Category Archives: Personal

2002 – 2017: Le sacrifice de mes convictions.

En 2002, j’avais 18 ans et étant né en avril, j’ai pu voter pour la première fois aux élections présidentielles.

J’ai toujours aimé le vote. Je me souviens très clairement, quand j’étais petit, accompagner mes parents au bureau de vote le dimanche qui se trouvait dans l’école maternelle. On les attendait dans la cour, je les voyais parler à des gens, montrer leur carte d’identité (une chose que je n’avais pas), puis ils allaient dans un truc avec un rideau qui ne laissait voir que leurs pieds. Après, ils mettaient une enveloppe dans une boite transparente, quelqu’un disait quelque chose, ils signaient puis on jouait dans la cour avant de poursuivre la journée.

Voter était normal. Ca n’arrivait pas souvent mais quand ça arrivait, ça faisait simplement partie de la journée. On y allait sur le chemin de la forêt ou du parc, des terrains de tennis ou de la piscine. Ils n’en parlaient pas mais je savais ce qu’ils faisaient et alors que je grandissais, me passionnais pour l’histoire, la géopolitique, la politique, la longue et pénible car fragile construction des démocraties, le vote devenait pour moi le principe même de l’histoire en marche.

L’année précédente, on avait étudié la Ière puis la IIème République, la mise en place du cens qui ne permettait qu’aux riches de voter puis sa disparition sous les coups des penseurs, des philosophes et des grands hommes. L’année même, on avait fini la Seconde Guerre Mondiale et on avait parlé du droit de vote des femmes, puis de la baisse de la majorité à 18 ans. Je voulais faire partie de cette évolution, en profiter comme quelque chose de spécial qui m’attendait.

En 2002, c’était le doute. Mes 18 ans étaient moins de deux semaines avant le premier tour des présidentielles. J’étais lycéen et me sentais quelque part comme un imposteur. Je ne payais pas d’impôts, ne travaillais pas mais la loi me l’autorisait donc j’avais bien l’intention d’exercer ce droit. L’administration prend toujours son temps donc même si j’avais tout fait comme il me l’avait été demandé, receverai-je ma carte en temps et en heure? Oui et ce fut une catastrophe.

Je voulais voter pour m’exprimer vraiment, faire compter ma voix, faire parler mes convictions mais nous sortions d’un gouvernement de Gauche qui, comme beaucoup d’autres, avait trahi ses électeurs. Les jeunes, surtout, avec une précarité accrue qui devait eliminer enfin le chômage, avec des CDD qui n’ont rien changé sauf à rendre ma génération totalement à la merci du patronat.

Néanmoins, je suis socialiste par convictions et non par intérêt donc j’ai voté pour le PS comme j’ai toujours voulu le faire. Enfin, non, pas exactement: entre 12 et 15 ans, j’étais Marxiste. Féministe Marxiste avec l’idée que les femmes devaient prendre le pouvoir pour faire subir aux hommes les millenaires de servitude qu’elles doivent encore supporter. Le lycée et les cours de philosophie m’ont ammené à réfléchir au Marxisme et à m’en détacher pour une approche plus centrée sur le travail en commun que sur la division de la société en factions qui doivent se battre.

Mais 2002 reste 2002 et je me retrouve à dévoir laisser mes convictions derrière moi pour sauver la Révolution française. Je dois laisser derrière mes idéaux, l’utopie et mes rêves d’une France qui change pour soutenir un démocrate corrompu face à un fasciste négationniste. C’est l’histoire en marche. C’est 1914, Jaurès et l’Union Sacrée. C’est 1932 et la resistance aux ligues d’extrême droite. C’est 1940, De Gaulle et l’appel du 18 juin. C’est l’altruisme intellectuel, c’est savoir abandonner ses convictions personnelles pour le bien de la nation, de son histoire, de ce que mes ancêtres ont construit.

Les années qui suivirent, j’ai pensé ce temps révolu. J’ai voté Royal face à Sarkozy, ai quitté la France de Sarkozy pour l’Angleterre où j’y ai découvert et analysé sous toutes coutures le New Labour, une Gauche que j’admirais de loin mais dont les réalités sont loin de l’image qu’elle se donne. Tout comme la France.

Une Nouvelle Gauche qui est très vite devenue l’exemple des autres Gauches d’Europe: une Gauche qui se plit au monde construit par la Droite, qui accepte la mise en retrait de la société face aux impératifs économiques. Une Gauche qui n’est qu’en opposition, qui n’a plus d’idées ou qui a honte de les défendre parce qu’elles ont été détournées par un Bloc qui fut “vaincu sans même avoir à faire la guerre”.

Cependant, à mes yeux, le PS résiste encore donc, depuis Birmingham, je vote pour Hollande aux présidentielles mais les Verts aux législatives. C’est toujours comme ça, je vote “utile”. Pas de dispersion quand c’est une personne pour éviter que 2002 ne se répète. Oui, le traumatisme reste. Puis je vote au plus près de mes convictions pour que les députés représentent au mieux la diversité des courants, des idées, des classes,  des sexes, des origines à l’Assemblée où les lois sont écrites, discutées et votées.

