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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Next stop Cannes!

I recently acquired a micro camcorder - think iPhone size - and have been merrily filming away but this is the first minor effort at putting footage together and making what the French call a court-métrage. Bit of fun: our day out in Boulogne for 1€ with the TER Nord-Pas-De-Calais.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Has the DSKK hit the fan?

A word of explanation about my slightly cryptic title. The pronunciation of the acronym of Dominique Strauss-Khan's name in French is Day-Ess-Kah. You do the rest!

Easily the biggest media story in France over the past couple of months has been about the former head of  the International Monetary Fund and his alleged behaviour in New York and, before that, in Paris. It is probably fair to say that in the main he has been fairly treated both in the press and on the television as the French, at least in public, have an almost unswayable respect for the political classes. Except perhaps for a certain Monsieur Sarkozy and even then they go to pains to separate their comments out making clear that anything less than deferential is aimed at the man and not the revered post which he currently holds.

Speculation has been rife about if, when and how DSK can return to frontline politics with opinions varying from claims he has a mental illness (sex addiction) to the potential loss of a "brilliant economic brain". Certainly it seems increasingly unlikely that he will play any major part in the socialists' primary contest to choose their candidate for the presidential elections next year although he was previously seen as the best person for the job, and, if polls are to be believed, would have had a strong chance of taking over at the Elysée Palace. The two, or three depending on your allegiance, remaining frontrunners are all very careful to keep him in the fold yet at a certain distance. Even though the headlines at the weekend were about how DSK had been "blanchi" there is a definite feeling that he is nowhere near whiter than white and that there are now substantial stains on his character whether or not he is ever found guilty in a court. I so wanted there to be a french verb for "bleached" as that seemed more appropriate but they only have "blanchi" so I am offering "blanchi à Javel"!

Interestingly he has been an astute cultural player humbly apologising to the IMF for the embarrassment that the case has caused and yet, at least so far, not making any such gesture in France. Apparently to do so would, in French eyes, be tantamount to a confession. Whilst being a "player" is not necessarily detrimental to a politician's career in France, indeed it can boost it unlike the puritanical USA and more recently UK, it has become difficult to ignore his mounting list of indiscretions and their erosion of the trust that he would need to instill in potential voters.

So at this stage of the game the best he can hope for is to lay low until after the presidential elections next May. If he has been a good boy he could still hope for a high profile job in the new president's government. If not then maybe the proverbial fan may suffer some more.

And to finish off a quick update on the latest polls, which show that François Hollande is still favourite to be the socialists' candidate but that both he or Martine Aubry would comfortably beat Nicolas Sarkozy in both the first and second rounds. Only Ségolène Royal, socialist candidate last time, would fail to topple Sarko. The recent surge of support for Marine Penn appears to have ebbed away leaving her in third position again.

More to come over the next 9 months!

Un gros p'tit déj

There is something very pleasing about introducing people to aspects of your own culture, especially when it is something of your own culinary heritage. Last saturday we were again running in the Lille Half Marathon and I needed to decide on a meal that would make up for the half portion of plain porridge we had eaten around seven o'clock but would be served more towards lunchtime than breakfast. We had already "done" the idea of brunch last year with a rather tasty kedgeree, and in any case this is fairly well established as an occasional event in France. It suddenly occurred to me that we should be offering our guests that well-loved roadside café/restaurant favourite: the All Day Breakfast. And that is what we did.

Of course the concept of this feast would have been lost on the Bopes and Les Oncles without a little explanation which they were given plus the renaming to "Le Gros P'tit Déj" which really sums up what it is all about ie a familiar favourite given higher billing on the menu.

At this juncture I feel I should report our results in the previously mentioned run given that both of us beat our times from last year. Max was not on top form, probably down to not being properly hydrated, and so we decided about two thirds of the way in to run separately. It was rather warm too, a good 6 or 7C hotter than last year at the end and already so at the start. Nevertheless, the training paid off and I clocked an actual time of 1 hour, 56 minutes and small change. Strangely it didn't feel as big an achievement as crossing the line together last year but it felt good all the same. 

So back at Château Newman-Legros much of the preparation had been done by Papa who had stayed behind with his bad leg. The weather at this point permitted al fresco all day breakfasting and he had already installed the parasol and arranged chairs and cushions.  So what was on the menu? My trusty courgette and cheese (Cheddar) scrambled egg provided the main dish along with Toulouse sausage for the carnivores, plus ham, smoked salmon, baked beans, mushrooms, toast, jam and Marmite and waffles. The love it or hate it spread did what it says on the lid ie divided the table though I hope that doesn't mean having to add it to the ever expanding list of British goodies we have to bring back every time we visit the UK. 

Coffee and tea were initially forsaken in favour of rosé wine given the time and the weather, and helped to extend our meal to around three hours around the table. It remains only to say that Le Gros P'tit Déj was a gros succès. To be repeated next year?