Friday, August 11, 2006

Stuff that sucks about France

Things about France that suck

Yeah, you read that correctly. But let me point out first of all that this isn't another 'Year in the Merde' style compilation of why it's OK to hate France and the French. I actually like France a lot (otherwise I wouldn't have lived here for so long) and I am simultaneously putting together a list of stuff about France that I really like. But for some reason, it's just a lot easier to write about stuff that I really hate. I wonder why that is? This would be the poisonous cynicism that Tony Blair is always banging on about in election speeches. The French suffer from this too of course, and there have been various studies recently on why the frogs are so bummed out at the moment (or why they think everyone else hates them). So basically, we all like complaining. The French certainly set themselves up for criticism of many aspects of their culture, seeing as they're so fucking rah-rah about how great France is most of the time (except when you're talking about the government, whose every move gets ripped apart by pretty much everyone within reach of an internet talkboard. Mind you, that's probably the same everywhere). So I have decided to cast my own stone and list up a few things that I don't like about France. But let's say this is just the rough part of a fairly good deal - I like it here, France is great and I ain't moving back to the UK anytime soon.

1. The Countryside

Aaaaaah the country! The joy of getting back to nature, breathing the fresh air and enjoying life's simple pleasures! What more could one want? EH??? I have had my fill of hearing people witter on about how totally bitchin' the French countryside is - you'd think they were talking about Mount fucking Olympus or something. Every time I travel outside of Paris for a bit, I have to sit through a lecture on how great everything is out in the sticks and how I must be really bummed out that I have to go back to the big smoke at the end of the weekend.
Well OK, there are many very beautiful regions of France and much for the eyes to feast upon by way of rustic, timeless Gallic charm. BUT, as nice as it might be for the weekend, I certainly wouldn't want to live there - once the novelty has worn off, you realise that most of the French countryside is full of shifty, inbred wurzels who spend 3% of their time doing anything that could vaguely be described as hard work, and the other 97% lounging around in the sun scratching their arses and refusing to wash. This might sound like fun, but after a while you start to realise that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING EVER HAPPENS round here and all these yokels can do to kill their boredom is meet up in the village and then drive off to some shitty nightclub in the middle of nowhere, where they proceed to get properly c*nted on J&B whisky mixed with flat coke, try to pull their six-fingered cousin and then jump back into their cars and speed off at 5am to cause some 30 vehicle pile up on the local tractor path. Whoop de doo!!! What idyllic rural customs! It doesn't help that most of these hayseed bastards greet any visiting outsiders in their community with about the same conviviality as Donald Sutherland at the end of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' - they don't take kindly to hoity-toity city folk coming in and disturbing them while they cream off massive EU farming subsidies, drink shitloads of prune vodka and beat their wives or go out canvassing for the Front National!!! Welcome to the 21st century you bumpkin fuckwits! You can stick your country traditions up your arse for all I care! I don't care how polluted it is round here, I'm not moving!!

2. The Rando de Roller in Paris

I guess I should balance that last one out with some anti-Paris ranting, so I feel it's my duty to draw people's attention to this most goonish of city customs. Basically, someone obviously decided way back whenever that it would be cool to organise a massive rollerblade rally through the streets of the capital, so now once or twice a week the roads get sealed off by the cops so that several hundred lycra-clad yuppie tossers can whizz by on their fucking rollerblades whilst everyone else (be it cars, pedestrians or whatever) has to stand and wait for them to finish coming through which can often take upwards of 10 minutes. Obviously, whilst we're waiting for these dickheads to get out of the fucking way, we are secretly envious of their urban cool and clever choice of transport. Oh but if only I were as up to date as you!! For fuck's sake, this all might have been vaguely amusing the first time but all these fools do now is get up in my face and make me late for wherever I'm going. Plus, they automatically assume you'll halt your journey and let them through - woe betide anyone who might get in their way even in the slightest, for they will be sternly reprimanded by whichever blader's path they cross. Get this you muppets - it's the fucking street! If you want to go spin round in circles and practice your swerving, go find a fucking skatepark and leave the rest of us in peace! One of my mates used to work the late shift and would regularly get stuck behind these twats in a taxi, the meter running all the time. Just one of the many sacrifices us mere commoners have to make for you c*nts to have your little roller party every week. I always hope some fat guy's going to fall over one day and cause a massive pile-up with dozens of fatalities, but so far my dreams have yet to come to fruition.