Les choses sont difficiles mais Hollande tient le cap puis arrive Valls et tout bascule. Le New Labour est dans la place, la realpolitik de Gauche qui se veut adulte et responsable, qui regarde de haut l’idéalisme et l’utopie de la Gauche dite traditionnelle, comme senile et paradoxallement immature. Hamon en fait les frais puis Montebourg et surtout Taubira. Pour la première fois, je ne pas pour qui voter. C’est politiciens créent un parti? Je fonce mais ils restent fidéles au PS qui garde cette tradition d’auto-critique.

Que faire? Je le sens dès 2015 comme j’ai senti venir le Brexit et ai quitté l’Angleterre en 2014 avant d’en faire les frais: le PS va à sa mort. Comme quand les Radicaux de Gauche sont devenus le centre droit (UDF) au fur et à mesure du temps et des gouvernements, une nouvelle gauche renaîtra mais sera-t-il temps comme en 1936?

Aujourd’hui, on est en 2017. 15 ans après avoir été obligé de sacrifier mes convictions sur l’autel de la République et rien n’a changé. On sort d’un gouvernement socialiste qui a une fois de plus courbé le dos et a trahi ses électeurs, sans aucun résultat concret. Pire, elle attaque: les électeurs, la démocratie à coup de 49:3 et la dissidence.

La Gauche se doit d’être utopiste et idéaliste, d’imaginer des choses nouvelles. Qu’elle se fasse ridiculiser par la Droite paternaliste et arrogante, c’est une chose mais que le Premier Ministre et les ministres du PS eux-mêmes attaquent cette vision du futur, c’est dévastateur. Qui va nous faire rêver et espérer si la Gauche ne croit plus qu’en la realpolitik et abuse de son pouvoir?

Soudain, Valls est vaincu et les autres aussi. Hamon est là, celui qui a fait les frais de cette trahison et j’espère, je crois à nouveau. Je ne m’attends pas à ce qu’il gagne mais je suis d’accord avec lui, ces idées, son utopisme et son idéalisme parce qu’on ne va nulle part en restant fixé sur le passé et peignant d’une autre couleur des échecs pour les faire passer pour de la nouveauté. Il faut imaginer, inspirer les gens à inventer quelque chose de nouveau.

Cependant, ça reste un choix difficile parce que je ne veux pas avoir l’impression de voter “inutile”, par seul intérêt alors j’y retourne: dans les programmes, au délà des discours – je ne connais que trop la valeur trompeuse des discours. J’étudie les autres et aucun ne s’approche autant de ce qu’en quoi je crois qu’Hamon.

La Droite sous toutes ses formes, on oublie. Cheminades, je pensais sérieusement qu’il était mort. Mélenchon joue de la division et je ne supporte plus entendre dire que c’est la faute d’untel ou untel, sans compter sur son anti-européanisme qui n’a rien de constructif et son admiration non-assumée pour Poutine. Poutou est intéressant, il parle sans mâcher ses mots, sans être bêtement poujadiste mais je n’ai rien vu qui aille au-delà. Macron, c’est simple: j’ai vécu sous Tony Blair donc je connais les réalités de cette Gauche.

Je reconnais qu’Hamon est un peu maladroit quand il s’exprime. Sa performance pendant le débat était misérable mais ca n’enlève à ses idées qui sont les plus proches des miennes. Alors, oui, aujourd’hui j’ai voté Hammon.

Néanmoins, je ne suis pas aveugle ni stupide et je sais qu’une fois de plus, dans deux semaines, 15 après ma première fois, je vais devoir sacrifier mes convictions pour le bien du pays, même de ceux qui ne le veulent pas parce que je ne que connais trop l’histoire.

A teacher’s words – First rule of teaching: Enjoy yourself.

I am surrounded by people in my profession who are constantly asking why I spend so much time making “cute” PowerPoint presentations for my lessons. Why the cats, kittens, puppies and  other funny animals memes? Why the omnipresence of colours? All in every shades of blue, white and red with instructions in purple for French lessons. Red, yellow and orange for Spanish. Red, yellow and black for German. Yellow, blue and green for Swedish…

“It takes times, it must be a drag. No wonder you work so much!”

It is true that I can spend 50 hours every week planning for my 25 to 29 hours of teaching. That’s a lot, yes so why not just put some words and occasional fancy font on a couple of slides and go home?! Why am I doing this to myself?

Because I am not. I like it. I need visual stimulation to enjoy something and if I myself don’t enjoy my lesson, who will? That’s whence the very precisely aligned Comic Sans is coming, so are the little pictures on every slide. it’s not just perfectionism and hatred of emptiness, it’s something that brings me joy and a feeling of accomplishment in little things.

