Nicolas Sarkozy makes populist play for welfare in country that still cares
Cross-party commitment to welfare means France is a good place to be old, young, sick, jobless or female
Polly Toynbee guardian.co.uk,
The future of social care, President Nicolas Sarkozy declared, "is a matter of such importance and gravity that ideology has no place". His opponents scoff, among them Martine Aubry, one of the frontrunners to be the Socialist party's candidate against him in the presidential elections due in 2012.
Viewed from the British side of the Channel, Sarkozy has made a striking promise to create a "new branch of the welfare state" to provide care for old people and those with disabilities. France has 1.1 million dependent old people, their numbers expected to grow by 1%-2% to the middle of the century, when the over 85s could number 5 million.
Alarmist voices have sounded, but France has heard little of the partisan hysteria audible in Britain, where spending on care for old people has been proportionately higher than in France. Sarkozy promises to lay out a plan by this summer, in good time to give him a populist theme for the presidential campaign. (By then we ought to have sight of proposals to come from Andrew Dilnot, the Oxford economist commissioned by the Cameron government to rethink social care; they will make for a fascinating comparison.)
It's true that Sarkozy, after grandstanding on social care when he was elected in 2007, has vacillated. His latest line is that social care won't be a formal "fifth branch" of the French welfare state. Its four pillars are family benefits, health, coverage for accidents at work, and pensions. They offer relatively generous statutory entitlements, funded by insurance schemes paid for by statutory employer and employee contributions, topped up by general taxation. Instead, Sarkozy's extension of social care is to come from private insurance, some tax funding or even (this came from Laurent Hénart, the president of the national agency for personal services and a pro-Sarkozy MP) the proceeds of French workers giving up a day's leave each year. But the state will organise and underpin it.
How unlike Britain: in France, cross-party commitment to welfare runs deep, as does belief in the necessity and benignity of "l'état". Politicians on the right and the left use the word solidarité with sincerity (the National Front is statist, too, though its definitions exclude "immigrants" from the national compact). Perhaps solidarity is the modern expression of the 1789 cry for "fraternity". The Sarkozy government has a minister for solidarity and maintains the solidarity tax, only one of several payments by general taxpayers and employers levied in the name of strengthening social cohesion. On the annual journée de solidaritéemployees' pay is earmarked for old people's charities.
Fraternity begets equality. The French welfare state delivers a society where the gaps between rich and poor are smaller than in the UK. France is one of the few western countries where poverty and income inequality have fallen during the past 20 years. Meanwhile in the UK, income inequality is higher than it has been for 30 years. An impulse towards égalité is imprinted deep in the French political DNA: the Lavialle polling institute recently found that nine out of 10 French people think the income gap is still too large. The French are more convinced that the state is a force for good: leftist criticism of Sarkozy's government masks deep underlying agreement on the need for a big and benign state.
All this finds expression in willingness to spend on pensions, income support, health and social services which together amounts to 33% of national income, the highest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, where the average is 24%. The UK falls below average, on 23.3% – but figures from this year will show a steep drop. The French benefits system is "Bismarckian", based on insurance funds. For health the employer pays 12.8% of earnings, the employee 0.75%; in state pension contributions 8.3% and 6.65% respectively, up to an earnings ceiling. But as in Germany, the funds still need large subventions from the state. Households pay a hypothecated tax, topping up the funds, which cover health, maternity pay, disability and pensions. Separate insurance covers family benefits, industrial accidents and unemployment insurance.
Since the revolution, the place of Catholicism in French life has been fiercely contested. But church and state have long agreed to encourage child-bearing and support mothers. Though the birth rate fell as elsewhere in Europe, it is higher than in the UK. In both countries the birth rate picked up from the boom years of 2002 onwards, yet both countries still have fewer babies than funerals. Ever since a great drive after the first world war to make up for its missing dead, the French state has been energetically pro-natalist, traditionally favouring families nombreuses. But there is not much sign of church influence in observance of marriage vows. In both France and the UK, figures for fertility and births outside marriage have broadly risen in step. Some 42% of UK births are out of wedlock; in France it's over 50%.
But better education and anti-poverty measures may explain the fact that there are far fewer teenage mothers in France, with 10 babies per 1,000 females aged 15-19 compared with the UK's 25. Average age for first motherhood is in the late 20s, with French mothers having their first baby 15 months younger than British women.
