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  • I love my adoptive country, France, but I do sometimes wonder if it has adopted me as enthusiastically as I have adopted it. Why are wondrous wild flowers always interspersed with stinging nettles?

    I have just spent the whole morning trying to sort out my car insurance. It's a long and extremely boring story, which you will be spared (you'll be happy to hear). Suffice it to say that:

    1) I am fed up with the on-hold music. But even that is better than being cut off automatically, which is what happens if you are holding on for more than 3-4 minutes.
    2) 9 out of 10 times I cannot get through to a live person.
    3) When I do get through to a live person and explain myself all over again to them, they put me on hold and... Problem No. 1 occurs again.
    4) This should be a routine request for documents, which was made back in February, and repeated ever since every couple of weeks on the phone, in writing, via email.
    5) I have a long car journey to the other end of Switzerland ahead of me next week, and no car insurance to cover me.

    I do not jump to conclusions. I detest generalisations. I turn away from expats who moan about the customs and standards of the people in the country that they are living in. I think we can't have the flowers without the nettles and the weeds, no matter where we choose to walk.

    But, oh, boy, there are days when it's hard to be philosophical!
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