The colours came because, for years, I was teaching the same kids but in various languages, sometimes one lesson after another. French then Spanish. Same kids, same age so I decided that beyond the language itself I would make it more obvious for them. We were also changing moods. I took inspiration for respective flags and stuck with it every since.

On the one hand, I will admit that it used to be a drag somehow, at the beginning, but now it’s a reflex and one that allows me to be creative. Language-teaching is not always the most exciting of lessons. It’s hard and painful for all, as teachers, you are facing with kids who get impatient or demotivated very quickly, even in lessons where their native language is spoken, so imagine when everything is in another language. And when it’s Friday afternoon. So you have to constantly resist going the easy way and explain everything in your learners’ native language so you can save time and finish the unit in time for the test.

For the learners, especially teenagers, it can be a killer. Especially considering that a lot of school rationalise timetabling and put language lessons at once. It’s fine if only one is compulsory, better if optional (for the kids, not for the MFL teachers of course) but it’s torture for all when you have to teach Spanish to 30 kids for an hour and twenty minutes, get them out then get the same lot in again, just a couple of minutes later during which you switch to your German lesson. And there we go for another eighty minutes of hard work…

Beyond the mood, the need for a break and for clear, attractive visuals to keep their attention, it’s important to mention that I always have the highest expectations on everyone, regardless. I believe in the brain’s abilities to do and learn and that’s why I also like to somehow soften the blow with visually pleasing slides.

Not just games where they are learning a lot without realising it but also cute pictures of animals and funny cat memes. I love them, they love them, it makes them laugh between two exercises when I keep asking for even more of them. Put a cute kittens and you win over a classroom full of sullen girls.

However, before the kids, it’s for me. It is selfish before selfless for it allows me to be constantly creative which soothes my anxieties and when too tired to think of yet another totally new activity, I know I will always have the envy to google “cat dictionary” and add a little picture on the top right corner on an activity we did a couple of weeks ago.

Indeed, I will grant anyone that it is time-consuming to look through my hundreds of thousands of pictures on the Internet or my files to find exactly what I want and I know I have it somewhere or I know it can be found somewhere but this is something I enjoy doing very much.

“Ten minutes on a picture?!” I hear. No, ten minutes taking some time to let my perfectionist self relax and be inventive, be different. Only I, in the whole of England, would spend twenty minutes on Tumblr less than an hour before my lesson because I have decided I need a caption of Sophia Petrillo from the Golden Girls or Richard Hammond talking about the trout to simply illustrate the opening title of my Year 9 lesson on how to express sickness.

I could be calling parents, marking books or exams, I am told. Yes, I could but I hate it. That’s a part of the job I loathe beyond anything. Exams are fine but the books…I see them everyday when I go around checking on their work. The parents? Holy Mother of God, have mercy! Not them!

The ones you have to call are the self-righteous ones who hated school when they were little, think their child should be mentioned in the Bible as God or Satan, and believe you’re either a torturer or should do their job of teaching them manners. It says “MFL teacher” on my contract, thank you very much, not “nanny”.

I came into teaching to teach (duh!) because I like what I am teaching (duh!²): languages I want to convey it. It is hard to do so when restricted behind books mainly written by people who have close to no experience with children in a classroom setting such as university-teaching linguists or simply pedagogues. It is hard when you have a very restrictive timeline with yet another boring exam at the end where, in all languages, the writing text always starts with “You write to your penfriend about” something.

They don’t have penfriends and I want to have fun! I want my lesson to be pretty, attractive, colourful, animated. If I am not excited about showing someone what I did, I will not be able to open the door with a smile…Okay, I never smile unless actually amused but I do make jokes and love banter in the classroom and without the witty, always-on-point and creative visuals on the board, I would not be able to do so and set the evermore necessary positivity as, year in year out, teaching becomes harder by the week. The few classes where I have not been able to do it, I hate and I feel the work is far for the standards I expect of myself.

Whatever it is, the first golden rule of teaching is to enjoy yourself and it means whatever you want it to mean. I find pleasure in top-notched visuals, inventive games and the regular listening of songs and little activities around videos. Find yours. It’s doesn’t have to be massive, just a little something that’s for you every single time you teach. You have to take something out of it or you will grow to resent it beyond limits.

I have found that, even when it brings nothing for the kids as such, like a puppy with a mini basket ball to illustrate one sentence about playing sport, if it pleases you, it will please them. Because it is personal, that things will become your signature and if they always take everything for granted and don’t always acknowledge it at the time, they will come to miss it when moving on to the next teacher.

“Sir, I miss your cat memes! And the colours too. That was so nice and fun!” That sentence matters to me much more than “I think you should spend less time planning your lessons.”

A cynic, a pessimist and an historian.

I am a pessimist and as David Mitchell says: “The good thing about being a pessimist is that you are never truly disappointed.”

