All posts by brackensgroggy

Eejit

I use this word a lot.  Especially with my kids. It is Irish slang for idiot, but is meant in an affectionate way.  People tend to call you an eejit and cuff you over the ear.

Most people I know are eejits in one way or another; we ALL have our own particular eejitin’ ways.  Once must embrace that part of one’s soul otherwise one becomes uptight and obnoxious.

My kids who are half Irish/French have learnt the following exchange by heart:

Me:    Where’s your togs?  (togs = swimsuit, might be another Irish word, tbc)

Child:  I dunno

Me:    Did you look for them?

Child: Like – everywhere

Me:     Really?  Absolutely everywhere?

Child:  Gallic shrug, makes huge innocent eyes that somehow seem to rotate around the side of their head

(We both toddle off to their bedroom)

(Togs on floor beside bed / in their place in the wardrobe)

Me:      Seriously? They’re right there.  You didn’t look at all.  This happens every time!  What are ya?

Child  (and everybody else in the family): I’m an EEJIT!!

(cue much giggling and me giving child in question a number of light cuffs over the head, togs sail about the place as we do our best to lose them again)

Eating like a Frenchie

Himself brought home figs from the market yesterday and declared “they’re bloody in season so I says bloody heck I’m gonna buy some”.

The French have this thing they call “manger de saison“.  It means only eating fruit and veg that is in season.  It’s not very revolutionary and up until globalisation everybody had to do it.  But what is interesting is that the French, stubborn and headstrong as they are the wee devils, insist on continuing the tradition.  And it’s not even a hipster thing.

So why the culinary grit?  Apart from their adorable stubborn streak they reckon it tastes better, is more aligned with your nutritional needs, is less processed, costs less, has less carbon footprint and so on.  And after much navel gazing and not much scientific proof I reckon they’re right.

Having said that I can’t keep track of it because there are so many fruit and vegetables and I am admittedly a bit monomaniac when it comes to spuds.  But French kids learn it as they grow up and it becomes a part of their DNA.  Pardon the pun.

As an Irish girlie growing up in the eighties my main memory of figs growing up were fig rolls.  I used to love discovering them in my lunchbox at school.  Imagine my surprise when I saw what a real fig looks like.  Sorry Mum maybe you gave me real figs and I don’t remember.  Although I suspect you don’t give a fig.  Giggle.

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So here’s the deal if you want to eat fruit like a Frenchie!

un-calendrier-pour-manger-local-en-respectant-les-saisons
I think I am going to print this in an effort to learn it

 

 

 

Little Lady and the Rude Dude

We live in an old glove factory below la Bastille in Grenoble.  It is as nice as it sounds and I thank my lucky stars every day that we ended up here.  Our landlord owns the building and is the descendant of the guy who invented the iron hand, Xavier Jouvin.  I am not sure how many greats there are before the grandson.

The building has an eclectic bunch of people living and working in it.  There are lots of offices full of architects, museum management, and a couple of young companies and associations.  Also a really lovely couple who I go all wibbly over every time i meet because they are so cool.

Anyhoozle the other evening we went to a little get together organised in the garden of the building.  It is organized once a year and last year we missed it.  We like our neighbours and our landlord and we thought that sharing a few beers and wine together in the balmy September sun would be spiffing.  Also, every morning we cross paths with the people who have offices here so we thought it would be nice to meet them properly.

Last but not least we had the kids and we knew they would love going down to the garden and drinking sirop until their eyes popped out of their heads.

So on Tuesday evening after a long day’s work I went and did the 14 km round trip on my magic bike to collect my son from school, then we both went into town and picked up the necessary to do some baked goodies.  Himself was off duty on Tuesday night as per usual so me and the three kiddie winkles set to filling the kitchen with baking smells and we had great crack inventing goodies to bring to the party.

Kids love that crack and they anticipate everybody enjoying their baked wares as much as any self respecting housewife or husband.  Speaking of which…

The next evening we dusted ourselves off at the appointed hour and headed down to the garden.   It is a walled affair and the words “the secret garden” pop into my head every time I look down at it.  A little piece of heaven in the centre of town.

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As with most soirees, it was a wee bit awkward at the beginning because we had to introduce ourselves and, well, talk to people.  But we sucked it up and did quite well all things considered.

