Monday, December 19, 2005

Sitting in the Fire with Angels

So there you are, that's that then. That's what we say at home when we finish something. Almost as if we are saying, here, take it it's finished. A year ago I left the 5 bedroom house of my ex of 5 months (finally) and moved into a very small studio in the centre of Nice, in Provence Alpes Cote D'Azur, France.
I was in turmoil, confused, hurt, betrayed alone and weighed 59kgs. Now if you have been following at all, (I mean if you are one of about 7 people who have read this blog), you will know that means I was 9st 2lbs or I was 128lbs. Let me put that in perspective, I am 180cm, or 6ft tall, give or take a very slim finger width.

In this past year I have questioned almost everything I have come to believe. Without reading back over whatever nonsense I may have written since last January, I can safely say that it was the ability to put something down on an electronic page and to get some semblance of feedback from people that kept me going.
This year of blogging gave me a reason to live beyond that of my son. Yes I know, how can I possibly compare the two? Well, let me explain. When a body earns about $400 a month and is deep in debt and eats very little and is occupied with getting around on a bike that is closer to dangerous than safe, and I see my only son for one weekend in two, and his mother abuses me and tells me I am a psycho, then well, let me put it this way, it was very easy to get down on myself and think that perhaps I was indeed a psycho, as I didn't understand what had happened. It was very easy to think I was a complete and utter failure who had a stupid dream of being in the movies and changing the world and writing a great screen play. That I was indeed just a plain dumb fuck who didn't have the right to live really and that my ex was correct to get rid of me and go with a local guy she had met while we were still together, that I never should have left Ireland. It was very very easy for me to think like that as I couldn't really communicate anyway in french, and so what the hell was I doing here anyway? It was very easy to think like this but I didn't allow myself the whole time, just when I was alone. When I was alone, sometimes I wrote.

Well that was then. I stayed because I didn't want my son thinking of me the way I was thinking in the above paragraph. I don't think he ever will now but at the time I didn't know it.

I pushed myself to stay and to find work and I found it hard and I am grateful it is over. I met the strangest people in my year of sitting in the fire. I made some friends too I think, but to be honest the most important thing I did was to sit in the blaze and feel the heat all around me and not to run away.

I would almost believe in Angels the way it has panned out since I started. I met a woman who I liked but we were so different it was unbelieveable. Over a cup of coffee we were great and at anything else we were absolutely crap. I met people I would have considered absolutely nuts in a previous life, I mean it. People who were paranoid in the extreme or in denial. Others (many) who were on the run from whatever life they had had back home, and were here to escape. There is one guy who couldn't manage to put a phrase together in any language. In English he stumbled and muttered and gave a nod and a wink and I could never figure out what he was on about. In French no one could figure out what he was on about. On the exterior at least he managed to give the air of someone confident and able and it was a very strange concoction to behold.
There was an Australian acrobat who was sexy, alcoholic and whackier than you could imagine, but still great fun. She went back home to the ex boyfriend and married him after a near nervous breakdown here.
There was the girl who grew up in Ireland whose father was french, a girl (same person) who was pretty, intelligent, sexy, and very angry, abusive and rude with absolutely no self confidence. She thought her 3 year old daughter had problems but she just didn't see that her child was spoiled rotten.
There was a guy from Nottingham who smoked too much dope, who I actually learned was quite cool. French Algerians who taught me a lot about how vastly different my culture, the French culture, and their own culture is. They would not make the distinction between their culture and the French one but I do.
The stunningly beautiful, fit, intelligent Russian woman who slept with every guy she ever met except me and apparently did it a lot with each one. Only by the time we should have been getting around to it, she was seeing a shrink to stop herself doing it. I wouldn't be surprised if she screwed with him too. Makes me smile really. I am very fond of her just as a person and it's a shame I don't get to see her now.

There was an Italian woman who was in love with a guy who had brought her from Italy to the Cote D'Azur and then run off to find himself. She was waiting for him to come back and was still in love. Her reaction was almost violent if I answered the phone when we were together, she had no other friends whatsoever. She once found a wallet on the street with money and a small muslim prayer book in it. She ripped up the prayer book as she hated the muslim world, dumped the rest of the contacts in the mailbox of the owner, money included, and kept the wallet for herself. I have completely lost contact with her and consider her fascinating but one of the darker minded people I have met in my life. I bet she is still waiting.

There was an Italian couple who became great friends, then she went to Germany and he stayed here and now there is now contact whatsoever.

The french couple who were the first friends I met here. Recently they split. The wife no longer returns my calls, the husband has become a little closer. He understands now some of what I went through even though their split was his idea. During the one real conversation I have had with my ex since we broke up, I asked her how our friend was dealing with it. She told me she had lost tonnes of weight, was taking it very badly, was really stressed out. I didn't say anything but felt like saying 'Oh you mean she is reacting exactly the same way I did?' I was just a tiny bit surprised my ex didn't get it, but then she has never been the type of person to be perceptive that way.

On the job level there were jobs that were interesting teaching wise and others that were just plain awful. Students who just didn't want to learn. A greasy little boy man, with effeminite gestures, an instense unsettling gaze, who was the laziest most unwilling student of a language I ever had the mispleasure to meet.
There was the woman from Morocco who would have married me and had my babies had I been of a mind to ask her but I wasn't. At the time I couldn't figure out why I wasn't. Now I know it's just because it was right not to be.
There was an interesting family of two little girls and a mother my age who used to be an art dealer and was now a bored housewife, the husband a dentist, 20 years her senior, who worked all day every day. They lived in opulence. I couldn't help thinking she was just waiting for him to die and she would restart her life.

Then there was Ken who got me onto blogging. In film script terms I guess he comes under the benign but crusty type. We will be eating our second Christmas dinner together.

There have been the 7 or so of you who have left comments, for that I thank you.

Finally I met the girl I am with at the moment and frankly and plainly speaking, because I know she is going to read this anyway, we both have a lot of work to do to make it work. However the really positive thing is, that even though we are hugely different, we are both intelligent and caring for each other, and so we are able to see the others view and listen and make those little adjustments that make a relationship work. We are good together and that in itself is good.

Quite soon after I got a job that paid me 5 times what I was earning and I started to put on weight. I am now 78kgs, or 12 stone and few pounds or 170 + pounds. I actually have a belly, a round belly. I can't believe it. I am healthy. I am happy.

I am very very lucky, and so I must have had an Angel, making me meet people, one after the other, each one a little more sane than the previous, each one pulling me back a little further from the brink of my own madness.

I celebrated Christmas yesterday with my girlfriend and my son and some other friends. It was the calmest most enjoyable and funfilled Christmas I have ever had. I spoiled my son rotten for a change because I could. I used to be totally against it, but just this once I don't want to play the policeman. He has discipline problems at school and communication between me and his mother is crap. So I try to tell him anyway he has to behave. Smart boys don't play when the teacher is talking they listen and learn.
For this post there is no moral. No sharp or witty summing up. It's an odd time of year that the West indulges in and never really learns from. I won't even go into the rant against the machine that this time of year has become. Just all of you whoever you are, have a great season, and I hope 2006 teaches you what you need and that the lesson is not too hard. If you even gave me the merest hint of smile when I needed it, thank you.

This post has been huge, has not done justice at all to my year of sitting in the fire, but at least it's an acknowledgement in the right direction. :)
So there you are, that's that then.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Has someone been lying?

So a military transport plane hits a block of flats and the block of flats is still standing? Now what happened if an ordinary transport plane hit a much bigger building. ? Can anyone explain?
I also want to know why I discover in the same week, that Syria apparently killed the Lebanese prime minister, a Lebanese student killed Israelis in Argentina 10 years ago and that the CIA have secret prisions?
Lastly I want to know why the CIA train these prisioners, dress them up in arab clothes and send them out to Attack westerners and even the USA. Kinda Dumb thing to do if anyone found out really. But no one could find out,....could they? I mean if they found out their faces might look a little like Ms Rice's face has looked lately , sick as a dog and very let down. See you can tell all the lies you like, you just can't hide you are hiding something.
So after my post about George smiling he stopped, is it too much to think that after my post about lying they will tell the truth. I live in hope.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Monster of Old Trafford

What the hell am I talking about? I am talking about a young man. A young man who left Ireland some 15 years ago or more. No it's not me, I am only out of there 2.5 years,(god is that all???).

This is a young man who grew up in an area steeped in Irish political history. He would have grown up with anti-british establishment sentiment. Pro IRA sentiment? Undoubtedly, but the type of which is not often spoken about.
This young man went to England like many before him to ply his trade and his skills, which were discovered in his native home. Perhaps he struggled with thoughts of Irish history and the fact he was now in England making a living. Surely this must have cost him some conflict at an emotional level. Like many others, his skills became honed around the streets and fields of England, the Empire, the mainland, or in other political colours , the oppressor, the colonial power, the cause of all our suffering and pain, and the unfair and racist.
What? The good ol UK racist? Ol Blighty unfair?
Well, yes!
True, by the 1980's they had gotten rid of the signs that read 'No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish' but unfortunately not the mentality.

I am sure the aforementioned IRA did not help rid the English minds of their preconceptions, but perhaps they(the English) could have asked more questions, before it got to the stage where people felt the need to use bombs to get a vote. It's not like an Irish man got out of bed one day and thought 'what will I do today? hmmn 10 pounds of semtex seems like a good idea, hmmm, now if only I had somewhere to plant it. Pity my neigbours are so nice. I'll just get rid of it' I am digressing and being facetious, sorry.

