Nurse! The Screens!

Having a temper on the volcanic side of volatile is not too good for my blood pressure and I’m not at all sure that the sight of a woman old enough to know better flapping her bingo wings as she advances on the perceived source of the problem while upbraiding it in the manner of Reginald Hill’s Dalziel would be good for anyone else’s either.

Though since leaving France, explosions have been far less frequent.

I can cope with Danilo’s urge to go left instead of right and to depart from the motorway (yes, we have one) on a side road miles before the turn off given in the directions. Scarcely a rumble.

Bureaucracy? A doddle!

The repairman who has been telling me that the strimmer will be ready tomorrow for the last three months? A shrug. Though he can’t count on that continuing once the rainy season sets in again.

The legal system? Not a problem (so far)….and as a senior citizen my papers get priority in the Constitutional Court. The sheer joy of having the local mayor told that if he didn’t repair the damage to my cafetal caused by his roadworks gang within three months he would be in the jug!

The expat bloodsucking community? Their stings have no effect.

So why the need for screens?

Because I still have a house in France and all that goes with it….tax demands, bank accounts, you name it and when the post arrives it inevitably contains something to make Krakatoa look like a side show.
While friends are very good about alerting me to changes that might affect me, I do read one or two of the national dailies online to keep up to date as well and yesterday’s news was a humdinger.

President Hollande, popularity plummeting like a lift with no cables, has decided to get out and about and meet the people. Whether they liked it or not. And they didn’t.
Whoever had that bright idea must have been trained in the Ecole Nationale d’Administration like Hollande himself.
We’ve come a long way from de Gaulle’s tours of the provinces and Hollande is no de Gaulle, even if on his first trip he was to sleep in a bed made specially to accommodate the General’s lanky frame.
You could almost hear the roars of ‘Who’s been sleeping in my bed?’ from the graveyard at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises.

So he went to Dijon where after being greeted by trade unionists with cries of ‘What about your promises?’ (99,500 jobs having been lost in France this year) though being spared further contact by his security detail strong arming them away he announced sedately that anyone was welcome to speak to him as long, one supposes, that they don’t ask about his promises.

Having failed to cut the mustard in Dijon he returned to Paris where his government appeared to be slipping on the ice left in the streets by the inaction of the Mayor.
They have to shave another four billion euros off expenditure to keep the deficit down to only 3.7 % as there is a likelihood that the EU will finally pay attention to France’s overspending after decades of the equivalent of the Gallic shrug.
So that was the signal for the Ecology minister, Delphine Batho, to mess off to Cherbourg to inspect the windfarm in the seas off the coast, using a governmental Falcon jet and a Navy helicopter for the occasion.

Not much hope of economies there, then. Not for anything remotely ‘green’.

Which brings me to the need for screens.

The French parliament have passed a law designed to reward ‘virtuous’ users of gas and electricity by permitting variable rates of payment according to the quantities used.
Good idea, you might say and indeed this scheme already exists in a vestigial form.

But, of course, this being France, it is not so simple.
You can’t just have a series of categories which are charged at increasing rates to reflect your usage, permitting you to decide independently whether to turn off the electric fire in order to run the kettle.
Allowing such independence would be tantamount to opening the floodgates of anarchy.

No no, Big Brother will take care of it all for you. All you will have to do is pay.

There will be different categories depending on what sort of fuel you use, where you live and how many there are of you.
There will be forms to fill out.
And the utility companies will be sending round people to fill them out for you in case you decide to invite your granny and her sisters to afternoon tea and add them to your total for the purposes of the form.
Thus, one imagines replacing the 99,500 lost jobs at a stroke….

Interestingly there will not be a category for the size of your house. There is an ideal size (so far unstated but rumoured to be the size of a dog kennel for dachshunds) and all calculations will be based on that.

But I’m not there…why am I worried?

Because I leave heat on in the winter to keep the bones of the old house warm and my last winter’s bill – up some thirty percent to pay for blasted windfarms – was enough to induce the habdabs as it was.
Multiply dachshund kennels to fill its volume and I’ll be paying the four billion in economies on my own.

And it hardly increases its appeal to clients….only families large enough for mum to have been awarded the Vichy medal for producing eight children could hope to afford the proposed bills.
Perhaps I should enter into talks with the English council who are building a property to house a lady with eleven children, a horse and a husband taking flying lessons all paid for by benefits.

My house would be cheaper and the husband could fly them back to the U.K. to sign on when necessary.


47 thoughts on “Nurse! The Screens!”

