Sunday, December 07, 2008

France is better than England!!

  1. Champagne costs half as much.
  2. In the Socialist party split, the left (ok, -ish) won. Just. But still.
  3. The trains are twice as fast and half as expensive. And the price of a ticket is still calculated in relation to the cost of the journey (to an extent).
  4. Edith Piaf.
  5. The cost of cigarettes; although I should maybe think about moving to Belgium. Or Andorra.
  6. Skiing is not a sport reserved for the privileged few, but the domain of the fairly-privileged many.
  7. Everyone has a healthy disdain for all institutionalised power. You don't hear people here saying 'Well, they may have shot that Brazilian guy, but they're only trying to make the streets safe for decent people.' Distrust of institutions is good for you!
  8. Asterix and Obelix.
  9. Freshly baked bread.
  10. You can still have jokes with the people in the ticket booths at the station. They're in no hurry.
  11. Christmas markets with vin chaud at 80 centimes a gobelet.
  12. Gad Elmaleh.
  13. My council rates are one seventh of what they were in bloody Newham.
  14. Fresh vegetables are less likely to have been flown in from Paraguay.
  15. Thierry Henry.
  16. Students still live on a budget here, and therefore have some inkling of being careful with money... a Mac laptop is not an essential of life! Bière and clopes are!
  17. Because of this, no one wears heels and make-up to school!
  18. Zizou.
  19. Verlan- c'est ouf!
  20. Proud to be part of Europe. And in French politics when people are proud, you can be damn sure they're getting something out of it as well
  21. Proper mountains, proper beaches, proper countryside, with appropriate climates, all within a couple of hours of each other.
  22. Recycling bins on the Paris metro.
  23. The French film industry is still making a token effort to make films that have not been made before.
  24. People are POLITE! (see post below)
  25. People in this country had actually heard of the last Nobel prize for literature winner. And even if they hadn't, they wouldn't have written a load of facetious articles in the weekend colour supplements boasting about it.
  26. There is only one weekend colour supplement per newspaper.
  27. Stupid little dogs.
  28. Stupid little dogs' hairdressers. I could look through the window for hours.
  29. Women (often the owners of said dogs) who don't let old age stop them dying their hair magenta.
  30. Traffic light systems that allow cyclists to proceed legally while cars in the same lane have to wait.
  31. Petanque- kicks bowls' arse.
  32. Marianne- kicks Britannia's arse.
  33. La Marseillaise- kicks God Save the Whatever's arse.
  34. Bugger the Etats-Unis!
  35. The 35 hour week.
  36. Strikes!
  37. Free gynocologists for students.
  38. World news consists of more than American politics, African disasters and humourous stories about Arizonans getting their penises stuck in things.
  39. Republic.
  40. Condom machines outside every pharmacy.
  41. No one raises an eyebrow if you race up to said condom machines at 3am dressed in winter coat and slippers and ask SDFs and/or gendarmes for change for a 5€ note.
  42. Johnny Depp lives in Provence
  43. Almost free education
  44. Table mats and napkins as standard in every household, even student flats.
  45. Even French Cosmo is rather less heartbreakingly offensive than its English and American counterparts.
  46. Dom-Toms mean that in any government job you might be suddenly 'forced' to transfer to a tropical island with only a 40% salary increment.
  47. Libé instead of the bloody Guardian.
  48. Trams instead of bendy bloody buses.
  49. Nostalgie!
  50. Nightclubs with chairs and tables, that stay open till 5, not 3.
  51. Bidets are fun.
  52. Decent coffee.
  53. Coffee as accepted part of every meal.
  54. No VAT on tampons.
  55. Wine in pichets- catering to people who like eating nice food in restaurants but couldn't give a crap what they're drinking, as long as it costs 7€ 50 for a litre.
  56. Le Tecktonik
  57. Louis and I are here.
However, would like to add a few words in praise of- bacon, cheddar, proper tea, beer in pints, an egalitarian second person and magic fm.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

England. Off-Licence. Me: Alright? Man from shop: Y'alright? Me: Twenny Camels please. (Man hands over cigarettes. I hand over money.) Me and Man: Cheers. (Leave off-licence.) France. Café/ Tabac Me: Bonjour Woman: Bonjour Man: Bonjour Me: Bonjour Monsieur! (Have been coming to this shop twice a week for two months now, so now ask...) Me: Comment-allez vous? Woman: Très bien, très bien, et vous? Me: Très bien merci. Woman: Il fait froid encore Me: Mais au moins il ne pleut pas (This exchange now a ritual) Random woman in queue: Mais cela ne va pas durer; il y a de la pluie prèvue. Woman: Alors, que sera-t'il aujourd'hui? Me (as always): Deux paquets de Camels, s'il vous plait. Woman: Alors, Camels, Camels... Random woman in queue: Vous etes americaine? Me: Non, anglaise Woman: Deux paquets de Camels; ca vous fait... ca vous fait... dix euros et quarante centimes, s'il vous plait. Me: Merci beaucoup. Woman: Merci Me: Ah, j'ai peut etre les quarante centimes, s'il vous aide. Woman: S'il vous plait, merci. Me: Merci encore. Woman: Merci à vous. Me: Alors, bonne journée, au revoir! Woman: Bonne fin de journée, au revoir! Man: Au revoir! Me: Merci, au revoir! (Leave shop) Random man smoking outside shop: Au revoir!

Monday, November 24, 2008

BUY FLAT-SCREEN TELEVISIONS ON CREDIT THIS CHRISTMAS TO ARTIFICIALLY BOOST THE ECONOMY Does the world we live in make sense to anyone else? It very often makes me want to buy LOADS of jaffa cakes and stay in bed indefinitely.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Don't trust people who can touch-type

And NEVER tell them to write down everything you say.
Right, where is my folder? Oh man, I didn’t know I’d have to stand up. According to Scotland a new history - oh it was this book. What do you know about the history before this, the Jacobites and all that stuff? Where’s my list? Oh I guess we’ve got the history that dude gave us, the '45 that’s important, all about Bonnie Prince Charlie. In Waverley, that’s all about that. You have all of this in this essay. Do you want to put that onto my bibliography. We’re going to have lots of books, I don’t think we have to hand in our bibliography, not for weeks. Come on man. Stop it, I wish everyone would leave my computer alone. Come on. Fuck. Oh I’ve got Microsoft Office speech recognition. OK let’s do this again. Ah. It actually says the specific things that Walter Scott made to change Scottish identity. And it’s called the World Burns Club, the Robert Burns World Foundation. Ok I think I’ve got names for all your slides, shall we start with that. So there’s a title page, right.
With thanks to my secretary, Sarah