3. The Telly

Do I really need to explain this? Granted, TV is often pretty shoddy whatever country you happen to be in, but French TV sucks so badly that I can't even sit through five minutes of it most of the time without wanting to chuck the bloody thing out the window. The thing is, whilst programmes are produced in certain places (notably in the UK) which aim to teach the viewer something useful and provide access to the wider cultural universe, French telly basically treats the viewer like the sort of drooling fuckwad who sits on the front row at Royal Variety Performances and claps at whatever is put in front of him no matter how blatantly crummy it is. Mind numbing talk shows, toe-curling music specials, 'comedy' programmes that are about as funny as finding out someone just ran over your Granny.....99% of all home-made French telly about as much fun to watch as a live testicle transplant. What makes things worse is that the rest of the airtime gets filled up with fuck-awful American series dubbed into French, which means that any slight trace of originality and character gets ironed out by the same bunch of voice actors yabbering over the footage so that the whole thing looks and sounds completely ridiculous. What's wrong with fucking subtitles eh??? How come everywhere else in Europe you get them on telly and in the cinema, but not round here?? (cancel that – I just went to Germany and it’s the same there). The only thing worth watching is the football coverage, and that's just because the French commentators sound like a bunch of granddads at the end of a wedding, grumbling about how they can't tell the difference between the Korean players cos 'they all look the same!'. Hwarf!

4. Nicolas Sarkozy

The worst thing about this bunghole is that he's probably the only serious bet for the presidentials next year as nobody else comes across as any kind of feasible choice for running the country. Sarko, for those of you who don't know, made his name in international politics last year when he described rioting ethnic minorities as 'scum' in the press - nice to see he's not bereft of a finely-honed sense of tact eh? This bloke is basically the teacher from school who nobody liked because he looked down his nose at everyone and was more interesting in maintaining his 'authorit-ay' than actually treating people like human beings. His personal style of 'plain-speaking politics' is pretty similar to that of Tabloid columnists in Britain who fire off at lefties, darkies, poofters etc...in the name of the man on the street, whose voice they are making heard because nobody else dares to. This is basically an excuse to spout the sort of illogical, bigoted bollocks that you would expect from taxi drivers on the graveyard shift, not from serious politicians. Alas, the word 'serious' is not likely to be applied to any of his opponents any time soon - Chirac has basically dropped any last veil to hide the fact that he's a corrupt, thieving git and the assorted Left Wing candidates spend more time stabbing each other in the back and bickering over fine print than they do forming any kind of real opposition. Unless they can dig up some vaguely serious-looking candidate to stand up to Sarkozy, the French Left are fucking DOOMED. Not that it would give me any pleasure to see that happen of course, but you can feel it coming already. Sarko meanwhile would do well to re-evaluate some of his more controversial views if he wants to avoid any more full-scale riots, but I seriously doubt that arrogant twat is planning to rethink his ideas in the near future. I would suggest a debate session with him and a live audience, filmed at the Quick restaurant on Place de Clichy at 4:30am on Saturday night - that should help clarify a few minor details.

5. Smoking

Granted, this is hardly a problem unique to France, but the main factor that makes it worse for the average non-smoker round these parts is that despite the mounting legislation against smoking anywhere public (ie : anywhere it’s likely to get in MY face) is that French smokers don’t give two short fucks about no-smoking rules and just light up wherever they bloody well feel like it. I might applaud this act of rebellion were it for something else, but when it comes to smoking I don’t feel all that inclined to just stand by and have some fucker light up whilst he’s standing on the metro platform next to me at eight in the morning. HEY PAL, WE’RE IN A FUCKING TUNNEL!!! That’s what you might call an enclosed space – you can’t fucking smoke here!! Why do you think they bother putting up no-smoking signs all over the place, just so clever c*nts like yee can ignore them?? Thing is, they all stub ‘em out before actually getting on the train, but for some reason it’s OK to do it in the station. Same goes for restaurants, the ‘no-smoking’ section is jacked right up next to the regular ‘smoke half a fucking packet if you feel like it and don’t forget to blow it all over my food while you’re at it’ section so you might as well just have one big room full of smoke and only serve food that taste of fags. Fuck your filthy fucking habit you evil polluters of the atmosphere!! Most European countries are cracking down hard on smoking areas and sticking the price up as far as possible, and I’m all for it! They should be handing out floggings at Place de la Concorde for repeat offenders!!

