Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bring me the Head of Alfredo Mallard

… that I may glue it back on with evostick.

Alfredo is my favourite of the ducks that fly across our fridge in homage to Hilda Ogden This morning I swept him to the floor with vigorous Dettox, and his head went the way of one of his long-lost little yellow feet. We’re searching still.

In England-our-old-country I used to love Coronation Street (which I think finally grew to several hundred episodes a week); even got George interested (or he surrendered). For, as opposed to deeply gloom-filled EastEnders, Corrie characters actually had Different Characters, often very funny (deliberately) and always interesting.

Since moving to France, we fickley never give it a thought. We Have The Technology to watch English soaps and I bet that I (not George) could easily become engrossed in any – it’s the joy of poking your nose into other people’s existences without guilt or consequence…

In France, the soaps generally seem to be imported from the States – The Bold and the Beautiful; The Young and the Restless (woe betide thee if you disturb our neighbours while that’s on).

Does Dallas count as a soap? Here, it has different intro music and a rousing Song! “Dallas – your universe pitiless…” (The tune’s Very different). I have always been grateful for the translations I gleaned from it: “Show him in!”, for example, or “That’s blackmail!”, are always uppermost in my French chitchat.

There are also lots of American and German detective series in France, (“Get out of the WAY!” is handy) – always fascinating to hear the voice they use to dub an actor you know. Apparently they actually have voice doubles – wouldn’t that be a great job… I’d like to be Whoopie Goldberg’s please. Of course, mine might be a bit white and squeaky, but I’d be willing to have my vocal chords tweaked…

Not everything on TV here is imported; I must put in a vote for a recent brilliant French drama about the German occupation of a French village in 1940: Un Village Français – gripping and powerful and I can’t wait till it comes on again.

But back to Coronation Street. I acquired my collection of Hilda’s Flying Ducks some years ago, when George took me on a surprise visit to the set at Granada Studios. It was fabulous, with the Rovers Return and the Corner Shop and the cobbles and the general wonderment. (In fact, it was almost as good as the surprise visit to Cadbury World, where my souvenirs filled a wheelbarrow).

Distressingly, I’ve just discovered on Google that the Corrie tours stopped when the inordinate number of episodes per week required too much actual filming. Oh dear – so many disappointed fans.

Thank Heavens I got my Ducks in time.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bigger and Shinier


Thanks to Super-Kind and Wonderful Jon Doust's further efforts to help, (then George doing it when I Still couldn't follow Jon's instructions) BEHOLD the Golden Blog Award!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Big and Shiny

> src=""
> width="144" height="163" />


This post, if it works, is even more self-indulgent than usual, being the Display of a Golden Blog Award!

Passed to me by delightful Jon Doust of The Vendée Blog (see Blogs-I-Like and this link: ), where the Award is definitely displayed in all its magnificence, it seems to be a sort of chain award; foul and terrible shall be one's penance if you don't pass it on!

I'm going to attempt to pass it on to a blog that makes me laugh heartily and that is unusual in being a Cartoon blog. Posted by a French woman who's recently moved with husband and children to London for a while, it brilliantly sketches the weirdities of expat life in the UK: (or click on
130 Cartons à London on my Blogs-I-Like).

Splendid! I'm off to polish my nose...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Everybody needs...

They’re all moving! In this time of financial crisis and House Market plummets, everybody else in our little clutch of outer-village dwellings is moving away. What are they not telling us?

In fact, old Philippe died fairly decisively… the man opposite changed his job… next door but one wants to be near her grandchildren… and two doors down – well, it’s just too sordid to talk about (any more)…

People don’t seem to move as often in France as in the UK, maybe because it’s such a faff. When you leave, you empty the house completely – curtains and rails, handy picture hooks, light fittings with bulbs (although they did leave us a solitary 40w on a scary bit of wire).

George and I landed in this unrecognisably bleak shell one freezing December night straight from final solicitor’s signings to find also that gas, electricity and water were switched off. With our furniture arriving next day, we got wine, water, candles and edibles from the village shops (mercifully open till 7pm), toasted our little cave and shared a sleeping bag, wearing every jumper we’d packed into the one case.

Next morning, our great big van arrived at seven thirty, having demolished a string of Christmas lights negotiating the village. (Perhaps nobody would know it was us…). There followed a frenzy of organising gas, electricity and water – the wherewithal for tea being paramount if we wanted our stuff unpacking...

With daylight we found not only our two cellars, but keys thereto, and the nice man from the water company patiently explained where the stop tap was. (Had we been able to see it the night before, we could apparently have unleashed that utility right away). Once we did unleash it, the water from the kitchen tap went into overdrive-flow and wouldn’t stop – switched on or not.

We then had visits from gas and electricity; French utilities insist on coming to inspect new customers for unfortunate tendencies and out-of-date equipment (which they find), then they tell you to get hold of a private contractor because they wouldn’t touch that apparatus with a barge pole.

In spite of all this, though, most seem to approach moving house with a gallic shrug; presumably they’re resigned to spending several months unscrewing everything because they know the place they’re going will also be devoid of content. Unless you count twenty years-worth of empty wine bottles, rusty garden implements and a gestapo greatcoat that we unearthed later.

Our current neighbours are exuberantly friendly and I’m sure we’ll miss them, but it’ll be exciting to see who’ll take their place. Our estate agent noted with hilarity that English people always ask "what are the neighbours like?" What’s so funny?

Admittedly, you have to try and glean true meanings behind the inevitable “lovely”, "salt of the earth" (or baffled “Pfouff” in France), but pleasant neighbours are a huge bonus. Even Unpleasant, you’ll have to communicate with them sometime, if only to borrow an emergency plaster or to extricate your cat from their dog…

Oh lord, the pets! Now how are they all going to get on?...