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Most awesome Post-Office Press Statement ever

Problems at Queen Elizabeth's coronation upon decision that she should also be called Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland, (unlike James I and VI) even though there had never been a Queen Elizabeth I in Scotland. When the first post-boxes with the royal cipher EIIR were unveiled in Scotland, some were vandalised and several blown up with 'crude home-made bombs'. The director of the Post Office in Edinburgh said:
The matter is so trivial that we are letting it take its normal course.
Kind of sums up the Post Office's answer to any problem- pay debates, lost parcels etc.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nothing Toulouse

It was cold and raining in Tours, and we were feeling miserable, and we'd already been to see James Bond and there was nothing else, not even at the art-house cinema. At seven we came in from cycling across town soaked to the bone, and neither of us could stop whinging for long enough to listen to the other one, which is a frustrating state of affairs. 'Sarah,' I suddenly said. 'Go and pack an overnight bag. We're getting out of here.' We dropped the keys at a friend's so he could feed the cat and by eight o'clock we were at Tours station. 'N'importe-ou... vers le sud... vers le soleil.' The lovely woman offered us Marseille, but it meant changing at Paris. We chose Bordeaux instead- Paris was not going to cheer us up- and hopped on the next TGV. The beers I bought on the train cost more than the ticket. Bordeaux has every thing you could ask from a 'European city break'- a tramway, a cheap hotel with an expensive continental breakfast, a massive river with beautiful stone quays, cafés and sunlight and a glorious cathedral (St. André). I lingered in a tiny second-hand shop selling everything from authentic aquitaine lace caps to fur boots to bright plastic telephones while Sarah had her hair cut. Tired from the Museum of Aquitaine History, we sat on a wall in the autumn sunlight and watched old men playing petanque. I surreptitiously sketched them as the gold plane leaves drifted down around us. Then on the Friday night it clouded over a bit- clearly we hadn't gone far enough South. We thought longingly of Barcelona. Back to the station with the same criteria. This time the man was a Southerner himself. 'Oh, if you want sunshine,' he assured us. 'Don't worry about Perpignan, just get down to Toulouse.' Moment of worry about being stranded in Toulouse with class on Monday morning. 'How much will it cost us to get back to Tours on Sunday evening?' The answer was... ridiculously cheap. So back on the train- this time I remembered to get my beers from the corner shop before we left. We got to Toulouse just before midnight. The area around the station was charmingly big-city, rather like King's Cross before they got the Eurostar in St. Pancras. I had a bath in the hotel- our bath in Tours was not made for someone of a reasonable height such as myself. Sarah Wikipedia'd Jean Jaures for me- maybe we're morons but we had seen so many roads and squares named after him in our travels we thought we should find out who he was. Was gratified by this nugget in the entry:
In the 1976 film Maîtresse (English title: Mistress), a character looking at a Parisian map laments, "There are too many avenues named after Jean Jaurès."
The next day we fell in love with Toulouse, with its grandiose red brick buildings, threaded through by the gorgeous Canal du Midi and the wide Garonne. I reckon it's the perfect size for a city, the fourth largest in France, with around a million people, and the one of those sweet underground systems with only three lines. And it was awfully Occitan, with the street names written in two languages and people talking with a twang in their accents. They do love their red brick!- even the churches- even the twelfth-century churches- everything. It looks lovely in the bright southern sun. I went to a wicked modern art gallery in an old -red brick- abattoir and saw some great drawings by Antonio Saura. Especially loved the illustrations for Don Quixote. (I have been thinking, and if I actually HAD to pick the greatest novel ever, it might well be Don Quixote. Picking Ulysses, which is what everyone always seems to do, is like picking Jaffa Cakes as the greatest biscuit ever.) In the evening we went to the oldest wine bar in Toulouse and sipped posh-arse wine out of playmobil-sized glasses. Then something amazing happened- we found a restaurant that sold Real Curry! Like you get in Britain! Awesome. I practically kissed the waitress when she brought the bill over. Do you know how long its been? Of course we did a little shopping, and saw the fruit markets and the brocantes on the Sunday morning, and the botanical gardens at great speed, and as we raced to the station on our last day we remembered a little bottle of wine for the guy who fed our cat. I had been pissed enough on the Saturday night that I happily slept all the way back to St Pierre des Couilles, the annoying suburban station that serves Tours. (Our main station is not big enough to take all the trains it needs, so they run a shuttle made out of recycled cans back and forth.) There is a moral to this story, children, and it is one of my mottos, so listen carefully:
Fed up? Raining? Don't like your life? Run away!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This is my Translation teacher's marking code. Really! It's roughly in descending order of how serious the mistake is... bar- barbarisme ns- nonsense cnvr- ca ne veut rien dire GR- grande faute grammaticale gr- petite faute grammaticale tps- faut de temps cs- contresens cp- on ne comprends pas la phrase synt- syntaxe acc- faute d'accord fs- faux sens const/struc- phrase mal construite/ structurée clq- calque (on copie les mots un par un) md- mal dit +md- tres mal dit impr- impropriete o/- orthographe x- il manque un mot inex- inexacte conj- conjugaison reg- registre asp- aspect How awesome is that! 22 different codes! I think I love her!

