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Monday, 22 December 2003
Bon Noel, bonne année et bonnes fetes !

Place Kléber

Here is another picture from Place Kléber, with the Christmas Tree (see also on 4 Dec).  I have since read somewhere else that the tree is 35 metres high (perhaps it is growing?) and is the largest Christmas Tree in Europe.

I spoke to bluemeanie and pinkie last night. They arrived in Cape Town safely and seem well. Big thanks to bluemeanie for the present that she left for me here!

I am probably going to be taking a break from posting to the blog - I am going to be in Scotland from Wednesday for a few days, and will resume posting in the New Year. 

Alors, je profite de ce moment pour vous souhaiter - tous d’excellentes fetes de fin d’annee.

Posted by bigblue on 22/12/2003 at 09:04 PM
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la camera

Place Kléber

I took this photo at about 1 am Sunday morning on Place Kléber, Strasbourg, of two guys chatting about how best to take a photograph of the building opposite.  We had been to see the football earlier in the evening (Strasbourg Racing 4 - 2 Montpellier), then for dinner at an Italian place.  Then it was home for a short sleep as Ash and I got up to leave for the UK by car at 6am this morning.  It went very well until we got to Kent, on the UK side of the channel. I stopped to put some petrol in the car, and put petrol in rather than diesel fuel. We drove on for about a minute from the garage, getting stuck on the M26 motorway near to Sevenoaks.  We phoned for a taxi to collect Ash and take him to Heathrow to get his plane to Egypt, and the RAC to come and check out the car.

There are a few gripes concerning the experiences of today:
Vodaphone directory enquiries are pants. They couldn’t give me the phone number of the total garage where I had filled p with petrol. I had the name, the streetname and postal code, but they insisted on giving me false information.
Secondly the taxi company from Sevenoaks seems to have over-changed Ash to take him to Heathrow
airport.
Thirdly, the people answering the telephone for the RAC are a bit useless. Shouldn’t these people at least know what we are talking about when we phone them, and be able to find a place on a map.
The RAC mechanic who eventually arrived was top-notch. Unfortunately I had to sit in the freezing car, unable to operate the engine (and therefore the heater) for a couple of hours.

Posted by bigblue on 22/12/2003 at 12:39 AM
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Saturday, 20 December 2003
Wonderful tonight

Marcus Flanagan

This evening I went into Strasbourg. I had dinner with Fabienne at Petit Ours. Thereafter I went to Murphy’s House to meet up with Carles and Ash to listen to Marcus strumming some guitar stings and singing some songs.

I mentioned Marcus on 19 Nov 2003. You can listen to his mellow Irish numbers here.

Besides for his own numbers, Marcus did some covers including Slowhand.

Posted by bigblue on 20/12/2003 at 03:00 AM
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Thursday, 18 December 2003
It is Denise’s Canteen!

Roland Schoenn

So for some time we have noticed this solitary demonstrator outside the offices of Trumpf in Haguenau.  What does this mean? What is he protesting? It took me a couple of weeks to even work out what La Cantine a Denise actually means.

So one day I collected a pamphlet from the demonstrator. Another day I took his photograph. Here is what I read in the pamphlet.  It is my translation from French to English, and I take no responsibility for any errors or mistakes which I may have accidentally introduced. Obviously I will correct any that anyone cares to point out. Obviously too, the French version purports to represent the views of Mr Robert Schoenn, and his wife Denise. They are not necessarily my own views, and if you rely for accuracy on my English translation then you do so at your own risk, etc. blah blah fish paste. Here is what I read:

Does Schweighouse have “three stars”?

Mr. Alain Jost of the Aux Berge de la Moder Restaurant would deserve this distinction not for his culinary talents but for his injustice, his lies, his spite, his disrespect, his vulgarity with his similar accomplice, Mr. Reis George, director of the company Trumpf of Haguenau.

Following the articles that appeared about us in DNA [local newspaper] and Tonic [local satire magazine], many people asked us for explanations because they understood nothing of this story.  Here are the facts:

Denise, employed as a “delicatessen” for more than 6 years, with general satisfaction, serviced the meals and maintenance of the canteen of Trumpf. That company decided to change the catering contractors for the year 2002, and the Director solicited Denise so that she would remain and be engaged by the new catering contractor.  She agreed. According to the Director, the staff, the executives, and the members of the work’s council, all said that they wanted to change contractors but to keep the waitress.

Steps were taken in this direction and the restaurant Aux Berges de la Moder made a proposal mentioning that it was close to keeping Denise as waitress. For that end it made Denise visit the restaurant several times for discussions and to bring her pay slip. Mr. Jost also had a discussion with the catering company in which it was confirmed to him that it authorized Denise to leave without notice so that she could continue to work with the new catering company. All seemed then to be for best; Mr. Jost at the time of the Christmas lunch had confirmed to the employees of the company that Denise would remain in place if he obtained the contract. After a trial period, during which Denise was to take vacation (not being paid yet by Mr. Jost) he requested that we come to the restaurant one evening a few days before Christmas for a SURPRISE announcement to us that he did not wish to keep Denise with the canteen as had been agreed but that he proposed to place her in the kitchens with the loss of her annual bonus and possible modification of her work schedules, contradicting what he had affirmed in the article of DNA (the liar).

He said to us that he wished to entrust the post to a good acquaintance; defending his decision with reasons more ridiculous than each another, as for example Denise must initially be trained whereas she has done this work for more than 6 years whereas the new employee has never worked in a canteen. Thereafter he acknowledged besides that he proposed only the kitchen position because the Director of Trumpf had insisted. We proposed to him to engage his good acquaintance in the kitchen and to leave Denise in the canteen; and he answered that the kitchens were not a good place for her: implying that it was not good enough for her but on the other hand good for Denise. What transpired so that the Director of Trumpf and his committee accept this changed situation? Did it obtain backhanders or other advantages? This reversal, as abrupt as unexplained, is more than odd; moreover Mr. Reis never wanted some explanation.