So Trump is president of the United States of America. And? Yes, it’s bad news but only a fool would not have seen it coming, I feel.

I don’t venture into “T told you so” anymore because I have stopped telling people “so” a long time ago for I have always been accused of being a pessimist, of always seeing the bad in everything.

My pessimism goes to such an extent that people don’t believe me or sometimes they even think I’m rooting for the bad ones to win so to shake up everything with a wrecking ball – alike to those who say “a good war would be good.”  Last month, I was talking to some people who asked me why I wanted to leave France again and I said: “I am not going to stand there and be an accomplice to Marine Le Pen winning the elections.”

That was very unwelcome amongst the people present, especially two black friends who reacted badly but it’s a truth I can’t help to believe in. I was told “my cynicism was sickening.”

I am accused of not giving people enough credit but as Roisin Conaty said to Ian Hislop when she predicted Trump as a president and he told her not to be so defeatist: “Brexit!”

I want to believe in people, in the good in them, in their supposed selflessness; I want to jinx the “Marine LePen = Présidente”, believe me, I do! But my conviction is that she will win, I never had faith in humanity which makes it even more important for me to vote against her – because my pessimism not is stopping me from wanting to play my part in preventing what I know to be coming.

Even more so, I am so terribly convinced it is lurking and waiting, I believe in my personal little mission to do what I can to stop it.

So, no. I am not surprised Trump was elected. I had my doubts and kept hoping until the FBI came out as people were already voting to say that there were more emails and there could be something there, just to say it was nothing a couple of days before the actual election.

That guy tried to save his skin but he has killed his career for he has proved himself a terrible liability for all parties. Trump sees him as someone who tried to undermine his rhetoric all the way, and a uncontrollable electron who will drop terribly undermining bombshells at any time; and the Democrats are now convinced it was the worst choice Obama has ever made in his entire career.

I know all this and knew it was coming because of that cynicism people are accusing me of.

Cynicism comes from knowing so much that you cannot help but question everything. My anxiety means that facing with any situation, I over-analyse everything, thoroughly. And it applies to everything I take an interest in, including the US elections.

I read, watched, listened, witnessed and like Brexit, tried to jinx it and to convince myself it would not happen but the pessimist in me knows what anger drives people to do. History is here to teach us something – which is why it’s so gladly rewritten when not deemed unnecessary, as it is in the US school system, by the affluent and powerful who find solace in the masses’s “blissful ignorance”.

When Cameron announced the date of the referendum, I went on Facebook at once and said, months earlier, that, as an historian, it was a very exciting moment as they would leave the EU and the UK would break after 300 years.

I am not pretending to be some kind of psychic Cassandra but as an historian by education, I have crucially learnt to read the signs. Throughout history, there are circles, even back in the Middle Ages when periods of freedom, openmindness were abruptly stopped by a conservative backlash.

Today, it’s the backlash against the rights movements and the minorities they protect, all blamed for all the pain the former privileged ones are experiencing or are afraid to experience. It’s not the poor and disenfranchised who made Trump president, it’s the authoritarian-loving middle class who mostly did, in a desperate bid to stop whatever is seen as a risk to turn them into what they despise the most: the poor themselves.

It’s the, justified, backlash against the almighty finance and markets who are indeed ruling the world nowadays, thanks to the Republicans as much as the Democrats. It’s the failure of the GOP who lost control of own its God-centred and divisive rhetoric in the hands of the people who this time did not care for God or to go for someone who was “Against everything but…”, rather went for someone who was against everything, full stop.

I can carry on like this forever, going back to Nixon, talking about the US traditional distrust of its own government and therefore habit of electing people who have (close to) no qualifications for the job. Just like I can go back to 1965 to find the seeds of Brexit and 1962 for the upcoming triumph of Front National in France.

Today, Donald Trump is president and anyone who dismissed it is not “out-of-touch with the real people”, just a fool who refused to see the realities of a failed education system and a deeply divided country suffering from the global economic rules the US have been writing and pushing through themselves since the 1950s. That’s the real backlash. People believed it when told it would benefit the First World as a whole and are angry to see that it has turned out to only benefit the likes of Donald Trump, who skillfully managed to play victim of a system supported by Clinton herself. That’s the pessimistic and cynical me, talking.

As an historian, it’s fascinating, more than the Bush era. It’s an end of to post-WWII and post-Cold War US economics and politics as we know it, the beginning of the unknown, the possible worldwide domino-effect but mostly and hopefully the last chapter in the withering of the last superpower under its own contradiction and betrayal of the values that made it strong to begin with. Or more likely, just a blip. A hole in the crouch area of your favourite jeans. You’ll get a new one when you can…

1918?

Pendant mon cours de français avec ma stagiaire russe:

“Vous avez des arguments comme celui de Trump en France?

-Oui, au début c’était que le Front National mais ça déborde sur tout le spectre politique. On nous dit, on nous répète, on nous promet qu’on va ‘faire revenir la France’

-Où?