Into this world of hidden and un publicised prejudice the young Man entered and he was soon rated at the top of his game, first in his league, and perhaps, the best value for money in his sector. However, given that he was Irish, well, it worked against him a little.
Those sort of taunts that many people use in a semi affectionate way with their familiars, would not have been understood as a joke by our young footballer. In fact they probably spurred him on to do better than he would have normally done, in order to show his contemporaries that he was as good as they, he had as many bones in his backside, he could do just as well, and his being had just as much right to be there as theirs did. After all he was only a teenager and very alone in a very big town.

To be the employee of two of the most vocal, hardnosed, and generally old school, tough, no time for fools, managers in the business, might also have helped to contribute to the player that this young man became.
Perhaps the taunting made him ashamed of what his country had failed to achieve on the world stage and spurred him on to do more. Either way the boy had a self belief and rightousness in him that is rare. Yet it is something I and many Irish people identify with. He also had a very bad temper and was given to fits of what was perceived as petulance. I also understand that too. It in fact comes from a deep frustration at the percieved shortcomings of those around you. The realisation that perhaps the goals you set yourself will not be achieved as long as you're dependent on others.

We get to a stage where Roy Keane is considered as one of the best footballers of his time in his position, bar er, well bar who? However this is not what he is remembered for. He is remembered for trying to hurt someone who previously tried to hurt him, only, Roy admitted it. He was honest and apparently was the first person to try to hurt another human being in history. He is remembered for being outspoken, like both his manangers, he is remembered for rowing and fighting with those around him because they didn't believe they could be the best and so they didn't really try.
Finally he even walks out on a team that really didn't need him (love him?) any more. It was as one football pundit a divorce that came from the marriage made in heaven.

Through out his career there were those who took him to court, who accused him of beating them up, of rape, of assault. Not one of these accusations stood up in a court of law. Not one. Now I wonder why that happened? It couldn't be just because he was Irish and brilliant could it?

Finally, the man who had as many, if not more column inches written about his personality as he did his skill, hangs up his boots.
Those enlightened minds who write on message boards all over the UK think to give him a tribute. 'Inbread Irish Scum'was one such comment. This was censored, however the policers of the message boards didn't see fit to get rid of 'potato eating scum'. Now if the guy was black and it was banana's I am sure the message wouldn't have seen the light of day. Many messages were posted about his character and many of them, the same messages refered to him being Irish. Sorry guys but Boyzone and Miss World before last were Irish too. So too was the last James Bond, Daniel Day Lewis, and Oscar Wilde. As are U2 and Rory Gallagher when he was alive. Yes so is Sinead O Connor and she spoke out against the influence of both Church and British State in way that perhaps Roy Keane wanted to but couldn't.
See whatever you think of Roy Keane, well I don't care what you think of him, I never met him and I don't know him. However, when you reference what you think of him because of his race or national identity, then you become part of the monster that stalks not just Old Trafford, but many other football grounds and places of employment. It is currently stalking the deserts of the middle east and the streets of the U.S. in relation to Islam and Muslims.

As an adendem, an addition and a P.S., next time you tell me I am English and I tell you that I am not, and you tell me that it's all the same, I will force you at gunpoint (yes your eyes are seeing it ) to read history from an Irish point of view. Because honestly, I am sick and tired of explaining it nicely. And they guy who was in my house the other night at my girlfriends party and said 'Oh dear' when an Irish girl said she was Irish, well I am sorry I was so nice to you and didn't throw you over the balcony, you upper class twat.

Cromwell was a bastard. There was no famine in Ireland, the brits just starved a million people and forced a million others to emigrate, and did their best to keep the rest in ignorance. In the small portion of Ireland that they refuse to give back they installed an apartheid regieme until sometime in the 1980's. Now that we know it we can do something about it. We don't have to cry out and say oi! anti-celtic or anti Irish or whatever at the slightest reference. We do however have a huge responsibility to accept what happened in the past instead of closing our eyes like a family that is psychologically ill. We must accept our pain and abuse and not be like the child that refuses to accpet is has been treated like shit by it's parents.
Much and all as I appreciate his contribution to his sport, it is nuts to be driven to greatness because people don't accept you as their equal.

We cannot either close our eyes to what still happens,once again it needs to be accepted by both Irish and English alike. Acknowledged as having happened, happening and being wrong. Then and only then will Irish people will be free, and the Monster of Old Trafford will be dead and truly buried.

The real P.S. Roy Keane thanks for all your skill and commitment. It's been a blast.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Public wants the trouble to stop! Which Public?

You have heard a load of crap about these riots. There must be a lot of slow news days and there certainly is a lot of racist, inaccurate, and ingnorant reporting going on about what is happening. Yes there are some who are out on the street for the sheer badness and devilment of burning and causing mayhem but believe you me, this doesn't happen by accident.
Firstly this is not and I have to make this clear, this is not about immigrants. It is not about non-French people. You who are the regular reader of this blog may remember the stories I have told about my Arab friends and how little they have.

You won't know however about my experiences teaching the students of rich parents who are in the private business schools. Teaching the girl with white skin, brown eyes, blonde hair, who is in tears. She is in tears because although she is one of the best students in the school, she knows that people will recognise her name as being of Arab origin. She won't get a job in France. That is the reality.
Another friend who was told that her degree in Civil engineering that came from Algeria was not acceptable in France, this friend incidently was born in France and holds a french passport.

A young handsome man speaks out during one class when I touch on the subject of racism and what it is. He says he is fed up with listening to his friends talk about the dirty arabs, and then later they say to him 'oh not you' the others. They forget he is Arab because he does not fill the inherited untruthful steryotype. They forget he is French. He is clean fashionable and articulate, how could he be arab?

Neither are they Irish nationals who by law of the EU have the same rights and entitlements of French people, but who are not given them by the civil servants who do not know EU law.
Neither are they the men who are told to leave the family home, who are working partime and borrowing off friends and family who live abroad to survive while the French government gives them 35 euros to pay their rent and nothing else. And that only after a struggle.

Neither are they the girl who is here illegally. Who used to be an engineer in Algeria. She is not french. She has no rigthts. She gets a job in Monaco. During ramadan her 75 year old employer tells her to sleep with him or to go. She tells asks him how he dare to even bring the subject up during Ramadan. Needless to say the job doesn't last long. She has nowhere to stay. I put her up for a few days and when she leaves my place it is cleaner than when I moved into it.
I don't see her again but the latest is that she has a frozen arm muscle from cleaning for someone who refused to pay her.
In fact all of these people are the public who want it to stop so which public is doing it?

Do you understand what I am saying? Do you have any fucking clue how hard it has been? I stayed for my son and you could even help me with that and fuck it I am white. Imagine how the non white feel?

Well I was told a story one time of an American woman who was here and while at a dinner she addressed a French national.
What is it like to be an African American ?, this is what she asked him.
" I am not American" he said.
She was flustered. "What is it like to be an African French?" she then asked.
"I wouldn't know"he said. "I am not African".

So which public want it to stop? The Government have just been given 50million euro by the EU.
I think the riots are a waste of time and badly organised and if they get organised then God help France.There is already a dearth of Liberty Fraternity and Equality. Some don't feel the same way I do, and some feel it's beginning to work. Yes there is a malaise and it's killing society.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I see no Magrebian people in the ads

Now the riots are all over France. The Prime Minister is on TV talking. Liberty Fraternity Equality Reality, reads the headlines of one of the National newspapers. The Prime Minister is talking about everyone has their place, their job, their responsibility. He talks about the criminals, beat someone to death (sadly it has happened) to burn your neighbours property, this is criminal. The first thing is to bring order. To restore the security of the Territory of France. The priorty is the re-establishment of public order in the face of those who threaten it. They are invoking the law of 1955 that allows the Prefect, the head of each State/County/Department or whatever you want to call it, i.e. the local Mayor to install a curfew. (In other words the State will not take responsibility. If it goes all wrong we can blame the local mayor and if it goes right well he will get the nod of thanks.)
The journalist is asking if parents are responsible, I don't understand completely but he fudges, he talks about each person having a the ability to make a choice. The journalist asks him does it apply to those who cannot find a job or a place to live. We need to give people who live in a quarter of 40% unemployment a hope the PM says, a training, the possibilty of a course to train them to have a job. We must make the Government housing more tasteful better to live in, undertake to make these dwellings more human. Apparently the Turkish leader (of Turkey) said it may have all come about by the French forbidding the veil in the schools.
OKay I have heard enough. He is talking about individual responsibility and choice, he talks about the collective, and the comportement of each individual. Sorry Mate but you are talking crap.
I have lived here below the poverty line for too long. I have survived on the hand outs of friends when I couldn't afford to buy food and on charity organisations. I was 9st 2lbs, 126lbs, or 59kgs, if I have my maths right. I am nearly 6ft tall. I met a few people worse off than I (arabs even though they say they are french) and we shared what we had. Algerians, born in France but to the white French, Algerians, to themselves not Algerians but French, how can they survive here? Why are they not on the street burning cars? The PM of France leaves the the Studio his interview finished and the next story is about a ship of very wealthy english speakers who were on a cruise off the coast of Africa when the pirates attacked and the Captain of the ship managed to save his rich white cargo. How can any person living in a second or third generation unemployed area, with no future, no real education, no idea of the value of hard work and the reality of the system, how can they not riot? When all you are fed is how easy and glamourous it is through the media, and how everyone lives happily ever after, through Hollywood and how Democracy is great, (sorry but I wouldn't know as I haven't witnessed it yet) i.e. the survival of the fittest is the reality of life. When after the news the next thing is Madonna smiling at the camera and announcing in not bad French she will sing on a Talent show this Friday, I have to stop and think how stupid are the media. I see no Magrebian people in the ads.
Why are they not constantly rioting. Why are people here so afraid to stand up and be counted? Why are people so afraid to care for each other? I have met good people here, most of them with nothing, but not one of them who was very well off ever even saw me. I don't agree with burning my neighbours car, I don't agree with beating people up. I do understand why though and to see the Prime Minister with his nice suit, good hairdo, and white skin talk crap on National TV would only make me more angry. Where the hell are the Magrebian people who need to be interveiwed to see their point of view? I see no Magrebian people being interviewed, I see no Magrebian people on Television save the Token one or two. What sort of world am I living in?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Riots in Paris

