Having sorted out (a bit) the finances… and realised it might not all slip away to nothingness and fantasy, we’ve been getting on with the process of uprooting and moving.
The first has been Steve’s bike – a CCM 604DS – a beautiful northern beast of a bike – his love and passion. I’ve been frequenting a couple of forums for expats, and realising they might just not be the place for us! I’d asked what to do about importing the bike, only to have some quite superficially helpful advice.
Turns out, it wasn’t so helpful. The guy who I was told to write to for an ‘attestation d’identité’ doesn’t deal with CCM any more… so after I’d painfully transcribed it in French, he’d written back to me (in English) and faxed it through to CCM in Bolton, a mere 4 miles from my house. Bah.
Then it turns out it doesn’t have a certificate of conformity because it was pre-1996 and it was not manufactured in great numbers… so it had a motorbike single vehicle approval, which isn’t recognised in France, and it’ll need the equivalent in France.
Not a big deal, I hope.
Still, I’m quickly getting the impression that the forums are full of moaners who have done things the hard way, if at all. They pass on second and third hand stories about difficulties they’ve faced…. without any specific ‘do this, do this’ info, and the guy who I did get some from was so much of a pedant I’d probably slap him in the face. He questioned whether I’d done as he’d advised (to the letter, and better) and then told me what I already knew. Bah.
Then there’s the English ex-pats who want everything English – the same cheeses, the same meat, the same cars, who don’t want to be in France particularly except it was cheap and not a big deal to move there. It might as well be Spain, Italy, Germany…. France is the accidental part of it.
Why even move to a country you don’t want to really live in?
Steve and I went to his mum’s on Wednesday, so I could make my famous Anglesey eggs (thanks, Hairy Bikers) and we were talking about how close we are to a complete monetary failure in England. So much is owed. We’re like some tinpot dictatorship in Africa in the 1970s. It’s quite shocking. I’m going to Cuba if the world’s economy collapses. They’re virtually self-sufficient, were it not for a bit of Hugo Chavez’s oil. And they live like we plan to… fresh veg, chickens, bicycles, music…. I know there are social problems and problems getting various items, such as soap, when I was there, but when Hurricane Ivan swept over and much of the island was in black-out, it wasn’t much different from normal. No street lights in Havana, no extraneous lighting, no ridiculous food, no commercialism. It’s a world totally unaffected by commercial corporations, and I love that. I love that they sit 90 miles off American shores and stick two fingers up at McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, Gap and Banana Republic, Abercrombie and Fitch and so on…. I like that they do things their way. I wish not every country in the shadow of America had joined the embargo.
But, it’s a rural, quiet, basic life where people sing and play, work some and learn. They’re healthy and literate and it’s a beautiful untouched country. I like that about rural France.
So I’m not going to expect Sunday roasts and pubs and cheddar cheese and dole queues, but then I’m expecting it to be a lot nicer than England, too, if only because I won’t be bogged down in all this political cynicism I’ve developed. And in many ways, I hope the ex-pats don’t invade my turf. I’m interested in France, not living in an enclave or ghetto. Not for me, at all.
The day someone asks me something in French on the street, that’ll be the day I’m at my happiest.
Anyway, why is it that people who don’t know what they’re talking about feel free to add their grumbles, the old women. It’s as if they feel like they really should piss on your parade, just for fun. If something’s been hard for me, I usually do the opposite and say ‘oh, it was fairly easy’ and assume that any complications were idiocy on my behalf, or stupidity on behalf of whatever it is I’m trying to do (like some of my ridiculous phone calls of late) not that it’s impossible. That just makes me look incompetent.
Anyway, I’ve realised that someone is missing a damn fine PA. I’m very good at getting things done. I’m good at list-writing and ordering and colour-coding and photocopying, and things involving the post office. I’m good at phoning people up and following instructions and gathering stuff. I’m a paper-pusher of the highest order, and I do so in colour-coded box files and with multi-coloured sticky notes, with highlighter pens and dividers and folders and binders. I love Staples and Office World, and I especially love Paperchase who make organisation a kitsch and cute affair. I love boxes and labels and order.
I could definitely be a ‘move co-ordinator’ or a wedding planner or something like that. I would be an excellent sheepdog or shepherd, since I’m very good at corralling gormless animals, rounding up strays and bringing it all home tidily. At times, teaching is much more like herding cats, so all of this is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
So I say ‘bah’ in the general direction of the nay-sayers and the old Mary Anns who like to make everything sound impossibly difficult, and I promise, when I have done things, to share my wisdom and optimism about how easy it all was, in practical, colour-coded, logical steps. Yes.