Monday, November 03, 2008


1. My whole flat smells funny. It's spreading down the stairs. 2. 'I kissed a girl and I liked it, hope my boyfriend don't mind it,' Both the action described in the song and the song itself are cheaper, less titillating pornography than Mills and Boon.. Everyone who wants to try kissing a girl has tried it by the time they are seventeen, and everybody else couldn't give a fuck. 3. My friend mended my PC and in doing so got rid of all the programmes I never use. Including Paint! I need Paint! I use it all the time! Spent ages looking for it until I thought to ask him. He got rid of Minesweeper as well, but I was too ashamed to suggest I needed it back. 4. Now I'll never beat my dad's high score. 5. The US elections make me itch with either bored fury or furious boredom. 'Because democracy is not a spectator sport.' ~ US presidential election slogan, Democrats (2004) What? 'Course it is, especially in America! Its being covered by seemingly 'serious' news sources as though it were celebrity Big Brother! 6. I didn't move 400 miles south of London to have it SNOW in OCTOBER. 7. I accidentally watched most of the Sexism and the City movie before I was rescued by uncontrollable vomiting. Contrary to most evil back-back-back-lash brainwashing, this film is not a good argument for the feminist movement. It is an argument for a crazed killing spree against all the men in the world and most of the women in New York. This film's definition of 'love', the thing every successful, financially stable, expensively shod career women is allegedly desperately searching for, makes me want to never leave my flat again, but instead spend the rest of my life leaning out of the window spitting on passer-bys' heads. And shouting 'Fuck You' when they look up. The subplot with the plump black assistant who finds love where she least expects it! (SATC broadening the brainwashing- its not just thin white women who need a man's love) Think what a horrific message the TV show sent out then multiply by a thousand, then take off some for the message being somewhat dimmed by the boring boring boring zzzzzzz... And the clothes aren't all that either. But my fault for watching it. Please DON'T watch it, so that I can tell myself I did some good by sharing the 'love'. 8. I bid for something on ebay- I actually won it, by some lucky chance, but I don't think I want to participate in an auction ever again. Felt wracked with guilty anxiety- what if I lost but had pushed up the price by like £50 for someone else? Then they would be paying £50 for the dubious honour of being crapper than money than me. (I also have this paranoid fantasy that there's all these unemployed financial traders out there at the moment with nothing to do but stare at the internet, and what better mindless facebook replacement for a redundant stockbroker than to surf ebay wantonly pushing up the prices on other people's stuff that they don't want just for kicks while doing coke off their tropical fish mousemats?) Clearly online auctions are for people who can stomach competing markets. I can't. 9. Got a job interview for a teaching job. The interview takes place in an office. I have to bring- Passeport original + 2 copie(s) recto/verso. - Carte d'étudiant original + 1 copie(s) recto/verso. - Dernier diplôme obtenu original + 1 copie(s) recto/verso. - Curriculum Vitae - Pièce indiquant le n° de sécurité sociale original + 1 copie(s) recto/verso. - RIB Does this office not have photocopying or scanning facilities? I might not get the job! It's like a test- only if I am dedicated enough to make 11 copies of obscure documentation will I prove that I have the mettle for the job. That's like 1Euro 60!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New List

Time Magazine Top Hundred, 1923- 2005... this list is interesting because it starts around the point where I think of 20th century literature as really getting 20th century-like. Virginia Woolf's 'Night and Day', for example... already experimental but doesn't feel modern, unlike 'To The Lighthouse', a book I hate but which is indubitably modern as well as modernist. Some of these books are crap, and they've made the elementary mistake of putting children's literature on the list, which is never going to satisfy anyone. Agreed, 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' is a better book than half of these, but a.) there are different criteria for reading/judging a child's book, and b.) maybe if you haven't read C S Lewis by the time you're reading Time Magazine it's getting a bit too late?

I have a whole collection of these lists now, some better than others. The Waterstone's one includes cookbooks, which is incredibly annoying. This one is good because it's in alphabetical order- when they try to rank them they always put the most daunting at the top, usually either Joyce's 'Ulysses' or Danté's 'Divine Comedy', for no real reason except its weighty reputation.

I don't try to read everything on the lists but they always bring books to my attention which someone, somewhere thinks of as the best book ever- and I haven't read it; keeps me busy, and gives me even more stuff to buywithoneclick.

1 - Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

2 - A Death in the Family, James Agee

3 - Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis

4 - Money, Martin Amis

5 - The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

6 - Go Tell it on the Mountain, James Baldwin

7 - The Sot-Weed Factor,John Barth.

8 - The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow

9 - Herzog, Saul Bellow

10 - The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles

11 - The Death of the Heart, Elizabeth Bowen

12 - Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret Judy Blume

13 - A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

14 - Naked Lunch, William Burroughs

15 - Possession, A S Byatt

16 - Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather

17 - The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler

18 - Falconer, John Cheever

19 - White Noise, Don DeLillo

20 - Ubik, Philip K Dick

21 - Deliverance, James Dickey

22 - Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion

23 - Ragtime, E L Doctorow

24 - An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser

25 - Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

26 - Light in August, William Faulkner

27 - The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner

28 - The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

29 - The Sportswriter, Richard Ford

30 - A Passage to India, E M Forster

31 - The French Lieutenant's Woman, John Fowles

32 - The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen

33 - The Recognitions, William Gaddis

34 - Neuromancer, William Gibson

35 - Lord Of The Flies, William Golding

36 - I, Claudius, Robert Graves

37 - Loving, Henry Green

38 - The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene

39 - The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

40 - Red Harvest, Dashiell Hammett

41 - Catch-22, Joseph Heller

42 - The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

43 - Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

44 - The Berlin Stories, Christopher Isherwood

45 - Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

46 - On The Road, Jack Kerouac

47 - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey

48 - The Painted Bird, Jerzy Kosinski

49 - The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, John le Carre

50 - To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

51 - The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

52 - The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C S Lewis

53 - Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry

54 - The Assistant, Bernard Malamud

55 - Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy

56 - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

57 - Atonement, Ian McEwan

58 - Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller

59 - Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

60 - Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

61 - Beloved, Toni Morrison

62 - Under the Net, Iris Murdoch

63 - Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

64 - Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov

65 - A House for Mr Biswas, V S Naipaul

66 - At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brien

67 - Appointment in Samarra, John O'Hara

68 - Animal Farm, George Orwell

69 - 1984, George Orwell

70 - The Moviegoer, Walker Percy

71 - A Dance to the Music of Time, Anthony Powell

72 - Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

73 - The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon

74 - Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys

75 - Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson

76 - Call It Sleep, Henry Roth

77 - American Pastoral, Philip Roth

78 - Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth

79 - Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

80 - The Catcher In The Rye, J D Salinger

81 - White Teeth, Zadie Smith

82 - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

83 - The Man Who Loved Children, Christina Stead

84 - The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

85 - Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson

86 - Dog Soldiers, Robert Stone

87 - The Confessions of Nat Turner, William Styron

88 - The Lord of the Rings, J R R Tolkien

89 - Rabbit, Run, John Updike

90 - Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

91 - Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

92 - All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren

93 - Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

94 - A Handful of Dust, Evelyn Waugh

95 - The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West

96 - The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder

97 - Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf.

