Saturday, March 5, 2011

This week I have mostly been....

having an article printed in the Daily Telegraph Expat Life section. I wrote it a while ago, but sick of all the vitriol that accompanies anything that might be perceived as negative about France I filed it away.

A couple of weeks ago I had coffee with Amodernmilitarymother who has just moved into the area. We talked a lot, as you would imagine, about blogging and writing and she reminded me of the words of Oscar Wilde; "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about" so I sent it off. Let them talk about me, does it really matter? No.   So they printed it almost word for word, removing only a few words unfortunately including 'same merde, different shaped bread' (perhaps they thought it was too strong for the sensitive constitutions of some of their readers) and the fact that I went to University in Paris and had lived abroad many times before. The main thing they did was change the title.

I called it 'Moving back or moving on; why the end of the dream doesn't have to be the end of the world'. I thought it was quite clever, they obviously didn't! It talks about why we moved to France, why we left and how we eventually found what we were looking for much closer to home, the 'moral' being if it's not  working out, don't be afraid to take the plunge and move back to your home country - or anywhere else for that matter.   It does, though, go to show how the title of an article can influence it's  'flavour' as I think, with their title about being 'driven' back to the UK, which is nonsense as it was an informed choice, in much the same way that it was an informed choice to move to France in the first place, not that you'd know from some of the commenters who all know for a fact that we 'didn't do  our homework'....<<sigh>>... it reads a bit differently.  Is that the longest sentence in the English language!

I've read one or two of the comments and the tweets - about par for the course bearing in mind the bit in the article about how leaving France is seen as marginally worse that putting kitties in wheelie bins - The expat fraternity, or at least certain elements of it,  has certainly proved true to type - as well a  bizarre argument about someone who may or may not be a Japanese man posing as an Englishman. Don't people lead strange lives!

One of the more recent comments is someone I recognise from a French forum who makes a point of hounding anyone (s)he thinks might be me, such is the pointlessness of his/her life and seems to know more about me than I know about myself, including the fact that I lived in Agen. Umm, Agen was about 30 kms away from where I lived. I did go there a few times but lived there, no. The article he talks about showed two stock photos, one of Virginia Water, where I also never lived, although I did live nearby, and one of Agen.  It's quite sad when people are so blinded by their own prejudices that they don't even bother to read things properly but that's life for you.  Oh, and I've never touched a chainsaw in my life. God forbid, I'd probably chop my own leg off! That was a little flight of fancy by the journalist. I've got a mean axe swing though!  (Edit: I see the comment has now been removed by the DT )

 It's now No. 1 of the 'most read' articles, bizarre seeing as it came out over a week ago and until a couple of days ago it hadn't even garnered a single comment.

Oscar Wilde would be proud of me!


Perpetually In Transit said...

Good for you, Wylye Girl. Forget the comments, most of them are knee-jerk reaction rather than reasoned thought, just like you find on many expat forums when people mention moving back/on.

the fly in the web said...

How healthy to see that something isn't working and do something about it.
France worked for us for a number of years, but when it didn't..we left.
And we've had the snideness and the unpleasantness too from those...should I say 'left behind'?

Steve said...

I'm proud of you too! Good for you! Let's hear it for freedom of speech!

Wylye Girl said...

PiT - I haven't bothered with them. As you say, they are mainly knee jerk reactions by people who think they know you based on 1000 words. I've been amazed at the clairvoyant ability of some of the commenters!

Fly - quite. I've never understood why it's better to sit tight, go broke and develop a drinking problem rather than admitting it's not right for you and moving on. But I think that 'left behind' is at the crux of some of their problems

Steve, You, Me and Oscar... YAY!

The Vegetable Assassin said...

I'm starting to really believe some people have nothing better to do with their time than get incensed and online stalk other people for having a different opinion to them. I can't believe the hate you got merely for having an opinion and expressing it, about your personal preferences that didn't impact anyone else. WTF? I think it says way more about them than it does about you. You're totally right though, screw those idiots. Let them have early heart attacks from getting uptight and stressed at someone they don't even know for horror! Not liking something. Good for you about the article! I'm going right now to read the article. Gee you'd think I'd have done that first, no? I was too busy being vexed on your behalf. :)

Wylye Girl said...

Ah Veggie, you are too kind. It's such a shame that yet again what I wrote is overshadowed by the commenters. Ho hum!

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

I think your article is great - sums up the bits about your past I knew already, but in one place!
I don't know why people get so het up about people changing thier minds or deciding to try somewhere else. If you were to move around the UK no-one would be the least bit bothered, but make a move abroad then decide it isn't for you, somehow that's a big failure to some observers.

Wylye Girl said...

Trish, I don't even think it's moving abroad, this is something that seems to be specific to France or at least to certain sections of the expat/immigrant society there. I've never come across it in any of the other countries where I've lived. They seem to take it as a personal insult. Tres bizarre!

Iota said...

Heading over to read it.

Taz said...

So it would seem you/we are not allowed to say it didn't work for us but you know what you did something about it.
Good for you for what you did do.
Ignore the small minded ones, you're never going to please all the people all the time. What matters is that you did what was right for you and yours. I gave up everything to move for my ex's job, now I'm stuck between a rock and bloody hard place. Hating where I am but neither wanting to go back where I was.

The Return of the Native ... sort of. said...