We met loads of lovely people.  And I mean lovely.  Good crack they were and brought good food they did.  Also they were swilling away nervously just as much as we were.

However, at one point a tall older gentleman bore down upon us and introduced himself to Vincent and asked him loads of questions about where he worked and what did he do.  Then he proceeded to tell Vincent all about what he did, i.e. director of this museum and that one and very important with his puffing cheeks and belly he was.

I was standing between them and as they are both tall individuals their words literally sailed over my head.  As the minutes passed Vincent grinned at me a few times awkwardly as he knows what I am like, that is to say the devil incarnate when it comes to equality.  Puff daddy on the other hand blissfully ignored me completely, not even any eye contact.  I thought perhaps he would get around to addressing a few polite phrases at me at the end of his conversation with Vincent.  I was ready for it, and I was even prepping myself to answer politely and not rock the boat with our new friends.  Tolerance and all that.

Turns out he wasn’t having any truck with that.  So at the end of their little manno a manno and during the post dialogue lull where everyone is very happy with themselves but nobody knows what to say next I said, yes, well I work at the same place as Vincent.  And yon buffoon actually blustered backed at me “Oh, you mean, you aren’t at home with the children?”.

His reasoning was that we hadn’t crossed paths every morning or something equally vague.  So I informed him politely that we crossed paths very regularly in fact. I also felt like covering my daughter’s ears over just in case he uttered any other inane phrases.

But okay I guess he is more interested in handsome men or whatever. I can’t blame him, Vincent is gorgeous in my opinion.  Probably also in the opinion of the young lady who sidled over to introduce herself to him (and only him) with a winning smile.  At one point, I kid you not,  we were caught in the middle of the pair of them both making eyes at Vincent.  I was the invisible woman.  And I was wearing this dress…

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It didn’t matter to me whether he thought I was working at home or not. It was the fact that somehow that gave him the right to talk over my head and ignore me that really pissed me off.

Then, the fact that he made wild assumptions about me was just another step in the wrong direction.  Also he seemed mildly surprised that I even piped up.  He did that roll-back-on-your-heels-puff-your-big-belly-out-raise-your-puffy-grey-eyebrows-up thing that only certain bigger bellied older men can pull off.

Luckily I have never ever been treated like that in work.  Fifteen years working with roughly ninety percent male engineering community and never so much as a tweet.  My colleagues would never be so rude.  Ironic that a dude who is supposed to be teaching the community about history and general culture should be so narrow-minded.

Conclusion?  Puff Daddy shall hereby be referred to as such. And respect to the geeks!!

 

 

 

 

Er, where am I?

At the moment I am in a crossroads in my life.  I am wondering what to do next.  I have spent the last fifteen years working full tilt in a fairly stressful technology job and have done some very interesting projects and worked with some incredible people.  Some of them probably minor geniuses.  However, recently I have started to wonder whether I still enjoy what I do.  It is probably some sort of mid-life-crisis.

I already had a similar moment when I was about twenty two and that is how I ended up in France.  When people would hear that I was going to France I would typically have this type of conversation:

  • Do you know how to speak French?
  • me: not really
  • Do you have somewhere to live?
  • me: no
  • Do you have a job?
  • me: no
  • What de fack are you doing?
  • me: well I would like to learn French and live in France for a while, logically I should go there to do that right?
  • depending on the person I would generally be greeted by an understanding grin or pure horror
  • if they pushed I would admit that I didn’t want to regret not coming here

Logical thinking got me to where I am today.  That may be my opinion of what logical thinking is but it made total sense to me at the time.  I threw myself into learning French while working in France and ended up staying here.  The story is complicated and there were a few broken hearts along the way (mine included) but that story is for another time, or maybe never.  Anyway, six months later I was speaking French fairly fluently and fifteen years later I was enjoying a nice career.  I am living in Grenoble centre in the historical quarter in a jolie apartment with my partner and kids which we have on “garde alternee” (shared custody) and life has worked out pretty well.

However workwise nowadays things are less simple and make less sense to me.  I have been “la tete dans le guidon” for the past ten years.  That means going full tilt in the same direction  and not seeing the wood for the trees.  And in my case progressively getting grumpier.