98 - To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

99 - Native Son, Richard Wright

100 - Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

(the blue authors mean I've read other books by them)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stuff that makes me dig my fingernails into my palms because I'm so fucking angry

French Milk They INVENTED pasteurisation! Meanwhile, we were working out how to make a decent cup of tea. I don’t care if I get Cowpox or whatever, they can keep their new-fangled science, it tastes funny. People who are sorry that a fascist is dead Either express your deep emotion at every single person who dies ever, every time one of them does die, which should keep you busy and therefore out of my way, or don’t feel sorry that Holocaust deniers die. Spend that ‘sorry time’ thinking about Holocaust victims instead. Find Your Ideal date in Orleans websites They pop up all over the place, don’t they? You’re just doing some academic research [like streaming Scrubs] and the screen is suddenly filled with pictures of girls, 22, Orleans. But they’re always the same girls. So clearly the sites don’t work, or such pretty girls with such flamboyant cleavages would find their Prince Charming and take down their photos. Weird. The verb ‘PMS-ing’ OK, so PMS never had a chance. You come up with scientific proof that aggressive or depressive behaviour in women is linked to a bodily function that only their half of the species experience and clearly there’s going to be some abuse. Some people don’t believe in it, some people describe themselves as suffering particularly badly from it, I personally couldn’t care less one way or the other. Sorry to give offence to ‘sufferers’, suffer away if it makes you feel better, but we’re all full of hormones, we all act weird sometimes, maybe you should adjust your work/life balance, or your being-a-wanker/life balance. If all else fails, every seven months ‘Company’ magazine publishes an article called ‘Men get PMS too’, which will cheer you up if your IQ is the same as the number of days in your menstrual cycle. Periods suck because often you forget and get blood on your pale pink silk pants, the new ones that weren’t from Primark, and because they’re a reminder of your own explosive fertility, a reminder which tends to put me off not just sex but also leaving the house. But hormones suck in the same way that your spinal column sucks- sometimes it plays up and sometimes when you’ve had a long day it really hurts, but what you gonna do? You need that backbone! So if you want to think that you’re being a shit because of the way your reproductive system work, that’s fine, I’m a shit because aliens control me. But YOU HAVE NOT BEEN PROGRAMMED BY SCIENCE TO BE A SHIT EVERY MONTH FOR THREE DAYS. [I have, but that’s for research purposes, for the planet Rrfvhu.] You may FEEL like shit, that may not be your choice. But you do not have to ACT like shit. [Luckily for my conscience, those cheeky Rrfvhu guys also control my muscular movements, including speech and blogging. And my conscience too, come to think of it] You should in fact REMAIN A GOOD PERSON. [No one knows what this is any more. If in doubt ask me.] So should everybody. Don’t let the hormones win! Something is going on here, of course. I don’t like randomly attacking people who are already worried they’re undergoing bloating and mood-swings. I just have to, because of this fucking verb that’s been harshing my mellow recently. Because it’s an attack on my freedom as a woman. WOMEN ARE IN CONTROL OF THEIR ACTIONS. It’s a seditious, sneaky way of telling us we don’t know what we’re doing, just like ‘education makes women’s brains overheat,’ or ‘showing your hair will make you sexually irresistible to men,’ classic methods to fucking keep us in our place. And I’m specially cross because on the same day I saw a woman in a Hollywood romantic-comedy (classic testing ground for all sexist brainwashing due to shortly be released to the masses) a woman explaining her unreasonable behaviour with that fucking verb-
“I’m sorry, but I’m PMS-ing at the moment,”
and then a woman I KNOW asked ME if I was feeling “hormonal” , a dirty euphemism for a filthy, filthy word. (Luckily for her I set her straight.) If anyone ever asks you if you’re PMS-ing, feel free to punch him or her in the face, but please make sure you explain afterwards that you chose to do it of your own free will and were not forced to by either little green men or hormones. (Or me.) Credit Crunch namedropping As in October’s Cosmopolitan
In the current economic climate, it’s more important than ever to know you’re spending money on beauty products that work!
Sorry, been reading too much Cosmo recently. Joe The Plumber He’s the reason people outside America don’t like Americans. He’s the kind of voter that makes you stop believing in democracy. He’s the guy who needs to have a tax-break- not so he can feed his family or take a holiday to the Grand Canyon despite the Whatever Crunch, but so that he can buy his business (why?) hire a bunch of Mexicans [who probably haven’t or can’t register to vote anyway so don’t count] to do the crappy work for minimum (why?) and ‘plough the profits back into the economy’ (can’t understand this either, since the economy is bankrupt and the argument is for a tax-break). And on top of all this, he’s a total smokescreen invented purely to mask a crooked decision to protect the super-rich. And he loves this role- that’s the American Dream, buddy! Sorry, been watching too many Presidential Candidate Debates recently too. Should have stuck to Cosmo. People who feel sorry for me Fuck off. Being of an age where I have spots and wrinkles at the same time OK, if you must feel sorry for me, make it for that. My keyboard The G and H keys stopped working. I asked a computer-savvy friend to sort it out, and he said ‘Shouldn’t be a problem, unless you spilled beer on your laptop,’ so I had to buy a new keyboard, and it’s French, and highly annoying. The Student Loans Company or Student Finance Direct, or Give Us Your Spare Kidney, or whatever they’re called these days. I have a lot of reasons, but at the moment the main one is that all the people on their ‘help’-line are Scottish. So they don’t pay fees. So they’re sitting up there in their loch-side call centre, looking out onto the glen, thinking ‘Och aye, Frances Grahl is tekkin oot a £3000 fees loan! Puir wee Sassenach!’ or something of that ilk, and then smirking. (Excuse racial stereotyping but I am now taking an extra credit course on Scottish Identity, so, you’re wrong.) Liking at the moment- Autumn leaves, carrottes rapées, telling people that Tours belonged to the English in the 12th century

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


1. Pulp, 'Razzmatazz' 2. Leonard Cohen, 'Ain't No Cure For Love' 3. Tchaikovsky, 'Marche Slave' 4. Bonnie Tyler, 'Holding Out For A Hero' 5. Tammy Wynette, almost certainly ''Til I Can Make It On My Own' but I am very tempted by 'I Still Believe In Fairy-Tales' and ''Til I Get It Right'... my door to love/ has opened out/ more times than in,/ but I'm either fool/ or wise enough/ to open it again... perfect country lyrics. 6. George Michael 'Careless Whisper' 7. Kris Kristofferson 'Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)' Do I only get seven? Damn! I well wanted both Justin Timberlake AND Julie London's 'Cry Me A River' And Blur's 'Star-Shaped' and Nina Simone's 'Don't Smoke In Bed' and and and... no, my decision is made, let's see if I stick to it when I'm actually on the show. Book- 'A Tale of Two Cities' Luxury- coffee, and since I could have a luxury I couldn't afford in real life, one of those espresso machines, I would be very eco-friendly on my desert island so I could push the boat out and get one of those sick ones with little foil cartridges. You could ask for an ipod, couldn't you, that would take all the fun out of it. If I could only take one it would be the Kris Kristofferson song. It's already probably my favourite song, but it also means that if my grandmother visited, I could play it to her. Check out who you would like to be stuck with... I wouldn't mind Quentin Blake. And if YOU could only take one?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rush Limbaugh on McCain's VP choice. 'Sarah Palin= Babies, Guns, Jesus. Hot damn!'

