All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Humbug...but don't put it on Facebook.

Project 365 -27 270109 Bah, Humbug! (3231534159)Image via Wikipedia
You may have decided that all the commercial hype of Christmas is not for garish lights on your house, making all visitors to the front door resemble something from a zombie film extravagant presents dropped in your friends' gardens from diamond studded obligatory parties where someone will inevitably want to use the swimming pool even if it has been emptied for the Christmas holiday in the Bahamas to get away from all of the above and annoy your friends and family who have been counting on you doing all of the above.

You're going to have a quiet family Christmas at home with home made presents and Kings College nine lessons and carols on the radio and you've already started knitting the dog a festive bone.

Now, if you live in France, whatever you do, do not encourage others to follow your example...and certainly not on Facebook, or you risk a visit from the bold gendarmes inviting you to spend the festive season with them instead of with your family.

French courts have  a tendency to believe that what is posted on Facebook is not a private but a public matter...(here)...which can mean that posting what you would like to have said to the gendarme when he gave you a speeding ticket will be treated exactly as if you had said it to the gendarme concerned and you risk being jugged, while moaning about your boss or your firm on Facebook  can lead to the boss or firm deciding that you have incited rebellion....wonderful, the French vocabulary at times...among the downtrodden workers on their thirty five hour week with two hour lunch breaks and regular 'ponts' - bridges - to link one public holiday with another and you will be dismissed and sent to live under the pont d'Avignon rather than dancing upon it.

Why would it matter that you have encouraged others to follow your example in turning your backs on the hype of Christmas?

Because you are encouraging people to boycott Christmas.

And boycotting stuff can be illegal in France...according to the Chancellerie....the bit of the French government that controls the prosecutors, those independent magistrates whom the European Court of Human Rights declare to have no independence of government whatsoever.

These prosecutors have been encouraged to crack down on any manifestation  of  public incitement to discrimination against a nation....for fear of retaliation by the nation concerned it appears, though this is well submerged in the blurb which attempts to use legislation directed at incitement to racism or sexism to justify repression of boycotts aimed at particular countries.

Recently, a legislator, a senator I believe, was hauled up for invading a supermarket and encouraging a boycott of Israeli products in protest against the spread of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.....this was supposed to be and was treated as equivalent to racism.

How would the prosecutors have handled the boycott of South African products in the era of apartheid?
What about boycotting Chinese products on the grounds of its treatment of Tibet?
Or on the grounds of its use of slave and child labour?

Independent as they claim to be, with one voice they would prosecute any incitement to boycott products on these grounds, although the legislation upon which such a prosecution depends was created to attack the very basis of the policies which attract the wish to boycott the products of these regimes.

But Christmas has no is universal - except for some U.K. local councils who seem to believe that it offends non Christians - so you run no risk if you encourage your friends to follow your example.

Hah! This is France!

Now, the French claim to be a logical nation...if you overlook the strange nature of some of their let us approach this in the spirit of French logic, just as the independent French prosecutors will do.

Any fule kno that Father Christmas lives in the North Pole.

Any fule also kno that Russia has been laying claim to said Pole by hammering national flags into the seabed under said Pole.

Thus, Christmas is Russian.

Your statement of opposition to the hype of Christmas and your encouragement of others to oppose it likewise is thus incitement to boycott Russian products......and thus falls within the remit of the, no advice...given to the public prosecutors.

Whatever you do, when the gendarmes come to arrest you, do not resist arrest.
Even if you can't breathe because the gendarme has his arm across your not bite him.
The independent prosecutors are not interested in your little problems.

And why would France be worried about Russian retaliation for your defiance of Christmas hype?

Look whose hand is on the gas taps of Europe.

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  1. I despise the hype as well, and refuse to give in to the commercialism of it. Have already begun crocheting (more) fisherman caps for the children. And matching scarves. I'm a rebel that way.

  2. Merry Christmas, Comrade. Vodka on its way.

  3. this rings a bell. The French seem to take somethings a little too seriously, like the Turks. After all it was someone's opinion on Youtube here that got it banned a few years ago.

    As for Christmas...bah humbug from me..having been in the UK for a week I am heartily sick of all the commercialised glad I will be home before the festive season begins.