Maternity pay is more generous but paternity leave is the same in both countries. A larger proportion of French women of working age take jobs than in the UK. In pay terms they are better treated, too. In Germany men on median earnings get 23% more than women, in the UK 21% more, but in France, the pay gap is 12%. That one difference contributes significantly to their greater overall equality.
French families get more help. Public spending on early years is the highest in Europe after Iceland and Denmark, at about 1.1% of national income – the comparable British figure is 0.7% (since these 2005 EU figures, Labour expanded nurseries and childcare rapidly, but they are now contracting again fast). French benefits are, however, relatively less generous to lone parents, who are bringing up about 13% of all children, compared with 24% of children in the UK. Unlike Britain, where Labour policy boosted the income of working lone parents with tax credits, they get no special financial encouragement to work.
Whether it's due to lifestyle, social security or high health spending, the French are long-lived. A Frenchwoman can expect to live 84.4 years, three years longer than her British counterpart and the highest in the OECD after Japan. For Frenchmen, however, life expectancy is 77.3 years, the same as for UK men.
The age structure in France is similar to Britain's – both nations are growing older. Even if the increase in the proportion of the population above pension age is going to be relatively small over the next four decades, the cost of ageing is a familiarly fraught issue in French politics. That is partly because French pensions are generous. Pension payments account for one in every seven pounds of French national income, the same as in Germany – while in the penny-pinching UK it is half as much.
The Chirac and Sarkozy governments have tried to water down pension entitlements, especially among public sector workers, at the same time as they have increased the minimum state pension. But the swing from left to right has reversed policy directions and social priorities. Under François Mitterand, the plan was to get older people out of the labour market to make jobs for the young, so he lowered the retirement age from 65 to 60 in 1983. With the same intent, and to improve everyone's work-life balance, the Socialists cut the working week to 35 hours in 2000. But now, in France as in Britain, the aim is to keep older workers in jobs and push up the retirement age (now 61) – a move resisted by the Socialist opposition. Financial incentives are now in place to encourage people to continue working beyond pension age – but half the workforce "retire" before they are 55. Policy has shifted, too, to encourage private pension savings. Fewer French people with disabilities work than in the UK, roughly 46% here against 39% in France – but people with disabilities are better treated: fewer live in poverty across the Channel.
All in all, France is a generous society, and it fights hard on the streets against attempts to cut back on good collective provision for pensions, benefits and health. Contrary to myth, it is not the power of its unions – France has fewer union members than the UK – but the power of collective will. As a result, it is a better country than most in which to be old, or sick or unemployed, or disabled or a little child.
Co-working - the Jelly has arrived - it says here.
Home working in Languedoc takes on a new shape – “Jelly” has arrived!
An increasing number of entrepreneurs are running small businesses in France. Whilst there are many benefits to ‘being your own boss’, working from home can be a lonely business. One of the biggest challenges to self-employment can be isolation. The launch of “Jelly” brings a new co-working initiative to Languedoc-Roussillon and France.
The Jelly concept started in New York when a couple of freelancers felt they needed to get out of the house and mix with other home-workers for a change of scene. Jelly has since developed into a casual working event where home-workers simply meet together to work for the day.
Unlike traditional business networking, a Jelly is not an event for self-promotion and business-to-business selling. Jelly is quite social and can be held in a wide variety of public and easily accessible locations.
“Languedoc Jelly” is being developed by expat entrepreneur and freelance marketing consultant Annette Morris who lives in Hérault.
“Jelly is a co-working event, not a business. I was encouraged to start Languedoc Jelly following an enthusiastic response to the idea from many freelancers and home-workers in this area. What’s particularly exciting about Languedoc Jelly is the blend of Anglophone and French business owners that would like to work alongside each other, exchange advice, pick-up new skills or contacts, maybe even cultivate business ideas and work together on new projects”.
Annette continues “For potential participants the ideal Jelly question is not ‘what do you do?’ but ‘what are you working on?’. It puts a whole new slant on your activity and your focus”.
The first Jelly event will take place in Montpellier in April 2011. The date and further information will be published via the Jelly website with details of how to book.
Attending a Jelly is free, with perhaps a small charge for food or drink at the venue. Participants are advised to bring a laptop, a phone or even a sketchbook – and an open state of mind.
For more details follow www.Twitter.com/LanguedocJelly
or visit www.languedocjelly.com
For more information contact: Annette Morris, 09 66 03 03 03 or email@example.com. Annette Morris has lived and worked in France for over 3 years and has extensive experience in online marketing and event management.
Co-working is relatively new in France. The Jelly umbrella brings together any number of co-working event groups in France to share information and related opportunities.
