When in France - try the fried rice!

JUST when you thought you were finally rid of the large lad from the paper who talks about himself a lot I am back.

James Marston

JUST when you thought you were finally rid of the large lad from the paper who talks about himself a lot I am back.

This time, dear readers, I have swapped my small Felixstowe flat with sea views (distant) for a life in French France.

In fact at the moment, as we speak, I am busy flat hunting - a process which is, to be frank, testing the upper reaches of my French language skills.


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However, though on occasion sorely tempted, I have not resorted to the simple advice given to me by a large number of people before I left the sunny, if somewhat xenophobic, shores of Great Britain, to shout louder if you can't make them understand. Though I fear it is only a matter of time.

Anyway, so far my life changing up-sticking has all been a rather disconcerting mix of mild amusement and what can only be described as total and utter stress.

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One of the reasons I moved here was what I call the “bus argument”.

Effectively it's the suggestion that life is for living because I could be run over by a bus tomorrow.

And in the spirit of this outlook I have, so far, explored with enthusiam the cobbled and ancient streets of Toulouse and discovered pretty little squares and markets including the impressive Place Du Capitole and the Pont Neuf.

I have found out that everything shuts on a Sunday - including, to my horror, it seems, tobacconists.

I have also discovered that the French have what appears to be a total disregard for zebra crossings resulting in a terrifying moment in which a bus did, in fact, almost run me over.

Indeed, if I had been struck, I noted to my shaken self, my argument for being here would have been both validated and rendered pointless in one instant.

Lesson number one - traffic comes from all directions with little regard for chubby Englishmen.

As for food and drink - one of the more recognised advantages of a life in France - I have been less fortunate.

So far I have lived off baguettes - I know the French for those.

To be honest I have yet to eat much meat, though it is meant to be good here, partly because anything meat-based seems to be from some unmentionable part of the anatomy and I don't want to eat horse by mistake.

Drinks-wise I have tried a foul aniseed-based spirit which is thoughtfully served with water so you can take the taste away.

I have, however, tried the local cuisine - a Cantonese fried rice.

AS my plain speaking photographer Lucy said before I left for France: "You'll be really large out there. They are all thin."

Well, dear readers, I have to say Lucy, however forthright, was right. Everyone is also noticeably young.

So much so that I stand out.

I know this because, on occasion, I have been spoken to in English rather than French in the first instance so I must be obviously foreign.

Unless my almost-celebrity status has spread far beyond the Felixstowe peninsula?

Anyway, I am on another diet just in case I never blend in.

ARMED with a biography of HM The Queen Mother - did you know she loved a tipple and a day at the races - and a guidebook of the region for my only entertainment I have been forced to attempt to watch French television.

Thankfully Come Dine With Me - a programme I enjoy - is replicated here in a show entitled "Au Diner Presque Parfait".

Garlic and offal and regular disagreements seem to make regular appearances.

NATURALLY I have been able to keep up with all that's going on in Ipswich and Suffolk thanks to the marvels of the web at www.eveningstar.co.uk.

I hear, according to theatre critic Lynne, that the Ipswich most Operatic and terribly Dramatic Society of which I was a former member enjoyed another on-stage triumph with its 30th anniversary edition of Sounds Familiar. My theatrical friend Julian will be pleased.

MUCH shock here in France that Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

He was most gracious, I noted, in his acceptance speech.

I don't see why he doesn't deserve a little prize.

WHAT is it about this constant modern demand for making heartfelt and sincere apologies?

Yet again someone is apologising for offence caused after remarks made. This time Strictly Come Dancing found itself in the soup.

I'm not saying that poor Anton wasn't a bit of a fool but it's a shame we can't lighten up a bit.

It's only a TV programme, Anton is only a dancer and no bones have been broken. A private apology to the lady concerned should be enough. Not this undignified statement making.

These constant “apology stories” are, it seems to me, puddings that are somewhat over-egged.

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