You know there is some things that politicans should never say. The main man over here, and I mean the real main man, the guy with the power. You know the one everyone listens to who isn't the President or Prime Minister? You know the one who is always tipped for future glory? Well that guy here is called Sarkozy. Odd name really from a non french perspective when you think of it. Sounds like Sarcastic, or even Sir Cosy or Sir Caustic........ anyway, I digress as usual.
There have been riots in Paris. What? when? where? and how?
Yes all this week, hundreds of cars have been burned, riot police are out in force and the whole world is looking on.
France, at least the part of it that cares, is embarassed. The Interior Minister on the other hand decided to call all the rioters scum. (pause for a moment and let that sink in.)
See only scum would burn down really usful buildings. Only scum would burn their neighbours car, only scum would..............STOP.
You show me the guy who does all this without a motivating cause and without years of history and stress and problems and then maybe I'll say yep your right, the guy who does this for fun is scum.
So what happened? Well allegedly two immigrant teenagers were chased by the police for something,(does it matter what? it can happen just for walking on the street) and ran into a power station to hide. The ended up dead from electrocution.
A riot started. Eight or Nine days later the problem is spreading. The big honcho in Paris, Mister Sir Caustic, says these people are scum, these people without jobs, bundled into gettos with no edcation about to how to survive in Europe never mind in France never mind in Paris. Some of them are here for years and don't even speak French. The big honcho was criticised roundly by many for speaking his mind and his PR man said 'ridiculous, he was using the language of the streets so the people concerned would understand'. My girlfriend said he was using the language of his voters, I tend to think it has something to do with his parents but anyway..... I digress again. Point is the riots spread and I imagine that many who were standing back and watching and heard the word SCUM decided to say fuck it to hell, and pick up the nearest brick to lob it in the direction of the well clad police officers with riot shields, baton rounds, and armoured cars that were blocking up the neighbourhood.
Oh clamity of clamities now what? Well head honcho sat down with boys in the back room and for his next jewel of a peice came up with the phrase that went something like, the causes of the riots go deep, 30 years deep and we cannot solve in a few days that which we have neglected for 30 years......this is what he should have said on day one,....unfortunately he copped on, sussed it out and then said it late. Damn it to hell I hope the rioters come out and vote next time and remember what this boso said. See the problem here is this guy is not an idiot and that makes him all the more dangerous.

Just one other note, how many of you who got really concerned about New Orleans didn't really give a toss about Pakistan? Just wondering as it may well be the subject of another post!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Learning Hallowed Differences

So halloween has come and gone and my son, my girlfriend and I had a complete and utter blast. We did all the things that I would have done at home for halloween, and it was strange to be with someone who had never celebrated it before.

Imagine meeting someone who had never celebrated Christmas or a birthday, well it was the same for me, to see that there are many people who know nothing of the night of the dead, all souls day, bonfires and witches.

I am not talking about the commercial American crap that is being foisted onto European culture at the moment but the Irish type of halloween, where kids and adults dressed up to help the halloween party, and not a pumpkin was in sight, bonfires burned all night and games were played in each others kitchens as we bobbed for apples with out using our hands.

When I listened to the French reaction to what Halloween is or was for them I was at first surprised and then pleased. They generally criticised the appearance of an American festival in their culture of which they knew little about and cared less.

Many french are anti the commericalisation of culture and I have to say I agree with them.Their reaction was nothing what so ever to do with anti americanism but a rejection of something passing for culture and being celebrated that ten years ago they hadn't even heard of.

Personally I was quite happy to be able to celebrate something of my own in a culture that is so different to mine and to explain that what I was doing had nothing to do with pumpkins. The first time I even saw a pumpkin up close in my life, was this weekend.

Cultural diversity is a good thing. It brings opportunities to talk to each other and to open up and make friends. It allows people to share different views on life and death and the celebration thereof. Imagine living in world where there was no diversity. Imagine how boring life would be. Where would you choose to go on holidays if everywhere was exactly the same as home? Why would you bother traveling and meeting other cultures if everything, the language, the food, the fashion and the culture were the same. God put me to sleep now if that is my future.

Diversity is a great and exciting thing and is nothing to be feared but something to be celebrated.
Let's get over putting people down because they are different and let's stop imposing on others who are different.
If they don't have the same religion, the same politics, the same fashion, or speak the same language and even celebrate different festivals at different times of the year,then let's welcome that.
Take stock of all the negative you know to exist in your way of doing things and then give the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise and assume that those who do different don't have the same negatives as you and therefore can't be too bad then. Can they?
Happy Dead day all. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Learning What's Important

Some time ago some one told me to be white and male was to be among the privledged of the world. Not only was I told, but the teller of this supposed truth more or less insisted I was privledged.
I railled against this for a long time.
I was at the time working part-time, struggling to make ends meet, I had recently had a boss fire me because I was 'living in sin' and expecting to be a father very soon. If nothing else I was not feeling very privledged, that is for sure.

There was something else though. It came to mind today watching 'Bread and Roses' by Ken Loach. It has been coming for a long time, disasters in New Orleans and Pakistan brought it home quicker to my mind.
While I sympathise with those who have lost a lot, who have never had what I have had, who have never been privledged like me, I have become aware of an inverted snobbery.

Because I am not black or hispanic or Indian I must be priveledged.
It's a thesis propagated by white educated westerners who feel guilty and it's a load of crap. Let me say it again, it is a load of crap. CRAP

So try telling the white guy from the inner city, who is hooked on crack, who's brother is in prision, who mother is or was at one time a prostitute, and his father??? well down the pub drunk if he is around, try telling this teenager that he is privledged........well you start to get the picture. But what of it?

Some white people in the world don't know what it means to be white, just as many living in the third world don't identify with the notion of third world. The only world we know, no matter what our colour, or creed, is the one immediately around us. Too often it is the sum of our experience that limits us. Those of us who are limited are those of us who piss me off, myself included. If I wasn't so scared half the time I would stand up and shout out, I was wrong, God forgive me I am so sorry. But I don't. No one does. Show the person who when corrected, by a peer or, buddah forbid, a subordinate, who can say 'yep you're so right, I am so wrong, thanks for pointing it out to me.'............ am I dreaming here, all of us mature adults are afraid of being wrong? How dumb and under privledged is that?

Yes it's true growing up in Dublin I was never likely to experience an earthquake or tornado. While often there was talk of 'the war' it was never really a threat in Dublin. There was little chance of disease or pestilence. Now perhaps my ancestors were brighter about where they would put down sticks but that's not really it either, besides there are warmer drier places in the world. So is it where you come from that makes you privledged? I don't think so.

What is important? What is it that makes someone privledged, position? No certainly not. A sense of place? or of belonging? Not even.
I watch strikers from Corsica throw a loaded truck into the sea, their claims for better conditions and anger at the French government for selling out, confused with Nationalism and identity.

I see people struggle to make a living from schools that exploit them and charge their clients a fortune for bad service, even if the teacher is good.
I have watched and oberved my Algerian Friends, who incidently never talk about the civil war in their home, and insist they are French, experience racism often with a shrug or even a smile. I have watched my great white American types who feel ill at ease when the subject of their home comes up, and I have wondered.
A stunningly beautiful, striking blonde, who's boss makes her life a misery, Men who are capable technically who abuse those under them, Women who simply because of their age feel washed up, childness and useless. Others who clearly have negative relationships and take it out on all around them while singing the virtues of their marriage.

I have decided watching all of this what is important, especially when I look at my son.

A sense of self. A positive sense of self. A feeling that you are worth something. It comes from a sense of purpose. No matter how often you are shit on you are someone. You are a human being. And yes you have been shit on, and you have done your share of shitting so get over it. You are worth as much as any other person who you care to name. So if you live in Nice or New Orleans, Pakistan or Monaco, if you are Iraqi or Irish, American or Argentinan, if you have a lot of money or none at all, Stop what you are doing.

Get up and stand in front of the mirror and realise the only thing stopping you from being happy, is you.
No you are not the cause of all your misery, but you can be the cause of all your happiness.
Now that is the first step.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

By George I think he's got it................And bout time too.

Would you belive it? I don't. I have seen Mr Bush, you know the smirking chimp guy, the guy who when he looks at thousands made homeless, or talks about thousands dying, or considers sending thousands to their deaths; you know? he smiles? Well finally I have seen him without a smile and by God it changed him completely. He looked for the first time like he knew what he was doing. I am stunned. So okay, maybe this next thing is in bad taste but I couldn't resist.

