January 31, 2018

A French Women's March Took Down a King

The recent turnout of hundreds of thousands of women for the first anniversary of the international Women’s March, makes this an ideal moment to revisit the astonishing victory against tyranny of the Women’s March on Versailles in 1789.

This year's massive anniversary protest comes amidst the huge “Me Too” movement, and an explosion of lawsuits denouncing sexual harassment in the workplace.  There is a feeling of being in the midst of bona fide social change that will celebrated on International Women's Day next month.  

At the marches in Paris, some protesters waved placards recalling another pivotal march that changed history — an event on a par with the storming of the Bastille. 

Paris protester last year recalls the 1789 march
Following widespread food riots in Paris, seven thousand women set forth in an armed march to take flour from the king’s stores 12 miles away in Versailles. Revolutionaries seized the moment, and forced the king to sign the recently composed “Declaration of the Rights of Man,” so ending his absolute rule.  The king and his entourage were dragged back to the capital as prisoners. It was a turning point, signalling a shift in power from the nobility to the common people.

January 15, 2018

Meet the author Stephen Clarke - and a Theatrical Performance of his book 'The Merde Factor'

Let’s celebrate 40 years of WICE in 2018!  The anniversary celebrations begin with an exclusive opportunity to meet best-selling author Stephen Clarke at special theatrical performance of his book The Merde Factor.

Who among us WICE English-speakers won’t identify with a British expat’s culture shock of living in Paris when he can’t speak French? Join us for some laughs at the Highlander Pub in Paris, on February 12, 2018, with the author of the acclaimed Merde series of novels.  After The Merde Factor performance, there will be a Q&A session and book signing with Stephen Clarke.  

(The following is a summarized version of Stephen Clarke's text.)
When he self-published A Year in the Merde in 2004, printing up just 200 copies, Stephen Clarke never dreamed it would become a worldwide bestseller, translated into more than 20 languages.

Clarke (heavily) fictionalized his own experiences of settling into real life in Paris, working for a French company, finding a flat, navigating cross-cultural relationships, and learning he was so much less sophisticated than Parisians think they are.

The “Merde” in the title isn’t France itself, of course – it’s the chaos that ensues when the novel’s British hero, Paul West, blunders into French culture and tries to puzzle out what people are saying, and why they’re saying it. 

Couple this with colleagues who work harder at organizing their vacation than doing their job, girlfriends who expect him to make perfect vinaigrette, and trying to open an English tea room selling "British cuisine" (for Parisians, a contradiction in terms), and the result is a novel full of “Merde.”

After being picked up by mainstream publishers, A Year in the Merde was shortlisted for British first novel of the year.  In the sequel, Merde Actually, Paul enjoys a typical French summer of apéritifs and family rows before returning to Paris and opening his English tea room. The book went to number one in the UK, briefly toppling Harry Potter from the top spot.

What followed was Merde Happens, about a road trip in a Mini across the USA from New York to LA, during which Paul tries to sell the UK as a tourist destination, with his French girlfriend as cynical co-pilot.

Next came Dial M for Merde, a spoof thriller set in the south coast of France, with Paul migrating from Collioure in the west (one of Matisse's favourite haunts), through the haunting weirdness of the Camargue, the idyllic bay of Bandol, to the farcical snobbery of Saint Tropez.

After this, Clarke decided that Paul West had had enough luxury, and sent him back, penniless, to Paris, to live in a chambre de bonne with leaky plumbing, as he tries to get the stablest job on the planet, as a French civil servant. The result was The Merde Factor.

The latest in the series is Merde in Europe (2016), in which Paul West works for a French Member of the European Parliament.  He tries to sort out the real issues at stake in the Brexit debate, revealing everything idealistically good, and crazily bad, about the EU. He also examines fake news being published about Brussels by the British press, from the EU wanting to ban bagpipes, to a "scientific study" proving that euro banknotes can make men impotent.

Stephen Clarke’s other books on France:                                                         
Talk to the Snail, the Ten Commandments for Understanding the French (2006)
1000 Years of Annoying the French (2010)
Paris Revealed, the Secret Life of a City (2011)
Dirty Bertie, an English King Made in France (2013)
How the French Won Waterloo, Or Think They Did (2015)

For more details see: www.stephenclarkewriter.com

Post edited by Elizabeth Bouché

Date:        February 12, 2018
Time:       19h - 21h
Location: Highlander Pub
                  8 rue de Nevers
                  75006 PARIS
Metro:       Mabillion

Tickets: 25 for Members and Guests, which includes a glass of wine, beer or a soft drink.

Book your tickets here, for what promises to be a great night out! 

For more details about WICE's 40th Anniversary and our other courses and events, check out the new WICE 40 page.

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