Friday, 17 June 2011

Other expat women...

Most expat women are usually in a couple and/or with kids. In France I am finding myself as the rare woman on her own. This is hard.

Other expat women admire me...and are as glad as hell they they aren't me.

They do not include you into their home circle . They are happy to go for a drink with you once a year as long as you fit into the slot where hubby isnt around and OH MY GOD- they have to actually spend sone TIME ALONE!!!!! Hit the panic button.

This is the hard part about being that '"independant woman".

In 2011 you would hope that life has changed and they would include "the single woman" , but they dont and wont.

A little devil inside me found myself wanting to shock them out of their smug comfort. Recently, in a girly lunch time chat, I said that I would shag a marrried man.

froze. Not because they thought their bloke would shag me, but because I was " breaking the sisterhood taboo". Actually I wouldn't. I know myself. But I felt they deserved a little REALITY check about their total selfish attitude.

I am missing London Town for the networks of alternative family that we create. Couples, single parents, gays, singles - we somehow hang in there together.... if its a celebration. Easter/Xmas people are invited , not left out in the cold. I know for sure if I was in a relationship abroad- I would definately be including my single friends on National Holidays...

But generally expats are a straight lot. Their
version of family is sooooo last century. Soooo 2.4.

So friggin straight.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

More Retro than Thou -A Cup cake rant.

My biggest fear on returning to London is the fear of RETRO.

All my 40 plus hipster friends have returned to classic retro as a default setting. Cos when you're too old for skating/hip hop chic...hmmmm...

I know! 40's and 50's always looks cool and I wont look a fool.

So now, just like in my 20's -- you've still got to have the "look" or you are simply not cooool enough for school.

The last few years -Glastonbury and now London has been filled with oldies sporting this look. It all started with Lost Vagueness going for the pikey/gentleman Jim n Jill thing a few years back. Now it has evolved into Tea Dances, Weekenders, Electro Swing, Secret Tea/Baking clubs/knitting. Aaaagh its endless and frankly CONFORMIST.

...and dont forget The Inevitable CUP CAKE BRIGADE. Middle class girls doing their conservative W.I look hoping that some bloke might finally realise that they are marriage material afterall and forget they were doing lines of coke/K/e in a field somewhere years before.

...and Cup Cakes are rubbish.

Leche bots! Licking Debbie Harry's boots

Ugh, Kirsty Young should know better. She was horribly sychophantic towards Debbie Harry on Desert Island Discs. How many times did she say she dreamed of being her and go on about her looks?

I found the whole interview a wasted oportunity....she basically let DH get away with implying that she was part of a generation of women who rejected the whole " feminine" image. In fact, at the time, most punk girls felt that as much as we loved Blondie's music, DH/Blondie got noticed BECAUSE of her looks... and Kirsty didn't challenge that once and banged on about her beauty.

Kirsty's going off as an interesting interviewer, as did Sue Lawley who also was too sycophantic and ultimately this makes a mediocre and conciilatory interview. It ends up that the interviewee doesn't get pushed to reveal something personal and thats booooooring!

In fact she should have asked "How hard is it to go onstage in your 60's knowing your audience are expecting your former beauty and agility or watching to see if you've lost it " And if she denies that she cares about this, then ask her why she has resorted to botox and a face lift? It's not very punk after all!


I awoke a 5am with the nagging doubt that I should have joined a SAMBA group . derrrrrr!!! I might have made friends . Oh silly, silly me.!!!!!

I keep thinking I should have tried harder and smarter. If I had only got a bloke here... Im so disappointed to have to come back to a non socialist country. I lived through Thatcherism- I dont have the strength to live through Cameronism

A promise to myself to join one again back in UK. London School of Samba perhaps , because cos I know my matedom has thinned considerably in London in two years and as I'm thinking of the doing the Brazilian thing...

Monday, 13 June 2011


I handed in my notice on my job 2 months ago and my flat 3 months ago. I have packed and sent off the majority of my belongings and now it is simply time to take stuff to the dump and clean the place and get my deposit back.

I leave with mixed feelings. Did I try hard enough to make friends/practise the language/internet date...?
Was it an impossible task... to come here alone at my age and think i could create a life in less than ten years?

France is a couples culture and a family culture. If you dont have one or both of those- you are lost. An Anglo-saxon 'mates' culture wont do. Waif and stray "mates" are not invited to family gatherings like they are in the UK.

So you need to get yourself in a relationship.. its the key to the door. Without that- nothing! I realise that last time I spent time her - I had a boyfriend. So i met people- we went to his Breton family's home and I felt part of something.

Outside the mountain... its cold and lonely and I hear the distant music somewhere.

I dont regret taking the chance- but I return home disappointed.

What did I achieve in two years.?

I directed two full scale musical prouctions.
I appeared in a play.
I made major improvements to my language skills.
I made a French tax return.
I learnt how to deliver IGCSE Drama Solo!
I made a couple of friends.

Not too bad in terms of achievement. But by God it's been a lonely path. It has made me feel too close to the main character in Anita Brookner's "Look at me". I never wanted to be her. I feared it -even in my 20's, as I feared being Gloria in "They Shoot Horses Dont They" when I was 10.

I toy with returning. Here or somehwere else in France. I'm not sure. I am reluctant to give up on my investment- which is getting much better at French and undersanding better how it all works here.

Have I ever returned anywhere apart from back to London? It's the latter that tells me that I am not just a gyspy.

And finally, am I better off living in a socialist country? Hell yes. Returning to the UK is a return to hell.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Lyon is a secret. You know there is a party somewhere, you can hear distant music but you cant find the source.

Living here is like being the crippled child who is left out side the mountain when the pied piper has whistled all the other children away.
Lyon is a like a beautiful woman who has no conversation.

Speaking french with the french

  1. If you ask a French person to speak more slowly and articulate- they would rather switch to talking to you in English.

  1. They will interrupt your flow and correct you constantly over the smallest mistake (without solicitation) no matter how well you are doing. Correcting your grammar is more important to them than understanding the essence of what you are trying to communicate.

  1. I used to think it was a power trip but after having worked in the French system, I surmise that the reason for this is that as the French style of educating is punitive and they “mark negativelyYou start out with 20 marks and each mistake loses ½ point. US/UK style is all about adding points.

How many times has a French person who can communicate their subject extremely well insist on saying how bad their English is? This leads me to believe that they have learnt to be hard on others in the same way that they are hard on themselves.

  1. As a language educator I know that- something has to be used, analysed and exercised around 14 times before it can mentally stick. On-the-hop corrections are rarely remembered the following morning. Also not everyone is an auditory learner.