George Bush is sitting in his living room writing his latest speech. His cabinet have been invited over. On TV there are reports of rain lashed coastlines and Iranian nuclear weapons. Everyone is nervous about how the admininstration is doing in the latest opinion polls. George fed up with bad advice stands up and throws his papers aside. He jumps up on the coffee table, stares each and every one present in the eye, and launches into what will be remembered as the Bush speech of the Century.
It goes like this

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here today to discuss the security of the United States of America. We are gathered here today to root out the latest evil to threaten the citizens of the USA. We will not stand idly by as our people are threatened and our basic freedoms are taken away from us(smile).
America is facing a new and dangerous threat to the south of our country. I will not stand by and watch as this threat grows. (so does the smile).
I am calling up the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Airforce, the National Guard, the policeforce of every county, the CIA, the FBI, and goddamn it every one who can walk and talk and inform, to be vigiliant and aware.
I am calling all of these groups up, to root out the evil that threatens us, to silence the smoking gun on the horizon.
We will track this gun from the horizon no matter where it may turn or twist.
We know that the winds of change are blowing and we know there are those that are trying to bring us down and prevent the freedoms granted to us by our fathers and our father's fathers, and our father's father's fathers.
I can tell you we know these WMDS(Winds of Mass Distruction) will be sought out, hunted down and destroyed, these WMDS (Waters of Massive Dismay) will be pumped out, and left out to dry.
We will tolerate no more bad weather along our shores and any rain or cloud wishing to come to this wonderful country will have to justify it's reason for being here and even if it does have a visa, I will leave the decision with the good customs men and women officers of this great land as to wheither it can come in or not.
Any weather system not for us is against us, (the smile is now fixed on his face) and by golly it better run and hide because our boys will root it out no matter where it is and neutralise it.
As to our people, I say stand firm. There is an umbrella alliance gathered against the skies that would do us damage. It includes some parasols, raincoats, a couple of fans from our friends in China, a group of raincoats and galoshes from the English who have promised some wolly caps to follow should we need them.
We the American people will stand tall.(the water will be up to our necks) and those who don't will have a dear price to pay. "
With that George sat down.
As usual he didn't know what he was talking about,Condalizza bowed her head and wondered if she had a chance at the next election. Somebody in the background farted as the word kyoto popped into his mind and he tried not to speak it out loud.

The US was caught with it's pants down and woefully underprepared again.

When are you people going to wake up and use your vote to change the world. So much disaster that has been unecessary has happened already and you will go and vote the same bozo's in again? Please God NO.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

You are black with a yellow T shirt and you lost so much

I saw you on TV today. I was so distant, so self sure of myself, so far away from New Orleans and so caught up in world politics, I had no idea you were there. I saw you on TV. I heard you talk about your wife. I heard about how you held her hand. I heard you say you couldn't hold on, or she asked you to let go, to look after the kids and the grandkids,.... I feel so bad. I can't do diddly squat for you. I will never meet you. I can't ease your pain. You will never read this. But you have lost so much more in a day, and around the time I had finally started to gain so much. Now the much I have gained finally, is so little, is so nothing,.....I want to hug you and hold you and tell you I love you. But fuck it what do you care what I think or feel? You are lost and alone and I hope you find someone to aid and assist you and help you in your time of need.

Perspective.........I just hope that if there is some reason for this, then maybe it's that people will realise that the 50 or so countries, many of which are portrayed as enemies of the united states, have offered help. They are not your enemy. They are with you. People are with people everywhere. I disagree with Mr. Bagent, I can hate and loathe your Government but just because you voted for them, it doesn't mean I hate you. It just means I disagree with your choice, but I can still love you and care for you and hope that you haven't lost people, that you haven't drowned and that maybe sometime in the future you will see a way to tell your Government to stop. I can do this because I know you are human just like me.
Honestly I would not trade places with any of you. But if you think I can do anything from where I am then let me know. I will do my best.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

How Stupid is that?

So CNN just gave a list of all the offers of help offered to the U.S. . They highlighted some offers and then reeled off a list of names, including that of Venezuela, but no Cuba. Why? How dumb is that to play politics now? Shame on you CNN.

Amazed by what I see.

I posted recently that natural disasters don't surprise me. Given the amount of pollution we have created and the strange places we decide to live in I am never surprised. But I am shocked when I see the numbers of people in need. I am stunned to hear the Red Cross was asked to leave New Orleans before the storm due to it not been safe. How come people didn't get out? I am stunned to see so many people who seem to be so helpless. I am also pleased to see that Cuban leader Fidel Castro has offered help and medicine and I sincerely hope the U.S. government takes him up on it.
But I don't think he will.

I think the open letter from Micheal Moore says it better than me and I post it here.

"Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.


Michael Moore

P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st. "

So what will the American people do now?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Truth is a lot of people are suffering

You know what? I don't know when I will post this but I have had a lot of stuff going through my mind today. All those people who were killed yesterday..........while on pilgrimage in Iraq. I was shocked by that. No I wasn't shocked by the disaster in the south of the USA. Natural disasters don't shock me. I was saddened of course and my sympathies ( not that any of you give a toss anyway) are with you no matter which gulf you happen to live near.

There are a number of scenarios going through my head.

But here is what was going through my head as I watched 3 U.S. presidents on TV at the same time. Although I studied communications in university I am glad I didn't go to the school of "Putting on the right face at the right time". It was apparent that once president of the United States there is only one way of looking serious and solemn, turn down the corners of your mouth, push out your lower lip and look at a point about a meter in front of your toes, or three foot if you are still in imperial measures. If you want to agree with the seriousness of what someone is saying make sure your hands are clasped just below your belt or above your penis (rules are different for women) and nod your head with the same expression as above. The transparancy of this method acting was almost laughable, except that these guys were talking about real people.
The President of America looked weaker for needing his Dad and his lying, fornicating predecessor, to back him up. (Don't get me wrong I liked Bill, in the kinda way I like the guy down the end of the bar who has a smart mouth, but to whom I never really speak.) The only difference between him and Pres senior, is the fornication bit, actually its not, it's the getting caught bit. I understand what the PR people were trying to do but as usual it didn't work. President smirk really needs to learn to stand on his on his own two feet and keep a straight face. He also needs to learn his lines better. He may even benefit from a new script writer. He should certainly fire a few bodies who are clearly giving him the wrong advice.

Scenario 1.

Punishment by God??
Is the end really and finally nigh?
With the Christians of America telling us all to wipe out the Arabs, nuke the French and take out Chavez of Venezeula and generally that the world should go and get fu##ed, I wonder are any beginning to think that God is finally giving them their just reward for invading, killing, stealing, lying, murdering, and generally being very very bad. Even if they are not perhaps the good Lord has had enough and is going to wipe out the menace to clean air and peaceful living and true love and harmony by causing another mini, controlled and contained flood.

Scenario 2
Couple this disaster with the price of oil and you have a revolution on your hands. Now I know that most normal thinking people in the capitalist world believe that the remote possibility of revolution is extinct due to on hand the comfort zone, i.e. a) I have too many creature comforts to upset the barrel, or lack of comfort zone, b) I am too busy trying to feed myself and my kid that I don't have time for revolution. But when people start shooting at helicopters trying to rescue them, one starts thinking that perhaps something odd is afoot.

So has the revolution happened already in New Orleans and will the U.S. government be overthrown in a couple of weeks because they are over stretched fighting in Afganistan and Iraq?
They have deserted their own. Even here on the Cote D'Azur in the land of the future dropped Nuke, we knew the storm was on the way and it was a biggie. How come so many got out? How come so many didn't, and why didn't the U.S. Government do more? and do it sooner?

Scenario 3

Nobody gives a shit anywhere about all this and as for the people who have been killed? Well less on the unemployment lines, big fucking deal. Anyway most of them weren't white anyway so what do they matter? No don't be shocked, it's just the same crap many neocons come up with time after time but will they say it about their own? Damn right they will.

Scenario 4
There has been a disaster in the world and people from France to Fiji, from Dublin to Dubai, from Norway to Nigeria, are concerned for the people of New Orleans. They will pray for you to their God's, they will go to their churches, mosques, and temples, and ask the God the believe in, to aliveate your suffering, they will send blankets, money, cash, aid, food. They will be with you in your time of need. The Americans will learn the world is not against them.

Scenario 5
The Americans have spent so long telling the world they don't give a shit about anyone else except Americans, that the rest of world has finally turned it's back on you and is secretly happy. In fact the rest of the world is upset that the storm was so small and that it didn't wipe out Texas and DC as well.

I know no one would ever subscribe to Scenario 5.
I hope most people suscribe to scenario 4.
I am sure there are one or two who secretly like number 3 but won't say it.
More than a few are for number 1 and while many may want number 2 it aint the time for a revolution....or is it?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Drinking beer in the Deep South

Sometimes I think I should be writing more, and sometimes I am stuck for things to say. I think no one will be interested in the slightest in anything I have to say. Maybe that is correct, but tonight nudged me straight out of one of those moods. There I was in a bar with a New York Taxi stuck on the roof, a Caddy parked up outside, some huge trucks in the parking lot, the sound track to "O brother where are thou" was blasting through the bar, coors was on tap, the waiter was a stocky greasy haired hill billy rocker type, the barman was bald fat and bearded. Burgers and ice cream were being ferried out to tables as quickly as humanly possible and the pool table was worn and tilted, the weather was hot and sticky even at 10pm at night, but what would you expect from the deep south of.....FRANCE.
I was cracking up laughing to think that although Ken and Joe are gone back stateside, they would have had a huge laugh to look at the Texas Truck stop just outside Antibes, and have a beer, and yet listen to the staff talking in french.

Funny how you hear so much negativity about France from the U.S. side of things and how much the French and indeed the world admire certain aspects of American Culture. Pity that people of different cultures who know so little about each other, either completley admire or completely destest the other without knowing who the other really is?
So I guess I should take the opportunity to say that although I identify strongly with my passport identity, Irish, I don't think I would be considered typically Irish. I don't really know. Are any of you who read this typically American or French or English or anything at all?

Anyway the new job is interesting, lots of nice people and intelligent people which is always good. They all seem to pretty cool too. I can't and won't put in too much about where I work, some people might not be happy. Suffice to say I am learning and enjoying the challenge. I do have one worry, but will try to sort that out with the boss tomorrow.