  4. Bah humbug - I love Christmas and twinkly lights etc etc, all (vaguely) tastefully done I hope.

    I am sorely tempted to put something contraversial on facebook just to see if anything happens when I am wishing family and ex colleagues a happy festive season!

  5. Well.... OK.... but I've already made homemade mincemeat, two Christmas puds and several Christmas cakes. What will I do with the Cognac that goes to feed and moisten their great swollen hungry tummies?
    I like twinkly fairy lights, and hot mulled wine, and carols, and the scent of pine and cinnamon. I love this season: the giving of my homemade gifts, the ruddy snow, sappy Christmas movies and my family snuggled up on the couch together as we eat far too many of my various biscuits and drink far too much hot spiced apple cider.

    Tell you what, I'll celebrate for you! Especially if Chocolate-filled Mint Humbugs are involved!

    As for Facebook... no one understands what the hell I'm on about half the time anyway nor do they frankly care, so, I think I'm safe.

  6. Another Day of Crazy, I like the family and friends bit of Christmas and the New Year very much indeed...but the hype leaves me cold.

    Steve, thank you comrade...solidarity appreciated.

    Ayak, It just seemed such a perverse way of boycott a product because you disapprove of national or commercial discriminative policies....and then get taken to court for inciting discrimination!

    I'm just watching cynical price increases coming into the shops, just in time for the Christmas bonuses to be paid...forewarned by friends I did all my bulk shopping earlier.

    Roz, yes, fun to live dangerously sometimes!
    I've nothing against lights...but some of the extravaganzas round where I used to live made me wonder if Disneyland had moved south!
    The psychedelic icicles was one that gave me the heebies every time I passed it.

  7. Kitty, I love the family and friends bit too...and my home made Christmas puddings, cakes and mincemeat are all lined up, though I had one hell of a job explaining suet to my butcher who finally let me into his cold room to point to what I wanted!

    I'm not fond of lights myself...or of decorating....but, then, we have no kids for whom to do it and I always thought it was their pleasure that made it special.

    Anyway, you're not succumbing to hype by the sound of's all your own work!

    But celebrate for me by all means!

  8. "Chtob vse byli zdorovy" let everyone be healthy!

    Cheers and bring on the vodka!

  9. Dedene, if Putine would just send it down the pipelines.....

  10. I don't mind the hype, it is all the relatives who come to stay - and boycotting them is way way harder.

  11. Mark, I don't like the pressure on people to spend money.

    Example...on the tiny scale.

    The lady who mucks us out once a week was going to make lunch for us all and could find no tomatoes.
    Why did we not have any?
    Because our own are still green and the price of tomatoes in the shops is horrific.
    Yes, it always is at Christmas, because they go into tamales. Like potatoes.
    So that's why we don't have any tomatoes.
    But I'm poor and I buy tomatoes....what would people think if I made a tamale without them?

    Cynical exploitation by the veg echo of cynical exploitation by toy makers, perfume producers and some celebrity chef with an orange stuck in his Christmas pudding.

    But on the ´positive side family are all safely the other side of the various oceans!
    Whooppee! We can just see friends!

  12. I never use fresh tomatoes in my tamales, because I am allergic to fresh tomatoes and they send me into anaphylactic shock. Canned do just fine, last for yonks and are far cheaper. ;)

  13. Kitty, the price of canned tomatoes in Costa Rica way more expensive than in France.

    When they were on offer in one of the local supermarkets we cleared the shelves and the stockroom....and I did offer some to the lady referred to above... who refused with contumely!
    What did we think she was?
    She wasn't going to palm off her family with something from a can!

  14. Fly? Can you hear me muttering all the way from Côtes d'Armor? :D

    I take it Lidl, Netto and Aldi have not yet arrived in Costa Rica?

    But yes, that illustrates what you are saying perfectly. I can't stand pretentiousness, from any corner and in any flavour and regardless where it comes from. It's all rather, "Look at me! I'm MORE special than you because..." That attitude gets right on my teets, (if you'll pardon my Mother's favourite swear-phrase.)

    Why bother keeping up with the Joneses? Wouldn't people rather be original?

