Monthly Archives: May 2011


You know how when you decide to get divorced from your husband and then move to another country leaving your son and your cats and all your stuff and then get taken for a ride by assorted ex-pats in your new location with everyone expecting something for nothing and people persistently lying to you and not paying you for months on end and after five weeks of living in a tiny studio in the Old Town in Antibes in a building in which the Hunchback of Notre Dame would have laid his head had he been the Hunchback of Antibes rather than Notre Dame you find a really nice place in Nice near the sea but the owner who offered you the rental contract sells the place the day before you move into it despite having told you he’d taken it off the market and your landlord in Antibes had naturally assumed you were moving out when you told her you were and so had already let the place you had been staying in to someone else so technically you’re homeless and have to rely on the generosity of people you’ve only known for a few weeks to take you in before finding a great apartment which – it subsequently becomes apparent – is owned by The Hysterical Italian Landlady From Hell and you have no money for long periods on end and then your tenant stops paying the rent in the apartment you own and you’re trying to get him out so you can put the place on the market and have some fucking dosh for once and you just know he’s going to renege on the contract regularly now until he leaves and you get a fab very well-paid job as a creative copywriter for a film company based in Monaco but it turns out the woman you’re working for is A COMPLETE AND TOTAL SHOUTY NUTCASE WHO HAS BEEN BLACKLISTED IN HOLLYWOOD so you leave after two days and move back to the UK where you find the place you were going to rent has been given to someone else the night before but then discover a lovely large unfurnished recently re-decorated flat in a beautiful part of town and move in with all your stuff being delivered at great expense from wherever it had been stored but the designer sofa can’t get through the door and since it can’t be taken anywhere else by the removal firm that day has to spend the night outdoors and so loses all re-sale value resulting in you giving it away for nothing on an internet site thus requiring you to buy a new one which when putting it together leads to you doing your back in and then discovering two weeks later when the paint smell has gone – despite assurances to the contrary by the landlord – that the property has rising damp so your asthma comes back in a major way and the washing takes three days to dry and everything smells musty and the landlord becomes tricky and you have to search for a new (unfurnished) place and cancel the direct debits you’ve set up with all the utilities companies and pack everything up again and fit in writing articles and searching for more work…you know how, when this happens, you almost get a little as if you’re losing the will to live?

Well, I’m nearly getting to that place now.   For some reason.


At least there’s a fridge.  Which would come as something of a surprise to people renting an unfurnished apartment in Nice, because there unfurnished means you get walls, floors and a ceiling.  (And sometimes you’re lucky to find those).

Soon after I arrived on the Riviera a guy I knew took me to view the apartment he and his wife wanted to let out.  It was a great size and had a small patio area off the kitchen.  The trouble was, that’s all the kitchen did have.  Other than a sink.  Which believe me, was a small touch of luxury in France.  There was no cooker, there were no cupboards, no counter tops.  No fridge.  It’ll only cost you a couple of thousand euros to put it all in, he chirped. Won’t relate here what I chirped back.  (Not entirely sure how to spell it).

Here in the UK, unfurnished means no furniture.  Or crockery and cutlery, bed linen and towels.  But the white goods in the kitchen are (happily) not regarded as ‘furniture’, and are generally provided.

So, back to the fridge.  Looks great – chic silver in colour, fridge on top, freezer below.  And very effective they are, too.

This is probably down to the fact that the appliance has 7 gears, can do a mighty impressive nought to -15 degrees in .6 of a second and is driven by Jenson Button.

How do I know?  Well, I’ve been sitting in my living room minding my own business (alright then, looking at Twitter every thirty seconds to read more about the mysterious Premiership footballer who’s suing the site for allowing contributors to reveal the name of the mysterious Premiership footballer who’s suing Twitter for his name being revealed on the site. Hope that’s clear), when all of a sudden:


What do you mean, am I nuts???  Do I ask you that kind of question???

[NB:  Readers of Driving Over Ex-Pats by Not Nice Etoile’s alter-ego, Nice Etoile, won’t be at all surprised that you have suspicions of this.  They believe they have had more than one occasion to suspect as much themselves.  However, if you’re new to these blogs, let me tell you – all the subscribers of the other blog are completely and totally bonkers (honest) and thus their opinion cannot be taken seriously.  You can trust me, I’m completely impartial. Glad we cleared that one up].

No, I’m no more hatstand than a Premiership footballer suing Twitter for breach of privacy, thus ensuring his name is instantaneously the most un-private it has even been in the history of names that nobody at all knows about, apart from everybody.

