my memoir. now available on Amazon.

 

Here it is, folks, my humble offering which took me ten years to write. I wanted to get it out before I leave for London tomorrow. Right now, it’s available only in digital version – I uploaded it myself onto Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing.) These days, you have to do everything yourself. Not only do you have to write the damn book, you have to format it, design the cover, self-publish it, market it and be your own publicity agent.

I drew the line though at formatting the paper version myself.

If you wait about ten days, you can purchase the print version.

Personally, I don’t like reading books off a screen. Why? Because I read legal documents all day long at the office – today I began translating a 35-page financial report for our Annual General Shareholders’ Meeting in May. When I try to read a book off a screen, I feel like I’m sitting in the office.

But it’s nice to have a choice, I guess.

For those living in France, it’s available on amazon.fr

For those living in the U.K., it’s amazon.co.uk

Germany: amazon.de

the USA: amazon.com

Canada: amazon.ca

When you get into the Books category, you have to type in the title of the book because my name doesn’t show up (yet). The title is An Accidental Parisian. Once there, you can read the Synopsis, catch a sneak peak of the first pages and buy the book if you’re interested. Or, as I said, wait for the print version.

Thanks so much. Have a great weekend.

off to London. Raphael at The National Gallery.

There are moments in life when you need to immerse yourself in great art. At least, for me that’s the case. Art with a capital “A”. It’s exalting, exhilarating, glorifying, and it reminds us that in this world of brutes and savagery, another world – noble, humanistic, enlightening – exists. That’s why I’m going to view the Raphael exhibition at The National Gallery.

Pre-Covid days, I’d regularly hop on the high-speed Eurostar train and travel to London. When I realized the other day that I hadn’t been since August 2019, I yelped and immediately got onto the Eurostar website to book myself a round-trip ticket.

I also plan to see the Beatrix Potter exhibition at my most favorite museum, the Victoria & Albert. And then there are all my favorite haunts and eating-shopping places to visit as well. For those new to this blog – and to learn of some great eating-shopping-walking places plus hotels – go up to the top and click on LONDON to see past blog posts of my visits there.

Before I go, however, I have an important civic duty to perform. Tomorrow (Sunday April 24) I return to my local polling station to vote Macron for the second time.

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/the-credit-suisse-exhibition-raphael

https://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/beatrix-potter

white asparagus, long Easter weekend, a visit to my old neighborhood

The weather here is glorious: abundant sunshine, blue sky, not too hot and a cool-warm breeze blowing in from somewhere. Easter Monday is a national holiday, and my employer gave us the Friday off, so I have a 4-day weekend. Hoorah!

I went to my local market and bought fresh flowers, a bottle of white wine (from the Loire region), strawberries from Spain, a slab of Scottish salmon and some asparagus. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I don’t know what to do with white asparagus, I’ve never cooked or eaten it before, only green. How lame is that? They call this “violet” asparagus, but it looks pretty white to me.

I found a video on YouTube. The French chef chopped off the woody ends, peeled each stalk with a vegetable peeler – twice – then tied the stalks into a bundle with string before dropping them into a big pot filled with a simmering bouillon (called a court-bouillon in French.) While the stalks simmered over a gentle heat for ten minutes, he started on the homemade mayonnaise. I won’t do that, I can’t be bothered (I hate whisking for more than 10 seconds.) You could also make a hollandaise sauce, but I won’t do that either. I’m going to make a simple green salad with a homemade vinaigrette sauce and will save some of that sauce for the asparagus.

Today I jumped on the metro and headed over to my old neighborhood in the 15th arrondissement. Starting from Passy metro station (photo below), I walked across the Bir-Hakeim bridge that crosses the river Seine and connects the 15th and 16th arrondissements.

I walked for another ten minutes before I came to the street and the building where I used to live. I liked living in the 15th arrondissement, it’s pretty much close to everything. But the apartment itself – and this is the problem with old Parisian apartments – was badly insulated, freezing cold in winter and heated by electric baseboards. My electricity bill in the winter was astronomical. And those beautiful wooden parquet floors? When the tenants above clomp around in their high-heeled shoes or boots all day, “old world charm” flies out the window.

I visited the lovely public garden across the road, brand new back then, today lush and thriving. Then I wandered the backstreets and just basically enjoyed being outdoors.

I took the metro home at 4 p.m. and, because it’s Easter, bought myself an apricot-pistachio tart for my tea.

For those who are celebrating right now, joyeuses Pâques and joyeuses fêtes de Pessa’h.

Bernard-Henri Lévy recounts the horrors he saw in Ukraine

Known here as BHL, this author-philosopher, just back from Ukraine where he went with a photographer to document the crimes committed by Russian soldiers, compares the horrors there to Oradour-sur-Glane.

“How so?” asked Anne-Élisabeth Lemoine, the moderator of the TV program on which BHL appeared the other day. (video below)

“Because it’s the same method,” explained BHL. “The revenge of cowards who have been humiliated (and defeated), so they retaliate against women, children … and men with their hands tied behind their back.” He goes on to describe the crimes committed in Ukraine, just one of them being gang-rapes by drunken, bestial men.

