Thursday, May 21, 2015

An Imminent Public Health Vaccination Scandal in France


This video is in French but I've summarised the essentials below

Vaccination of children is obligatory in France. You run the risk of a 3750 Eur fine and six months in prison if you refuse. Serious stuff. 

So, you'd think that those in charge of public health would only impose the safest vaccines on the market, those with a proven track record of safety and the least number of nasty side effects and consequences.

You'd be wrong... and this is brewing into a massive public health scandal.

Two-month old babies have to be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and polio (DTP). Up until September 2014, this was not a problem. They had the tried and trusted DTP vaccine that's been on market for donkey's years. My kids had it, with no problem.

Bizarrely, pharmaceutical laboratories stopped producing this vaccine in 2008 for no apparent reason. In its place are "super-vaccines" such as Infanrix hexa which contains, in addition to DTP, three non-obligatory vaccines - whooping cough, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b - plus the neuro-toxin aluminium, formaldehyde, and antibiotics (polymixine-B, neomycine) which are not at all necessary for babies and are potentially dangerous.

The traditional DTP vaccine cost a little over 6 Eur. Unsurprisingly, Infanrix hexa costs a lot more - nearly seven times more in fact, at 40 Eur! Follow the money. Always.

These vaccines are too much for small babies and risk setting off an anaphylactic shock in the short term, and auto-immune diseases in the long term. Aluminium and formaldehyde are both toxic, and the vaccine against hepatitis B is suspected of provoking multiple sclerosis. Cases of MS increased dramatically after a hepatitis B vaccine was put on the market in 1994...

Parents are in a total panic about what to do. If they do nothing, they are condemned by the courts; if they accept the vaccine, they are playing Russian roulette with the health of their precious child.

However, the most unbelievable and devious issue coming to light concerns compensation.

The law says that if your child falls ill after being vaccinated with an official vaccine (the traditional ones), you can claim compensation. However, if your child dies, or has an adverse reaction to one of the new vaccines, the ones you have no choice but to buy, you are told that you vaccinated your child with a vaccine not on the official list, so you are liable - it's your fault!

The video above has been produced by Pr Henri Joyeux, oncologist, who is trying to rouse the medical community as well as the wider population to demonstrate massively their objections to this situation worthy of a totalitarian state. His aim is to bring back the traditional DTP vaccine which has a proven safety record and is dead cheap.

To this end, he has set up a petition which is acquiring signatures by the minute. In two days, it reached 200,000 names. Please add your name to it, and send it out to all your friends to do the same. We cannot stand by and let the health of the nation's babies be compromised by voracious greedy pharmaceutical companies and a government which is proving each day that it cares only about hanging onto power, and NOT A JOT about the health of the most vulnerable members of the population.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Getting Rid of Books

What do you do with books you don't want to keep?

When my DB moved to Avignon, he decided to lighten the load by getting rid of a number of his books. Pushed for time, he was just going to throw them out, but I said I'd take them. Throwing out books, even vile trash like the one Fréderic Mitterand wrote (about sodomising little boys in Bangkok in his ill-spent youth), just goes against the grain. Actually, I probably could put a match to his books and not feel much remorse.

I have no room for the rest on my shelves which are already packed two-deep. Most of my book purchases now go on my Kindle. Not only can I buy books in English more easily, but there is ample room on the device to keep them.

In this little collection, I'm glad to see he has thrown out 'The Game', the book about pick-up artists. Obviously he has either learnt all he needs to know, or he has no further use of it because he has me. Or both...

The SAS book is one of a series written by Gérard de Villiers starring the Austrian prince and CIA spy Malko Linge. About 120 million of the two hundred books written have been sold worldwide. I'd never heard of them, but they are on a par with Ian Fleming's 007 books and particularly popular in Germany, Russia, Turkey and Japan. My DB has read almost all of them.

The only book of any value is Sempé's 'Des hauts et des bas' which is worth about 20Eur on Amazon.

Should I try to donate these French books to the local library? What if they don't want them (I wouldn't blame them for not wanting Fréd's 'torchon'). It's not a very big place, and they might want to reserve the space they have for new acquisitions.