  1. I don’t know about heating in France, but I do know about temper eruptions. I don’t have many of them, but I can tell it’s going to be a worrisome day when the littlest of things annoy me (like a driver going below the speed limit or a person at the checkout line with 100 different coupons). Best I just keep silent and breathing at times like those. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. When I had the wood burner going it wouldn’t have been just the forms I’d have been burning…the person delivering them would have had to be pretty nippy to get away from a reverse Joan of Arc scenario…

  2. I love you! Will you marry me?
    I wonder how this will affect us? We stopped leaving any heating on in winter after we ended up paying more to heat a house we occasionally live in than to heat the one we DO live in..Now, of course, if the temperature drops below a certain level indoors, the fridge defrosts itself, but frankly it’s a smaller price to pay than the cost of heating.
    I DO hope I’m there when they send someone round to help me fill in the forms. What’s the average prison sentence for fonctionnairicide???

    1. Sorry, the new pope won’t allow it…..

      Second homes have been included; I’m not sure of the details except that they get no bonus, only malus.
      Valls is calling for harsher punishment for those who attack representatives of the state…he must have known this legislation was on its way…but I can think of more than a few doughty pensioners who’ll be sharpening the scythes tonight…

  3. You certainly keep up with the doings at home. The potential of the minutiae to destroy life as currently known gives you no choice. How many papers must be subscribed?

    1. Friends keep me in touch…from the dirty dealings of local mayors to the next cunning plan of the government to pick my pocket….but I do like to keep a weather eye open myself, so I tend to shoot through Le Figaro and Le Nouvel Observateur – differing views and interests – and poke about in Le Monde from time to time. All online.
      Luckily I’m a quick reader and I know what I’m looking for!

  4. I’d be scared to read too much, for fear of raising my blood pressure. I’ve never lived in France, but even as une touriste I faced some hideous beaurocracy.
    Um…would it not save you a lot of euros if you turned off the heating?

  5. Nice to find you again Helen. I’m sure that you’ve tried every avenue, but is there a reason you couldn’t rent out the French house and thus make the tennant responsible for the heating costs? Hollande seems to be lurching from bad to worse. He seems to have no idea.

    1. Craig, I’m still enjoying your rail trip post!
      We did rent it…but landed on the tenants from hell; damage, refusal to pay – they’d had good references but when I contacted the person giving them she said they had been so awful that giving a false reference was the only way to be rid of them! It has rather put me off….but if you know of anyone who would like to live in a beautiful spot, I’d trust you!

  6. Gosh, I haven’t heard of this little swindle. I’m quite happy with my energy bills which haven’t gone up much at all although maybe the worst is to come…

    I bet you wish you could be rid of the damned place!

    1. Neat one, isn’t it.
      I’d love to be able to sell it. As they say, no reasonable offer refused – I can invest the proceeds here at 7.8% so a lower price doesn’t matter too much!

  7. Heavens, the trials and tribulations of multiple home owners make me glad I โ€˜onlyโ€™ have one house. At least the Welsh havenโ€™t burnt you down.

    Stroke your dog, itโ€™s good for your blood pressure.

    1. Well, having multiple houses in the same country is manageable…having one the other side of the ocean and under the jurisdiction of dishonest French laws is another!

      I remember the days of ‘come home to a real fire’ in Wales….

  8. Our heating bill (mostly oil) has been ridiculous this year, OK so we have a couple of extra radiators on the line but…… Only the bedroom is heated by electricity otherwise we use very little. Gas is is mainly used for cooking and even the kettle is not electric. Our bill has been outrageous and it is not the amount of what we have used as that is low, but all the bits added on for this that and the other have pushed it sky high. We are in the process of seeing just how we can sort this problem out, but as you say the French have too many forms and too many sheets to fill in. I also have a volcanic temper so I try to leave it to N who is able to keep calm (mostly). Take care Diane

    1. Oh yes…the bits added on: communal this departmental that and regional the other all subject to VAT.

      Now sit down and put down your cup before you read what follows:
      A part of what you actually pay for gas and electricity goes to support the social and welfare funds of GDF / EDF, … camps for kids, hotels for workers, jollies and jaunts on the grand scale, with preference taken by, not given to, officials of whichever union runs the social and welfare committee.
      Further, those who work for GDF / EDF get their supply at minimal cost.
      No sign whatsoever of removing this privilege.

      When I lived in the house I used the wood stove which heated one half very effectively. My caretakers can’t do that, unfortunately.

  9. Sarah Morgan
    One wonders how much faster your case would move through the Constitutional Court system is you were not only a senior citizen but also pregnant and blind ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Gosh, thanks for the warning, Helen. We shut everything off when we leave in the autumn and drain down the water, so we won’t get bursts, so hopefully our three months in the summer will continue to come at a manageable cost. We only have a 3 Kw abonnement too, if that makes a difference. At present the EDF website is malfunctioning which means we can’t log into our espace client to check our bills, so it will be interesting to see what may be waiting for us next time we make it across to our house.