6. Holidays

Probably a strange thing to complain about I admit. Not that I have anything against the general concept of leisure time, nor do I disagree with the French system which focuses on allowing the average worker plenty of time off to drink Pastis and beat the wife a bit more often. It’s just that those of us with some sort of protestant work ethic kind of expect the world to keep turning even if some people are having the day off. But not round here. Oooh no. Aside from the ten or so public holidays (which, should they fall one day away from the weekend, mean that everyone just takes the remaining day off too), the have the 35 hour week which means most administration trails along at the speed of a sedated escargot. Plus, everyone takes the ENTIRE month of August off which means you can’t get anything done (should you buck the trend and decide to book your holidays at some other point in the year). Need a plumber? Tough shit. Want to buy even simple groceries? Good bloody luck. And should you suggest that any of the slack bastards work a single day of the month, they act like they’re Biblical slaves being forced to make bricks without straw!!! You people wouldn’t know hard work if it crawled up into your bed and stuck its cock in your ear!! And another thing – if you’re all going to go away for the same bank holiday weekend, don’t all try to drive home at the same time and then complain about the traffic jams!!! A bit of common fucking sense eh????

7. Hilarious jokes about England

OK. I know the food is crap in England. And the weather is generally not as good as it is over here. There, we have now established that both these things are common knowledge and I do not necessarily wish to talk about them every c*nting time I meet a new French person, who will routinely reel off the same list of excruciatingly unfunny jokes about English culture, or regale me with anecdotes about the one weekend he spent in London a while back. Oh what an acute grasp on a foreign culture! So what did you see of the country outside of the capital? Stonehenge and ‘Conterburry Cattydral’? Niiiiice. Didn’t think to venture anywhere further North then? I thought not. Too far of course. Although that never seems to stop you guys going all the way up to Scotland for your holidays though does it?

8. Dogshit

Goes without saying, but I had to put it in there all the same. What sort of civilised society puts up with people letting their dogs leave gigantic fucking scudders all over the pavement? There are other options y’know!! I actually saw some old lady pick up after her poodle one time in the street and I almost gave her a round of applause! But alas such common decency is fairly scarce in this great country, and most people seem happy to let their canine friends foul up the streets as much and as often as possible. Filthy fucking beasts! We ought to rub their noses in it to teach them a lesson!!! And when we’re done with the owners, I’ll be having stern words with that yappy dog too! What’s the point having a dog when you live in the city anyway? All the poor little fucker gets to do is scatter around your flat for 23 hours and 45 minutes every day, and then you take it out for a quarter of an hour just so it can shit in front of my flat!!!

9. French hippies

I hate hippies in general. But especially French ones. People talk about the side-effects of heavy cannabis use, and from present evidence round here it appears that it causes the user to listen to piss-poor Euro reggae, sprout grebby facial hair (in some cases this includes the ladies too), wear ill-fitting pseudo-African clothing and join up to some tinpot extreme-left political movement. These irritating fucking soap dodgers are out in force every Saturday at Place de la République, ranting about some new social injustice whilst leaving their fag packets and empty bottles of Despé all over the floor for some poor fucking immigrant to come by and clean up later. The worst thing is, these slack-arsed c*nts actually believe they are about to tip the capitalist balance in the modern world by smoking huge amount of ganky French hash, scribbling all over adverts in the metro and lazing around all day playing the fucking bongos!! They should bring back military service for these workshy fucking scroungers!! Teach ‘em some discipline I say!!

10. Nightclubs

OK, so you’re probably less likely to get stabbed, glassed or puked upon in nightclubs round here compared to the UK, but in return we have to put up with a fair amount of shite on an average night out all the same. Extortionate drinks prices – who’d have thought I might want to get pissed in a club eh? Best shell out 70€ for a bottle of manky vodka and sit around with your mates acting like you’re king of the club. Stupid door policies – whaddya mean I can’t come in without a girl? How am I supposed to even try it on with the ladies if I can’t even get in the front door without an escort? Doing the Jitterbug in the middle of a crowded dancefloor and spilling everyone else’s drinks when you crash into them – oh you comedy fucking students! And then they can’t get through one night without pumping out at least one U2 song either – are you trying to ruin my fucking night? ARE YOU??? Come here Mister DJ. I would like a word….