Oh yeah the real news this week as I am clean out of cash and haven't a red penny because I had no work whatsoever for the month of August and having worked since July 7th, is that I got stung for 81 euros and 50 cents to get my 50cc scooter out of the police lock up, as apparently it was causing a security problem at 11am for a match that was kicking off a 9pm monaco time. The fourrier here is what they call the car pound and yes I was feeling well and truly skinned. Yes the cops in Monaco finally got me. What can I say? I had eluded them for so long, but not any more. The race is over, the competition is finished. They won't get me again as my free parking starts next month :-). I am really hoping the cheque doesn't bounce. Well August has been the most positive month I have had since I got here in June 2003 I reckon. Long may it continue.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Messing with history

I know, the dangers of writing when tired but since when was Leonardo da Vinci famous for David, well since Michelangelo sculpted him and I got the great men mixed up, that's since when. Oh well if I have an excuse there is a lot happening, but god, am I embarrassed.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Pizza Pasta Pisa Pastis

Well there I was minding my own business strolling through one of the many gateways of Pisa, when I saw it. I was stunned. I had seen photographs, postcards, drawings, etchings, images both moving and still, documentaries, in fact all sorts of representations, but nothing prepared me for the reality that is The Leaning Tower of Pisa. I was stunned by its beauty, but most of all by the angle at which it seemed to threaten to crash down onto the square below. How it manages to defy gravity is for more scientific minds than I, but it is certainly a spectacle to behold. If you have never done it, go visit. Along with the Cathedral and Bapistry the plaza of Pisa, is an amazing site. There is not one straight line or right angle in the whole set of construction.
Now I was thinking of working in something about eating Pizza in the plaza of Pisa but I reckoned it would make a clumsy sentence, and besides, I ate pizza elsewhere.

The food in Italy is half the price it is in Nice, which incidentally is half the price it is in Dublin. So basically by European standards it's very cheap. At one restaurant, at the top of a mountain, at the end of the track, at which there was nothing else but this restaurant, four of us ate, pasta frite, which is deep fried dough, pasta with mushrooms, wild boar with a selection of fried vegetables, two, desserts and coffee for all, and two bottles of wine, which my host assured me were very rude, for the princely sum of 48 euros. Let me put this in perspective. As I walked along Rue de la Buffa with Joe Bagent today and my son, we stopped at a small eatery. We ordered a litre of wine, two plates of carpaccio de beouf, one dessert, two coffees, and the price was the same.

I am still off the cigarettes.

Not even a drag, a puff, a toke, a sniff, a pull, nothing. But I have started drinking pastis (finally). ?????

Italians are a funny people. They claim to be the best at everything. They are a very proud, beautiful open people, and their claim at being the best, is not so much a statement of arrogance. It's plain fact (in their opinion). This is strongly opposed to the French way of stating they are good at something, which is to ram it down your throat, so strongly in fact that you begin to wonder are they afraid of you finding out it's not at all true. The Italians don't have this fear as it just isn't a problem.
So imagine my surprise when I realise the leather market in Firenze, is not the only thing this particular town has to offer. You see it was only when my companion pointed out to me that the statue I was admiring was Leonardo da Vinci's David, that I realised I was in Florence. This town is a place of such architectural beauty, Italian simplicity and the worlds best and most definitely worst waiters, that I was completely blown away. I met one who during our meal spoke five languages one of them Gaelic. Yes I was impressed. I met another who didn't even bother to try and keep us when he was sullen in response to our simple questions. We left, he went back to watching TV.
The town boasts some wonderful Cathedrals, and craftsmanship of the highest order you wonder about the Italian claim of being the best and for a very long time, you don't doubt it. However they do hold their hands up when it comes to making beer and admit that horse piss is probably better. Their wine is stunning to say the least and perhaps lighter than many of the french ones I have tasted.

I thought a lot when I was there. It has been the first real holiday I have had where I wasn't coping with another family's politics or stressing out, or taking refuge,in about eight years, it was just a holiday. Broke and waiting to start my new job next Monday it was probably the best time it could arrive.
Funny for me then that the Italians play the Irish in a match amicale in Dublin tomorrow night. Even funnier to think that next year I will be able to fly home when I like and treat my son to what he wants. :)

We cut the holiday two days short to facilitate my ex as she couldn't find any one to look after my son. She couldn't cut hers short to facilitate me starting my new job next Monday. Why do I bother mentioning this? Well I might need a published record some time, but it is also to remind myself when I am older and wiser what an idiot I have been to get involved with a selfish individual, and also as I need to find someone to mind my boy next Monday, writing it down here is a stress relief in a way.
So the last month, I have found a very decent woman, spent lots of time with my son, found a real job finally, and learnt a lot about people who will fuck you up for a beer or a coffee and others who are real friends. That's life folks, at least I know I am living it. Thanks for reading and commenting. Back very very soon.

Friday, August 05, 2005

U2 Bono and all that in Nice

Yes I did. I saw U2 the band in the Nikkia Arena in Nice. Well I do live here after all. Last night I made my way along the voi rapide (Just realised I don't know how to spell that) and traveled easily along well controlled streets and got to park up beside the stadium. Organisation was amazing except for the 3 CRS guys (bad cops) who shouted at me "En Face" about 6 times. In front of you, was were I was going so why where they shouting it at me.The fat one decided I was either deaf or stupid, so I told him I didn't speak good french. Ahead he said. Finally they parted and I could see the "En face " where I wanted to guy. Christ but I hate grunts.
Now let me clear, I grew up in Dublin and heard these guys practicing near to where I lived, so I am not for a moment star struck. I didn't even want to criticise but what the heck it's not every day a body can be a critic, (or is it?).
So the light show and the stage where fantastic. However, I was convinced these guys had become Swiss. (the bass player Mr Clayton looked like his mother had told him off and went and stood in the corner for the most part). The group were due to start at 9:45pm and they did. They played exactly till 11:25pm and finished, came back on and played till 11:45 exactly, came back again and finished at midnight sharp. Now maybe they all had to run for fear of turning into pumkins, but at 58 euro a ticket and 30 euro a T-shirt, you would think that these guys could have thrown in a freebie.
Mobile phones were inoperable for the show until Bono asked us to text for charity. It was an impressive sight and somewhat scary to see 53,000 mobile phones being swung about and I was partly convinced he did this simply because he could.
You see a few years ago we used to tell the joke about the rock star who dies and goes to heaven. St Peter is showing him around and the guy says "Hey is that Bono?", and St Peter says "No, that Jesus Christ, he just thinks he's Bono". Well last night I realised why they told this joke about Dublins most famous. He hailed his public like a Roman Emperor or dare I say it a God. It was a strange phenomenon to see a front man so bent on being great, loved, admired, on being a hero, on being a saviour, backed up by the three most ordinary blokes who ever graced a stage. He talked about third world debt, (a worthy cause), he talked about the fighting between the children of Abraham, Mohamed, Jew, Christian, about Coexist (the x is the star of david in his show). I wondered of course about the daughters of Isis and the children of shiva and how they might feel.
He parodied a Nazi, even giving the Nazi salute, no he isn't Nazi he was making fun of them, but this is the South of France and people are sensitive to that here, so maybe he should have asked someone. By my crummy math I reckon the four of them made about a 1/4 of a million euro each for 2 hours work and perhaps they deserve it, but given that I can't afford to pay my phone bill, I have to say I felt like telling bono to whip out his phone and send his own bloody text. I also wondered for all his lip service to the cause of Africa, where were the African support group or African musicians playing alongside? Or even African technicans or security???? None were in evidence.
Musically people seemed to prefer the older numbers, Sunday bloody Sunday, or New years day, got huge responses while the newer stuff was enjoyed, but not as enthusiastically. With or without you was a big hit, it is after all a great song.
The highlight of the night for me was when Bono promised to be able to speak perfect french next year, he then asked Edge for a comment, I quote, "Je suis un Rock Star et j'habite in the south of France." I am sure someone could right a song about that, (if they hadn't already).

So the gig was a good gig but as I have already said, the guy is a great singer, I just wish he would let someone else do the talking.

Right other news
My boy is nuts about me Hooray. I haven't even had a drag of a ciggarette since last Sunday night Hooray again. Mind you there was a humungous amount of very sweet smelling herbs being smoked last night all around us.
I am off to Italy today with the lady who got me the ticket for the concert from friends of ours whom we were supposed to hook up with. But, when your phone is blocked finding a friend in a crowd of 53,000 isn't that easy.
When I come back the new life, struggle free starts. The job, hopefully I can manage it. I am sure this has tons of spelliing mistakes as I am exhausted and I have to pack a bag and make breakfeast. But you know what. I am not an English teacher any more, the spell checker isn't working and I can always fix it later. Here's hugs to ya.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Maybe I should own up?

This is not the first time I quit. I quit around 1991 for 3 years. I have been smoking since the end of the 3 years. But hey still strong. still off.