Want to hear my fridge???  Well, go to your window, open slightly and listen…is that not the sound of a Formula 1 racing fridge car zooming around the Monaco track???  It is.  Down to the bikini-clad blondes lying atop the vehicles at all the photo opportunities.  (You must be familiar with that noise, it’s the thud of unused brain cells sliding off the highly-buffed and precious shiny things – I mean cars and girls –  down onto the ground; common at all such events frequented by men with large amounts of money and IQs smaller than their collar size).

The first time the loud fridge revving and gear-changing happened I leapt up onto the dining table, so certain was I that I was standing in the middle of the pits.  (And how right I was – my life really has been the pits recently.  And wait until you hear what I have to tell you about my latest adventures in Rental Land in a future post…)

Anyway, I’m trying to forgive the thing as it’s actually the Monaco Grand Prix next week and it’s probably endeavouring to make me feel at home here in breezy London, since I was in Monaco every day for last year’s race.  Such sensitivity in an appliance is hard to find these days.

I’m just wondering what state the milk’s going to be in once it gets back from Monte Carlo at the beginning of June.


Whatever happened to the time when it was possible to buy a hairdryer in less than three weeks?  You remember those days; you would go into a shop, take out your tenner and say ‘I’ll have a hairdryer, please’, emerging thirty seconds later with a box with a hairdryer in it.

I had to buy one the other day.  I’m still recovering from information overload and the stress of making a thousand decisions apparently crucial to the shine and elasticity of my mane.  I have a duty to my follicles, it appears.

Old hairdryers had an on/off button, two heat settings and a plug, which even I could work out how to stick into a socket.  Here in the 21st Century, however, it wouldn’t surprise me to find university courses devoted to Hairdryers: Choosing and Using in the Western World (Argos to House of Fraser. With special reference to nozzles).  Two heat settings???  Luxury!!!  Now you have to navigate your way through ceramic, ionic, cyclonic, iconic, colonic, moronic and bubonic.  (I think the model I eventually chose also has a setting for iambic pentameter.)  Not to mention fine-tooth combs, wide-tooth combs, concentrators, and negative ions super-quiet motor-separate rocker switches with coldshot button volumizing finger diffuser attachments.  You just want dry hair???  How weird are you???

I’ve had to choose a lot of things lately, having recently relocated from Nice to London.  I’ve taken an unfurnished flat in a leafy part of town, not equipped with even a teaspoon.  My furniture arrived from my former marital home last week, but there has been the necessity to acquire a kettle, a printer, assorted crockery and kitchen equipment…the centre of my (large) living room is currently filled with a mound of cardboard boxes, which I might see if I can arrange into some sort of seating, seeing as my beloved designer zebra-fabric sofa wouldn’t fit through the front door, resulting in me having to give it away for free on an internet site.

But I’m gradually settling in after the trauma of moving day. (That’s for another post.  Have a strong drink ready.)  I had arranged for a car to meet me at Heathrow, and sure enough, there was Sonny, a large, friendly taxi driver, standing in the arrivals area with a Not Nice Etoile sign.

Are you Jewish? was virtually the first thing he said.  You look fermished.  (Yiddish for fermished).  He loaded my luggage into the back of his people carrier and I wearily climbed into the front seat.  Do you smoke?  he asked.  No, I replied.  Would you like a cigarette?  Yes, I said.  And as we puffed our way through the streets to my hotel – Royal Wedding Day, hardly any traffic – I was regaled with The World According to Sonny…

…he told me he’s married to the best woman in the world (40 years) and that he’s now devoted to her because all the messing about he did with other women over the decades tired him out emotionally since he falls in love too easily, though Viagra is fantastic and have I ever seen the roads this clear, mind you trying to drive around the City this morning was a nightmare what with all the road closures and police and parking wardens and why had I come back to London, by-the-way did I want another cigarette?

I ‘ad that Not Nice Etoile in the front of my cab once…

Cosy room in hotel, large flat-screen TV on the wall opposite the comfy bed, posh fish and chips outside a posh fish and chip shop (To eat here or takeaway?  To eat here, outside. Would you like it in a takeaway pack?  What’s the difference?  It’s cheaper, but there’s no table service.  OK, you’ll call me in when it’s ready?  No, I’ll bring it out to you. Erm…)

The next day I went to view a flat I’d arranged to see from Nice.  The owner knew I was flying in on Friday afternoon, told me to turn up on Saturday morning.  Which I did.  Did you get my email half an hour ago?  she enquired.  No, I didn’t.  Oh, I let it to someone else last night.

Welcome to London, Not Nice Etoile.  Homeless.  Hopeless.  Several suitcases to house.  For a while there, cardboard city nearly had another meaning…

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