We All Have Our Crossing to Bear

There’s just something about ferries isn’t there. As the holiday madness approaches and ferry tariffs lift off with the last space shuttle, many Brits will be anticipating their journey to France. Ho ho – deep foaming and churning deep joy. According to the French ministry of statistics, 19.3 million (Yes – I’ve checked it) British landings were made in France in 2009. Sure makes D day look a bit thin.  My own highly scientific silly rucksack, odd looking shoes and men with handbag survey reveals that about 19 French people have ever travelled on ferries from France to England. Hence, the whole cross channel experience is BRITISH. Yes – Abba karaoke, pints and pints of lager, shaven headed cyclists in stripey jumpers on charity rides, pink trousered loud voiced posh folk who’ve lost their yachts and tattooed parents bawling at marauding mohecan headed brats. Even Gilles has given up trying to speak French. “Poisson frites” he says in perfect Parisian “Uh..you you vant zee feesh and zee sheeps yes..? Well, to be honest on Brittany Ferries the crew are generally from Bretagne. Paris is another country. Stick to English – most of the waiters have never met a French traveller. The problem is I need a desk and I have one in England that I could bring over …..but can I bear it?

On the holiday theme, readers will know of my love for cycling. If you haven’t planned your hols and perhaps you’re a bit poorer than you’d hoped and you really want to do something fantastic, life changing and totally boast-worthy – why don’t you cycle to Paris? This was the first thing I ever did with Gilles. Luckily he has a fetish for sweaty moaning women with varicose limbs. This is what you do. You get to Newhaven; cross to Dieppe: follow an old railway line to Forge-Les-Eaux; keep to tiny car free roads until you pick up le canal de L’Ourq AND YOU SLIDE INTO PARIS! We did it second time with three kids. Just one problem. We are talking about France – yes – in Northern France many non-chain hotels close for summer holidays. YES – you did understand that. Shops close noon until 3pm. Hotels close for the summer. There are ways around this and tomorrow I’ll tell you of some folks we’ve stayed with unless something astonishing happens in Charentes. If you want info on the trip of your life just get in touch and I can give a romantic novelists guide to saddle sores, love in lycra and how to smuggle your hair straighteners, manicure set and five changes of costume to Paris on a bike. I want you guys to do this. Just think – a wet night in October – dinner party with the Beatyourazzi who’ve just come back from their own island with slaves, en suite waxing salon and a money mine……And I don’t suppose you did much on holiday?…….Ooh I’m a conniving cynical bitch!

Emma x

Emma Thinx:  Bullshit baffles brains. Sweat dissolves bullshit.

Doing it by the book

I think I was about 25 when I first heard the word icon. I guess that before that time there were not so many of them. Since then icons and geniuses have been multiplying so that soon almost everyone and everything will be one or the other if not both.  In football commentary, several geniuses play in iconic matches and venues several times a week. Well, as a Sunday treat I’m gonna talk about 2 icons. One is the Citroen Deux Chevaux (2CV) and the other is the publisher Mills and Boon. This pairing is obvious since they are both famous, successful, lightweight, cheap and are constructed to contain at least one cow and generally a prize bull. And above all – THEY ARE STILL HERE!

In Charentes, some of the oldest vehicles are still on the road – not as weekend hobbies but as up and running day to day transport. Several Deux Chevaux two cylinder pop-pop-pop up the road most days and I see many old Renault 4’s, Citroen Dyanes and even a Simca Aronde. Now, I know we romantic novelists would not be expected to be petrol heads, but I am in a kinda nostalgic fuzzy way. Jeremy Clarkson has done all he can to make me hate cars – but I think I just hate boorish juveniles. Now, don’t get me on politics!

I am reading “Pour une unique nuit d’amour” by Carole Mortimer(in translation). This is a Harlequin / Mills and Boon romance in which a female photographer loses control of her exposure and focus and winds up being at the pregnant end of a shoot. That’s as far as I’ve got and pour être honête I like it. Shoppers can take a walk into a world of international passion, glitz and romance for 3.85 Euros at the Intermarché, between the bin liners and the light bulbs. If you’re learning French get a couple of Harlequin collection Azur and tone up that vocabulary and your pelvic floor all at once . The writing is clear and avoids complex tenses and figures of speech. Find the book here.

Bon Dimanche. Emma x

Turned off? Get your hands on your switch and enjoy.

Those things that influence us fall into two categories. Those we are aware of and those that are hidden or so built in that we just cannot see them. Other writers obviously influence me. Good writers create readers. Great writers create other writers. Ho hum, I’ll settle for readers! The singer Edith Piaf has been the most powerful influence on my life and work. I heard her singing on the radio by chance and was so drawn to her sound and language that I decided to teach myself French. If you’ve ever longed to learn a language and the school system turned you off, get some music of the language you want, turn yourself back on and get singing. Put all those classroom humiliations behind you and learn a song. Sing it in your head. You don’t have to show out until you are ready. Babies just gurgle and listen. Suddenly WHEN THEY ARE READY they go for it. Also try using the accent and flavour of your new language in your own tongue. Oh wee, ziss is ow you can do eet. I tell you, zair will bee uh no regrets.

Check out the life of Edith Piaf in the film La Vie en Rose.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5gpBncR8zI&NR=1

I’ve added a poem which reflects my own tiny homage to her soul. It’s about living with who you are and what you are. Chanteuse