Friday, September 19, 2008

So THAT's what I'm here for

I was beginning to wonder. Spent the whole week wandering bemusedly round ugly University buildings looking for classes which then turned out to be English for Idiots, or rather more embarrassingly, German for people whose understanding of the German political system is about 78times as informed as my own. Not to mention interminable meetings with evil French administrative staff whose raison d'etre seems to be blighting the live of innocent Erasmus students, and Heads of Department who all seemed to assume I was in France to take courses in Shakespeare taught in English. Then I managed to get a French literature class this morning and it was awesome- ha ha kids, I'm gonna learn the entire history of rhetoric from Protagoras and Corax to Schopenhauer and Herbert Spencer! In your FACE! This class kicks the arse of anything they bothered to teach me in the QM English department. Not to speak of the French department, where they seem to adhere to the view that French literature -and philosophy- started and ended with the sainted Albert Camus. I'm overwhelmed with the awesomeness of French universities. There were about 90 people in the class, which seemed to be taking place in a disused garage, but I learnt loads of stuff! Had been beginning to forget that I go to college to learn stuff. And because it's BTW, but that is a secondary reason after all. Well I better go read some Plato. Your FACE!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Touring and Tours

I'm adjusting to life in the real world again, have been in Tours a week now in my little rooftop flat, haven't got much done apart from buying a bed and a lot of wineglasses, joining the library and wandering around town looking at the pretty buildings. Now I'm back on the internet and I'm catching up on three months of not being bothered to read the newspapers. Finished work at Les Genets on the first of September, but then I went to Nantes with Dave and Kate, my friends from last year, to go out drinking with all my colleagues. After that Lucille and I took the TGV down to Aix en Provence where we partied and enjoyed the sunshine in a much needed mini holiday. We unwisely played 'I have never' all night before going dancing, which left us so drunk we jumped into a fountain on the way home. Aix is pretty but kinda posh and full of old English people wearing silk scarves and lightweight Burberries. Lucille came back to Tours and helped me through the ghastly process of signing the papers for my flat. This took a grand total of 4 hours, 5 calls to England and one crying tantrum, which appeared to be what swung it... the estate agent was completely prepared to withhold my keys till Monday, until I burst into tears and Lucille started shouting about sleeping on the streets. Since then she, her mother and our friend Marlene have been taxiing my stuff over from where I left it in Nantes, pestering the estate agents for me- yes, it's a beautiful flat, no, it hasn't got hot water at the moment- and generally keeping me in a good mood. I don't actually know anyone in this town yet so it's been nice to have them around. There's been stuff like Sports Open Day, and International Student Pot d'Acceuil, but they sounded a bit lame. I did wander down to register as a student at the Fac de Lettres, which is only two hundred yards from my front door. They were very laid back when I started stressing at them about my course options: they have an incredibly complicated website with about a million courses, but I can't seem to work out what takes place where and when and how many points of my obligatory 60 each class counts for (at QMUL my course units have to add up to 8: am slightly fazed by the 30 points, considering there are lots of classes on the list only worth 2 or 3). School starts tomorrow so at worst I'll just turn up and see what I can find, and wait to see my conseilleure pedagogique on Tuesday, which might just make everything clearer. Would have been nice to know which books to read... am just finishing yet another John le Carré in French as more halfhearted warmup. The faculty itself is one of those charmless cement things knocked up in the 60s when they were desperate, but it's sandwiched between the beautiful old town (where I live) and the Loire. There's a café and a book market down on the river bank and they have live music in the evenings. Plus it's got a great library, and I'm also right next to the main public library for Tours, which is very cool and old school. Well, I think old school libraries are cool. Think 'Shushhhh!' Sarah, my flatmate, is arriving from California this morning: I got up at 6am to go to Charles de Gaulle to meet her, spent bloody ten euros on a cab to the station only to find that the train they told me to get last night doesn't actually exist. The next one would have got me in to Montparnasse an hour after her plane landed and cost bloody 87 E return. I decided to go back to bed and watch Pirates of the Caribbean in French. The third one, which is boring up until the scene with a million Johnny Depps, and then crap afterwards. That one scene is pretty good though. Also reading the news online. Tomorrow I'm definitely gonna buy a paper. Anyway, I might be coming back to England next Saturday night. For one night only mind.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Another virtual postcard


I’m in France. The sun is not shining today, and I have a terrible hangover so I just ate two double chocolate magnums and drank two double espressos. I start work tonight at five and I’m hoping to pull my head together by then for our jolly salsa evening. Right now I’m sitting in the bar in my sunglasses with Lucille and Seb, my fave colleagues, watching the Tour de France with one eye and the hot new chef with the other. Luckily I woke up cross-eyed this morning. Adrien, the animateur (events organiser), has just come in from the petanque court as it’s started properly pouring. His customers appear not to mind having a little beer instead of carrying on with their boules tournament. The animateurs actually seem to spend most of their time in the bar here. We’re not allowed to give anyone free drinks this year, but what do I care? They can’t fire me- I got a proper French contract.

The season has properly started and there’s a million people in the bar every night, with their disgusting children waddling up to the counter at 11.45pm with twenty-euro notes clutched in their fat fists demanding ice-creams and pringles and a never-ending stream of change for the bubble-gum machines and the fussball table. Fucking parent work 48 fucking weeks in the year and then when they’re absolutely forced to spend two fucking weeks with their revolting offspring they find that giving them more money than I earn in a week every day is an adequate replacement for, say, games, conversation, spending time together, remaining sober enough to even recognise the brat... Anyway. Yesterday we had a bucking bronco machine thingy in the bar and I had a go. I was amazing. I have thighs like steel. Plus I had the best cowboy hat. Having seen me thrown off a mechanical bull in a mini-skirt, the customers gave me many many tips yesterday.

