Friday, 30 January 2015

How I Fell In Love With Two Russian Blokes In London




Yep, you read that right. It happened a few years ago and it is time for me to come clean about it. To cut a long story short, we had managed to get opera tickets to see the Bolshoi at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. I am ashamed to admit that it was my very first opera in a foreign language (we French tend to stick to what we know). In my defence, this is also because I grew up in a small village in Provence, and opera was the last thing on everybody's mind. In fact, I had been lucky to see a couple of performances. That day, we were seeing Eugene Onegin. I didn't know what to expect. I had read that the story had been written by Pushkin, and the music by Tchaikovsky. It was all I knew. 

We sat down. Attending a performance in such beautiful settings was already a rare treat. The music started, and we were introduced to the feisty Olga and her sister Tatyana. Because don't get this opera wrong: it was not about the selfish and cynical Eugene Onegin. It was all about the lovely Tatyana, who had decided to pour her heart in a love letter to Eugene Onegin, only to be left crushed and rejected.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Property Porn : How I Came Back To My Senses

Lovely Houses In London

In the UK, property porn is a national addiction. For the avoidance of doubt, I am talking about surfing estate agent's websites, and quietly checking out the value of the house you are renting, or how much your acquaintance paid for their lovely flat (far more that you thought, usually). Can prices in London be really this high? Oh, and look again, they are still climbing! There is also something hugely satisfying in having a peep at other people's houses. Is it neat and tidy? Is it minimalist? And how is the kitchen? Watch the lovely bar stools...

I am not really addicted to property porn. I just indulge in it once in a while. Say, once a month (OK, maybe twice?). Until yesterday, I thought that it was just a harmless bit of fun. So what happened? To cut a long story short, yesterday I had no electricity from 5pm to 10pm. Yep, a good old power cut. Not in my house only, three or four streets were affected in our area.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Myth Of The French Lover

Guillaume Canet

What would we do without stereotypes? I sometimes wonder. Whenever I catch up with friends over a coffee, I often get comments about how disappointed they are with a French lover one of them has (or had, actually). This usually begs the following question:

What happened to the myth of the French lover?

They look at me intensely, hoping for some meaningful answers. I usually nod quietly. To be honest, there isn't much I can say.  Because to me, it is a classic case of expectations that are too high.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

My Name Is Julia

My Name is Muriel And I am not related to your great-grandmother
Picture by Alejandra Mioral, MUAH by Anastasia parquet

If one day you meet me in London, don't be surprised if I say that my name is Julia. I really wished I had changed my name to Julia when we moved here. No, honestly. Because every time I say that my name is Muriel, here is the reaction I get:
" Oh really? My great-great-grandmother used to be a Muriel too. She had a sister called Mildred who remained a spinster all her life. They lived together after the death of my great-great-grandfather. They both died in 1925, a week apart. Can you believe it?"
Great. You have just made my day.
A former British colleague even took it one step further when, after a couple of pints, he told me that he couldn't date a Muriel because it was the name of his gran. He couldn't sleep with a woman who had the same name than his beloved gran, right?

Good thing I didn't fancy him one bit. Seriously, how dare he?

Monday, 26 January 2015

How To Get Over A Heartbreak - The French Way

I had an unusual weekend. I managed to catch up with a French friend of mine. What should have been a happy reunion turned out to be something different, because she was going through a bad heartbreak (don't get me wrong, there is no good heartbreak, but you get the gist of it). She needed a shoulder to cry on, and I think that she also needed some alone time. After all, that's what friends are for. I cleared the day, and stocked up on essentials like:
- chocolate
- chocolate
- macaroons
- white wine (muscato is my personal favourite)
- tea (I am British after all)
- tissues (lots of them)
- pizzas
Right, it was now time for a customised musical prescription. Here is what I chose for her.

Phase 1: A time to cry
It is OK to be sad. It is OK to cry. We have all been there, right? And to capture what it feels like to be on your own again, well, nothing compares to Sinead...Because Nothing Compares To You...




After all, Grand Corps Malade sums it up perfectly well in his song 'Les Voyages En Train' (The train journeys). He compares loves stories with train rides: there is a start, and a terminus. Some get off at the next station, others stay until the end of the line. And he concludes that:
For one thing is certain, there will always be a last stop,
   Now you've been warned, next time you'll take the bus."

