Tag Archives: forums

feckin’ whingey old Mary Anns!

Over a period of time, I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with the quality of people posting on ex-pat forums. That’s a horrible phrase, anyway, ‘ex-pat’, it sounds so…… Malaysian-rubber-plantation-owner-in-a-gentleman’s-club-drinking-gin-and-tonic-wearing-linen-suits… so…Quentin-Crisp-Englishman-in-New-York…. so…. pensioners-from-Merseyside-on-the-Costa-del-Sol…. and I don’t like it. If I’m honest, I prefer ‘immigrant’ to ‘ex-pat’ – that’s how snobbish I am about that word.

Anyway, many of the forums seem full of Malvolio-Malcontent, moaning about everything. They moan about other posters, about schools, about services, about telephones. They moan about neighbours’ dogs. Here’s some of the moans:

First, following the ‘tempest’ yesterday, there are people worried about their houses. I understand this worry, myself, but it has invoked the moaning of the ex-pat community because the original posters haven’t worried about the 40-odd dead.

Second, there’s an ongoing moan about the price of cake and coffee in a local coffee shop. Yes, really.

Then there’s someone moaning that their broadband is bad, and someone else adding to the moan that they are lucky they even get broadband and moaning that they don’t. This seems to be a regular occurrence, superseding a moan with a moan-trump.

There’s people moaning about posters who don’t put a photo with a sale, and those moaning about those who do. Then the moaners moan about those who ask for photos, and those who don’t buy it when they’ve asked for a photo.

There’s a big load of moaners who moan about Ryanair, and then there’s those who moan about those who moan about Ryanair. There’s those that moan about it and use it anyway, but they do love a moan!

The rank seems to go like this today:

1 Moan about the weather

2 Moan about tiles coming off the roof

3 Moan about people who aren’t glad they’re still alive

4 Moan about people who aren’t sorry enough people have died

5 Moan about the price of cake

6 Moan about France Telecom

7 Moan about SFR

8 Moan about Orange

9 Moan about broadband

10 Moan about bank charges

It’s like they’re a nation of ex-teachers. Oh, wait… they probably are!

The worst thing about moaning is that it can really bring others down. Whilst it might do you some good to get it off your chest, it doesn’t do any good at all for those who have to listen to it. It makes me feel pessimistic and worried and sick and panicky and uptight. And it makes me forget there are at least thirty people I already know who don’t moan about it, even though life might be hard, and just get on with it, and are decent people. Bah.

So, there’s the irony: me moaning about moaning.

I’m flummoxed… do they think I’m gormless?

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’identit√©’ 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.