Posts tagged “BBC

Monday Reader: 4/21/14

Posted on April 21, 2014



There are a lot of goofy quizzes on the Internet. Among other things you can find out which 1970s music star you are (I got Olivia Newton John) and where you’re really supposed to live (I got Paris, bien sur). My recent favorite is “How French Are You?” which features some of the worst stereotypes about the people, from how much you strike, to how much you complain or cut in line. Of the 90 questions on the quiz, I clicked 65, which apparently makes me:

as French as Jean Dujardin eating camembert on the Canal Saint Martin. You’re pretty French. You know good food and good wine and although you’re a pessimist who complains a lot, you always know how to enjoy life.

I can’t argue with this.

Some reads:

France Marks 70 Years of Women’s Voting Rights (France24.comToday marks the 70th anniversary of women’s suffrage in France, a measure signed into law by General Charles de Gaulle, who headed the provisional government at that time. Women cast their first ballots a year later, during the country’s first elections after German occupation. There’s a great video on the France 24 website of women casting those first votes, and a roundup of Western countries where women were already voting before les femmes joined the fray. The role of women in French politics has grown slowly. In 1993, only 5.7 percent of seats in France’s Parliament were occupied by women – barely more than that after the end of World War II. The lack of women in politics prompted France to pass a law in 2000 requiring political parties to present an equal number of men and women on voting lists, making it the first country to do so. But men still heavily dominate French politics. Seventy-three percent of the National Assembly is comprised of men, while the Senate is 78 percent men.

France’s Silent Tea Revolution (BBC NewsWhen I worked in Washington, D.C., I had a French roommate. When her mother came to visit, we used to make sure we were well-equipped with Lapsang Souchong tea, her morning drink of choice. Up until this particular point in time, I thought the French were more of a coffee-oriented people, but I learned that wasn’t the case. Ever-resourceful, my roommate would brew mint leaves from our backyard for a mid-afternoon restorative. And, we’d go tea-shopping in Chinatown even when her mother wasn’t coming to town. So I enjoyed this story about how tea culture is strengthening in the hexagon, between the delicate and refined French blends and wonderful tea salons that dot the City of Light. What you find is that tea has been in France longer than it has been in Great Britain. The reason why more people associate it with Brits is because it was a popular drink instead of a drink for a wealthy few, as it was in France. News that coffee was bad for you changed all that, and more of the French began looking for a replacement. They rediscovered tea and, as you might figure, began putting their own Gallic twist on it, pairing it with cheeses, among other things.

Paris’s Haut Marais: From Shabby to Chic (WSJ.comWhen I was in Paris finishing my thesis research a couple of years ago, I rented an apartment in the Marais. My first favorite memory of staying in that neighborhood was walking to picture-perfect Jacques Genin, buying a finger-sized eclair and almost weeping when I sunk my teeth into that first, perfectly creamy bite. My second favorite memory: Discovering the Repetto store on Rue des Francs Bourgeois. The Wall Street Journal looks at how real estate prices are skyrocketing in this part of town, once ground zero for the French nobility. “Five years ago nobody wanted to be here,” says Nicolas Wibaux, a Marais-based agent for Paris real-estate firm Daniel Féau. “Now everybody wants to be here.” In the past five years, the average Paris apartment has increased by about 25%, to $1,056 a square foot. In prime areas of Haut Marais, prices in the same period jumped by 35.2% to 41.2%, reaching as high as $1,535 a square foot.

French Village Fights for Right to Use Its Name (rfi.frThe Laguiole council is appealing to France’s 36,000 local councils to come to its aid, claiming that it is the victim of a “supernatural catastrophe” following a Paris court’s refusal to uphold its case against Gilbert Szajner, who lives in the Val de Marne département just outside Paris. Szajner patented the Laguiole brand in 1993 for 38 different types of products, among them knives, tableclothes and cigarette lighters. But Szajner has had his wares made in China and Pakistan, while the town itself has been making its own distinctively designed knife since 1829. In 1997 local officials took Szajner to court, accusing him of dishonest trading practices and carrying out “harming its name, its image and its reputation”. After a long legal wrangle, the court threw out the case a few weeks ago and ordered the village to pay 100,000 euros in costs to Szajner.


God Save The Queen

Posted on June 3, 2012

STF/AFP/Getty Images

STF/AFP/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II marked her sixtieth year on the British throne this weekend. In honor of her Diamond Jubilee, here are some articles and other pop cultural tidbits about her, the celebrations and the royal family in general.

1. Daily Beast editor Tina Brown shared with NPR this week her must-reads about the Queen. Included are a Newsweek article by the historian Simon Schama and a biography by Robert Lacey.

2. I’m partial to the Oscar award-winning film “The King’s Speech,” which stars my imaginary husband Colin Firth as King George VI of England. George VI had a stuttering problem, but with the help of the eccentric speech therapist Lionel Logue, the king was able to overcome it and deliver a wartime speech that united his nation when it was on the brink of war. His daughter, Elizabeth, was proclaimed queen in 1952.

3. Director Stephen Frears cast the inimitable Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II in his 2006 movie “The Queen.” The movie looks at how the British royals dealt with Princess Diana’s death in 1997 and new prime minister Tony Blair’s pledge to modernize the country. Mirren won a best actress Oscar for her portrayal of the aging monarch.

4. The Christian Science Monitor describes the Jubilee celebrations along the Thames River in London, from the thousand-ship flotilla and the hundreds of thousands of people who braved the rain to watch it from the river banks. The Telegraph meanwhile writes that the Queen was voted “the favourite monarch of all time.”

5. The Queen loves corgis and the BBC notes that the breed has become more popular during her Diamond Jubilee year.

6. The punk band the Sex Pistols bashed the monarch in their rollicking 1977 song “God Save the Queen,” which came out during Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee that year. The lyrics likened her to a “fascist regime” and as a result the BBC refused to play the song. The song reached number two on the U.K. Singles Chart anyway. Here are the Sex Pistols in action:

7. A year ago Kate Middleton donned an Alexander McQueen gown to marry Prince William. Their pairing was said to reinvigorate the British monarchy in a way that William’s Duran Duran-loving mother Princess Diana did in the 1980s. It also drew more attention to what fashions the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate’s title) was wearing in public. What Kate Wore chronicles Middleton’s fashion choices, while this site is the official web page of the young couple.

Did you read anything about the Jubilee that you liked or found interesting? If so, what was it? Please share in comments.