Friday, 23 January 2015

Don't Worry, It's For Statistical Purposes...


So far, my morning had been uneventful. Don't get me, wrong, uneventful was good. I liked things to be simple.
I decided to fill some long overdue questionnaires that a company I had worked for had sent (I do the occasional freelance job for them. It pays the bills). I almost fell off my chair.
To cut a long story short, in the UK, your ethnicity or sexual orientation dont matter, except for statistical purposes. In France, such things are considered to be private. You NEVER EVER mention them, let alone  fill a questionnaire with your name on it for your company, for whatever purpose it might be. To make matters even worse, it was not the first time I had worked for this company. Hadn't I already filled this? I couldn't remember. Why do it another time? Maybe things had, well, moved on for me. You could never know.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Kinky Email That Derailed My School Run


As a mother, life is never, ever dull. And when you are French in London, somehow you can double the fun. What can I say? Someone must have it in for me, it was the only possible explanation. Because so far, it had been a morning just like any other. We were a bit in advance, and were therefore waiting in the car for the school gates to open. My 7-year-old was revising her Spanish vocabulary, and I decided to check my emails. Fatal mistake. The school wanted me to fill yet another permission slip for an outing. Fine, I would have to deal with this later, because I had to put it in the calendar. There was an unusual message. A French company had emailed me (in English of course. Life is incredibly complicated). Basically, they wanted me to advertise their 'kinky, funny and high-end products' on this blog.

What ? What ? What?

'Mum, I know my words now. Can I play Mr Crab on your phone?'

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

What Do You Do When You Are Taken For A Ride?

This is how I feel today

My French blood is boiling. My British side tells me to breathe and take a step back. What to do? Let me explain: recently, one of the clients of the company I work for has been a bit difficult (British understatement -I mean more than a bit): they were acknowledging receipt of my messages and emails when it suited them (like, when they needed something from us), and conveniently ignoring anything else (when they were asked to settle their bills, for instance). When confronted (a notice to pay was served today), they said 'Oh, sorry, your emails went into our Spam inbox'.

Seriously, don't you think that it is the lamest excuse ever? 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

What I Wanted To say To The Woman Whose Husband Was Hitting On Me

Me And My Balinese Dress

It was incredibly unfair: you had tried really hard.  You were a beautiful woman. Correction: you were amazing. You came to the party with the perfect hair. Even when you were moving, your hair was staying in place. Mine never does. Your make-up was great, with perfect glossy lips, and the eyeliner on your lovely blue eyes was put with a technique that I will never, ever master.
You were wearing (in no particular order) a diamond brooch, a golden necklace, tasteful earrings, lovely bracelets and rings. Your designer dress was flattering your perfect silhouette. It must have cost you a fortune. In fact, I envied you a bit.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Do It The French Way: Whatever You Are Wearing, Wear It With Pride

Was I Really Stylish?

This morning, I woke up late, grabbed my torn jeans, a white T-shirt that was lying there (I am not sure that it was clean but hey, I was in a rush), and one of my husband’s shirts (don't tell him please). I didn’t overthink it: I just took what was lying in front of me. I quickly put on my cowboy boots before driving my children to school. When we arrived at the school gates, I got off the car to help my little one, when another mum saw me and said:
‘You French women are always so stylish!’

Saturday, 17 January 2015

I Love Love


It was cold and grey, and there wasn't much to do. I therefore decided to unleash my inner artist and start a collage. Here is my latest creation:

I Love Love - J'aime l'amour

What do you think? It says 'I love love'. But it sounds better in French, right? 'J'aime l'amour' is exactly right. I don't know why, it just is. I also don't know why I came across with such an idea. It's probably just that we are talking a lot about attacks and terrorism, and I really needed to counterbalance the whole aggressive vibe.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Three Things I Love About London

Street Art In Brick Lane


I am often asked why I love London so much. After all, I was born and bred in France, right? Of course I was, but I must admit that I love London. It is difficult to know why, because I usually know why I don't like something, but never exactly why I actually like something (or someone, but that's another matter...). It must me my grumpy French side. Anyway, I decided to give it a little try. Here are the three main reasons why I love London.