WoW likes good information and came across this recently from EUROSTAT
Regional GDP per inhabitant in GDP per inhabitant ranged from 28% of the EU27 average in Severozapaden in Bulgaria to 343% in Inner London
In 2008, GDP per inhabitant, expressed in terms of purchasing power standards, in the EU27's 27 regions ranged from 28% of the EU27 average in the region of Severozapaden in Bulgaria, to 343% of the average in Inner London in the United Kingdom.
This information is taken from data released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
Eight capital regions in the ten first places
The leading regions in the ranking of regional GDP per inhabitant in 2008 were
Inner London U K (343% of the average),
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (279%),
Groningen in the Netherlands (198%),
Hamburg in Germany (188%)
Praha in the Czech Republic (172%).
One in four regions below 75% including 2 in the UK
West Wales 71%
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly 75%
UK overall has GDP per person of 115% or 15% above the EU average
In France the figure is 107% or 7% above the EU average
In regional terms Languedoc Roussillon scores 84% of the average – the lowest in mainland France
The outré mer are down at 65%
WoW is obliged to Adrian for this fact -
After 823 years, July 2011 is special.
This year July has 5 Fridays 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays.
This apparently happens once every 823 years.
"not a lot of people know that"
Gas extraction from shale - gets go-ahead then halted - this might explain the reason for the pause - a WoW correspondent writes
Four evenings ago I received a Forward mail from a French friend – a long page with links to various website articles and a video download link to an American documentary called ‘Gasland’. The objective of this mail was to warn us that the French government had given the green light for some exploratory natural gas wells to be drilled using a process called hydraulic fracturing. The warning included phrases like: danger to our water systems, our health. I read it and linked to the links. Adjectives won’t describe adequately my feelings – but my reaction is: How can this be happening in France – when evidence coming from the US is that this process has terrible consequences?
I’d like to share 3 links with you – take a look and then sign the petition for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in France, if you would like.
The first link is to a PBS (Public Broadcasting System) program interviewing Josh Fox (who made the film “Gasland”).
The second is a very recent article published by a Stanford researcher on why and how we can become energy independent using the alternative energy resource technology we already have in 20-30years (you may have to do copy/paste to make this work) and the last is the online petition.
IN THE NEXT EDITION of THE CONNEXION
France to tax UK pension lump sums:
France is to begin taxing UK pension lump sum payments that are considered tax-free in the UK. The French government, whose previous ambiguous stance on the issue led to different interpretations by tax offices around the country, has declared in law that such payments are to be treated as income and taxed as such.
London-Pau route is secure says boss
FLIGHTS between London and Pau will continue, despite a growing row with Ryanair over airline subsidies. The head of the chambre de commerce et d'industrie, which runs the airport at Pau, Patrick de Stampa confirmed that, from April 1, CityJet would be starting a route between the town and London City Airport. The CCI has announced that it will not pay the increase in airline marketing fees demanded by Ryanair and said the decision to continue flying its routes from the airport now rested with the airline.
Teacher punished for Cairo casse-toi sign
A TEACHER at a French lycée in Cairo has been repatriated after he was filmed brandishing a “Casse toi, pauvre con” sign during recent protests.
Although his wife and children live in Egypt, the man, officially a French civil servant, was repatriated to France by the Foreign Ministry and banned from exercising his office abroad. Newspaper 20 Minutes said: "The severity of the punishment appears excessive just at a time when the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary are both engulfed in rows over their holidays in Egypt and Tunisia.
Shock environment posters banned from metro
A SHOCK environmental poster campaign has been banned from the Paris Metro. The public transport authority RATP said the posters, which depicated algae on Brittany beaches, accused bio meat producers of lying and attacked GM crops violated its postition as a 'neutral public authority'. The posters, designed to catch the attention of visitors to the Salon d'Agriculture, have been attacked by farmers, the agriculture minister and the region of Brittany.
Other stories this week
€500m to stop the next Xynthia flood
Sarkozy wants law to rein in Islam
Diplomatic row erupts with Mexico
French economy is still sluggish
Speed radar felled by chainsaw
Bruni song leak sparks probe
French top the world work lunch league
SIXTY per cent of French workers simply could not conceive of not leaving the office for a proper lunchbreak, a worldwide workplace survey reports. A total of 17,967 workers in North America, Europe (1,690 French) and Asia were asked about their working habits, by the employment group Monster. While 30 per cent of Americans and 25 per cent of Canadians admitted eating a sandwich in front of their computer, only 12 per cent of French did the same. However since a similar survey in 2007 found that only four per cent of French did not take a lunch break, that number has risen to six per cent, prompting fears that the habit of working through lunch could be crossing the Atlantic.