The season has properly started and yesterday after we finished work at 2am we went down to Cocos, the shabby and tacky night club that we grace with our presence pretty much every night. It was ‘saisonier’ night so we got free drinks, and danced to crap house in the company of every seasonal worker, English and French, in the St Jean de Monts region. I was still wearing my cowboy hat (red with sequins) as I am a classy lady. And Steve (my boss) drove me there in his ‘decapotable’ (convertible) at about 130km/p/h with music blasting and me waving my hat in the air. See, classy.

The season has properly started and I’m now sharing my luxury apartment in the pool-house with Julien, who is wonderful and came with a telly, a microwave and Pro Evo on the play station. Suddenly my room has transformed from an oasis of calm to the place everybody comes to party. We just got through 32 bottles of rose wine in a week. Plus several of whisky and vodka. The campsite manager passed by as I was putting the recycling in the bins and I gave her a feeble smile. She has instructed the campsite security guards to write down what time we come home every night. Me and Julien usually give them the slip though, we know their ways only well.

A parcel arrived from Joey yesterday to general excitement. All the girls (and Julien) now have aqua nails. Best of all, Marlene and Lucille are using proper Vaseline as lipsalve. Just after I turned up, Marlene asked me if it what true that English girls put Vaseline on their lips. When I said yes, to try it out she reached into her handbag, pulled out a tube of strawberry-flavoured Durex lube, and smeared it onto her own and Lucille’s mouth. ‘Bit sticky’ was the consensus. So I promised to get them some from England- Vaseline in French just means generic lubricant. The girls send gros bisoux to Joey and so do I.

Well, I have to have my shower and paint my face into the mask of a dedicated professional. I broke my umbrella and the five metre walk to the toilets is looking seriously unattractive. I love you all and miss you all. Any one who wants to visit is extremely welcome. Especially my darling Joshua Robert, who I miss passionately already. Many kisses. Keep in touch. F xxxx

Saturday, June 28, 2008


‘My heroes have always been cowboys/ and they still are, it seems/ sadly in search of and one step in back of/ themselves and their slow-moving dreams.’ Willie Nelson

Just before I left... at three in the afternoon, drinking plastic jugs of Pimm’s in Wetherspoons, someone reminded me of my main ambition in life aged sixteen.

‘Francie, you always wanted to be the Great Gatsby when you grew up. Now you’ve come as close as you can without getting caught up in a mess of car-crashes and hopeless, obsessive love,’ (or words to that effect) ‘Don’t you think it’s time you got yourself a new role model?’

I’ve been giving it a lot of thought. There’s no shortage of heroes.

  • Sydney Carton
  • Magnus Pym
  • Becky Sharpe
  • Inspector Grant from Josephine Tey
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  • Desdemona (but not Ophelia)
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Don Quixote
  • Toad of Toad Hall (actually Toad of Toad Hall is The Great Gatsby, just presented differently)
  • Jo from Little Women
  • Jo from The Chalet School
  • Yossarian
  • Ginny from the Marlowe stories
  • Elsie from What Katy Did
  • The protagonist in A Farewell to Arms
  • Miss Jean Brodie
  • Emma Bovary (but not Anna Karenina)
  • Matilda
  • Viola
  • Jude the Obscure
  • Emma from Emma
  • The protagonist in The Bell Jar (we need to reclaim this excellent book from the self-hating, self-harming, American teenage girls)
  • Jane Eyre
  • Steppenwolf
  • Kezia in various Katherine Mansfield stories
  • Sally Bowles in Goodbye to Berlin
  • Count Fosco
  • Mr Majeika
  • Stephen Dedalus
  • Lucy and/or Jill from Narnia
  • Dorian Gray

The problem is that most of them seem to be just as self-destructive as Jay Gatsby. Even Winnie the Pooh ends up lying down and taking it when his erstwhile ‘lifelong companion’ rejects him and the Hundred-Acre-Wood in favour of ‘school’ and conformism in the real world. Or else they’re cool while they’re young and then they turn down good-looking, rich charmers to marry elderly German professors, or boring English tuberculosis specialists, or pretentious, repressed homosexual dukes of crappy islands, and breed hundreds of moronic children. Of course since Bildungsromans about women, especially older ones, tend to have that anticlimactic feeling- the heroines grow up by discovering they have to stop doing whatever they want- you can’t really blame them for finishing their exciting youths off with a boring marriage.

I’m beginning to feel like Rimmer when he goes into Better Than Life, the computer game that makes all your dreams come true, and gradually realises that his sub-conscience has it in for him, and so all his dreams will always be nightmares. No, it’s not quite the same. But the problem with literary heroes is that an author can finish the story any time he likes, but you’ve got to live life until it’s over. (I just paid six grand to find that out.)

I may also be getting to old for an ambition that starts with the words ‘When I grow up...’


There’s a certain type of night-club that normal people don’t go to in England, if it even still exists there. Something happened in the 80s and 90s and suddenly red velvet banquettes, chandeliers and desperately over-priced cocktails with silly names became vulgar, vaguely ridiculous accessories within a location designed for a) young people and b) dancing. It became clear that a good night out needed three things only- a room, dim lighting and loads of good and/or fun music. Which must help to keep overheads down as well.

Delightfully, this discovery is a long way from having any effect on the way people party in rural France. A parody of exclusivity, cloaked in ostentatious interior design, still permeates small-town nightclubs attended largely by penniless adolescents and the odd slimy old man of thirty-five. Girls get in free- actually everyone except the tourists get in free, but they tend to try to conceal this information- and drinks cost about a million euros, but that’s ok because everyone is tanked up on cheap rosé wine long before they pile into their battered Renaults at 1am to make the half mile trip there. Or three and a half miles, once you’ve detoured round all the local police drink-driving checkpoint hotspots.

As we staggered out towards the Mistral in Aix-en-Provence last week after knocking back a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in someone’s flat, my hostess told me she far preferred French nightclubs because they still had class. Dunno about that- the Mistral’s walls were lined in plush velvet and the other English people there were paying €20 to get in, but the music and the clientele had a definite air of school disco (the real ones at school where you wore your new chenille jumper and pink lipgloss, not the ones where you try to pretend that your schooldays were the happiest days of your life in the shortest pleated skirt ever), especially when they all started singing ‘Build me up Buttercup’ at 5am. Since the average young French person dances almost as badly as I do I always have a good time in places like that. And it’s beautiful to cap the night off strolling through golden Provencal lanes watching the sun rise over the hills, rather than sleeping with your head on some drunk’s shoulder on the Bus Of Death.