-J’en sais rien. Je n’y prends pas. Mais personne ne sait. C’est le principe. C’est comme Poutine quand il dit qu’il va à nouveau rendre la Russie grande et puissante.

-Mais Poutine est ridicule! La Russie était puissante au XIXe siecle avec le servage, l’empire, les trois Etats. On pouvait faire la guerre sans raison, envahir nos voisins juste comme ça…C’était un autre temps, comment peut-on revenir au XIXe siècle?

-La France était décrite comme le pays le plus puissant après 1918.

-Donc les Français veulent revenir en 1918?

-Non. Enfin, certains oui, surement. Certains pensent bien que le travail des femmes est la cause de chômage, alors… Mais les gens ne savent pas où ils veulent revenir mais le slogan leur va bien. Il faut faire revenir la France. C’es clair, non?

-Non.

-On est d’accord. Parlons de Petersbourg…”

The lump of fat

I met a person. A type of person that I have seen before, watched before, heard of before but never met, or at least never had a full conversation with. An Irish colleague to whom I was introduced before the lemon cupcakes I made that day were. She first started by telling me that it was not the way her mother was doing it, then telling me that, if I were a proper Englishman, I would have added some decorations. I said that as a Frenchman, unlike the Brits, I prefer minimalism and to let the taste speak for the cakes.

Little did I know that, when it comes to looks, it is everything to her.

I was finding her frankly overbearing and went back to my work, she anyway carried on by telling me that she doesn’t eat cakes anymore anyway. So what was all that criticism all about then? She told me that she had “found the way”. She had “realised it” and, putting her hand on my shoulder, that now she helps people lose weight.

I always have good come-backs and I am never speechless but I just looked at her with a blank eye. She said that she can help me, that like me, who is a true baker in the heart (Okay then…), she has another calling and it’s to help people to clear their deep psychological blockage. She was on a mission to make me thin although we had barely met, I never asked anything, I did not complain and she knew nothing but my first name.

That was the first time I met someone like that: the thin proselyte who, like a born-again Christian, has made a mission to convert the fat people to their search for ultimate yet healthy twigginess.

And the whole experience was truly terrible to be honest. I came out of it extremely angry, feeling like shit, feeling like I was beneath her, I was just weak and pathetic because what these people really are is absolute bullying wolves in sheep clothing. At first, they are very nice, want to be helpful, seem understanding and sympathetic when in fact, they are just terribly insulting and their eagerness to shove your own face into the fat-swelling rawness inside of you is disrespect beyond the pale.

My anger came from me being put in a position of inferiority by this “holy” person but also my inability to really fight back. First, I did not think for a second that after everything I have achieved in my life, I would still have to justify myself for looking fat, which I found demeaning at the best of time. But it is also because we cannot attack these preaching bullies without becoming the executioner in the eyes of others. What outside people see is a very friendly, softly-spoken person who is selflessly sparing a couple of very sensible advice for your own good but the intrusion into your private space makes you want to punch them out of it or just tell them to “fuck off!” or even just be cold. But you think: “Am I proving you right by retaliating?”

I was stuck between her friendly claws wrapping closer around me and being unprofessional by bluntly telling her off. And also, she hadn’t mentioned me as such at this point so one could have easily blamed me for being touchy about being fat in the first place. “She was just making conversation; I was the one who made it about me.”

I did not know what to do and let myself being controlled into deeper self-loathing.

“I remove deep blockage” is what she said then. I felt more and more vulnerable and on the defensive side. My brain was screaming “Who are you to presume and question my mental health just by looking at me? How can you stand there and basically tell me that my physical appearance is saying all that needs to be known about my deep self?”

The worst with these people is their phoney empathy. She tried to show that she does understand by attempting to relate to me. The more she was blabbing about her ability to help the fat, the greater my need to dismiss her became so I bluntly said I had been overweight for the past 20 years and frankly nothing would change overnight. That’s when she pulled the relating trick where you show the other you identify with them. You are not yet another thin person who lectures, you suffered as well so she replied:

“Me too. I used to be obese then I found it and went from 68 kilos to 62 in two months!”

There was a silence.

Whatever “it” might be, that attempt to relate to my obesity was once again one of the most insulting thing I have ever been told. If 68 kilos from 1m60 is obese, what am I with my 120 kilos for 1m76?

I am obviously a monster that needs saving asap and that’s why she was here, right now.

In my silence, she started to throw words and phrases like “the teachings of Chinese medicine”, “the rules of Indian philosophy”, “the meaning of Asian religions”. It became more and more vague and the word “oriental” popped out more and more until it was virtually attached to every single of her abstractionisms. She is clearly one of these Westerners who have never lived anywhere near Asia and reduce it to what some pseudo gurus have let slip through our borders and books.

