Monday, 17 November 2008

the big boys are in the butcher

Woke up as a sortie of tiny clouds wrapped themselves around the peak of La Rhune. Their attack didn't mount to much and it stayed mild and sunny all day. Made my second faux pas of the week. I had a hankering for a gammon steak so set forth to find some. Unfortunately by the time I got to the butchers I had forgotten the French for gammon steaks (épaisse tranche de jambon salé). Instead I tried to explain that in Scotland there is a type of pork steak we eat with eggs or pineapple. The butcher listened attentively but two burly chaps next to me explained in no uncertain terms that they didn't care what people eat in Scotland and that I was now in the Basque country so should eat Basque food. Before I was able to express that I had meant no disrespect and that the Basques and Scots alike enjoy the meat I was trying to explain, I recalled that the military head of ETA had been captured earlier today and figured that there may be some resulting antagonism. Those who know me are aware of my unrivalled reputation for bravery, so I aptly purchased a joint of pork and left poste haste. Nice butcher shop though.

Signs of the recession are slowly sinking in around St Jean de Luz. Not only is it the hot topic amongst coffee drinkers, some shops are running closing down sales and there are a couple of properties appearing for auction sale. Many other shops had already closed down for the season to re-open in the Spring, I only hope that they are all able to. Le Figaro ran a report today stating that the top 8 oligarchs/billionaires in France have lost c€26bn in the last few months. They all own consumer facing businesses so people should expect a knock-on effect. The French finance minister, Christine Lagarde, must regret boasting in The Economist about the "totally remarkable performance" of the economy and asking what all the drama is about...