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Consternation as Brits abroad lose their TV comfort blankets

Huddled around their wood burners as the wind whistles through their semi-restored farmhouses, the Brits in France Profonde do stoicism like no other people on earth.

These are, after all, men and women whose forebears colonised the world; ­hacking their way through forest and native to bring decency and proper values to those in obvious need.

France may be colonialism-lite; no matter - standards are upheld even under the rigours of bureaucratic ­overload, incomprehensible tongues and sly peasants ripping them off daily.

Sabres, sadly, may no longer be ­brandished or uniform buttons polished, and the memsahib has no underling to sweep the porch of snakes and scorpions.

Indeed, the memsahib is more likely to be found head down in her Marigolds in the "fat pan" of the septic tank purging the pipes of an excess of goose fat. Tant pis.

They've bravely weathered the economic shock of the pound-to-euro exchange rate withering their pensions and fixed incomes to a fraction of what they'd envisaged when swapping the Cotswolds' brick semi for the crumbling manor.

Even weathered the weather, which is not what they were promised when the English estate agent at the Earl's Court French show assured them of a Mediterranean micro-climate. And they've never, ever let the side down. Every summer as the family and friends descend they've grabbed the obligatory straw bag and herded all to market.

Through gritted teeth, encouraged the "oohing" and "ahing" at the produce, ­mentally totting up the mark-up compared to the Lidl where they shop all year round. (As do half the market traders.)

And, as they've staggered out to the pool with our famous aperos and amuse bouches, to hear "You're so lucky. On holiday non-stop", they've kept that stiff upper lip in the face of all freeloading adversity.

These men and women are my heroes. ­Valiantly they go forth pretending that la vie francaise is all they ever desired.

I salute them as I crank up the heating in my oil-warmed house, tell guests to cook their own, heat up oven chips, and weekly puncture holes in the bubble of expat life.

At times I've felt bad, a fraud, a failure to live up to the gung-ho joy of making cassoulet from scratch and scrabbling a chunk of clay to grow vegetables I'll never eat. A woman who doesn't deserve to have washed up here and who had no desire to get down and dirty with le terroir after disturbing the ants on my one attempt of planting, ("Taxi for Cook" is my mantra.)

But then, I'm not a natural colonial. I'm Irish. Plus I'm really not good with nature.

I have a bare handful of souls left here who semi-understand me. Or rather accept me while checking the column to see how far I'll go.

I often rely on them to tell me what's happening in the wider expat world within La Lomagne. Plus I check with the Anglo/French forums to see what's pushing their bateau.

So, forgive me if today I fall on back, wave legs and arms in the air, and laugh uproariously.

Yes, yes, they are crumbling, in fear, in horror as all around tumbles into the abyss.

For they, me, have lost our access to our old life.

There is a new satellite for television, which basically means we have lost all mainstream UK channels. We may need larger dishes and subsequent planning permission and there is no guarantee they will work.

Legally we shouldn't have most of them, eg BBC, as we don't pay a licence fee. Our Sky channels are ordered through some jiggery-pokery via the internet.

It's all too complicated for me. I just phoned a man several years ago and voila, I could still be in Glasgow with a click of the remote; or London, or anywhere I chose.

Very few I've met here admit to loving Corrie or EastEnders. Or, God forbid, any reality show.

If I believed them, they were all watching lousy French TV to perfect their French.

Occasionally they would record the 10pm news for the following morning as they all seem to go to bed here at 11pm (an hour ahead, remember.)

I've never had a problem about stating my enjoyment of UK soaps or reality shows. Never had a problem about saying most French TV is appalling. But I thought, as the Brits told me, I was a one-off around here.

Well, garments are being ripped. Teeth gnashed. Expats are wailing and all are crying: what do we do?

Regions are reporting in: 42 down: 83 partial coverage: 77 doing well; 63 pixilating. Others are saying: hold fast, BBC One back, BBC Four looking good.

Hang on in there, good news coming from the south …

Once, the old colonialists grabbed a ­brandy, put the womenfolk behind them and prepared for the last stance, cigars lit.

Now, they're pounding the internet, asking for help, ­climbing on roofs to tweak ­dishes in the vain hope of ­salvation … and Corrie.

Me? Not being a stoic or a ­colonialist, I've found a signal on BBC Oxford, and Wales does BBC Two. Can't get BBC Scotland … yet.

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