Located near Limoges in central-west France, Oradour-sur-Glane was the site of a particularly brutal atrocity during World War II. On June 10, 1944, troops of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division called Das Reich, a unit of Nazi Germany’s military forces, massacred 643 of its inhabitants, almost the entire population, and then destroyed the village.

Today, Oradour-sur-Glane is known as the “martyred town”. Frozen in time, its ruins serve as a memorial to the victims. You can visit it.

Here’s BHL –

French presidential elections, and my first vote in France

Sunday April 10th is a special day for me. For the first time ever, I can actually vote! I’m excited. For those new to this blog, I received French citizenship in November 2020. I recently received my carte électorale from the town hall and will go to the bureau de vote (a school) on Sunday for the first round of voting. The second round, should no candidate win a majority of the vote, will be on April 24.

Last week I walked past the political posters that had just been put up in my neighborhood, all clean and crisp. “I’ll wait a few days before I take photos,” I said to myself.

So, who will I vote for on Sunday? Mélenchon? A good man, but far too left for my liking.

Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris? No. no. no.

Marine Le Pen? Not unless we want a bunch of inept, racist thugs running the country. Le Pen and her people have always rubbed shoulders with individuals like Putin, Viktor Orbán (prime minister of Hungary) and the extreme right-wing party of Austria. Like an adolescent groupie, she flew to New York and hung out at Trump Tower in the hopes of meeting Donald Trump who she admired.

Pécresse, extremely competent and pragmatic, runs the entire region of Ile de France, the district of Paris and its outlying regions made up of eight administrative departments. Despite her talents and her efficacy, she’s too right-wing for my liking. Playing the race card in an election campaign is cheap and off-putting for me.

Zemmour? I don’t know what rock this person crawled out from under, but he needs to return to that dark, sinister space and leave us alone. In my opinion, he is utterly unqualified to run for office, not to mention dangerous.

Arthaud is spokesperson for the Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle) party. A self-proclaimed communist, she focused her campaigns on workers’ and economic issues; her platform included positions such as increasing minimum wage, ending evictions and mass layoffs, and nationalizing French financial institutions. 

I’ll be voting for Emmanuel Macron, which is not to say that I’m entirely pleased with his actions, or rather, non-actions in two specific domains: the environment (last year France was fined ten million euros for failing to reduce air pollution to acceptable levels) and domestic violence/violence against women. He needs to do more.

Macron is accused of diminishing the welfare state. I believe it needs to be diminished (but not abolished.) France is generous, too generous in my opinion and, frankly, I’m tired of paying for others through high taxes and salary contributions. Those who work contribute fractionally to those who don’t. The CAF (Caisse d’allocations familiales) (family benefits) is financed partly by employer-employees’ contributions and partly by taxes. We all know entire families who live in subsidized housing, have numerous children and depend entirely on their CAF benefits. Receiving generous benefits, in my opinion, is a disincentive to seeking work.

I do, on the other hand, support UBI (Universal Basic Income) in which no-strings-attached cash transfers (financed by governments and/or private donors) are offered to struggling families for a limited time period.

There are other candidates for the presidential election, but for reasons of brevity I have not included them.

New York – Paris Air France flight avoids crash

Two days ago, a Boeing 777 was preparing to land at Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport after a night flight from New York. It was a beautiful clear morning and all was normal. Suddenly, it appears that the aircraft took on a life of its own and veered off the programmed flight trajectory. You can actually hear the pilot struggling with the controls (manually) as he attempts to get the plane back on course. It sounds like he’s fighting with a bear. Alarm bells go off inside the plane.

The landing is aborted, the plane goes up again and circles, then successfully lands.

Thank the lord for the professionalism and sang-froid of experienced airline pilots AND flight traffic controllers. An official investigation has been opened.

Alexandra Tolstoy

I never made it to Spain because I got the flu. Not Covid, but a mild case of influenza, so I cancelled everything and rebooked for the end of May. Now I’m spending my week’s vacation at home and the weather is terrible, cold and damp. I’m cooking (roasted vegetable lasagna tonight), watching DVDs (Wallander played by Kenneth Branagh; I really like Swedish dramas and want to go to Stockholm); reading the world news (not good), watching documentaries and stuff on YouTube, and drinking one rum cocktail every evening.

I recently learned there’s a whole new genre of movies and series called Nordic Noir or Scandi crime dramas. I look forward to exploring that.

I found this YouTube video below particularly interesting. Alexandra Tolstoy, distant relative to Leo Tolstoy, acclaimed to be one of the greatest Russian novelists of all time, shows us around her posh pad in Chelsea, London. But she got evicted because her billionaire partner, Russian oligarch Sergei Pugachev: former member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and father of her 3 children, has been on the lam for years, pursued by multi-governments for a variety of crimes. His properties were confiscated (including this one) and his assets and bank accounts frozen.

Today, Alexandra still lives in London, in a rental, and considerably downsized, house. Have your own money, women! Don’t be financially dependent on a man … especially a Russian oligarch.