    OK, I'll go back into my corner again, and mutter some more at myself. ;)

  15. Kitty, she's a great lady...but she regards our penny pinching she sees dreadful!

    She took Mr. Fly up to the hospital lately...she has friends who work there...and said to the nurse doing the blood tests
    'You'll never get blood out of him..he's too mean to buy a tomato!'

    I think the fresh tomato to her is like the ladies who used to whiten their doorsteps every's a symbol of respectability and status, and I have a feeling that if you're on the lower slopes of society respectability and status might be more important than if you're higher up the hill.

    Lidly, my dreams!
    It's local stores or Walmart clones, all out to price stuff at what the market will bear...but i have just found the Nicaraguan stores with lower prices...

  16. Utterly brilliant post!

  17. Crumpet, thank you...glad you liked a bit of Christmas humbug!

    And I will never fathom French's like dealing with an alien species at times....very much the world of Alice through the Looking Glass.

  18. Here at least, suet is "tocino", but you're likely to get a horrible big lump of fat with bloody bits still sticking to it, rather than nice hygienic pellets that bear no resemblance to where they've come from.

    I'm glad to say that the Christmas hype hasn't started yet in these parts, but I'm going to England soon, and your post has made me aware that I'd better brace myself for humbug!

  19. Pueblo girl, I tried 'the fat round the beef kidneys' and while he eventually understood he was just flabbergasted that I would want it.
    It is used for treating leather!

    What I got was exactly as you describe, but since my Christmas job in childhood was skinning and cleaning the suet I was in training!

    Christmas here is going strong...blasted Jingle Bells on one hand and local carols on the other...there is one that sounds as if Heavy Metal had got at the Christmas story which must be a favourite of the staff of the main town supermarket.
    I'd like to jungle their bells for them....can't hear myself think when that one starts up for the fifth time since I entered the store.

  20. Yes the French are a funny bunch. I've made my FB page pretty zipped up so nosy peeping toms don't get much of a look-in. Learnt the hard way over the village furore recently!

    As for Christmas, I like to keep it low key. We see family and friends. This year I'm in France for Christmas and the boys are with their dad. What I'll be doing is still in the pipeline but I've been invited to Reveillon with friends if my dearly beloved doesn't get his act together.

    I hate loathe and detest the hype and it makes me want to cancel the whole thing especially as it tends to bring out the worst in many people.

    I much prefer it simple, pretty and tasty.

  21. Sarah, getting the sack for moaning about your boss on Facebook seems to me to be beyond the pale!

    We've friends visiting over Christmas and for New Year we're going to other friends up the hill...a big gathering in the yard in front of the house, with lots of nibbles while the main act is prepared...a big cauldron over a bonfire, filled with molten lard into which squares of unskinned belly pork will be dropped...chicharones!
    Followed by whole potatoes, then plantains...
    Sounds stodgy?
    Not a bit...eaten straight away!
    Fireworks, beer, wine, gossip and everyone into the house for the national anthem on the television at midnight.

    Given the choice between the cauldron and a restaurant do...the cauldron wins every time!

  22. Carnits... yes. Chicharones, no thank you. I guess it's different depending upon where it's made, I just remember the Tijuana way of Chicharones smothered in brown gravy... it was supposed to be a delicacy, I thought they were pulling my leg. (Pork rinds??? With BISTO??)

    Then again so often, the food and the company and the ambiance make the dish, yes? Laughter and friendship are the best seasonings one can use.

    I do hope you'll take pictures and post them, I want to see the cauldron!

  23. Kitty, I'll try.

    No these morsels come out of the pot straight to the sauce, no nothing..the British will know the delights of crackling...well, this is crackling with attitude!

    But you're right...the company past years we've been in the company of the extended family of our hosts and all the people who know a good thing when they eat it...high court judges to street sweepers..or vice versa!

  24. I'd bette double check that my facebook page is securely protected... not that I'd think les gendarmes would understand half the French I write on it anyway but I guess that leaves room for misinterpretation of even the most harmless thing.

    I too think the French take things and themselves far too seriously. Whilst I like living here I do miss the ease with which the UK can laugh at themselves. That said, I cannot stand how PC it has become and what a nanny nation it is.

    I like big Christmases but not all the time, every third year we escape to somewhere hot and have a very low key affair, just the two of us.