Then there's selling them on Amazon. I doubt I could ask for much, because even if I put them up at 0.01Eur, the postage would be enough to put most people off, and I'd still have to wrap them up and take them to La Poste. A lot of effort really.

Maybe I'll take them to Gibert Joseph in Montpellier. It's a second-hand bookstore right in the middle of town. On their website there's a section called 'Je Vends' where you enter the bar-code of the books you want to sell and it'll tell you whether they'll accept them and for how much. You take along your books and they are finally off your hands. In theory. My DB tried this, took along his books and discovered that the bookshop wouldn't take them after all. A big waste of time.

After a brief browse on the internet, I've discovered other solutions. La Fnac offers a secondhand book section. You can fix your price, payments are made through their site, but you still have the books hanging around until someone eventually decides to buy them at which point you have to pack them up and take them to the post office (= faff).

If you're lucky enough to live in Paris, Bordeaux or Lyon, for the purpose of getting rid of books, that is, there's a service called Recyclivre  which will take your books 'dans un geste solidaire'. They will come and pick them up (in an electric vehicle) and then sell them through their site. They declare their business to be 'eco-citoyenne' and 'un service unique'. They don't operate in Montpellier so I'm not that bothered by what they are, but I do like the counters on their website which count how many trees and how many litres of petrol  have been saved thanks to each sale of secondhand books. They also donate 10% of profits to organisations that work to reduce illiteracy, etc. Obviously good eggs.

Pity we don't have a good choice of charity shops here. The Croix Rouge exists but getting to their centres is a pain. Emmaüs is another option, and I've just seen that they will collect (even a few books?).

According to an article in Le Monde in 2012, over a third (37%) of books are bought secondhand in France so maybe if I exert myself a little perhaps I could make enough to buy a nice bottle of white fizz to go with the smooth and silky elderflower cordial I made this weekend, flowers bought from La Ruche Qui Dit Oui. That way too, my DB could enjoy his books a second time around.

(Except Fréd's livre de la honte - book of shame. It's amazing how he's been spared prison for abus sexuelle sur mineur, but then the Soixante Huitards have a Teflon coating when it comes to paedophilia. Much like British members of Establishment except I don't recall any of them actually writing about their desires and experiences in a book and getting away with it... but I digress...).

In the meantime, they'll have to stay cluttering up the dining table.

Monday, May 04, 2015

What happened to April?

I've been getting to know the journey between Montpellier and Avignon in the last three weeks. My DB is now all moved and ship-shape in his new pad, and the next time I go, I'm expecting to have nothing to do with boxes, unpacking or hauling stuff to and from the garage. Phew!

In other news, I'm looking very healthy thanks to some tanning capsules designed to help your skin cope with the sun. A healthy glow does wonders for morale, especially when you know it's been acquired just by popping pills.

I've also been reading about ways to combat osteoporosis. The simplest way by far is to do sport so that mechanical pressure is put on the bones to reinforce them. That plus getting enough vitamins C, D, K to form collagen and bone mineralisation. So now you know. Swimming is no good, of course...

...if your boys haven't 'borrowed' it and returned it wrecked...
I made my Spring visit to Pierrette, my personal clothes shopper and, thanks to the crisis in clothes boutiques, I came away with a hefty collection of snazzy bits and bobs. I'd take some selfies, but daren't show you the decidedly un-snazzy room in which I sleep...

I've been wondering how much longer Pierrette can carry on. She's 71 now and not in the best of health. She told me she'll continue until either her clients have no need of her (unlikely), or she just can't carry on physically. I'm one of her oldest clients, along with 'la dame des impôts' who is not short of a bob and spends a fortune with her!

In order to make room for the new stuff, I took the brave step of nearly emptying my wardrobe of all the clothes I haven't really ever worn. The two 100 litre bin bags contain several jackets. I never wear jackets with lapels and I have no idea why I kept buying them. My job doesn't require looking smart, and I don't find them comfy. They seem to swamp me.

I have yet to actually remove the bags from the landing and take the definitive chucking out step, however... I'm sure that as soon as I do that, I'll need a jacket urgently, and in the exact red colour and style of the one I just gave away. Anguish.

