Although widely travelled, my home was generally, for the vast majority of my adult life, in England, until the day in 2004 I upped sticks and moved to France.
If we take my children and grandchildren as a given, nine years on, is there anything that I really miss?
Since I became an immigrant, I’ve tried my best to integrate into the French lifestyle, I accept that before we speak to anybody we must go on strike, I know a firm handshake is now a thing of the past, kissing is the way ahead.
I know we don’t eat all of the frog, I accept totally that the TGV is an excellent and cheap (compared to the UK) system. I know that getting a job depends very much on who you know, not what you can do. I’ve also become very aware that pieces of paper are hugely more important than experience.
French cuisine probably IS the best food in the world, hence my rapid increase in size and I’ve also learned that I don’t drink beer with every course of my meal, apparently there are drinks called wine, that come in many different hues. Who knew?
I’ve learned the language (to a degree) and have even taken to squeezing my corpulent frame into an all in one lycra grow bag and pedalling my way round the leafy Bretagne lanes. My girlfriend is French, I only have French telly in my house, which involves suffering their dubious “light entertainment” programmes, I even talk to the dogs in French. After nine years, I honestly feel I would find it difficult to be more integrated into my adopted country, and overall I love it.
But, even with all that is great with France, there is one thing that I miss above all other.
THE GREAT ENGLISH BREAKFAST!!!
That celebration of cholesterol, that heart attack on a plate, one of the world’s finest hangover cures, and also a money saver, you eat a full one of these in the morning, there is generally no need of a midday snack.
Covered with a liberal dollop of tomato sauce, eaten in the company of fellow hangover sufferers, I have never found anything to compare with this gastronomical brilliance. When I lived in said sceptered isle, I would maybe indulge once or twice a year, but since I no longer have ready access, I find myself eating at least one on every trip back.
And by Odin’s beard it’s wonderful. Vive la difference.