So anyway in the midst of all this mental turmoil and self interrogation, one  morning a few weeks ago I got off the tram where I work at the technology campus here in Grenoble.  A man came up to me and asked me “Is this Alsace-Lorraine?” and held up a wee piece of white paper.  He was looking a bit desperate.

I thought to myself, This dude is very lost! And I had a squint at his paper.

Somebody had written really clearly that he was supposed to go in the direction “Presque-Ile” and stop at “Alsace-Lorraine”, one of the tram stops in the centre of town.  So I took him to the other side of the tram line and explained that he had to go back into town and showed him on the map where he had to go.  I didn’t mind taking the time because he was extremely polite and had that wide-eyed look of complete desperation.

As we bade each other farewell, he said thank you so very very much I’ve never used the tram before.  Continue reading Er, where am I?

Why are French women so slim?

I keep getting Vogue articles on my Facebook feed with this title and it is doing my head in.   I don’t think that we should be fed this kind of blether by our anti-social media.  Anyhow, in this article I would like to reveal a few rules that they live by which seem to give them a very positive attitude to food.

And a positive attitude to food helps towards having a positive attitude to life n’est ce pas?

First of all, French women are not all so slim.  Any French woman will arch her beautiful eyebrows and tell you that.

I do sometimes have this conversation with my friends.  As normal lady people they are generally mystified by this particular stereotype.

So first things first:  French women are lovely and they do come in all shapes and sizes like in every other country in the world.  There might be statistically more slim people in France than elsewhere but lets say that having lived here for the past fifteen years I think it is a stereotype – a bit like all Irish people are leprechauns.

Although it is true that we all believe in fairies.  Or at least I do.  Moving on.

However I think that generally speaking the French only half realise it but they have lots of rules.  And as long as they stick to those rules they generally don’t worry too much.  The rules are as wide as your average French boulevard and allow lots of fun and everybody sticks to them, so they seem to work.

Eight key ones just in case you are curious. Continue reading Why are French women so slim?

Floods and Acting the Eejit

Faire le Zouave.

Il fait le zouave = “that fella is acting the eejit” = “that young man is acting like an idiot”.

From Wikipedia: The Zouaves were a group of prestigious light infantry regiments linked to French North Africa between 1830 and 1962, as well as some units of other countries modelled upon them.

Apparently they were very disciplined soldiers up to the point they were a bit ridiculous.  As in, so they had so much discipline there was no brain activity encouraged and they ending up behaving like eejits.  So Zouave came to mean eejit.

We have major floods in France at the moment.  There was a big problem this week where the Seine river level rose quite dramatically in Paris and the authorities didn’t realise in time.  Reason being that the various sensors installed on the river were blocked with branches and the like so the readings for river level increase rate weren’t very accurate.

Hence the levels rose very quickly and people weren’t expecting it and unfortunately weren’t very well prepared.  Cue lots of danger, wet furniture and teeth gnashing.  And experts navel gazing on the news saying things like “oui et bien we rely too much on technology, all anybody had to do was check the level against le Zouave”.

So as we were laying around in front of television yester evening your’s truly said to one’s darling significant other “what on earth is that Suaaave thing?”.  He patiently explained that one of the traditional ways of keeping an eye on river level in Paris is to use the Zouave.  Le Zouave being a statue on le Pont d’Alma on the Seine river in Paris.

The poor divil’s feet, knees and face are key indicators of which Parisien public transport systems are currently affected by the floods.

  • If his feet are covered, the “voie sur berges” are closed.  (Le voie sur berges is a road which runs just above water level right beside the river and would generally be a short-cut).
  • If his knees are covered, it means that no boats are allowed on the river.
  • The metro is flooded when his face is covered.

Note: I am not sure if that is completely accurate – he was raised by about thirty centimetres when they rebuilt the bridge in 1970 and descriptions vary alot on the internet.  But you get the idea.

If statues could talk he’d probably have a lot to say.  Including sensors are for eejits.  Put a sensor on my ass he’d probably say.  And then he’d say glug glug glug.

So in reading about it in French newspapers, I came across a portentous article in le Figaro written in March this year investigating the probability of doom and Armageddon in the form of the flood of the century (figaro article).  If you are interested in knowing why French farmers are fishing for salad then read on (sorry, clickbait ahoy me hearties!). Continue reading Floods and Acting the Eejit