Sunday, September 5, 1999

05/09/99 Departure of a daughter ...

Hello again, people.

As usual we've been incredibly busy, haven't got half the things done that really need doing, it's Sunday night and I'm half-cut again so it's time to let you know what's going on over here.

On the politico-economic front, not a lot. The French central bank and regulators still have to rule on what BNP have to do with the (hostile) minority 37% stake they acquired in Société Générale whilst trying to put together a Frog mega-bank (BNP + SG + Paribas): the only certainty about the outcome is that it'll piss off a lot of people, be bad for consumers and certainly won't help the French banking "industry" (in quotes because it's actually a small, exclusive and excessively expensive gentlemans' club). The minister of finance went so far as to harrumph that foreign bidders were extremely unwelcome: they all took the hint and no unfriendly foreign bids arrived which is probably just as well for them, it'll be the French government, rather than US & UK institutions, pumping billions of francs into some bloated inefficient bank that's not allowed to fire one of the fifteen people in its Crumbville (pop. 200) branch office. Citibank is probably heaving a sigh of relief.

But basically it's been the silly season for the past two months - when all the political parties go off on what they call "Université d'été", or summer brainstorming sessions - and real news is banned, or ignored. Incidentally, these Université d'été things are actually quite interesting, if only for the chosen sites. They're supposed to be prestigious affairs, hence the name - the sad reality of course is that only the party faithful appear, usually the ones that wear Crimplene suits and drive Skodas. Anyway, the Socialists have an enormous media-friendly affair somewhere like Bordeaux in which Jospin makes a brief appearance on a 150m² TV screen and is cheered by the crowds (to the best of my memory, feminine underwear has not yet been chucked at his feet on the stage, but that's probably not far off). These days the different right-wing factions (talking National here, not LePen and associated turds) have difficulty agreeing on anything important and even more difficulty getting together for what is - now - essentially a publicity stunt, and consequently have three or four affairs, usually in minor (don't tell them I said that) provincial cities (but not too far from Paris, because otherwise no-one would notice). Blue rinses are prominent in the audiences, and the differences between the different factions are so negligible that quite frankly no-one cares, apart from political commentators, who are paid to care but even so have difficulty. The Greens go and commiserate together either in some dreary seaside resort in Britanny or in some grim ex-industrial town whose current state is a direct result of 50 years of failed state industrial policy, and promise more of the same. This (and the fact that they do prefer crimplene suits - environmentally friendly - and Skodas - emphatically not environmentally friendly, but you can't just fire all the people making the filthy things) is probably why the Greens are not really taken seriously by anyone, certainly not by the Socialists, with whom they're supposed to be junior partners in government.
Still, the school holidays are now over and autumn is coming in, so with any luck some group or another will start feeling oppressed or deprived and stage a massive strike which'll paralyse the country, and then we'll have something to talk about over drinks in the evening.

Anyway, the month has gone by - Renaud & Sophie went off on holiday and I went in and varnished their staircase while they were away, and we went around last night to inaugurate the house. A little soirée "bien arrosée" ie we drank a lot, altogether very pleasant. Got the kids to bed about 1:30 this morning and slept in massively this morning before getting up to organise Malyon's birthday/departure party.

Which was a relatively small affair, about 10 young girls running screaming around the place and dunking for apples in the paddock, luckily Anne-Laure turned up aound 4pm to say goodbye to Malyon and help supervise so the adults could lie around drinking in the shade. The last of the balloons have exploded now and the chippie crumbs have been swept away, so that's all over. Now there's just the actual departure to get organised - bags to pack, stuff like that - and then Jeremy and I have to drop the pair of them off at Geneva at some filthy hour on Wednesday moaning

But right now I'm tired and I'm going to bed -

Trevor & margo

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