Feb 18-Mar 8 Nice Carnival
France’s biggest carnival takes place in Nice, featuring extravagant floats and the traditional “Flower Battles”. Down the road at Menton, they have a lemon-themed version, the Fête du Citron.
Feb 18-27 Mimosa Festival
Several Provençal towns celebrate the yellow mimosa flowers around now, an early herald of spring. The one in Mandelieu-la-Napoule includes floral floats, dancing, singing and theatre.
Agriculture show, Paris
The Salon de l’Agriculture is an annual institution, with the best animal specimens and delicacies from around the country on display. Paris Expo-Porte de Versailles
Feb 24-Mar 5 Contemporary dance, Avignon
Venues in and around Avignon host dance shows during Les Hivernales. This year has an American theme.
What else is on...
A PARTY to mark an exhibition of latex photography is taking place on February 19 at a venue near Monaco.
Trade fair in the Limousin
AN ENGLISH-speaking trade fair is being organised in the Limousin. Event specialists Angel Traders say the fairs, which take place around France, are a good opportunity for businesses to meet potential customers and for expats to socialise. The event takes place at the Golf de Saint-Junien resort, near Saint-Junien, Haute-Vienne on Saturday February 26 from 10.00 until 16.00. Free entry for visitors, prices for stalls are €150. For more information visit www.angeltraders.net
WANTED URGENTLY - BASS SINGERS FOR CHORALE « APPASSIONATA »
REHEARSALS ON TUESDAY EVENINGS AT 19h45 IN THE SALLE DES FÊTES, BASSAN
CONTACT : RHONA GOUJON
04 67 36 05 83
Yet another pic from our friends at LA Art -
Lots more goodies on their website www.lheraultart.com
This is a bit of a way off subject for WoW but then again.........................
PETITION TO “SAVE Englands forests
Over the next few weeks of the Government's consultation
the Woodland Trust will continue to bring you opportunities
to shape the long-term future of England's public estate
This petition is just the start of our public campaign.
Our website will always have the latest news and ways you
can get involved in saving England's ancient forests.
What we really need now is help to gather as many voices as possible
for this call to action. Please pass on the link below to
your friends and ask them to make their voice heard too.
The Woodland Trust
There is a lot of rubbish sent round but this one really tickled the WoW team.
Question is - what will the atrium at WoW corporate headquarters look like if we get rid of the escalator?
It is hardly modern art so what is this pipe in the vineyard by the Caux turning onto the Pezenas - Roujan road?
Oddly it is all that remains from an attempt to find oil in 1948. But instead of oil they found a much more eco-energy source - hot water.
800 meters deep the well gushes - there is no pump - water at 38oC around blood temperature and it doesn't get wasted but heats the Pezenas swimming pool. Not that you swim in the water - it goes through a heat exchanger otherwise the water could not be kept clean. It produces 50m3 an hour and on cold days you might have seen some of the street drains issuing steam a little like New York.
You can use the municipal pool in the summer but you must join the Swimming Club to use it in winter. Forms from the pool office. All levels catered for including Aqua-gym 4 days a week.
WoW thinks it might be something to do with the areas volcanic past - but a reader or two will put that right!
Another pic from our friends at LA Art - intriguing isn't it?
WoW sales work
It works to have a small ad on WoW - and it is free.
See a recent email
This is just to say thank you. I thought you'd like to know that someone is coming to buy my table today because you very kindly placed my furniture sale details on WOW. You are making a difference!
many thanks to you
Click - Buying, Selling and Services button in the left hand column.
If you have a service to offer or something to sell or to buy - write to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put up a free advert for you.
Thanks for another funny to LA Art
In the next edition
Do doctors prescribe too many drugs?
DOCTORS are over-prescribing antibiotics, a watchdog investigation has discovered.
Consumer group UFC-Que Choisir found 52 per cent of doctors automatically prescribed antibiotics for medical cases that did not merit them.
The study found most patients left with two to three types of medicine they did not necessarily need and confirmed France's place as one of Europe's highest users of antibiotics.
Half of France commits piracy online
NEARLY half of people in France download film and music illegally, according to a study by the anti-internet piracy body, Hadopi.
The study found that only one third of users were prepared to change and migrate to legal sites.
