Programmes and Events
Early in my school career I discovered I had a flair for languages, both modern and ancient! When I was 16 I went on my first visit to France on a school exchange to Chartres, where I stayed with family friends of France Gall who had just won the Eurovision Song Contest, with “Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Sang” and with whom she had recently stayed. Was I impressed! I discovered French lifestyle, finding that the bowl on the breakfast table was not for cornflakes, but coffee.
I went on to read French at University and spent a year at the University of Dijon. It was 1968/9, a time of upheaval in French society which opened my eyes to the differences (and similarities) between our cultures.
On graduation I joined the London branch of one of the major French banks and on two occasions I was fortunate enough to be seconded to its Paris Head Office, each time for 5 years. The first time we moved as a family and our children attended the British School of Paris and became confirmed Francophiles. The second time was for the final five years before I retired in 2004. These two periods allowed me to deepen my appreciation of French food and wine and other aspects of its culture. In between I also spent five years in our subsidiary in Kyiv in Ukraine. In true French style we held board meetings in French!
Having retired, I moved back to Godalming and was delighted to find we had one of the most active French groups in the South of England, which I joined and later became a member of its committee, on which I have served for the last ten years.ar this summer.
I have been a Francophile since the age of 11, when my first French teacher (first of many!) Mr Gordon, entered the classroom (this was the first time he had met us), started pointing to things, saying each time ‘Qu’est-ce que c’est?’ He answered himself each time with the French word. I was hooked, and have been ever since. From the age of 15 onwards, I have immersed myself in the bath of French language and culture: food, wine, French writing, music, theatre, cinema, art. There is always more to learn, and no country or culture ever stays the same. I was incredibly lucky to spend so many years with my late wife Pauline. Her love of France was total, as were her culinary skill and her knowledge of art history. During my academic career teaching international (and UK) accounting, I had the opportunity to teach for short periods in Université Paris Dauphine, Université de Tours and Université de Tunis. My accounting background has enabled me to take on the role of treasurer for Les Amitiés françaises and some other local organisations. I love my income statements and balance sheets.
I was born in Paris and brought up in Normandy. After my first degree (English) at the University of Rouen, I spent 5 years studying in the US, a new graduate school in Binghamton, New York. They were the best years of my life. I married an Englishman and we moved to Britain, first to Edinburgh where my son was born then to Surrey where I have been ever since, visiting family in France but always intending to stay in Surrey. Joining les Amities Françaises helped me to keep up with all things French and make francophile friends.
My initial connection with France was organising Easter rugby tours to Valence for Bromley Rugby Club in the early 1970’s. I worked for a French bank in the City and was transferred to Paris to work in their International department in 1984. The initial three year move turned out to be a tour of thirty years! I spent my working life in Paris and La Defense, spending two years in La Grande Arche.Our family lived to the west of Paris where our two children attended the British School of Paris. We were lucky to have lived close to Versailles and the Isle Fournaise where the Impressionists met and painted.Our children have happy memories of our camping holidays in the south of France, in the trailer tent attached to our car.Having returned to England in 2015, The Amitiés Françaises has enabled us to continue to utilise our French whilst learning more about this superb country via the interesting lectures.