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North beach of Granville, Normandy.Grève: nf 1Plage de gravier, de sable. 2Cessation de travail concertée. (Dictionnaire Hachette, 2008)

This is the view of Granville from the northwest, my second acrylic, just finished. This is the rocky beach, as opposed to the Plage Gusset, which is sandy. The art class is on holiday, but Mme Cornier has opened the atelier up for a few days and this was the result of three afternoons’ work. (For more on the art class see the blog atelier de haute ville). When I first came here I couldn’t understand why the beach was named ‘the strike’ (as in withholding labour), as most dictionaries translate it. This is one of the reasons it is a good idea to get a dictionary in the language you are studying. Thanks to a teacher at Alliance Française for that tip.

I like the idea of a strike being a ‘rocky beach’. Today the public service workers, teachers included, are on strike in the UK. Having just heard Francis Maude trying to justify making public sector workers pay for the recession makes it clear why the metaphor is so apt. This will be a messy affair; the Government seem intransigent, public opinion is divided (which makes a change from disinterested) and the workers are, quite understandably in my opinion, outraged. The pension conditions were hard-won by workers over the years. They are not a perk, they are an integral part of the reward structure for public service workers, most of which are still very poorly paid.

Anyone watching the government propaganda machine at work over the last year could see that there would be a clash over pensions, recession or no recession. All the hoo hah over top executives’ salaries in the tory press aimed at softening up public opinion. The greatest critics of public service pensions seem to be those with non-contributory schemes. Let’s not forget that public workers’ pensions are largely paid for by the workers (at an average level of 7.5% of salary – source Citizens’ Information Board).

Well now we are at the beach head. And it’s not an easy landing. I’m hopeful, but not optimistic, that this will be a rocky beach for the government assault crafts, rather than the soft target it is hoping for. Good luck to the unions.

Summer is finally here, in Granville; the sun is shining and the temptation to slink off to the beach is strong. The place is filling up, especially at weekends. In the winter in the ‘old town’ the population is about a quarter of that in the summer, making living, working and running a business here a problem. I am very much aware that with a holiday home here, I have been part of the problem. Hopefully this year I am partly making up for that. I can honestly say I have never lived anywhere with such a strong sense of community. Almost too much is happening over the next few months to fit in. Still, the writing has me enthralled – and the first book is taking shape, despite the enticing weather.

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