I found myself having to justify that I was indeed not just spending my life on my couch eating burgers. I felt like a child having to prove his parents he was not a total failure. I still cannot believe I ended up telling her I was going to the gym five times a week, was making an effort to only eat cereals in the morning rather that cakes, and that from now on, every morning, I was taking out seven to ten fruits and veg as well as 3 litres of water and a litre of whole milk that needed to be eaten and drunk by the time I go to bed. I suddenly watched myself trying to prove someone that my life was indeed a shameful mess of fat but I was trying to clear it up.

I concluded by saying that I was doing yoga and pilates to which she patronisingly replied that it was good for my condition. My “condition”, that was it. I am sick. In her mind, as long as I need to wear XL clothes, I will never be anything other than a lump of fat. I am just like a pack of butter and frankly I felt like one and became almost apologetic for it.

These thin, know-it-all-about-healthy-living proselytes want to help? They trigger nothing but greater self-loathing and a feeling of failure.

I became so fed up with her self-righteousness and her Christian-like attempt to force her newly-found, perfect way of life through every crack of my life and soul that I eventually stopped working, faced and told her that being fat has never stopped me from making it to where I was today, from leaving France with just a suitcase to live and work for 7 years in a country where I had no friends and no family, to making it as a teacher to one of the oldest and best school in England with nothing.

My being fat is irrelevant. She was not convinced.

Of course, she was not. Her self-loathing when she was “obese” will never allow her to see me as a person. For her, nothing I have and would ever say, nothing I have and would ever think, nothing I have and would ever do, nothing I have and would ever achieve will be good enough to gain her full respect because I do not look the part. I am not thin, therefore not happy nor fulfilled.

Had I been thin, we would have never had this conversation and I would not have had to list my life achievements and emphasise that being fat does not make suicidal and has not stopped me from having a life like everybody else.

The fact is, the self-righteousness she caged herself in has disabled her ability to have actual empathy for people she had made a mission to save. When she did put on weight at some point in her life, she had already digested and interiorised some prejudice about people who put on weight: that we are weak, with no self-control, that when our eating leaves my marks on our bodies despite the XL clothes, it means that we have deep psychological problems that remain unresolved.

Who hasn’t? You needn’t be fat to have problems! There is a brilliant Tumblr that display mugshots of criminals and if you just judge by their looks, they should have healthy minds. I mean some of them are handsome, thin, athletic and yet they robbed, battered, raped and killed. Being fat doesn’t say anything about you or your ability but she cannot see that because when the kilos piled up, she got scared, started to doubt herself and had found “oriental” solutions she is now preaching to whomever looks fatter than they should. Which, by the way, goes against actual Asian philosophies.

Today, she is just projecting on every fat person her personal experience. She has never been able to accept herself as someone with a bit more flesh. She hated herself then and she never managed to respect that person. Now she cannot possibly, truly respect us too and unfortunately, her views are becoming the mainstream in every aspect of our society. We did have Jamelia saying that fat people should be ashamed of being fat. Nice one, love! That’s going to help us move on with our lives…

Like all other thin, smug, Nazi-style or Evangelical-style healthy living proselytes, she doesn’t understand that force-feeding me with her phoney psychological help is not going to make me lose weight. On the contrary, her and her fat-shaming ilk are one of the biggest part of the problem and unlike them, I will never consider being thin a life achievement therefore a life goal.

And frankly, I am getting tired of my being fat being constantly shoved in my face and having to apologise for it, justify and prove myself on that sole basis day in, day out.

When I went back to my lesson planning and we parted, she passed in front of the cakes I spent hours making and, to add insult to injury, said proudly:
“Look, I am resisting. I have not eaten any of your cakes.”

I couldn’t take it anymore and with all the wisdom of a school playground, I replied:
“And I have not cared for anything you have been telling me.”

Of love and men.

« I believe in love » is a sentence we hear a lot but I never really understood.

I can understand the belief in religion because somehow it weirdly seems more tangible to believe in something that does not exist. I have never seen spirits or God so I’ve never believed in them but I have seen love, it’s everywhere so what’s the point in saying that you “believe” in it. It’s like saying you believe in the sun or the trees.

That’s how I thought about it, until recently.

My grandfather died about a month ago. He was 83, had two terminal cancers and although he did not suffer physically, his physical decadence was an everyday psychological torture and humiliation for him.

When he died, I did not cry. Neither did my grandmother who smiled at me when I arrived at the hospital and where scores of family members were crying. She smiled at me and it made me feel so much better because we both rationalise death as liberation for the dead. Finally! He was free from the pain, the torments.

So I did not cry after losing the most important man of my life. Well I did cry but not because of his death. I spoke at the funerals and still did not cry. When I went home, I turned on Tumblr where I saw a gif of Looking where Kevin tells Patrick that “he’s fucking in love” with him. And only then did I cry. Between the tears, I went on Youtube to find just that moment and cried. Downloaded it, watched it, again and again and “cried, cried, cried over the love” of them.