*%)@ smammmit. I am dying for a smoke but not even a drag of one for nearly 40 hours. Yes I could tell you how good the weather is and how many babes are on the beach and how great my mates are. But fuck it I would love just one drag.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Giving UP

For a month I talked about it. Nobody believed me. I gave up smoking on August 1st, in fact my last ciggarette was July 31st. It's driving me nuts, I can't sleep and I know this is the hard part. Oh well nothing like cold turkey to sort you out now is there. Is there?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

wow war is over

It's just a note to say that the statement today by the IRA is acknowledged by people all over the world. Some sceptical, some disbeliving, others relieved, others perhaps happy even. Personally I am struck by the importance of the end of something I have grown up with, witnessed, (but not lived through) and been greatly troubled by all my life. Who doesn't want to have their own country independant? Who doesn't want a united nation? Who really understood outside of the island of Ireland what it was all about? Perhaps now the way is clear for the dream of James Connolly and many others to finally come true. Nearly a hundred years later, Irish Men and Irish Women, Catholic Protestant and dissenter, may finally work together to bring about a successful, dynamic and unified nation of Irish people. I hope so. Today I am moved and my eyes filled for a little, I don't know yet why. Maybe now we can stop all the hate. I hope so. I really really hope so. Now Governments, it is up to you.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

fed up with not understanding

This is probably not the place to post this. But post it I will. Having been convinced to leave Ireland just over two years ago, promises of a better life, jobs, contacts etc; one year ago my ex decided she wanted a divorce. Life between then and now has been hard. I was practically thrown out of the house in a foreign country, no where near fluent in the language, and ignorant of the social set up I struggled. I did my best to be near my son and take him when I could. I had work most days often just an hour and a half in Monaco. I earned less than a thousand euro for 3 months of Jan Feb March. This week has been good for me. I have a new girlfriend who is very good, wise and understanding, I have finally the new job that will change my life. I had my boy for four nights last week and this week was asked to take him again as he was going to Corsica on Monday. I didn't say yes or no, (perhaps my fault) but was surprised when I sent a text today and got no answer. Sent another this evening and got a bigger surprise when I learned he wasn't at home but up country with his grandparents. I sent my ex a message telling her that it was mean of her to do that. She sent me one telling me she didn't have time to explain to twisted people how decent people act. I am so pissed off with this imature, mean lying woman, I am actually afraid for my son. So now what do I do? I won't now see him for a month. Once I am settled in a job it will be an expensive lawyer and we will see if I can get a routine established. It's hard to break up with an unreasonable person and even harder to live your life after wards when your child is involved. Pity, otherwise life would be perfect instead it has a huge black blot on it. Oh well. Hope anyone else out there going through similiar doesn't ever have to put up with the crap and uncertainty my ex has blighted my life with.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

One law for you one for me

Funny how often when some one points the finger there are three fingers pointing back. Let me explain. My ex often looses the head when she wants to do something and I can't look after our son. So after copious messages and phone calls trying to sort out a date for her holidays, her second of the summer(even though she doesn't work), and after much abuse about my being selfish, (no holiday last year, I was asked for a divorce and then expected to mind the animals and house while she disappeared with my son for a month), I finally organised a free week. However I am supposed to reply urgently to my new place of employment that I can start on a proposed date. So I inform by text the dates free and does she get in touch? Nope. Does she say thanks? Nope, does she even care that I am under pressure to respond to a new employer? Probably not. You see the problem here, as some one once said is a failure to communicate. Too often people get lost in what they want to do, and loose sight of what should, or could, or is possible to do.
I will continue to do my best for my boy as I am sure she will. It's a pity we seem to piss each other off, in what is otherwise a damn good life when all is going well. So my future is about to change. No more cheese and pasta for days on end. No more calling around to friends and not telling them how little I have but timing my arrival for dinner. No more my son asking can we have that, or can we go there, and me saying no we haven't any money. Oh well if ever blue sky has a grey cloud I guess like many people, my ex is mine, and I am probably hers. The odd thing is I am sure neither of us really mean to be.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Not so much the numbers as 1st thought

Ok that last post about numbers is all trash,the company got in touch and I have to do another interview this time in English. Apparently I have nothing to worry about but I will know tomorrow either way. Funny how life here seems to drag things out, nothing is easy.
So with that in mind, I explain my current position for those who care. I stayed in France last year to be close to my son, for both my son and I. My hours of working, lack of transport, the reluctance of his ma to let him go on my scooter, made seeing him difficult, and I was relegated to one weekend in every two. At every beck of call of hers I made time when I could to see him but only when she had some thing organised. I became my own son's glorified baby sitter.

Every year for as long as I have known them, her family has gone off to Corsica, she has always been there for the month of August. So this year, after my holidays got screwed last year, and now that I have someone nice in my life, I decided to accept an invitation to Tuscany. My friend sorted out her dates with the company and we choose the 6th to 15th August. No problem. Yesterday the 17th July, I get a phone call from my ex, telling me they have booked for my son and they to go to Corsica on the 25th July(my time for having him) and to come back the 5th August and that I must take him. I didn't refuse, I told her I was going away. I got a stream of abuse down the phone and then she hung up. Today she rang back trying to get me to look after him on the week of the 16th. Again I didn't refuse but if I get this new job it starts on the 16th in Monaco. How do I look after my son and take a job that will enable me to pay for him to have decent clothes, spend a good time with me, and get a good education? Well the problem is nothing, I mean nothing is legal between us. So down to the cop station to make an offical document and have something in writing asap. Then try to find a lawyer and get this damn thing sorted out. Ladies for any of you who are treating the fathers of your children badly because you are angry, Please don't. It isn't good for anyone. Men, for any of you not taking the responsiblity of being a father, get up off your asses and be there for your boy, or your girl. The rewards are amazing when both parents can do it right. When one or none can then the rewards are minimal, the stress is huge and the fall out is just not worth it. So if anyone reading is an expert on french separation law, do me a favour and fill me in on what I need to do.
And a last note, I managed to have my boy for nearly a whole week and we did nothing but celebrate life to the full. Best of summers to you all.

The 14th the 13th and all those numbers.

It is odd how a number can pop up time and time again in one's life. Let me give you an example.
My parents were married on the 13th April, and seventy odd years later my son was born on the same day. My wife asked me for a divorce on the 13th July and exactly one year to day, I have been offered a job that is going to change my life. Perhaps that I was born in 67, er 6+7 = 13, has something to do with, but maybe not. There are many other instances of this number in my life but these are the main ones. So any budding numerologist out there want to tell me what it all means?

However yesterday was the 14th,(the day after??). Bastille day in France is a day of celebration, but not in monaco. They had their prince crowned on the 12th, I had my 13th, and then France celebrated yesterday. It was the day to go to the beach, sit on the pebbles and wait till 10pm. A large boat steamed into the bay and positioned itself. Small fireworks were been let off intermittently on the beach. The streets lights were extinguished and the tension mounted. Little boys asked their fathers, "When is it coming?" Suddenly, not just in Nice, but in every town along the coast, the fireworks commenced. A huge display of Light, smoke and noise was watched by thousands who sat quietly, ooohing and ahhing the more spectacular explosions. I was gripped by how the noise travelled across the water and reverberated off the cliffs behind us.
Intrigued when I realised I could see other displays in the distance, in Antibes and Cannes. Life is good in Summer. There are plenty of reasons to celebrate. The french are perhaps more reserved and muted than the Irish, but we certainly wouldn't dream of sitting on the beach at 10pm watching a pyrotechnical display such as we did yesterday.
Where ever you are, there is always something to celebrate, sometimes you might have to look hard, and sometimes you might have to do it on your own, but do it. Celebrate.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Summer and sea change

Well summer is in full swing. The temperature is in the 30's centigrade and people are getting browner and wearing less. That is always a good thing in my opinion, being very appreciative of the human form, and in particular the female form, it brightens up my days. The English teaching has been okay for the month of June and the first week of July but there is little on the horizon. This last year has been strange. I haven't written for a while. Perhaps I have been navel gazing too much. It's the anniversary of my leaving Ireland and coming to France, now two years ago. While I set off with so much hope for a new future at the time I never imagined it would have passed as it has. Apart from my own trials, I lost a good old comrade through suicide, three friends developed cancer, and a distant relation or two passed away. Well that's life.
God I hear you say not more moaning. No I am not moaning, just reflecting and getting a bit of perspective.
I am exhausted lately but for good reasons very good reasons, which if you can't guess I will tell you later.
When I left Ireland I had just written produced and directed my play. While it was no master piece it was what I wanted and intended it to be from the start, and while not pleasing all of the people all the time, I hit a good eighty percent of them. Suffice to say I was someone at the top of my game and in the last two years I have survived relegation by a couple of divisions. I know you have heard it all before and for the life of me I can't imagine why any one comes here and reads what I write but, well, I get stuff off my chest this way.
Like what?, I hear you say. Well the bastards who practically dismantled my scooter the other day should have their skin peeled and then be left in a salt pit in the mid-day sun, for one. I managed to put it back together but they stole my helmet. Luckily I had another but still had to take my son back to where he was going to with out a helmet on my head. At five years of age he was convinced my scooter was finished. I felt bad he had to witness the crappy side so young but maybe it's a good education for him.
I guess my scooter and I are closer than I think. I managed to put it back together and bar a broken lock and lost helmet, it runs as well or badly as ever depending on your view. Why am I and it alike? Well I feel like I have been dismantled too and I am in the process of putting myself back together.

I have had some interesting experiences with jobs lately, starting one and working my ass off all night only to be told the next night I wasn't good enough. Another someone who I actually don't know well at all, came running after me, but as I working this week I couldn't start. I didn't realise that had I showed up I could have started next Monday, (curse my communication skills). Then an interview a month ago, in a computer company that still hasn't finished it's first round of interviews so the must be interviewing a million people for one job.
Since my separation last July I have met a string of women, no, I haven't bedded or been bedded by them all. I have met two who were in the throws of a nervous breakdown and that took a bit of time to discover. The next was very conservative and had a very low opinion of herself and others, the one after distant, the one after that, I thought might have been the one and while I went out with her for a while, she turned out to be a selfish spoiled, abusive lazy individual, yet beautiful sexy and strong and lively. It got too tough to hang in there and wait for something that I wasn't sure would come. In short her problem was she didn't love herself and perhaps I was not loving myself either. Then there was one who just seemed to be very secretive or basically couldn't answer a straight question so no joy there. Then a girl who I saw looking at me, I found her very attractive, gentle, together, warm and although she stayed the night, nothing happened. I met her a few times but she seemed to be either uninterested or not realise that I wanted to be with her so I let it fall. I still don't know if she just wanted a friend or not.
Then I met another girl and well, hence the reason I am exhausted. Easy to be with, beautiful, working, and very calm. Not my normal type of personality at all, but she makes me feel good so I will enjoy and just see what pans out.
Work for September seems plentiful so I might be able to pay off some of my debts finally. It has been getting a bit embarrassing.
I need to write a lot more and I have decided instead of chasing down the menial work to get back to what I know, refresh my knowledge base and create a Flash CV and see can I not get back into IT that way. In the meantime although it will be tight financially I plan to work on my film for the summer and who knows come autumn I might have something to work with.
I have lots of projects in my head but none of them are being followed up, in part due to using my spare time either job hunting, preparing classes or chilling out with people.
So dinner now on Saturday night with friends in my girls pad. Interesting to say the least as I am cooking. I will definitely write again soon. So if you come back and read, thanks but honestly I still don't get why you are here in the first place. Or I for that matter.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Pick me?