    Take the dogs for a walk and try to think peaceful thoughts. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Yours is a maison secondaire so will have a special regime…though nomatter how virtuous they may be second home owners only get a malus!

      BUT if you decide to put three windmill things in your garden EDF will be obliged to take the electricity…..

      Dogs walked until they have shorter legs and patted until they have holes in the fur!

  11. We’ve just had a man round to tell us that as our electricity bill is always high we can get 15% back if we go and sign up at the electricity office. What a farce – by signing up to a new contract that would tie us into a pricing scheme for 18 months we would get a future reduction of 3%.
    Knew it was too good to be true.

  12. I spend too much time going to speak to the electricity company here with expats who can’t speak Spanish (now THAT irritates me!) but I go with them to help and only now am I beginning to understand the awful complexities that exist in the measuring and billing process. People are made to jump through ridiculous and unnecessary hoops and money is syphoned off for all sorts of things. Fortunately, my husband doesn’t hold back in dealing with them appropriately when it comes to our own bills – it seems to work OK.
    Fingers crossed something gets resolved in France. I too have a property there – I’ve been waiting 17 years for my ex to buy me out, but at least I don’t pay the bills anymore.

    1. Most of the Britpack in France used to think it bad form to question any bill presented to them…don’t know if they feel the same way now things are getting a bit tougher.

      It’s a lovely house…we were very happy there and it would make a great family home…but it’s the past now.

  13. Hollande really isn’t doing himself any favours is he ? I haven’t come across a positive comment about anythng he’s done for ages….how did all those promises vanish so quickly ? As for the fuel….we’ll just have to wait and see how it happens. We did not intend to be away from our house in France for as long as we have been this winter…6 months unfortunately…..but a friend has taken to just putting some heating on if the forecast is for low temperatures, which we hope will help…. but with all these things…. we’ll keep our fingers crossed,…..and pay the bloody bill when it comes. Have you got anyone interested in buying your place ? It seems such a shame….take care, keep calm, etc etc. Jx

    1. The law won’t enter into effect just yet, so don’t worry and as I said to Perpetua, second homes will have a special regime anyway.

      We’ve had interest…have had people wanting to buy and happy to sign a compromis….but that means the house goes off the market while they try to get their finances together, banks are as slow as slow can be and then turn down people with safe jobs and good incomes who only want a top up!
      In the meantime, we’ve lost weeks every time this happens.

      And as for Hollande…..well, words don’t fail me but there are limits to what I’m willing to print!

  14. France was on our list of options for where to live. I’m glad I didn’t. It’s the easy choice for all Brits given it’s the first foreign language us aged ones learned. What I like/liked about Spain was its casual non-observance of rules.

    I am loving that story about benefits. Do you have an easy link or should I move my idle fingers and find it?

    1. France…or my bit of it was just that…non observance of rules…systeme D…work round things….but things changed once Mitterand’s decentralisation took hold…little fiefs, jobsworths, you name it.

      The benefits story was in the Daily Mail (where else), but repeated in more reliable organs later.

      1. I used to be a stickler for rules and playing things by the book (I wasn’t company secretary for nothing) but the changes to the British systems really racked me off when idiocy took over from common sense and fair play. I wanted to live an independent life without interference and to a large extent, Spain did and still does fulfill a lot of that. With the exception of their stupid ITV and homolgation laws for vehicles which get so ridiculous that it feels like you can’t stick a Save the Whales (or even Wales) sticker in your window without having it approved at vast expense by the main stealer.

        The Daily Mail does get some good stories though from time to time. Not my choice of reading, but I have noticed a couple of goodies on the internet. I tend to use Guardian, BBC, Al whatsit, (Huff Post is a bit trendy for me), and El Pais and El Mundo, plus the Gib ones. I leave the Brit ones alone unless desperate really as I find them too depressing.

        I’m still reeling at that benefit one (I don’t know why I’m reeling, I should know better), it’s so nice to know that’s what my hard-earned taxes have gone towards while my pension age soars ever higher and I could get stuff all if I went back. Bastards.

  15. I too was somewhat anal about law and suchlike….while law was to regulate what needed regulating and was done with a light hand.
    Once it was clear that the legislation was there to screw people who couldn’t afford to get out from under it I changed my attitude.

    I’m not a DM natural, but you’re right, they do have some stuff from time to time…

    The benefits story, yes, what have they done with my money, indeed…but what about the sheer waste at the top of government.
    We have a civil service. Why do we need consultants? Spin doctors? Quangos? (Answer…to repeat the pattern of crony politics and state dole for the well off on a scale unthought of even by Lord North).

    Off to grind teeth.

    1. It is a bit red rag to a bull, isn’t it….especially when I think that my husband….too paralysed to walk at the time… was denied invalidity benefit as they lost his stamps record and then, when eventually found, declared him out of time to claim….

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