This moment was an epiphany, the likes of the one who triggered my realising I was gay. It all started when I began questionnig men and our status in the society, the social and behavioural expectations put on us. My first question when I was about 12 was “Why is it that two girls who hold hands are just “friends” whereas two boys are “gay”?”

I questioned the many differences between the emotional strings men and women attached to their peers and realised one day, after years of observations, that I was a different kind of man, one that wanted to hold hands with another one, one that wanted to be as close to a man as I was to my (girl) best-friends, one that rejected the ideal of a man the boys were trying to emulate. I was a man that was going to tick the box “gay” for the rest of my life and I was okay with it because my family always knew and accepted it because “there is nothing to accept nor reject” as they say.

That crying over a couple of second scene of Looking made me realise something about me. I don’t cry at death, I don’t cry at pain, I don’t cry at anger because I rationalise them, I understand them, they are no stranger to me, I am ready from them.

I do cry at love gestures, grand or small. I noticed that the videos that always make me cry are the surprise proposals, the surprise homecomings, the genuine wedding speeches.The genuine, the true, the passionate, the explosive, the romantic love gestures. The love songs are throwing me over the edge: You look so fine by Garbage, To have not to hold by Madonna, Halo by Beyoncé, Between two Lungs by Florence and the Machine…

Crying is my way of shielding myself against and within love because I don’t know anything about it. It’s a stranger to me. I don’t think I have ever genuinely fell in love because I did not believe in it, I did not trust it. I know now how extremely unhappy this lack of belief in love can make someone.

This is now where my life is going to change again. This is where I am going to accept myself, not a gay man but as a man who has feelings he needs to believe in to be happy.

It really all started during yet another sleepless, anxiety-filled night where I, as I always do during such nights, got up and decided to write. I have been doing that since I was 11 or 12, not to be published, not to be read but to occupy and soothe my anxieties with creativity.

And on that night, about six months ago, I made the decision to create a gay couple who are living the romantic love. Not the sweet kind but the hard kind, the one that consumes you, the ones changes you forever, the one who runs you over again and again. That one nor words neither actions can really soothe and satisfy.

And after reading yet another article about the clichés of love, I decided that they would be cliché. They would be the clichéest couple that ever there was because I am sick and tired with the Westworld-wide cynism about love and everything attached to it. Everything is cliché today. Proposals needs to be creative, honeymoons need to be adventurous. No more of a knee down and Paris. “How common!”

When have we become so cynical about love?

Cynism is fine and I enjoy it and practice it greatly when it’s funny, when it’s all tainted delicately with irony with a blunt of touch of sarcasm but the one surrounding love is just spiteful, blasé and negative. It teaches us that maturity goes with the moment when you stop believing the fairytales-like love and be more realistic. In a nutshell: it doesn’t exist.

I am a very stubborn and self-determined person who is hardly influenced by anything from the outside unless it is well put, well thought through and well argumented. Except for love. I have been ready to believe all the worst I could hear and see about love. I have been putting it down, crushing it at the first occasion, finding all reasons and excuses to dismiss it, ridicule it, be angry at it and ignore it.

It became clear that I was my worst nightmare: a man who was a product of our society where men are said to be solely driven by economic fulfilment. Ask a woman about the most important day in her life, she will tell you either her wedding or the birth of her children. Ask a man older than 40, he will tell you about his promotion or finally buying his dream car (only money-related dreams are allowed in maturity). I am product of a society where men must be rational, economic animals whereas women are their emotional, foolish love-driven sidekicks.

My mother likes to think I hate her married lover because I am jealous. No, I hate him because he’s nothing but the stereotype the society is still pushing younger men to emulate: a successful banker at the Rothschild’s Bank with a company car, a wife and two kids to show off at business dinners. A man who is overworking in order to climb the professional ladder and who loves by interest, which is what I used to believe about all men. As far as I was concerned, men were incapable of love, were some kind of love-disabled species who yet understood it was a necessity for their survival to fake it.

When I asked my mother why he was not divorcing his wife instead of cheating with countless women (he seems to have settled with my mother for the past few years), she said because he can’t. The fact is that his love life is nothing but an instrument to maintain his social status: he says “I love you” to his wife, he has sex with his wife, he stays married to her making her believe he is the same man she married decades ago because his social and economic status depend on it. He was taught that some boxes need to be ticked to succeed and impress his peers so he ticks them without believing in them: wife, kids, career and car.

I long thought that when women are driven by love, men are driven by their honour, how respectable they are in our society. When my cousin told me he had his heart broken, my first thought, that I kept for myself, was “You liar! Just give up with that ridiculous excuse! Your heart is not broken, just your honour because she dumped you. That’s why you say you want to get back with her. Not because you love her but because you want to save your honour by being the one who did the dumping.”

And how many men are talking like this? How many men are doing this? “

How many of those men are shown to be the norm?” is the real question.