The hardest thing to do after a break up is to get used to being alone. It makes one very lonely to be in a place so unlike home that the absence of the familiar can be crippling. The other thing is trying to get used to oneself. Before, even though the relationship was not superb, knowing someone was there was a kind of comfort. My son and my ex are no longer around me and suddenly I feel like an insecure teenager again. It's tough in a country with 15% unemployment to be really alone and feel like there is no one special person there for you. At the age of 37 it gets tougher.
The Monaco grand prix and the film festival of Cannes have come and gone and apart from hearing the engines revving at a distance, and going down to stand on lowes hairpin I had no contact whatsoever with these world famous events. Like many people here, there are less than distractions, something for the tourists.
Both events hearald the great invasion of pasty white whales that lie beached all day hoping to become brown and manage to turn red, and then pass their evenings in the numerous bars and restaurants. They also hearald the end of the bad weather.
As it was wet and cold for both events, no sooner are the over, than the temperature in Nice rises to the high 30s and it is beautiful.
The sea turns blue but the cleaning boats are not yet out so pieces of tomato, and discarded sanitary towels float past you on the beach in Villefranche.
Work wise for a teacher of English is has been a good month, June is so so, and July and August are barren and scary. They beckon like a desert of sand, daring the camel to cross it and try to survive and one can't know if survival is possible with out trying. Perhaps with the CV's and interviews there may yet be an Oasis on the horizon but realistically speaking, hope is buried under the last remaining palm tree. Creativity goes out the window, Initiative flies the coop, and I am left staring and wondering, looking at my shoes willing them to transport me in the direction of the hotel or bar that will take one look at me and say "yes, we have a job for you".
The problems of regulating time to see my son and of possibly breaking contracts with the schools for the month of June have to be ignored. Food has to be put on the table and a roof kept over my head. So on I go. Perhaps tomorrow the outlook will be brighter, some link in the chain of chance and good fortune will fall into place, or perhaps I don't give enough credit, and take for granted, the amazing links of good fortune that have already befallen me. So to whoever or whatever is in control I say thank you for the many gifts but "please sir can I have one more", a permanent monday to friday preferably, if you don't mind, that can give me the means to stay. That's all I ask. Alternatively, if someone needs a writer or editor of english or a translator from French to English, then let them pick me. Please pick me.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Enjoying life yet?

Yes I have been quiet. I have been home to the old sod for 10 days. To say it did me good would be an understatement. Not only did I meet up with all the mates, buddies and friends a person could care to have, I also managed to switch off the worry head too. My son came right out of himself as he was reintroduced to enough cousins to start a decent soccer team.
Yes there were those with problems, but none more serious than my own so it was manageable. Yes I got very merry drinking beer and whisky and celebrating my parents 50th anniversary. It was easy to leave but hard to come back. I notice however that my mind set, assuming I get enough sleep, has changed. I am more positive, my outlook is brighter.
I have dissappointments every day but I have things to celebrate too. I am teaching myself the joy and value of life and what a joy it is. The Sun is beaming, that always helps. I am meeting new and interesting people, that always helps too. Some people even missed me while I was gone, so now the Cote d'Azur is becoming home. Wow I never thought I would view it that way. I will probably never be as funny in french as I know I can be in English, I will probably never be as articulate but hey, I could strive for that if I want. My writing is still, well it's there somewhere like a silent companion waiting for me to come home. My work setup is not quite improving per say but it's certainly not getting anyworse. I am a little more positive, more open, and dare I say it, a little more french too. Funny sometimes you sit down to write something funny and you don't. I am sure the rough difficult time I am giving myself is not quite over but the light at the end of the tunnel no longer looks like a speeding train. So here I am and there you are as you read. Thank you for your eyes and your thoughts, and your comments. It's time to get living now. Turn off the computer, do something to make your life better, anything at all. Enjoy it to the full, seize the day by the scruff of the neck and shake some fun out of life.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Apologies, thanks, and that's that then.

Hi all
I got a shed load of comments about my last post. I have to apologise, I didn't mean to insult any friends of mine who have given help, rather I meant that I couldn't ask for any more help and that it was up to me to get on with it, the part about new friends was in reference to one or two people who dropped me here, and in fairness why wouldn't they if all I am doing is moaning. So sorry and please forgive something that was written in the heat of the moment and not really checked before posting.
So now what? Well it's over. I have been kicked up the ass and it was a pleasure. I have been kicked in the teeth but I refuse to stay down. I am standing on my own too feet and God damn it I am going to sort it out. Come hell or high water, and there is no reason why they should come I am changing my life starting right now.
Enough moping around and getting it all arse ways. Time for concrete positive action. Now actually I have no idea how many people who know me from Ireland or anywhere else read this blog so if you are someone who considered yourself my friend I am going to apologise again, why?
Well I am going to name names, and as they say at home, it's a dangerous thing to do because you always leave someone out. So if I leave you out my friend, it's either because I am nervous to name you, or I don't know how you feel about me, or just because I am an idiot at times.
So thank you Ma and Da and happy 50th anniversary this Wednesday 13th. And thank you my son and happy birthday this Wednesday 13th.
Thank you Tom Stokes and Frank Allen and here is the plug I promised for your movie and if you give me permission I will write about it here some later date.
Thank you Marina, thank you Rami, and Kim you know that you are great, thank you. Thank you to my brothers and sister for your support and thanks to all who listened to me moaning. Thanks to everyone who wrote a comment, or just read these pages. Everyone who has written a comment has been extremely helpful. Thanks Noreen, Mary, Bernadette, Jim and Mark, yes Mark you.
Thank you Ken Smith without who I would have gone nuts. Sorry if anything I wrote made me sound ungrateful, thanks for you listening, your advice, your coffee, and your general self. Thank you Hadia and Samia. Thank you Ibtisam, thank you Jose, thank you Pascale, thank you to all who have listened to me in Nice, who have fed me who have tolerated me not tolerating myself.
Thank you thank you a million thank yous

Side note of thanks goes to a Man about whom I learned just tonight that he is no longer with me. Bhí lamh in a bas Fein. Frank Clarke you thought me a lot about cameras, and technical equipment, and you made me laugh. I will miss you greatly. Thank you for being you.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

This is me

Yes I got paid and as usual either I can't count or he can't, he makes out that 6 and 3/4 hours at 20 euros and hours is 129 and I make out it's 135. Fuck it I have it and that's the main thing. On the positive side I have managed to organise a further 3 hours before I leave in Monaco, and this guy tonight may have another student in a hotel and some technical writing for me to do as well. On the positive side I have an interview on Saturday. On the negative side going home when I am might screw that up but I will sort it out if I can. On the neither negative nor positive side but more on the frustration side, I didn't get time to either ring the social assistant today or get my test results.