Among the reasons given are the length of time it takes American series to reach France, the ability to watch foreign films that would not normally be available in France and the lack of availability on legal networks.
Other stories this week
SNCF says strikes cause late trains
Fillon speaks out against euthanasia
Wealth tax raises more than expected
Anti-abortion demo draws thousands
English from age three in schools
600 wind turbines for NW coastline
Sarkozy Facebook page is hacked
Martyn Turner of the Irish Times on the shootings in Arizona
NEW FEATURE ++ NEW FEATURE ++ NEW FEATURE ++ NEW FEATURE ++ NEW FEATURE
WoW receives good ideas and information from readers and up to now they have been on this page but we thought the ideas so good that they deserved their own page - to view the ideas and a quiz or two - click on "useful stuff" button at the bottom on the left.
Be a good neighbour and send in your ideas or tips to - email@example.com
Thanks in advance
After WoW published new words from the Washington Post - we have had a Gallic response from someone who signs themself - Wowfanatix
Here is a list of Asterix’s new friends…….
British Government – Inafix
British Government - Torylibsnevermix
Football hooligan/medical student – Stickitupyourcoccyx
French President – Titchyboxatrix
All French teenagers driving noise-polluting motorbikes – Nobraincocksuresmartalix
All teenagers - Histrionix
Un-French health freak – Loadsabranandweetabix
Hypochondriac – Gimmesomeantibiotix
Ex-pat journalist and WoW website controller – Robinix
Pleasure-loving person - Justforkix
Page 3 ‘models’ - Cheekychicksinnaughtypix
Tony Blair – Slimysmileylackofethix
Nick Clegg – Sycophantix
Ex-pat pensioners living in the Hérault – Hedonistix
Prince William and Kate Middleton – Hopelessromantix
Jilly Cooper - Jollihockistix
Disobedient child – Immaturantix
Rochdale – Outinthestix
Overweight person – Toomanymarsandtwix
Underdressed female – Onlybrasandnix
Underdressed male - Justinvestandnonix
Gordon Brown – Antikarismatix
Premier League footballers – Aloadathix
Civil Servant - Pedantix
Bruce Forsyth – Geriatrix
Devotee of our favourite website – Wowfanatix
A New Year wish from Paris
L.A. and WoW are pleased to announce the first
The competition is open to all photographers and is split into categories with two sub categories.
1. Adult (18 years +)
Open to all adult photographers this competition has two themes.
Local - Any image that has a theme localised to where you live the interpretation is up to the you.
Digital - Any image that has been re-touched or manipulated by you.
2. Under 18
Local - Any image that is local to where you live and the interpretation is up to you.
Portrait - Unusual portrait photography.
The winner in each category will win a
Canon Digital SLR Camera EOS 1000D with lens
Each of the runners up will win a
Canon Ixus 105 Compact digital Camera
ENTER NOW - FOR FULL DETAILS go to - www.lheraultart.com
WoW urges readers to make a New Year resolution to write up a favourite eating place - nothing too flash - pichet wines appreciated.
Please think of this as a public service - so please share some good places with others
We are very light on good and reliable places in
Lodeve and Beziers
Send your contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org
PS you will not win anything but it is a good excuse to have a good meal!
WoW is indebted to Roger for this collection of fortifying words for the New Year
Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative meanings for common words.
The winners are:
1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9.. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's winners:
1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit).
9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
10. Decafalon (n.): The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.
16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an arsehole..
These are all regulated from Paris - centralised state or what?
IF you are looking for a bit of a bargain the date for the start of the winter sales across France has been announced.
The sales run for a maximum of five weeks and this time around begin on Wednesday, January 12 starting at 8am.
One from the WoW Chief Photographer - OK - we know he can't focus.
When he mentioned the name - with a little surprise it has to be said - he was told
"the results are miraculous"!
Can't argue with that can you?
WoW is lucky to have recruited a new Economics Correspondent - which might be very important to us all
Here he deals with a scheme, which has hitherto baffled the newsroom and the old Correspondent, who has sadly had the receivers in. A minor issue - so very like Cap'n Bob then.
"Sometime this year," he writes - we taxpayers will again receive another 'Economic Stimulus' payment.
This is indeed a very exciting program, and I'll explain it by using a Q & A format:
Q. What is an 'Economic Stimulus' payment ?
A. It is money that the government will send to taxpayers.
Q.. Where will the government get this money ?