I tried and typed the word “husband” on Google a couple of month ago to find it was mainly attached to “cheating”. The tabloids are filled with stories of famous men cheating and allegedly cheating because that’s what powerful men do and people are ready to believe all these stories without a doubt. In France, we have totally interiorised the idea that a power comes with a set of mistresses. And I have interiorised that, as far as men were concerned, love is irrelevant.

Between 20 and 25, I took great pleasure sleeping with straight married men with kids because it comforted me in this idea. I went as extreme as asking them to tell me about their wedding day in details as I was kneeling between their legs. They seem to take pleasure in it too: the sin was too great. Was it some kind of death to them? Killing the man they pretended to be as liberation, even just for a couple of minutes?

Personally, I never thought it would have destroyed me so much. I have never trusted a man to love so I have never bothered trying to date, to see anyone because I knew I would be hurt and left betrayed and alone at the end. I rather spent 12 years, observing, listening, studying the people around me to find out more. I needed to rationalise it. Love was nothing but a psychological study I was conducting.

This is when it became apparent that is not just society but also my parents who marked me. An immature father who has never grown up and was only tender to my mother when he felt she was pulling away from him and he was about to lose the comfort of  the married life and her money offered.  But also a mother who, after knowing him for 25 years and marrying him twice has been left blasée and unable to believe in forever. She now has a very dry view of relationship, very blunt.

She accepts love and is very in touch with her feelings but when my brother was dating his girlfriend and was talking about children and long-time life in some foreign country, she replied “Well, that’s if you’re still together”. She was not being mean or anything, it just came out the way she believes it and she doesn’t believe in love anymore. She believe in passion, she believes in feelings but she doesn’t believe that two persons can love forever.

She is not the only one: how many time do we hear “mismatch” or “I gave them two weeks” or “It’s not going to last” when two people start dating?

What is wrong with people?
Why are we all believing in lies, deceit, irrelevance when it comes to relationships?
Why can’t we believe in love?

And I understood. I understand what it is now to believe in love. It is to believe that it exists. I believe in its power that can be stronger than anything. I know…”how cliché!”…Well, yes! So?

Everywhere, from our most cherished members of family to the national press and the wider society love is taking a beating by people who have stopped believing in it and whose disappointment needs to be expressed by forcing their open cynism us.

I, for once, am absolutely fed up and tired with it. I felt I was becoming a psychopath when it came to men: I was physically attracted to what I despised and feared the most. My pulsions turned aggressive as well as sexual and in fear of anything bad happening, I kept away from them. At 30, I found out that I wasted the last 10 years of my life trying to prove myself that I did not need a man.

Today, I don’t want to listen to all that crap about how love is nothing but a social invention serving social peace and prudish religion purpses.

I want more! I want hope and something to look forward to. I want to believe. To believe in love. To believe in men. To believe in their genuine ability to love like my brother is loving my sister-in-law. Like more and more men of my age and younger are loving. I want to believe in these men. The ones who, like me, are looking at their aloof fathers and men such as my mother’s lover as a kind of man that should be left in the past.

Call me childish, naïve, stupid, blind, look down on me, ridicule me as much as you want but I want to believe because one day, another man is going to open his heart and tell me he loves me and this time, I want to be ready to believe him, unlike the last time when I could hear nothing but a lie.

So today, I believe in love.

Who? Me?

To whom may care.

I have decided to create a blog because I am a French whose education and life experience has turned him into an over-thinking freak who needs to know everything, understand everything and discuss everything.

Following my dream and my love of the English language, I went to live in the UK for nearly a decade where I experienced a major cultural shock. Even the little strip of sea called The Channel is enough to force you to assimilate in a so the same yet so different society. A society I imagined, I pictured as being intrinsically forward-thinking because of what I read about it, the people I admired, the music I listened to, the books I read, the aura the UK had abroad during my youth.

In fact I found a society drowned in capitalistic apathy, stoned in a brutal system of class, lacking interest for knowledge, rejecting dissidence and despising basic democratic essence; where most people look tolerant and open-minded from the outside but turn out to just not give a damn about anything unless it interferes with their right to buy with money they never have or right to say whatever pops in their head.

This cultural shock , the need to adapt to another culture has lead me to question everything I knew, am learning and are encountering on a daily basis, to dig deep into my roots to find what I was ready to forsake and what I would never let go in the name of becoming British – which I was an the verge of doing after the first five years.

Today, I am back in France. I decided to leave Albion before the reality of a decaying, overbearing society made me forget why I loved the UK and the English language in the first place. The cultural differences became to big to overcome and I could not move on in my life unless I subscribed and submitted to some visions I was not ready to embrace.

However this nearly decade has helped me to realise who I was, what I was standing for and grow as a deeply opinionated, ranting, sanctimonious, feisty French who can not put up with pretention, fakery and light-hearted commitment in the name of social politeness anymore.

As my mother says: You rant because you care, this is who you are.

So ranting, it will be.