total lockdown again, sort of

They’re calling it “lockdown light”, it starts Thursday night at midnight and it’s due to last until December 1st. Four weeks. We’ve just finished watching President Macron on the 8 o’clock TV news. It’ll be different from the March-April-May lockdown, a lot less severe. All schools will remain open as well as government offices and certain stores (but which ones?) Things aren’t clear yet. Until I get to my place of work tomorrow, I don’t know what my employer’s decision is. Will I stay home? Will I continue going to work?

One thing is sure: we have to fill out those damned “Attestation” certificates again every time we go outside; if not we risk a hefty fine. Last time, I was writing them out by hand because I don’t have a printer at home. Tomorrow, I’ll print out a bunch at the office.

For some strange reason, I have no recollection of the two months and 20 days I stayed at home during the severe lockdown from mid-March, April, May. All I remember is the weather: it was gorgeous, cold, sunny and dry (and we were confined to our homes in a form of house arrest.) I remember birdsong, total quiet, clean air, no street traffic. I cooked, ate and cleaned a lot. Listened to the radio a lot. Blogged and emailed with friends far and wide (and local.) Managed to advance enormously on my book project. Every day at 5 pm watched Hercule Poirot on TV. And every night just before 8 pm stood on the balcony to clap for the carers and medical staff. There. I’ve just remembered what I did.

How Donald Trump’s broken promises failed Ohio. France’s universal healthcare system.

France has universal healthcare that is mandatory for all citizens, whether they’re employed or not. Healthcare is managed by the Ministry of Health and administered through Social Security where 70% of services are covered for all typical health care needs, including general practitioners, hospitals, dentists, and pharmacy costs. 

On a personal note, for my comprehensive coverage that includes all dental, free prescription glasses every two years, doctor’s visits, pharmacy drug costs, scans, X-rays and even a health cure in the multitude of spas dotted around the country (mineral water or ocean therapy), I pay 34 euros a month. My employer pays the rest. If I had my own private plan and no employer, I’d pay anywhere from 30 to 90 euros (or more) a month depending on different factors. For women between the ages of 50 and 74, free mammograms are offered every two years.

If you want to call that ‘socialism’, then bring it on!

See The Guardian ten-minute documentary below – After winning the 2016 election, Donald Trump promised to deliver new jobs and economic prosperity to Youngstown, Ohio, a city suffering from decades of decline. But four years on those promises never manifested. Oliver Laughland and Tom Silverstone meet residents who lost their jobs.

Mirren and McKellen

Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen, two giants of the theater and cinema worlds. You’re in good hands with these two. The movie came out in November 2019, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that I found the DVD, newly released in France. I snatched it up, watched it at home and was not disappointed. In fact, I loved it.


What I like in a movie – aside from superb acting, great script, great interiors and cinematography, etc – are unexpected twists and turns. In this story, what you see at the beginning is just surface. There’s a second story – tragic, long-dated and festering – lurking beneath.

Don’t read the movie reviews, they’ve totally under-rated the film; I have no idea why. Not enough sex and violence, perhaps?

You can watch the first ten minutes here:

Emily in Paris, a Netflix series

It hasn’t escaped me that the title of this series is the same as the title of my blog: Emily in Paris / Juliet in Paris. As I simultaneously chuckled, yawned and groaned through the first episodes, I thought to myself: she could be me. Or rather, she could’ve been me back in the 1990s when I first arrived in Paris. (Only I don’t know how she’d survive without her smartphone.)

Like Emily who works in PR/marketing, I worked in France’s largest advertising agency before moving on to the Reuters Paris bureau. Like Emily who’s having all sorts of adventures, mishaps and romances, so did I. Isn’t that the reason one comes to Paris??  To be honest, my adventures were far more salty than hers. (Of course they were, I’m a Boomer, she’s a boring Millennial.) Did she end up – not once, but twice – in a French paddy wagon? Did she meet Omar Sharif in a Deauville restaurant? She wouldn’t know who Omar Sharif is. Did she have a torrid transatlantic affair with a New Yorker who would go on, years later, to become a BIG and well-known American documentary filmmaker? (In my heart, he will be forever referred to as “the one who got away.”)

Read the adventures of Juliet in Paris in my memoir, due out in 2021. I guess you could call it ‘a family memoir’ with a heavy emphasis on me, my adventures, mishaps and romances. Incidentally, that’s not the title of the book.

Emily in Paris has only recently arrived on French Netflix. But already the series has received a deluge of criticisms from French viewers. They complain that it’s studded with one cliché after the next. But y’know what? Some of those clichés are true!