Back in St Jean, we abandoned Coco’s, the saisonnier’s nightspot of choice, to check out the club attached to the casino in town. On the way my 21-year old boss wanted to turn back because I didn’t have my ID on me. One day he’ll know what it’s like to be my age. The casino was gorgeously tacky, with attractive croupiers in bow-ties laconically dealing cards to old French ladies with dyed hair at 2am, but we decided that if we were going to piss our money up against a wall we would at least have a multicoloured drink with a glow-stick in to show for it.

I was taken aback by this place because by some strange accident it had hired a really good DJ, who seemed as surprised as us to find himself playing to a handful of drunk students in the provinces rather than to the coolest of the cool in some Parisian cellar. With music that good it didn’t matter that the dance-floor was only a quarter full. And when we got a bit hot we could stroll outside for a cigarette on the beach. (My friends had explained to me that this nightclub was unfortunately non-fumeur- I’m intrigued as to which clubs are still fumeur, despite the new law.) And of course as the smoking ban is still fresh to France they’re still spending that 3 minutes outside chatting with strangers, unlike in London where we’ve learnt to stare at our mobile phones just in case someone thinks we’re not busy and tries to start a conversation. The other great thing is that these places stay open much later, which seems completely logical- if I start work at 10am anyway, I might just as well dance until seven as until three. It’s not like I work very hard anyway.

Why can’t we bring back circular dancefloors dominated by massive disco-balls in London? And maybe roller-skating waitresses as well. I noticed there were comment cards by the door in the St Jean Casino. Maybe I’ll fill one in next time.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I love tuesdays

Because Guardian Education is the best supplement. New studies have shown that children who have good relationships with their parents are less likely to go to university.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stuff that has recently made me spit through my teeth with rage

Who needs all that expensive, time-consuming counselling when you have a blog?

1. Jacqui Smith- 'hounding' London youth with the 'Basildon plan'.
They tried it out on 'Problem Estates' (poor areas) in a suburban dormitory town and cowed local youths into submission by blatantly disregarding their human rights and shadowing the poor bastards day and nights. They had so many innocent teenagers on file that no one could write their name on a bus stop without the Stasi jumping out on them with their entire 13-year life history recorded on illegal CCTV tapes. They had a database that would run through an illegal list of anyone wearing a hoodie within the Essex area and spurt out ASBOs through a fully automated fingerprint-and-DNA-matching illegal database. You can't walk down the road to Blockbusters with your hands in your pockets in Basildon anymore without a member of the Essex Constabulary illegally following you with a video camera.

"So Essex is fucked up. So what? That's why we normal people don't live there."

Well, this plan has apparently been so successful that our beloved Home Secretary is going to scale it up! Basildon- pop. 99,876, to London, pop. 7,512,400. Jacqui Smith is going to 'hound' them? Maybe she could get our new mayor to help- he used to hound not only foxes but stags. What about making it a sport everyone can participate in? Maybe for the Olympics? We could chase delinquents through the streets! There could be horns! Toora loora!

2. The way Jacqui Smith chooses to spell her name- if you can end it with a 'y' and you choose to end it with an 'i' I hate you. Especially if you're called Rebecca and you call yourself Becci.

3. The English University System as explained by my teacher, K. Anderson.
K.A. 'Did you go to secondary school in England, Barbara?'
Barbara 'No,'
K.A. 'Well you probably don't realise that in England, when you write an essay on your philosophy course, you don't give your own opinions- just make sure you demonstrate that you know what the philosopher has said'
B 'Like parrot learning?'
K.A. 'Well... I suppose you could say that.'

4. The same teacher's opinion on commas.
'Try to use more commas to make your sentences more readable,'
What? I'm not writing for the 'Village with three corners' series! (Although sometimes I think Simone Weil thinks she is- at least there her social reform ideas might actually work.) Commas are a crutch for people too lame to get to the end of the sentence without a rest.

5. People who think that 'but that's just semantic' is a valid counter-argument. Show me something that isn't just semantic to me, baby. Everything you talk about is just semantic. I only leave the house to go to the pub these days. Words are everything. Don't sit in my house drinking my wine and trying to win a pretentious, over-intellectualised, irrelevant and pointless argument with me by criticising the way I frame my words. Until you put that bayonet in my hand words are all I've got and I'll drive them home any way I like. Real world? What fucking real world?

6. Other insults that make me laugh: 'bleeding heart liberal'- every night I pray to baby jesus that I will wake up and find I have become a 'bleeding heart liberal'. (Jussi: 'The bleeding heart liberal in me died for like five minutes when I read that').
'reformist' Oh God, I wish I was a reformist. Maybe then I could lie on my deathbed and feel like I had made the world a tiny little bit better.

7. My hair. It now only does two things- Ringo Starr in '64 or Paul McCartney in Wings. I don't even have any control over which one it will be on any given day.

8. The Guardian. It used to just happen with the free papers they give out on the tube, but now the Guardian has started to have the same effect. Every time I open it I want to kill myself. The feeling is intensified by the fact that I spend 80p to read the fatuous opinions of the gaggle of drivelling columnists they hire to sit at home prattling on about organic vegetables, in the peculiar hope that no one will notice they have no international news coverage whatsoever. (Apart from 'This week in the Democratic Candidate Big Brother House') And domestic news just makes me want to kill myself even harder. (Not you, Tim Dowling. You're a layabout but you make me laugh.)

9. Teresa Salmon. I've never even met you, but if you're googling your own name and read this, be assured that I seriously dislike you. Fat cow.

10. Solitaire. I know, it's completely self-inflicted, I have no right to your pity, and I certainly don't deserve treatment for it at an NHS hospital, but it's killing me. I need help. I dream about Solitaire. I can play a whole game in my head without any need for a computer. And I always win.

Things I still like:
Playing pool

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I take it back. Everything.