Goodness me! What a strange bunch who posted on the Telly article. Why are they so unpleasant? So you came home after realising that French living wasn't for you. Where is the problem? As Trish said, if you move around England, no-one rubs your face in it. Last year Cherie Blair's sister wrote an article about her coming home, totally broke, and she was absolutely slaughtered by the 'you didn't do your homework' crowd, poor woman.

I think that many of the homework crowd probably did do their sums - I wonder how many of them are fluent in French? Or live in a ghetto in Dordogneshire or Tarnington?

auntiegwen said...

I always like to hear of others who are brave enough to tray a new life and I always find food for thought. I have a holiday home that was bought with a view to it being where we retired to. I thought I'd go when my youngest went to uni but I wonder if in 5 years time I will have been brave enough?

Wylye Girl said...

Iota - And.....?

Taz - the most important thing is being true to yourself. I could have hung on in France hating it but you only have one life and I felt mine was passing me by in some rural backwater. The Boy also hated it and wanted to return to the UK so there was really no other choice.

I so love where I live now. It is everything we hoped to find in France but didn't and I have met some wonderful, interesting people from so many different walks of life. Everything from a former NATO commander to an Amazon Top 10 author and a screenwriter who's first film comes out this month.

Some people love living in France and good for them. We're all different.

I hope you find a resolution to your situation

Wylye Girl said...

RoTN - I wish I knew why they were so unpleasant. Did you find the same thing when you left Belgium? I think this is a very French immigrant thing myself probably because so many of them are stuck out there with no way back and so they have to take it out on anyone who does.

Auntiegwen - many people move abroad and love it. I did in every country I lived in except France which I did love to start with but only for a few years. Everyone has to do what is right for them so maybe if you feel brave enough you will move but I would always recommend keeping a foot in the door in the UK, just in case.

The Return of the Native ... sort of. said...

When we left Brussels, lots of our friends were really jealous and we have already had visitors coming to the cottage from there! No-one called us names or told us we were losers.

We have moved to the best place on Earth and have made loads of friends already, from all walks of life although I do admit to having possibly the most gregarious husband in the world! We have been welcomed here with open arms and I just wish we had moved back sooner!!

I loved my 20+ years in France but in fact I have almost found it here; I know we live in a very sought after area but it is as close to the France we all hanker after, minus the Frogs! And I'm not being rude - my children are French and my X was too.

Wylye Girl said...

RoTN, so I might be right that it is a 'France' thing. Like you we have been made to feel so welcome and found that community we didn't quite manage to find in France. Our neighbour asked if he could use our drive for half and hour, which of course was no problem and he turned up on the doorstep with two packs of smoked trout, caught by him and his wife (the trout that is!) and smoked at the smokery in the next village.

I have met some lovely people, the only thing missing was a local pub but, hooray, the dreadful one 5 minutes walk away has been taken over by a lovely South African couple and has been completely revamped so that box has been ticked now too.

It's the diversity of people I've met here that has been so lovely, former picture editors from glossy mags, screenwriters, authors, artists, NATO commanders, farmers, stonemasons. It makes for a lovely rich tapestry of friends.

Wylye Girl said...

RotN, I forgot to say this is a response from a French lady who lives in my town

"That does remind me of my past life at home! I keep saying to British people that France is NOT the perfect life they hope to have... Nobody ever believed me... It is hard to live in the countryside in France with practically non-existent public transport, a high rate of unemployment, long hours at work, no part time for mums, no team spirit at work... Long hours at school for the children (till 5pm), extremely old fashion way of teaching (one desk each, not allowed to talk and move) .... etc.. I could write a book about it... In my opinion living in britain is fab! Except for the weather... "

Sarah said...

Well done for getting the article published by The Telegraph.
As for the comments, there are as many views as there are people and unless they've walked in your shoes (as it were), there's no way they can know what works for you or not.

Wylye Girl said...

Thanks Sarah. Everyone is different, thank goodness, and everyone wants different things for and from their lives. We should just respect that IMHO.

Kitty said...

Wylye Girl: You did your homework, you visited in the 'off' season, you did everything you could realistically DO before the move. It's just asinine to me that people can try to call you down for choosing to try something, weighing the real-life realities and then deciding to choose to do something else.

The only way anyone can EVER know what France is really like, is to live here. No amount of Forums, Blogs or books can prepare you for the contradictions, joys, disappointments, frustrations and triumphs one finds here.
And it is different for every single family that arrives. What works for one in Lyon, won't for someone in Poitiers; the Parisian life is far different than what I find here in a small market town in Côtes d'Armor.

At the moment, it works for my children and for myself, if it ever does not, heh... it's just a place. We'll just bloom again after we transplant somewhere else. Only one life, might as well enjoy it, right?

As for the folks who don't bother to read or comprehend the article in it's entirety before replying? I say strike them off the Christmas Card list immediately! :)
Kind regards, Kitty

Wylye Girl said...

Kitty, you are so right. It always amazes me that people can be so judgemental based on 1000 words in a newspaper. There is, as you say, no preparation that will ever prepare you for living in a country, nor any magic formula that means it will work for one person and not another. I know people like us who did everything they could possibly do but still found they didn't like it and others who didn't do a single bit of research, had never even been to France before and they love it. The most important thing is being happy and doing what is right for you and your family.

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