It's raining, France is on strike and my back aches.

It’s often difficult to relate the cause to the effect, I know.

My back aches - ‘J’ai mal au dos.’ Which may mean: ‘J’en ai plein le dos’, in a psychoanalytical way of seeing things. Just too bad the English translation does not fit so well: ‘I am fed up!’  I know my back aches because I’m fed up but it’s not as funny/interesting as it is in French.

Why does my back ache besides being poor ol’ me being fed up? Mainly because the other day, I got so mad at everything including my landlady in Brussels that I took my anger out on the window panes.

Bad move! Very bad move for someone whose dorsal muscles are down to nothing due to Popeye’s vicious attack on her ankle, last May. (Which meant no exercising whatsoever during the last three months. No swimming either.)

Actually I’m pretty sure my back aches because I am fed up, oh so fed up. ‘J’en ai plein le dos.’

Raining is good. It’s good for our new lawn. It’s good for the new colza in our fields. It’s good for the wild animals and birds. You should see the blackbirds having the time of their life in the puddles... The grass is shooting up. i can hear thousands of tiny blades singin’ in the rain. (They do, you know. It’s just that we usually don’t take the time to listen to them.)

Since it’s raining and my back aches, I have a lot of free time to listen to the grass growing. And my back aches even more because I hate not to be able to move around the way I want to.

My back aches because France is on strike for the umpteenths times in many months. Well, there are good reasons to go on strike. Why should we go into retirement at 62 instead of 55/60 (the way it is now) when all our European neighbours retire at 65/69? Let’s ask for retirement at 69. Oh, this is not the point, I hear. People want to retire at 55. Excellent!

Go on strike, demonstrate as much as you want but please, let people travel freely. My Popeye is planning to come back to Brittany tonite - by train. He probably won’t make it. How selfish one can be! How selfish I am! I’ve got excuses. You see, my back aches.

This morning, I read an article about how to measure the number of demonstrators. It was not meant to be funny. It was hilarious.

The police gives one number and the trade unions give another with a huge difference most of the time. I was pretty sure that their way of counting demonstrators was totally different.

It is not. They use the same method. It’s based on the evaluation of one group of 100 demonstrators. From there, you start from a fixed point. You count groups of 100 demonstrators between two banderoles (using them as a marker). Of course, the best method would be using an aerial view when the demonstration is huge. But who would use a very expensive helicopter to do so? Not the police, just imagine - we are in France, people. Not the trade unions who are fighting to get people richer/less poor.

Last year, some 'non-political' newsmen climbed aboard a crane and started counting, using the method explained above. They came up with numbers 20% higher than those given by the police and 40% lower than those given by the trade unions. Interesting, isn’t it?

The counting can also be different from some areas to others. Sometimes the trade unions and the police come roughly to the same numbers like they usually do in Brittany (I’m not biased there). In other areas like Paris, the differences get closer to 50%. In Marseille, it’s even worse - from one to ten!

It’s raining, France is on strike and my back aches, just in case you want to know.

*Good Night, and Good Luck*

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