8 September 2010

France Is Revolting (Again)

I’m sure by now you know this is nothing personal on my part, it’s just that the whole country is on strike again. Well, when I say ‘the whole country’, not everybody is, but anybody who works for the government is – the firemen (they’re always ‘en greve’), the airport people, the postmen (no doubt), the bus drivers, the rail workers, the teachers  – you name it, they’re revolting about Sarkozy’s aim to increase the pensionable age from 60-62.

Already this morning (I’m writing this on Tuesday) there have been reports that planes have been cancelled and that Monaco is basically cut off. Because the trains are not running, everybody is driving there and the roads down from the mountain into the Principality just cannot cope so nobody gets in and it’s the same on the way out. Aaaah – I suppose some of them will just untie their mega-yachts and sail round there although I think they’ll find the mooring fees a bit more expensive than the car parks.  

How did it affect me? Well, the kids are back at school and because of the likelihood that the buses wouldn’t be running, I had to do the school run which meant a one hour round trip caused by the fact that Guy is at a new Lyceé down in Cagnes – some 30 minutes away.

Still, it gave me the opportunity to call in at my tyre garage once more. It took three visits to deposit my punctured tyre there (shut, holiday and open) and it’s taken three further visits to pick my tyre up (holiday, lunch, and finally open).

The face on the owner told me all I needed to know. ‘Ah monsieur – votre pneu est kaput.’
It doesn’t take a linguistic genius to know what that meant and as if to rub it in, he blew up my tyre and proceeded to spray it with soapy water whereupon it was like a bubble bath – there were holes everywhere! And only last week I was practicing my French so that I could castigate him for the poor quality of his last repair!

We had a short conversation about the fact that as the tyre is now six years old, it had basically run its course and had just started to fall apart, despite there being plenty of tread left – hence my desire to have it fixed.
‘How much’, I asked. Again the look said it all as did the symbolic gesture of him burning his fingers. ‘€320 monsieur – pour deux.’ ‘What’, I cried, thinking of the €350 I’ve just paid out for Shadow’s vet treatment, the fact that the three PCs we have in for repair will cost about €250 and that I have just received an enormous bill for our rates.

But I get home and think that well, Shadow, poor thing, deserves to live his last couple of years in good health, we do need our PCs for a variety of reasons and in fact, the cause of the huge rates bill was that the discount given for a new build house had run out and I had forgotten that fact.

I sat down for a cup of coffee. Relax Thomas – things are never as bad as they seem.

And then I open a letter from the taxman saying I’ve underpaid my tax to the tune of €2000!

Where’s my gun? Or the poison? Or my stash of pills? I can’t even throw myself under a train as the buggers are on strike!

PS – the picture is of the firemen in Cagnes showing their ability to light fires and then NOT put them out – as they’re on strike!

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