A. From taxpayers.
Q. So the government is giving me back my own money ?
A. Only a smidgen of it.
Q. What is the purpose of this payment ?
A. The plan is for you to use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set, thus stimulating the economy.
Q. But isn't that stimulating the economy of China ?
A. Shut up.
Below is some helpful advice on how to best help the U.K. economy by spending your stimulus cheque wisely:
* If you spend the stimulus money at Asda or Tesco, the money will go to China, Taiwan or Sri Lanka .
* If you spend it on petrol, your money will go to the Arabs.
* If you purchase a computer, it will go to India, Taiwan or China .
* If you purchase fruit and vegetables, it will go to Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala ..
* If you buy an efficient car, it will go to Japan or Korea .
* If you purchase useless stuff, it will go to Taiwan .
* If you pay your credit cards off, or buy shares, it will go to management bonuses and they will hide it offshore.
Instead, keep the money in the UK by:
1) Spending it at car boot sales, or
2) Going to night clubs, or
3) Spending it on prostitutes, or
4) Beer or whisky or
(These are the only UK businesses still operating in the U.K. )
Be patriotic - go to a night club with a tattooed prostitute that you met at a car boot sale and drink beer day and night !
No need to thank me, I'm just glad I could be of help.
(I think he should get a rise, if only the finance director had not taken the cheque book with him)
Thanks for this!
And a WoW greeting - you have to click on this!
Vicky - President of FOAL "friends of the American Library" in Montpellier sent this - altogether better shot and lovely to watch
CURRENCY CONVERTOR AND WEATHER LIVE NOW - CLICK €/£ (PAGE 3)
WoW on AIR - listen to the weekly What's On - see/hear last page
Good luck and enjoy WoW and l'Herault - in the heart of the "real" South of France
Try this site - it lists average income in each town/ville and much more besides.
Thanks for sending this in
WoW cannot help but boast!
We received this email sent to WoW corporate HQ on Saturday 13th
"I am writing to inform you that your website has received an Expat
Focus Recommended Website Award."
"This is a relatively new initiative at Expat Focus and is intended to
bring the very best expatriate websites to the attention of our
Websites are selected based on various criteria, the most
important being that they are genuinely useful to anyone moving or
A link to your website, positioned next to the award logo, can be
WoW says - I haven't had time to prepare a proper acceptance speech but......
I would like to thank;- my wonderful family, the dog, our gardener, my valet Kevin, the loyal and dedicated staff of WoW corporate for there (cheers? or jeers and cat calls resound in the newly decorated Atrium at our Corporate Hovel - and some words I cannot quite catch - which I am sure are well meaning.....)
But - Hark - I did hear "Sit down OLD MAN"
So I will!
But just time to say thanks to expatfocus!
Another splendid image from our partners in the Consortium Culturel
Peter, WoWs new poetry editor - ponders and worries (we worry about you Peter)about this so-called nursery rhyme.
Jack and Jill Went up the hill
This starts quite well – not enough people take exercise these days and a brisk walk uphill does wonders for the cardiovascular system, not to mention giving a boost to appetite for a balanced meal afterwards – a fine example to us all. In fact, studies carried out by independent scientists show that those who take regular exercise are 30% less likely to have accidents, are likely to have increased life-expectancy and considerably less likely to take sick-leave during
their working lives.
To fetch a pail of water,
Now it makes less sense – was there some sort of well or spring up the hill? Why didn't they go down hill to, for example, a river. The problem could, of course, be Jill who's name was chosen, quite clearly to rhyme with hill. Had Jack been going out with e.g. Jane, not only could they have simply have gone down a lane, but could also have
avoided the following:
Jack fell down
Ah, but did he really? - did he fall, was he pushed, or was he just plain suicidal? And what do we know about the characters other than the fact that one or both was thirsty? This is, after all, a nursery rhyme and, in the absence of any other hidden message, it could be a cautionary tale about the folly of pushing bucket-carrying people over, on inclined surfaces.
And broke his crown
Is this really credible given that only two lines later he gets up again? I think not! The problem, again was in finding part of the anatomy that has only one syllable and rhymed with down.
And Jill came tumbling after
So, was this a lemming thing or did she just want to share the experience. Does the Health and Safety at Work Act not apply to slippery hills. Were the HSE just sitting on their hands and where were the emergency services in this stupid scenario? More to the point; what had Jack and Jill been smoking?
