French Fridays on my mind


What would France be without a tabac? The tobacconist’s sign is up there with the pharmacist sign as being one of the most often seen on the high street. Many of them have this jaunty little tabac sign to help you find your nicotine fix.

Like the UK, cigarettes are incredibly expensive. I gave up smoking long ago, though I was reminiscing with a lady I know about buying a packet of twenty Regal for 75p. A packet of twenty cigarettes can now set you back ten times that, if not more. Still, smoking is a popular habit in France, and a third of adults smoke. Funnily, most of my UK friends smoked, but few of my expat friends here smoke – all that countryside living must be good for the psyche (either that or we are all too poor!) Only a sixth of the UK population smoke by comparison.

I have a little (well, he’s 17 and 6 foot 2) student who loves politics and information – we’ve been looking at the OECD data about the UK and France. Interestingly, educational levels between the two countries were virtually identical, though France spends much less per capita on educating its youths. The big shocker (or not) was how transparent UK politicians are in comparison with French politicians. French politicians are legally obliged to declare only 7% of their private interests and fundings. Sounds ripe for corruption if you ask me. I love these lessons that go off at a tangent and you capture the interest of teen minds.

Other than that, it has been a busy week – racing about here and there at the beginning, then committee meetings today. Ralf has been my time-thief this week – he caught a badger yesterday. I’m guessing it was old or infirm or dying as it was out in the day. I suspect he has been hiding out for some time near my cabin, as the boys have been hyper-interested in sniffing him out. He must be out of sorts to be able to be caught by Ralf, who is the least fast and least agile of all my beasts. The battle must have been a good ten minutes – he was out there whilst I was on the phone. I could hear Amigo going mad. I went out to have a look and there was Ralf with a jaw full of badger. It took me a few seconds to find a way to extricate them from one another – I’d (dangerously) think nothing of stepping in to sort out a dog fight, but those badgers can be savage beasties and I didn’t fancy Mr Badger turning his attention to me. Still, old or ill, he doesn’t deserve to be mauled to death by Ralf, to say nothing of what Ralf could catch. I ended it with a garden broom and a watering can. Mr Badger trotted off and Ralf looked a bit bemused. His lip was bleeding, as was his ear, so we had a quick trip to the vet. One shaved face and one antibiotics shot later and we were back home. He seems none the worse for it today, but I’ll wait and see. Heston’s usual bark fanfare on going into the garden has obviously served as an impromptu wildlife warning – he was waiting for his daily walk and getting nowhere – it was nothing but rain yesterday.

Anyway, it’s bedtime for me and time to settle down for the night.

Have a good weekend and keep out of tobacconist shops!

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