Home again. Christmas was very pleasant this year, although since I still haven't figured out the moblogging bit I can't show you any photos. The UK seems to have been like France with everyone holding off onto the very last second before buying anything, and the sales in London even started before christmas this year (should I be writing christmas with a capital C?).
I've been blaming the media overreaction of the riots here for the recent slump in rental bookings, but apparently it's been bad all round as one hair-dresser friend reported. Apparently the french have discovered rotating credit cards (if that's the right phrase). I remember when I arrived all those years ago how there were no credit cards ads or junk mail here, and wondered why the french didn't use credit cards. Well, apparently now they do, and have even moved onto the stage of moving credit from one card to another. This years retail slump is the result of too much credit debt.
How true this is I've no idea since I'm definitely not about to launch a straw poll of my french friends about their credit card debts. There's a whole bunch of faux pas' that a new arrival here will make (such as taking wine when you've been invited to a dinner), and one of them is asking a french person how much they earn. In the UK it's only a slight minefield, as most people are happy to ask even if they're not happy to reply, while in the US it seems a topic on par with asking about cosmetic surgery and whether you're irish-italian-american or just irish-american (ie, it's ok to ask, just to be clear).
Anyway, allegedly the french are now up to their eyeballs in credit card debt. Presumeably one day they'll pass through that pain barrier just like the yanks and the brits have, and move onto remortgaging debt consolidation schemes with a sigh of relief. In the meantime, they'll huff and puff about it in the papers and tv news.
This actuall reminds me of another news item that has been recently bothering the french. Apparently they're getting fatter. I'm not sure whether it's the aesthetic problem, or fear of just another way we're invading french culture, but the media was quite anxious about it. Unfortunately they had to have some film to go with the news report, and clearly the cameraman couldn't find any fat french people, and it was quite obvious that all the people shown were tourists. From what country though, I'm not going to say ;-)