Up Jack got
So there we are, it's a miracle. Seriously, what are the chances of someone breaking his crown (or anything else that rhymes with down) and getting up two lines later. Frankly, I think he was malingering and just going for the sympathy vote. Alternatively, perhaps in encouraging Jill to come tumbling after, he hoped that she would land on something that rhymed with rock. Is this story intended, seriously, for young children or others of nervous disposition? How did it get past the sensors?
And home did trot
Now this just gets worse. Three lines ago he was terminally ill with, no doubt, internal bleeding and certainly brain damage; and now we are expected to believe that he's up for a quick sprint. No wonder children learn nothing in nursery.
As fast as he could caper
What was all the rush? Had he learned nothing from his fall. If you run down hill and you've already fallen once, it's probably because the ground is slippery and you will end up doing worse. Personally, I think he was just trying to get away from Jill who had buck-teeth, was compellingly ugly and boring. He'd only taken her up the hill as a favour to a friend and in the vain hope that she'd carry the bucket.
Went to bed
With whom? Without drinking? Was he completely mad? There was probably no room in this rhyme to explain that before going to bed he called his GP and was given an appointment for three weeks later, but on arrival at the surgery he was turned away because of a strike by support staff.
To mend his head
With vinegar and brown paper.
This beggars belief and reflects that fact that there is no sportive verb that vaguely rhymes with ibuprofin. What psychological support did he get afterwards? Would he ever play the violin again? Does anyone really care?
WoW thinks you should get out more - but then - What does WoW know eh?
WoW has been furnishing the atrium of the new corporate headquarters - not really true but is sounds good!
As the new leading expert on IKEA in Montpellier WoW wishes to offer some advice.
If you want deliveries be sure to get a price. WoW was offered a normal delivery and an EXPRESS service
NOW THIS IS TRUE - SO SIT UP AT THE BACK
We asked the prices and standard delivery was quoted to be €190 whilst EXPRESS was only €79.
Odd, weird, wonderful, surprising - call it what you will but the cheaper option, EXPRESS was cheaper and the goods were delivered the next day.
Can anyone explain this strange pricing system - if you can post on the Forum site.
Martyn Turner looks a the French retirement issue - from Dublin - for the Irish Times
Jeff Danziger - wonderful cartoon via Martyn Turner
Pigeons beat Rural broadband in UK trial
In urban areas, broadband cleanly wins, but rural areas are a different story
Broadband is the most modern of communication means, while carrier pigeons date back to Roman times.
But on Thursday, a race between the two highlighted the low speeds of rural broadband in the UK; the pigeon won.
Ten USB key-laden pigeons were released from a Yorkshire farm at the same time a five-minute video upload was begun.
An hour and a quarter later, the pigeons had reached their destination in Skegness 120km away, while only 24% of a 300MB file had uploaded.
Campaigners say the stunt was being carried out to illustrate that broadband in some parts of the UK is still "not fit for purpose".
It is not the first time that such a race has taken place. Last year a similar experiment in Durban, South Africa saw Winston the pigeon take two hours to finish a 96km journey. In the same time just 4% of a 4GB file had downloaded.
The pigeons are expected to complete a 120km journey to Skegness in around two hours, but Tref Davies, who is organising the stunt to give publicity to the campaign for better rural broadband, said the broadband connection will take significantly longer to tranfer the 300MB file.
This French Life reports you can now have food sent from the UK via Amazon
Check the links below
Courtesy of Martyn Turner and the Irish Times
From Steve of Aude and Ariege Flyer
How to open a bottle of wine if you have forgotten or lost your corkscrew
A good idea sent in by Joy!
We hope it will never happen but in case of emergency, an idea which could prove to be of immense help .....
We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its memory but nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our closest family or friends.
If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn't know who to call. Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? Hence this "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) Campaign
The concept of "ICE" is catching on quickly. It is a method of contact during emergency situations. As cell phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name "ICE" ( In Case Of Emergency).
The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn't know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose. In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as "ICE."
For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc.
ICE will speak for you when you are not able to speak for yourself
New to WoW a website which might save you money and a lot of frustration.
An increasing number of companies have moved to 0870 numbers - and they can cost a lot to ring. There are also some which simply dont want to work when you ring from France - so check out this odd looking but useful site.
The site lists many well known companies, and their equivalent geographical numbers.
Alternatives listed for 0500, 0800, 0808, 0844, 0845, 0870 and 0871 numbers.
And thanks to Graham, who posted this on Forum - another service
"I'm surprised there isn't more mention of www.telerabais.fr
that allows UK (and other pays) calls at a local Orange (France Telecom) rate although 0845 calls are 15c a minute (haven't tried the likes of 0870). OK it's a pain as your first have to call a 10 digit number before 0044 then the rest of the UK number but I've got used to it. The service presumably uses cheap bandwith as very occasionally there's a glitch and one needs to redial."
