1 March 2015

Wise men say......
Last week we went to an amazing show at La Salle des Spectacles in Gaillac. It was sponsored by L'entente cordiale in aid of cancer support and the room was packed. After a meal and wine - well it is La France - we settled down for the entertainment. The show was entitled The Time Machine and two time-travellers sporadically twiddled a machine's dials and the curtains opened to a different time zone. I knew something special was about to happen when 'David Bowie' appeared singing Ground Control to Major Tom. But when the '50s appeared in the shape of an English Elvis singing, my spine tingled. I don't know who he was but his voice was spectacular - far better than you hear on TV talent shows. I can still hear his voice now. Have always liked the time-travel genre, so was sorry to hear of Leonard Nimoy's death on Friday. His family came from E. Europe too (Ukraine) and it was he who introduced that special wide-fingered salute in Star Trek in his parents' honour - it's the letter Shin, meaning God.  So, whether it's Elvis or Mr. Spock, remember LLAP because
                                     ............some things are meant to be.

22 February 2015

Noticed that 'Cinquante Nuances de Grey' was showing at our local Gaillac cinema. Jean-Francois Mary of the French classification board describes it as a romance. No queues and surprisingly only a 12 certificate (18 in the UK.)  Clearly the French get all the sadomasochism they need by watching the Strauss-Kahn trial nightly on free TV, or by reading the sexual antics of the President. But the E. L. James book has sold over 4.5m, so it got me thinking. Maybe I needed to incorporate something like that in my novels. But there again writers are s'posed to write about that which they know....Anyway, have just finished my latest, called 'Campus Revenge'. Certainly it draws on my experience of university life, but...horrors!...it does contain an element of sexual intrigue and revenge. A V-C, just before he retires, receives two formal complaints, one from an overseas PhD student, the other from a member of staff, both against the same professor. Worse, one of the plaintiffs alleges sexual misconduct.  Would E. L. James be impressed? Time will tell.

15 February 2015

The title above says it all really. Lost in France. Essentially I'm a sociable, spiritual person but it's difficult to connect with the French. English people tend to come over here for all the material things and France doesn't let them down. Gaillac's central Place de la Liberation is very attractive with its cobbled square surrounded by shops, market stalls, restaurants, banks, mairie, doctors, specialists etc. But, after 3 years here have I really connected with anyone?  So, Wednesday morning I was at the Cafe Bar Sports to meet a group, all members of Cancer Support France (CSF). Over coffee I agreed to join with them. Here was a way to socialise, yet support an important charity in memory of the 7 members of my family lost to cancer, and recognising Him Indoors' current struggle. I'm looking forward to Saturday when Entente Cordiale, which raises money for CSF, hosts a soiree of apero, repas and spectacle in Gaillac, and also the planned June garden party.  If we do nothing, every second person will get cancer in their lifetime. Dr. Wagner in Nice and my late family will be pleased I've put my name to the cause. Everyone should. No-one deserves to be lost.

8 February 2015

You'd think after 30 years in admin., clerical stuff should be easy. When my pink card UK driving licence was issued in England in 05 I thought o.k. Sorted. But, saw just in time that it was due to expire 21 Feb. 15, so now needed a dreaded French one.  Each Commune seems to demand different paperwork before they'll agree to exchange it. So, set off for the Prefecture in Albi with everything I could think of, all copied in colour (just in case). As usual, took the scenic route. Didn't need the Prefecture but the Prefecture Annexe - 5 mins away. Then, did I need the window labelled 'Etrangers' or the 'Permit de Conduire'?  Present situation: a steward's enquiry over whether my head is straight enough on my 4 photos! Second problem:The UK Pensions Office required Him indoors to complete a life certificate to prove he's still living so they can continue to pay him. But, where's mine? Eventually I managed to get them to send it me online.  But, if I hadn't known about it (and my envelope still hasn't arrived), presumably my pension would've stopped next month!! For something so important, no logic in putting complete trust in the postal services. But, what do I know.....

1 February 2015

My father once said they'll never cure cancer.  Since then, with six of my family succumbing to the dreaded disease, there've been many so-called 'breakthroughs' in the press.  But still the big C marches on relentless.  Or so it seems.  A certain Dr. Nicole Wagner of the Ircan Cancer Institute in Nice now thinks otherwise.  For years she's been working on a rogue gene called WT1 which stealthily and murderously forces the body's vessels to suppress the immune system.  Now her vaccine, by suppressing this gene, can cure all cancers, even those without a tumour like leukaemia, by helping the body fight WT1 from within.  Vaccine trials in Japan, which build on her initial findings, have already been hugely successful even on those with advanced cancer.  Amazing.  So, why the lack of global coverage?  This is something that should be shouted from the rooftops everywhere.  Is it because it's good news and the media are only interested in reporting the salacious, criminal or gory?  Well, I for one salute Dr. Wagner and her French team. Merveilleuse.

25 January 2015

Picture the scene. The stage is set on the Kit Kat Klub in Berlin.  Mario Draghi has a walk-on part singing Money makes the world go around, the world go around...  A small, blonde German woman pushes on a wheelbarrow overflowing with euros whilst singing So what?  In the backstage chorus is the darkly handsome Greek Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, waiting expectantly for today's limelight. In the audience, cheering loudly, is Hollande thinking Now this will at last increase my appeal. To his Far Right, Le Pen: You ain't seen nothing yet.  Surely this 1931 stage couldn't actually be happening in today's EU, could it?  I mean, back then in Germany anti-semitism was rife and Jewish people were actively leaving the country.  Back then, innocent people were getting shot and the country's printing presses were hard at work printing lots of money. Back then, ordinary people were cheering and saying Now things are going to get better. Certainly on Thursday, as Draghi arrived at the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt he received a rousing reception.  And so it begins.  And Him indoors?  It's all one big Cabaret.

18 January 2015

Feeling miserable. I thought our 'friendly' neighbour -  the one who put 6' high red signs all around our garden proclaiming 'Propriete prive, defense d'entrer' - had seen sense at last as the signs suddenly disappeared.  But no. The next day, there they all were again, double the size. Even though Bruno has been on permanent lock-down on our terrace, the neighbour had gone to immense trouble in constructing stronger, even higher (now 12') posts for the signs that our elderly dog still can't read. The exchange rate shows 1£:1.31 euros, giving more doom and gloom to those who want to escape all the mayhem and go back to the UK. At these rates, even if we could sell our house (despite the stupid garden posts), all we could buy would be a retirement flat in the UK. But such flats only take 'one small dog', i.e. not Bruno! So, I walked into the town centre on Friday to get a hormone drug for Him indoors. Miserable. Rain pouring down, leaking off the canopies at the weekly market. But, at least I didn't see any armed soldiers. Everyone going about their normal business, stoical to the last.  That's what I'll have to be then. Where's Gene Kelly when you need him?