How the latins love their cigarettes….

Clear with drizzle 12 degrees

Woke up dreadfully early.  The night air was alive with owl hoots, shrieks and twoots.  The constant rain must have been a real bind for the barn owls, especially.  Their soft feathers have no waterproofing so they cannot hunt in the rain.  We have a large barn and I imagine them perching on a high beam, watching the floors and walls and twisting their heads at Exorcist angles, their huge eyes glimmering in the faint light.

Any type of rodent eating owl would be welcomed by us in our loft.  Something is gnawing its way through the ceiling above the kitchen.  On a rare sweep past with the brush on Sunday morning, I discovered a pile of chewed wood chips lying on the kitchen floor.  So far, I have put out 12 packets of poison and two traps and it is still running about.  It has heavy feet and I am not keen to meet it, whatever it is.  All of the packets of poison have been taken away from their positions.  Watch this space.  I really, really, really hope it is not a very large rat.  And his mates.  I know for a fact that they won’t be running a restaurant up there.  (à la Ratatouille, a film which I love)

Drove through the morning mist to the notary’s office for completion on a sale which has taken eight months to get to this date.  The parties battled remorselessly even down to the price of the piano, so I was somewhat surprised to discover that the buyers had come over a week ago, and had been staying with the seller.  They were now uber pally and the signature was over in no time.  The seller, who had spent at least six months cursing the buyer to the far ends of Hell, got up and kissed them and said congratulations.  He then said he was very happy with our services and invited me to take on two of his other properties.  Fortunately I was sitting down at the time, in a strange mock Louis XV chair which has recently made its appearance in the notary’s office, or the shock may have well taken my legs out from under me.

I celebrated by going for a coffee and Nutella crepe.  When I first came over to this country, eleven years ago, people didn’t snack.  They ate their main meals at lunch time and soup or cheese in the evenings and they were all slim (apart from the old guys with the huge paunches).  Today, in the bar, I was not the only one tucking into a sugar based snack.  Some were having biscuits, some muffins, some brownies.  Quite a few were having beer.  How on earth do they do back to work in the afternoons when they have had beer at lunch time?  The locals have definitely expanded and, interestingly, the shops have responded.  I used to be classed as extra-large and so consequently refused to buy any clothing over here, relying for years on the internet with less insulting labels.  Now I am a medium.  Young girls in particular have expanded, and happily show their expanses of white and tattooed flesh on every available occasion.

Another big difference I notice in Europe, compared to the UK, is the amount of people who smoke.  In the UK I didn’t know anyone who smoked.  Over here, I know very few people who don’t.

The fact is that smoking is socially acceptable in France and statistics reveal that the number of women taking up (and dying from) smoking is on the rise.  One in three French people smoke and take it up in their early teens.  This is compared to one in five in the UK. These figures hide the fact that smoking in the UK is more class and age based than in France.

This is from the Ash website

There is a strong link between cigarette smoking and socio-economic group. Smoking has been identified as the single biggest cause of inequality in death rates between rich and poor in the UK. Smoking accounts for over half of the difference in risk of premature death between social classes.

Death rates from tobacco are two to three times higher among disadvantaged social groups than among the better off.

Long-term smokers bear the heaviest burden of death and disease related to their smoking. Long term smokers are disproportionately drawn from lower socio-economic groups. People in poorer social groups who smoke, start smoking at an earlier age: of those in managerial and professional households about one third start smoking before age 16 compared with almost half of those in routine and manual households.

In France, people of all socio economic groups smoke and most of them have been smoking since their early teens.  The ban on smoking in bars and the raise in prices have had limited effect.  The dangers of smoking and the scary messages on the fag packets have meant that there has been a boom in ‘vapotage’ or e-cigarettes which now account for 25% of smoking related sales in France.

 Image Wikipedia

Serbia tops the list with 2,861 cigarettes per person.  If the population of Serbia is 7,276,604 million people, then that would mean almost 21 billion cigarettes were smoked (20,818,364,044). If a pack contains 20 cigarettes, that would be a little over 1 billion packs of cigarettes (1,040,918,202). If you subtract the 14.9 percent of the population that is under the age of 14, that would mean the adult population smoked 166.5 packs per person. If you assume that the average smoker consumes 1 pack per day, that would mean that roughly 50% of Serbs would be considered regular smokers (46.5%).

Back home and do update on contacts and email the suspects (prospects who are not answering their phones or my contact emails).  Feel rather tired.  Must not eat lots of sugar at lunchtime.  OH ventures out into the rain with the dog and I prepare squid, mussels and langoustines for his signature chili seafood ragout.  Go for a swim and there are only six people in the pool.  Bliss!


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