Fun French test - how good is your knowlege of France - www.viamichelin.fr/viamichelin/fra/htm/div/quizz/france/quizz.htm
Thanks John Higginson for this
Following viamichelin's 'geoquiz' on French towns and villages, you may want to advertise other similar games to extend WoW readers' knowledge of French departments, cheeses, rivers and more. European towns and cities stymied me I can tell you! Can you locate Slovakia, Lithuania, Poland, Albania quickly? They're all on www.jeux-geographiques.com
And another test - how well do you know your French Highway Code?
A test you can take sent by Chris Woodhouse
Click here to download this file
Fragrance Plug-Ins can cause fires
Received from someone in the property insurance business. It is well worth reading.
The original message was written by couple whose house burnt down.. nothing left but ashes
The investigator said the cause of the fire was the plug-in type room fresheners, said they caused more fires than than anything else.
The plastic they are made from is THIN so that in every case there is nothing left to prove that it even existed.
When the investigator looked in the wall plug, the two prongs left from the plug-in were still in there.
The victims had one of the plug-ins that have a small night light built in it.
She said she had noticed the light would dim and then finally but after a few hours the light would be back on again. The investigator said that the unit was getting too hot, and would dim and go out rather than just blow the light bulb.
Once it cooled down it would come back on. That is a warning sign.
The investigator said he personally wouldn't have any type of plug in fragrance device anywhere in his house. He has seen too many places that have been burned down due to them.
WoW wonders if those plugs which heat up insecticides might also be dangerous
Martyn Turner - some time resident of Pouzolles - is political cartoonist for the Irish Times - see his latest on security leakes in the US military
CASSAN - An artistic rendering treatment of the project is done.
The main work which is starting soon is building the Hotel in Gabian.
WoW is supported by Beziers Cap D'Agde Airport - gateway to the heart of the "Real" South of France
LONDON - the Hayward re-opens - "The New Decor" - just included because...........
The youth of today - thanks for this Diana
You can trust LA Art to chose an image to make you smile - thanks Kevin
Partners with WoW
Thanks to Steve of the Aude and Ariege Flyer for this.
From our colleagues in Languedoc Art - part of the Consortium Culturel
RADIO PAYS HERAULT WEEKLY UPDATE IN ENGLISH - 5 - 10 minutes each week
FRIDAY evening 18.40 & SATURDAY morning 8.15
Frequencies are - work within a 30 km radius of
PEZENAS 89 FM
LODEVE 96.7 FM
CLERMONT L'HERAULT 102.9 FM
Learn more at www.rphfm.org
Corum MONTPELLIER - See if you can find the plaque noting the contributions to build this fine centre and note George Freche getting the last word – and not for the last time!
Hard to read but what is shows is the amount given by various towns etc and it notes with no comment ZERO against the Region naming the president at the time. Nice one George - bet M. Blanc is proud!
WoW has media partnerships with
FREE TICKETS for concerts and events.
Take part by emailing email@example.com with the date of the concert in the subject bar.
See the concerts planned at www.clermont-herault-concerts.fr
WoW is also a media partner with the Theatre in Clermont l'Herault
2 FREE tickets to readers for each performance. Simply email WoW - firstname.lastname@example.org with the date of the performance and Theatre in the subject bar.
How to get here by plane look at;-
WoW is partnered with some very helpful sites for the area;-
- Very comprehensive and easy to use site
Links to principal Office de tourisms:-
ANGLO PHONE WEBSITES FOR THE AREA
- most of what you want to know about the region that is not on WoW!
- comprehensive regional information with houses for sale - easy to use.
A site for “Anglophones connecting in the Languedoc Roussillon”.
- huge content about pretty well everything!
- also publish a local regional magazine in English for the Languedoc
- wide ranging knowlege source with weekly updates if you join the newsletter
Other sites designed with information on the area
- Local Pezenas magazine
For a personal house finding service and no wasted visits - contact Patrick via his website - www.primelanguedoc.com
Leading estate agents in the Languedoc Herault area - WoW recommended
- mainly villages around Pezenas
- more around Beziers
Consortium Culturel - working to promote the Arts in l'Herault
Working together to welcome 3.5 million Anglophones to the "Real South of France" each year
And for readers closer to Spain - Try Anglophone direct