My reading of another newsletter about health enlightened me as to the pointlessness of using antiseptics to clean small wounds. Warm water works much better apparently. For bleeding bobos, apply a 'pansement gras' which Google translates as a 'fat dressing' which won't stick to the scab. I went and threw out the Betadine after reading that. It was long out of date anyway...

Ail des ours/wild garlic pesto
Finally, I bought some 'ail des ours' (wild garlic) from the 'Ruche qui dit Oui' the other week and, after searching on the internet, found a tasty pesto recipe that includes almonds and sun-dried tomatoes. We took a pot on a picnic on one of our recent walks (sneaked in between packing boxes), and very tasty it was too. There's quite a tang to it after the initial mise en bouche. My DB loved it so much that the next time it became available, he bought 4 bunches. This Friday (a holiday oh happy day!), the St Bloggie pesto factory will be cranking out the stuff by the ton... Good thing I didn't throw out all the glass jars in my clothes clear-out too!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Longest Birthday Party

Birthday parties have got longer. It was my youngest's 14th birthday last week and he decided to invite three friends to his 'party' involving cinema, KFC and a sleepover.

Despite the fact it was Easter weekend, his friends were free to arrive just after lunch on Saturday. They spent the afternoon mucking about, coming in only for the birthday tea. Regular readers of this blog may remember my birthday cakes are never a success. For some reason, something either goes wrong, or they are not liked by picky French taste buds.

This year was no exception. My son wanted a banana and chocolate tart with homemade pastry. Easy peasy. I got out the food processor, made up the pastry, let it rest, rolled it out and baked it blind. So far so good. Disaster struck when I was trying to remove the split peas that I'd used to weigh down the pastry. Some of the little buggers had slipped between the dish and pastry when I was taking them out, so I thought I could remove them by tipping up the dish...

Naturally, the pastry fell out of the dish and onto the work surface, where it continued its bid for freedom by making rapidly for the floor. In bits. I yelled, dear reader. I shrieked, and many an expletive passed my lips. I even threw my oven glove across the kitchen (all of one metre). Then I picked up all the bits and wondered what to do.

Luckily the cleaner had been the day before so the 15 or so second rule was not a problem. I didn't want to throw away a tart's worth of pastry, and after some reflection, decided to arrange all the bits back in the dish, like a big jigsaw. At worst, it would end up as a choccie/banana crunch. I put the pastry dish back in the oven to finish off, and later made the chocolate filling (Nestlé dessert black chocolate + brick of organic cream). I sliced a couple of bananas, put them over the cooled base, poured over the filling and put it in the fridge. And hey presto:
Rescued birthday chocolate/banana tart
You'd never guess that it had been on the floor a few hours earlier and the cause of a total hissy fit, would you? It was delicious too. De.Li.Cious!

We sang Happy Birthday, and it all went, to sounds of approval (a miracle!). Then I dropped them off to see Fast and Furious 7 (I was not included in the invitation...) and picked them up later to enjoy their takeaway KFC. I was delighted to find out that cinema tickets are only €4 for under 14s, so that kept the price down, as did buying popcorn from Carrouf instead of paying an outrageous amount inside the cinema.

The next day I found out they were all staying for lunch and beyond (no one was having a big Easter family lunch obviously), and my youngest suggested a picnic at the Lac Cécélés near St Mathieu de Treviers. I made up jambon beurre sarnies for all except one who had cheese, baked some cookies, and we all set off to the lake. My DB joined me after lunch and we went for a walk up the lake and over to the dinky village of St Croix de Quintillargues.
Lac de Cécélés
The boys had a lovely time mucking about with a free-floating pontoon 'boat' but managed not to get wet. They couldn't get far because the wind kept blowing them back to shore, but they used up a nice lot of energy trying.
Four boys on a 'boat'
We left when they'd had enough, went home for more food, and the last one left at 5.30pm. My youngest was shattered but happy. At last I could give the boys their Lindt choccie bunnies, and cook Easter dinner which was a rolled leg of lamb that I'd brought back from England after Christmas. It was excellent, and much appreciated after such a busy day!

My son spent Easter Monday very quietly.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Heads up on Free special offer at 1.99Eur

Just a heads up on a special offer from Free at the moment.