I've been arguing with people all week about Boris-voters- I was convinced that 1,170,000 people couldn't really choose to vote for someone because he had silly hair. Then I did some research on the tube today, by dint of openly eavesdropping all the way from High Barnet (don't ask) in the rush hour. Top four reasons people on the Northern line voted for Boris:
  1. He's 'refreshing'
  2. Ken never represented the suburbs, where people don't see anything back for their council tax. He was just all about the inner city.
  3. The Congestion Charge
  4. He's 'a bit of a laugh'
Educational. Talking of 'educational', apparently you can now get your essays custom-written for you online for $5- $20. Yet another possible future career option turns out to not be so lucrative after all. The most interesting thing I found out today: There's a religious sect in Vietnam, Cao Dai, that worships Victor Hugo as a saint. That's the second best piece of Victor Hugo trivia I've ever heard. Well, sorry to blog about Boris. I'll never talk about it again. The best piece of Victor Hugo trivia ever: Two million people came to his funeral in Paris, 1885, including loads of Parisian prostitutes, who loved him for creating one of the first positive portrayals of a prostitute in Fantine. Anyway, they declared that in honour of Hugo, all sex was free for one night only. A lot of other women decided to join in the fun (I didn't make this up!) and as the sun went down, the streets of Paris exploded into a massive orgy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I can keep thinking of stuff I'm angry about FOREVER

  • Then I was looking at Guardian Education this morning and they had a piece on these crazy Swedish schools where every pain has been taken to allow children to be educated without emulating the terrible world of work they will shortly find themselves flung into. So the children help plan their own goals, set their own timetables and review their own progress in weekly meetings with teachers and parents. Based more on the university system (if it had decent pedagogical support) than on the 'teacher-led factory method of education'. No bells ringing, no teacher at the front. They wanna bring it in in England- piloting a scheme for a handful of academies. Obviously this is an innovation aimed at the privileged children of a few middle-class families, beneficial chiefly to kids with full academic support outside of the classroom, parents who have the time and inclination to attend weekly meetings and push their fat lazy offspring to develop their own learning goals. If you're poor, or busy, or depressed, or all three, it's probably a help to have your kid sit in front of a stream of petty dictators all day being taught how to function as a near-useless cog in an oppressive society. But this did make pretty angry... as ever. We HAVE the methods. We have the skills. We have a host of teachers across the country who are shocked, demoralised and desperate to get out of education after two or three years, and might jump at the chance to make their and their pupils' learning experience slightly less like forced labour. When I did my CELTA teaching course there were a wide range of teaching aids and techniques to teach young people who were completely unfamiliar with the British education system- in this case Somali teenagers who had mostly never entered any kind of classroom in their lives. It is possible. So why don't we improve our schools completely? Why can a few lucky children learn in a way that's good for them while everyone else must take part in this horrific chaingang/conveyor belt of monotonous routine? Two reasons- 1. The education system cannot support any more intervention in children's lives. Teachers have little or no power to go against the all(?)-encompassing National Curriculum and when they wish to interact with their charges on any other level a host of problems arise. Referrals are the thing- refer the buggers on to the head, to Social services, best of all back to the bloody parents, who will find themselves in court if they mess with the system too much. You guys are there to get them through their SATS. You are a '5 A to Cs' machine- don't get any other ideas. And we'll give you a five grand sweetener if you don't leave to work in sales within the first four years. 2. Why the hell would you want children to think for themselves? What are we preparing them for? Life. In Society. Ring that fucking bell, make them wear a uniform from the age of three, stream them and give them merit points. When you think about it, it's perfect. OK, let a handful go to posh schools where they can make up their own rules- that kind will probably make up their own rules for the rest of their lives anyway. But for everyone else, it will save a lot of effort training them up when they hit the labour market if they have the system bashed into them from the first time they can toddle into an orderly line in the playground. What part of my school education was not restrictive propaganda aimed at making me see the world the way they wanted me to? Possibly the bits I bunked. I guess these Swedish schools are not some kind of fucking Utopia anyway, just the educational equivalent of those trendy offices in PR and shit where everyone wears jeans and there are free bagels in the fridge. You can participate freely in the monthly meetings, but don't kid yourself there isn't a hierarchy, or that you stand anywhere other than the bottom.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Things I am currently angry about [Part 342 of a continuing series]

Happy now, Gloria?

  1. Robin Wales. Answer the email I sent you in December and we'll talk...
  2. Thames Water Advertising Campaign. Based entirely around how much less water they are pissing away than previously. What do you want, a round of applause? And so, you're 'replacing London's Victorian Water Mains'. Three cheers! It's 2008, for God's sake!
  3. Myself, for reading the London Paper's letter's page. In the Metro at least one knows they make them all up. In the London Paper it's not so sure.
  4. BT and TalkTalk. I know it's an old quarrel, but I'm still not over it.
  5. Institutionalised ageism. If you take a lot of the current debate about 'young people' and replace the words with 'black people' or 'gay people' or women... Stop telling them what to do and give them a vote, you bastards.
  6. American foreign policy
  7. Redbridge council
  8. Newham Council
  9. Mental health-care provision
  10. Virginia Woolf. Making a vague and elusive point in a roundabout fashion on behalf of educated middle-class women everywhere.
  11. The Department of Language, Linguistics and Film. That's not what I signed up for.
  12. The failure of pay-to-learn higher education to catch up with the way the rest of the market works. I am the consumer. If I don't like a part of my weekly shop I take it back and get my £1.98 refunded. I would then expect decent customer service from my friendly Tesco's representative. And BOGOF offers. If everything's for sale I would like an educational loyalty card- get the 18th year free, kind of thing. The customer is always right.
  13. The Mayoral elections. Ken's major policy is 'At least I'm not Boris'. Boris' is 'But hey, I'm not Ken'. Everyone else running on 'Well, you don't want to vote for either of those two monkeys'. [Evening Standard headline (I know, another one I should cut out of my life): "Ken steals Boris' plans for London"] I'm voting along the LePen/Chirac campaign lines- 'escroc, pas fasco'. More or less.
  14. The Eclipse Wine Bar, Islington. Ruining my life all the way across East London.
  15. People who contact me to tell me to update my blog but don't just come to my home and spend time with me. (Not you, Gloria)
  16. Supermarket products that are fair-trade but not recyclable. Or recyclable but not organic. Or organic but flown in from Guatemala. I've signed up to pay this premium on my weekly shopping bill as a stamp of my middle-class-guilt, now give me what I want.
  17. Google taking over blogger. And I personally would be the last person to tell another person not to be evil.
  18. Doctors with religious beliefs.
  19. People who know my e-mail address yet still message me on facebook. So I get an email informing me to check facebook. So maybe I'll just go back to writing letters.
  20. Royal Mail. Now making no attempt at all to get your post to you in the morning, in one piece, within one day, within two days, within a month.
There's more but I'm worried about my blood pressure. Next week: things I hate so much I can't breathe.