I need to explain something that apparently people just don't get and I am stunned that no one gets it. Let me be the first to say that I am at fault. I made mistakes in life. However I am human too. I didn't plan to have my heart wrenched out and stood on, and no matter how difficult my marriage was I am not someone to give up and walk away from a difficult situation and I genuinely believed I could improve the situation and make things better. So there I am practically alone, with no one as a friend who can listen, or support or advise. Fuck it since Last July I had never been alone so much as I have this last 6 months. Yes I felt sorry for myself and for my son. I felt like a failure, like I had wasted 7 years of my life trying to make something work that couldn't. I was angry and still am at my ex and her family and like it or not I have to put up with her ignorance, coldness, carelessness and downright rudeness till my son is 18 and then and only then can I tell her what I feel. If I do it before hand I am afraid I will not get to see my son. I didn't know what divorce was; it only became legal in 1999 I think, in Ireland so I hadn't grown up with a culture that was familiar with it. I never imagined that someone who would ask for a church wedding would then 2 years later throw it in the dustbin. Yes I was naive.
So imagine it this way, here is a guy who was so emotionally fucked up he couldn't think straight and so he didn't bother to read the fine print in his contracts. All of which I got after his marriage broke up. I also spent 5 months running around like a complete idiot trying to find somewhere to live, refusing one place which was good and cheap but because his French wasn't great he misunderstood who was on the phone, and with his confidence bashed he didn't have the courage to ask the person to repeat themselves. Oh well I thought, it will happen. It did. I found a couple who offered to go guarantor and when push came to shove they backed out. I couldn't understand the details either of what I was being told when I went to places like the CAFF, Agent Immobilier, or anywhere else where people didn't speak English, I just got the general idea, as I was already stressed, nervous, and alone and I really needed a friend to help. There was no one. I asked my ex and she politely told me to get lost.
Okay, I took it on the chin, actually I didn't, I collapsed in disbelief. I had to continue teaching a lot every day when my heart was breaking, and I was terrified about what was going to happen to my son. My future outlook had been shattered. Well I had already ploughed all the money I had into a wreck of a house in Falicon. While my wife worked and I had to be home to put my son to school and meet him again and there being just 3 buses per day in that time, I couldn't get a job anywhere because I couldn't get anywhere so the savings went.
Moving on I realised late in January that For the months of February and March I would be screwed basically, and I managed to get work with two other schools, However due to classes being cancelled and people not showing up, and other people not able to pay what they say they can, I often miscalculated how much I was earning each month. (My fault I know).
For instance the 6 euros I was left short today would fill my bike for a week.
I am deeply ashamed (my fault) to work in McDonalds and while already struggling with self-confidence and esteem that would be the worse thing I could do. McDo represents everything I detest and I haven't set foot inside it in nigh on 20 years.
I sent CV's off every time I saw a job that I thought I could do, but hang on I can't write well in French so now I need to push and learn more French. Easy really, I have a broken heart, I am stressed, no one to help and I am supposed to go find a job and learn French like it is a spring day and all is good with the world. The only thing I ever wanted to do in life was make films and tell stories and I haven't done any of it since I left Ireland and I am getting left behind and so my final dream is going up in smoke. I find myself in a strange land, (my choice,) I find myself alone (not my choice) I find it intensely difficult to regulate the bad, negative side of things, and keep my head up because most days I just want to cry, and most days I just want to get on with and make money. I can't see how to balance anything and I don't know what I am doing. This is a very different guy from the one who left Ireland nearly two years ago. Creative, energetic, fit, dynamic, I am now a shadow of my former self. My strength and resolve are there but my energy and state of mind are not. I had to stop my pension; my savings account and I have run up debts in and around 5000 euros. I am not proud of myself, I am ashamed of my situation, so I refute that it is by choice that I am in the situation I am in. I don't refute that it is my fault. Of course it is. But I have never been the one to hide under a rock in case in rains and I often expect the worst thinking that if it happens, then at least I won't be disappointed. I cannot and could not foresee being abandoned and being abused by so many. If I could foresee that, I wouldn't get up in the morning, and I wouldn't be alive now either. This is my strength. My belief and trust in people as I find them and the basis that everyone is good and honest until proved other wise. Apparently not here, but that outlook hadn't really caused me a problem before in my life. I continue to help old ladies across the street, I continue to wave at cars with no lights, I continue to help mothers with babies, because I believe I should, it is an integral part of me. I am grateful to all who have helped me but there is no more help coming. I do need those around me to be supportive, not critical, any more criticism and I will take a shotgun and go shoot something. But then I think of my son and think, control it, deal with it, put up with it and get on with it. What else can I do?
I have no idea how many jobs and agencies I sent my CV to this week. I have acquaintances passing my CV onto people they know. I have friends asking me to fix computers and if I can I do it for nothing in that they are friends and I hope they will tell others.
I have an interview Saturday, it doesn't come from Bad planning or feeling sorry for myself. I have CV's to give to Agencies in Nice; it doesn't come from sitting on my ass doing nothing.
I am truly sorry that I am a proud intelligent, frightened and brokenhearted man. I am truly sorry that I am not yet my full great and bigger self. I am truly sorry I am so bad with cash and I am truly sorry to the world that I am at fault. I have no right to ask anything of anyone, but as people don't ask me and I always offer when I can, sometimes I do ask. So I am asking for faith and encouragement and a kick up the ass from time to time. I am asking for patience. I do not know the me who is forgetful and distracted and sits for a while absentmindedly reflecting on what has happened and then having no idea if it has been hours or minutes that have passed. I do not know the me who cannot sleep and then cannot get up and then can't arrive on time, as I was always punctual in my former life. Yes I am sure I have been an idiot and an asshole but not a bad hearted or bad minded one just an undisciplined guy looking for love and understanding. Now I am learning to stuff that away and to look for the things that are material. I don't honestly really know how to do that but I am learning. I am learning a new discipline, and a new faith. Because heck if no one else believes in me anymore I still do. I am not giving up this fight, not even over my dead body. I will make a life in this god damn place, I will pay off all my debts, I will repay all my friends, if I have any left when this is over, and if I don't I will repay them anyway and find new real friends who will let me support them. I am me, Colm Maguire 37 years old, living in the Cote d'Azur and not really having any clue what's going on but doing my damnednest to cope with it anyway. I am strong, I am beginning to think I am invincible but fuck it I am only human. Yes it's all my fault but anyone who might read this all I will ask you is what the hell would you do in my place?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Just wondering what you would like

Talking to a friend today I thought it would be a good idea to post up here a simple question that I am hoping many of you who read this blog and have linked to it might be so good as to answer for me.
What would you like to buy from France? I am going to give you three general choices. a) food as in chocolate, olive oil, roasted peppers, b) antique furniture or c) clothing and perfume.
Please do take the time to email and respond it might solve some of my cash flow if you do.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Learning to love the shit

Wisdom tells me that perhaps before I post this blog I shouldn’t even write it. But heck it’s 320am in the morning and I can’t sleep. Already I know I will have to proof read but although I can’t sleep I am really tired.

There is just too much in my head. So here it is. I will say this once and spell it out clearly for the world and its mother to hear and then I will talk about it no more publicly, at least not on the internet. I work as an English teacher in a foreign country that is part of Europe but does not recognise any diploma or degree from outside of it’s own borders.

I cannot get a permanent contract as a teacher; it’s a way for the schools to avoid paying the many taxes imposed by the French government. Before Christmas I earned 1200 euro a month for November, October and September, and although December and January were not great, I didn’t realise due to bad reading ability in French, that February and March would be just as bad if not worse.

I had struggled for five months to find a place to live. Due to not having a CDI, which is a Contrat Durée Indéterminée, in other words a permanent contract, no one wanted to lease to me. Apparently it’s really hard to throw people out of accommodation here in France even when they don’t pay. Six agents, and six independent owners, and one couple who really made life difficult for me by letting me down as guarantors for my rent, after they themselves suggesting it would be a good idea, I finally found a young agent willing to cut a deal and give me a three month rolling contract. Great. I managed to leave my ex’s home, and set up on December 1st 2004 in a new place, with a new found freedom. The fact that I was in the one place I could be thrown out of didn't bother me as I didn't realise what was coming.

It cost me over 2000 euros to get my foot in the door and poof, all my reserves of cash were gone. Then came the problem with reading. I hadn't understood my contracts, and most of my classes dissappeared. I worked about 12 hours in February and in March I have officially worked 22, plus the 10 that were worked illegally as in under the table, and as often happens when you go under the table, you get a kick. There are some hours from Monaco too but not much.

In January having realised what was coming I went to different organisations asking for temporary assistance, shit I have paid my European taxes for years now and it’s about time I got something back.

To cut a long story short, the social assistant didn’t really assist, the CAF, those who allocate funds, didn’t allocate but 35 euro to my plight, and the RMI, which I called Really Mired In it, told me politely to piss off. The long and the short is like this, I earned 630 euros this month, of which I will be paid only 500, and only 216 of it is official. 480 of which is my rent, that leaves 10 to pay off my 200 overdraft, my phone bill, my petrol, my printing for classes, my stamps for job applications and various letters complaining to the above organisations, oh yeah and food and water. Apart from the debts I ran up on my credit card from Ireland which is maxed out, the five grand I already owe to family and friends, and the fact I am going home next week, for my sons birthday and my parents 50th wedding anniversary, and I can’t get anything for anyone, well apart from that life is enjoyable. Besides, if I stayed here, the schools are all on holidays and that would be just crazy.

Now don’t get me wrong please. This is not a pity me piece. This is I can’t sleep and I need to get it off my chest. Because for one thing although I can no longer smell the shit, as I am so deep in it, I realise that for all the fears, life is damn good. I am firstly living in a good-looking environment.

There are people around who I care about immensely and I think they care about me a bit. Neither am I sitting on the few laurels I have left. Three new CV’s have been done up this week. More than a few job searches were done and more than a few speculative applications were made. The fact that these things take time and I don’t have it, really doesn’t help. I have not yet gone to the charities that hand out food as I am too proud and perhaps too silly and as I already told you all, I am not brave enough either.

So having gone up rather late to the two Arab sisters to try and boost my morale, (it took a while as all they did was bitch about how difficult it is and get me more depressed), I was touched by the wisdom that is H. H has I have already said in a previous post, is woman lacking in confidence and her financial situation is worse than mine. I haven’t gone days without eating yet. H is a qualified civil engineer but apparently Algerian engineering is different to French engineering and she has gone back to school at night and can’t get a day job to feed herself.

Last week she went to a Catholic organisation that fed both the girls for the week. This week perhaps with some shame of going back again, they tried another place, another religion, and another street. H walked in with a friend from one of islands in the Indian Ocean. The conversation from the two volunteers in front of them went along the lines of How dirty Arabs are and how dirty Tunisians in particular are. How Tunisia itself is full of Mosquitoes and how rubbish and filth line the streets. One woman in particular didn’t see why they should help these filthy Arab people only to see them bring their dirt to the streets of France, Mais non, suremont pas.
Noticing the two young ladies who came in they then engaged them in a conversation about hair, as H’s hair is beautiful and after months of being badgered by a friend and I, she has finally relented and wears it loose over her shoulders. Then of course the lady who didn’t like dirt and mosquitoes asked H where she was from. H said Algeria, and she pointed out that she had been to Tunisia several times and it is not how the lady had described it. In fact the lady who didn’t like Tunisia had never been there. The odd thing this time, is that the lady didn’t even flinch and complimented her on her skin. This is unlike the old woman who H helped across the road one day. The old lady was blind. H took her to the supermarket and helped her do her shopping, and brought her home. At her door the blind old lady mentioned that H had a nice accent, there was a little something in it, non? “I am Algerian”, said H and the blind old lady was visibly perturbed. See I am in the shit but I don’t have to go through what H gets here every day cause I am not Algerian, I am Irish. Still it doesn’t make it any easier and I don’t know how I am going to cope. And fuck it to hell I want the whole world to know.

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