I've just changed my internet provider from Orange to Free after getting a call offering me a monthly charge of 1.99Eur until the end of the year.

As I pay 41Eur per month at the moment (sans tv), I couldn't resist!

For 1.99Eur I'll get internet, phone and tele. Plus my mobile forfait will be free. Plus they'll reimburse the termination fees for Orange.

If this sounds like something you can't resist either, call 1044.

This is not a sponsored post. I'm just offering a public service. :)

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Odds and Sods - big news, health, local colour

What's been going on in St Bloggie's world recently?

Big news
Well, the big news is that my DB has a new job... in Avignon (watch out for more posts from the Vaucluse...). In the Agroparc, to be precise, near the airport (which is now no longer a public enterprise but only open to private jets...). It has more than a passing resemblance to a Californian science park which suits my DB just fine because he's always wanted to work in Silicon Valley. If it weren't for the current visa situation, he'd be over there tomorrow. I'm quietly happy about the current visa situation...

The Agroparc is about 80mins away from Montpellier, so not a huge distance, but too far to drive every day, so we've been flat hunting for him. His aim is to walk to work and be close enough to go home for lunch, so we've been scanning the area and crossing out places that look nice but are too far away.

The other day we were there checking out some possibilities, and were waiting to visit a house that was pretty close. Just at the time we were expecting a call from the owner to meet up, we got a call from her to say the house had been burgled and she was currently dealing with the police... You won't be surprised to hear we struck that one off his list!

You may remember I went to see a naturopathe about six months ago (which cost me €60 for thirty mins). Well, I went to see another one last week. Why? Because she had been invited to give half hour sessions for ten euro at my favourite organic shop. How could I resist?

I went mainly to do something about the state of my joints which the last one had warned me about, but only started making themselves felt from the beginning of this year. She had a good look at my eyes and told me my bones are de-mineralised. I blame this on the menopause.

Anyway, what I wanted to know was what I could do about it. She started off by giving me the ingredients to make a re-mineralising (organic) vinaigrette:
Almond purée instead of acidic mustard
Balsamic or apple cider vinegar
Walnut oil (and olive oil)
Seaweed flakes
And very tasty it is too. She advised taking vitamin D (I do), to continue with the tisane I'm drinking at the moment to re-mineralise my bones (made of nettles, strawberry leaves etc.), do a cure of sève de bouleau (birch sap) as it's the season for it, and eat more sardines, mackerel and cod liver.

I'm also trying to do at least 20 mins of yoga a day and walk as much as possible. Fingers crossed (while I can...) it all does me some good!

Local colour
I went to the most recent conseil municipal (town hall meeting) this week which was turned out to be more entertaining than expected. I missed the last one, but apparently our opposition had exchanged some colourful expressions with the majority that didn't go down well at all.

At the beginning of this meeting, the former mayor gave us his big-eyes mean stare, and a threatening speech. The treasurer felt particularly targeted at the last meeting and so, at the end of this one, he treated us all to his thoughts on three of the opposing team in a flurry of ad hominem remarks that had my eyes out on stalks. Speaking about it afterwards to another member of the team, I learned that such an attack was common place and this one was 'de la rigolade' (no big deal) compared to others that she'd heard in other communes where feelings had been running high and the insults a lot nastier.

You won't get me signing up for active politics in a hurry...!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Super Celestial Events Day

Today is a special day because three celestial events occur on the same day:
1. a solar eclipse
2. a supermoon which we would not normally be able to see because it's a new moon, but will be able to because of the eclipse. Oooh!
3. the equinox

Plus it's the first day of Spring (see here to read why it's no longer March 21). And, there are going to be super high tides around the Atlantic coast of France. There's not a room to be found in the key seaside towns as people gather to watch the phenomenon.

The next time this convergence of celestial events occurs will be when we're all dead.

Pity it's raining in Montpellier and we'll miss the main event.

Still, teachers will be happy. They won't have to worry about elfansafety, keeping their little charges intent on self-destruction by looking at the eclipse, as there'll be nothing to see.


Here is a video the Mont Saint Michel as an island again. It looks fantastic!