he had to pay M$ 1.5 for her to drop the civil charges. She will have to give 30% of this sum to her lawyers. Well, it certainly makes it one of the most expensive sexual acts of this world. Apparently, DSK might still have a future in French politics, which begs the question of what you need to do to get kicked out.
Arnaud Montebourg belongs to the same party than DSK and is one of the most vocal ministers in the French government. His style is very, very different. In order to promote what he calls “economic patriotism”, he didn’t hesitate and ordered a photo shoot where he was proudly wearing a French-made naval top, and various other French products could be seen in the background. The picture is on top of this post if you don’t believe me. Am I the only one to find the whole thing ridiculous? Honestly, what would you say if Tony Blair was pictured driving a Rolls Royce to incite people to buy British? Or Barack Obama stuffing his face with Kellogs Corn Flakes? Please, give me a break.
To me –and again this is a subjective judgement, the picture reminds me of an old Jean-Paul Gaultier perfume ad. Here it is. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jean-Paul Gaultier’s creations. But Jean-Paul Gaultier is nothing short of fashion icon, not an Industrial Recovery Minister (Arnaud Montebourg’s official job title).

French women have found him sexy. Really? Maybe it is a good thing that I have a British husband now. Maybe I just can’t stand stripes. Can I just say that Arnaud Montebourg doesn’t do it for me on this picture? Don’t you rather think that he is completely out of his depth and look a bit too, well, feminine? Honestly, what’s next? A photo shoot in his boxers to show us the French savoir faire in lace underwears? I hope that he will work out because I can see the start of a bulging tummy down there. How can he expect to be taken seriously during negotiations? If I had to talk to him, my opening question would be: why didn’t you wear your naval top today? How disappointing!
I know that I sound like an old bore but seriously, couldn’t French politicians just behave a bit better? How about hard work and more humility?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

It looks like things are going pear-shaped in France. It started a few weeks ago when Gerard Depardieu decided to move to Belgium, just on the other side of the border. Everybody assumed, rightly or wrongly, that he had made such a move to avoid the new punitive French taxes. Gerard Depardieu’s ‘exile’ was ‘pathetic’ according to France’s current prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault. The actor, understandably hurt, wrote an open letter in a national newspaper explaining that he had had enough of a country that didn’t recognise hard work and success, was coming from an humble background, and didn’t deserve to be branded ‘pathetic’ (you can read the full version – In French, here). Everyone, from politician to celebrity, had an opinion on the matter and voiced it. It is fair to say that it has kept the media busy for at least a couple of weeks -all thanks to Gerard Depardieu. What was, essentially, a private decision, became an overnight political debate. I wouldn’t want to be in Gerard Depardieu’s shoes -after all, whatever his reasons, he is free to go wherever he wants.
The story took an unexpected turn when Gerard Depardieu managed to get a Russian passport in a few days. He received it and showed it off in a Russian outfit. He was also offered a property in Mordovia, as well as a possible job as a culture minister.
My question is therefore: is Russia the way to go? I like it very much in London. Why does everybody want to leave France? Did I miss anything? What exactly is going on in my home country?
Come to think of it, it is a crazy world, isn’t it? In London, we don’t have a lot of sun, but certainly do have loads of fun. We take things a bit less seriously over here, which is nice. France loves to stigmatise successful people. I didn’t see it when I was living there. Maybe, sometimes, you have to leave your home country to have a more open mind and become less judgemental. That’s certainly what has happened to me.
And once you have your eyes more open, I am not sure that you can go back. I am not a tax exile (I wish I were, but, unfortunately, that’s not the case.), I am a fun exile. I laugh more over here.You can’t put a price on being less judged and having more fun, can you?
So what do you think? Will he go back to France after this media storm? I don’t think so.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London