What is Mr. Jost thinking. Mr Jost who said to us that he did not have sums to return to anybody, that it is insane of what thinks the others (specifying even of his/her own parents), which after several divorces he had heard of others. Clearly everyone is good and can be enough idiot to save to him money but that stops there. Hang that Roland expressed peacefully, it has it several times insulted with a vocabulary unworthy of an employer and in front of witness, it asked to him whether it did not have time to make him a fellatio. With each one to form an opinion and to decide if he wants to trust such a person and to support it.

The new waitress, Claudine Moynier, ne� Bossenmeyer lives in Gal Of Gaulle Street in Schweighouse. She lowered and humiliated Denise by saying to her that she does not speak to animals; she classes herself at a higher level but then why the devil replace Denise who happy and “opened out” in her work. She was already at the origin of the departure of a wage-earner in a chocolate company where she worked before. She also lied to the judiciary while making a complaint against Roland for death threats (the business is still in hand with the correctional court of Strasbourg).

We protest, counter this injustice, counter his broken promises, counter his lies, counter this disrespect of work and the employees. Nobody has the right to treat kind a human person, to destroy it, lower it, throw it like a worn rag don?t one needs more. We must denounce these practices, if today it is not useful it can be helpful, let us hope, in the future. We do not have the right to leave to our children a rotten world like this.

Denise today is not the same any more; we betrayed her, she does not believe in anything any more. She relied completely on Mr. Reis, director of Trumpf; she had even refused in 2000 another better remunerated job to remain at Trumpf where she felt recognized. She lost her reference marks compared to certain human values, she is depressed and does not manage to forget her canteen; she has the tears in her eyes each time when passing in the proximity of it. Then when Mr. Reis says that while expressing we badger/harass the new waitress; that he puts pressure on his employees -to express against us while threatening to close the canteen, he misuses his power by using the fear of losing their employment. As for Tonic Magazine which does not seek the bottom of the problem, but speaks about the insane world because Roland continues to demonstrate, we will say only that they disappointed us by also coming under the pressure of the money (the restaurant Aux Berges de la Moder has each month an advertisement in their magazine).

To finish, a large THANK-YOU to everyone who supports us.

Denise and Roland Schoenn,  19 rue de la Fluess, Schweighouse.

Here is the original French version of the pamphlet Mr Roland Schoenn gave me. The views and information here represent him only, and I do not take any responsibility for typing mistakes that I may have introduced. However I will correct any such errors if they are pointed out to me.

Un trois etoiles a schweighouse?

M Alain Jost du restaurant Aux Berges de la Moder m�riterait cette distinction non pas pour ses talents culinaires mais pour son injustice, ses mensonges, sa m�chancet�, son irrespect, sa vulgarit� avec comme complice M Reis Georges, directeur de l’entreprise Trumpf de Haguenau.

Suite aux articles parues � notre subjet dans les DNA et dans Tonic beaucoup nous ont demand� des explications car ils n’y comprenaient rien � cette histoire; voici les faits:

Denise, salari�e d’un traiteur s’occupait depuis plus de 6ans, � la satisfaction g�n�rale, du service des repas et de l’entretien de la cantine � l’entreprise Trumpf. Celle ci souhaitant changer de traiteur pour l’ann�e 2002, le Directeur a collicit� Denise pour qu’elle reste et soit embauch�e par le nouveau traiteur; elle �tait d’accord. Du Directeur, en passant par les cadres, les membres du comit� d’entreprise, tous ont dit qu’on veut changer de traiteur mais garder la serveuse.

Les d�marches ont �t� entreprises dans ce sens et le restaurant Aux Berges de la Moder a fait une proposition mentionnant qu’il �tait pr�s � garder Denise comme serveuse. Pour cela il a fait venir Denise plusieurs fois au restaurant pour discouter et pour qu’elle apporte sa fiche de paye. M Jost a �galement eu un entretien avec le traiteur en place qui lui a confim�qu’il autorisait Denise � le quitter sans pr�avis pour qu’elle puisse de suite continuer � travailler avec le nouveau traiteur. Tout semblait donce se d�rouler pour le mieux; M Jost lors du repas de No�l avait confirm� � des salari�s de l’entreprise que Denise resterait en place s’il obtenait le contrat. Apr�s une p�riod d’essai durant laquelle Denise devait prendre des cong�s, n’�tant pas encore salari�e de M Jost, celui ci nous a fait venir le soir au restaurant quelques jours avant No�l pour SURPRISE nous annoncer qu’il ne souhaitait pas garder Denise � la cantine comme cela avait �t� convenu mais qu’il lui proposait un place aux cuisines avec suppression du 13e mois et �ventuellement modification des horaires de travail, contrairement � ce qu’il a affirm� dans l’article des DNA (quel menteur).

Il nous a dit qu’il souhaitait confier le poste � une de ces bonnes connaissances; il a d�fendu sa d�cision avec des raisons une plus ridicule que l’autre comme par exemple Denise doit d’abord �treform� alors qu’elle fait ce travail depuis plus de 6 ans et que la nouvelle n’avait jamais travaill� � une cantine. Par la suite il a d’ailleurs avou� qu’il a seulement propos� la place aux cuisines parce que le Directeur de Trumpf avait insist�. Nous lui avons propos� d’embaucher sa connaissance aux cuisines et laisser Denise � la cantine; il a r�pondu que les cuisines n’etait pas un place pour elle sous-entendu pas assez bonne pour elle mais par contre bonne pour Denise. Que c’est t-il pass� pour que le Directeur de Trumpf et son comit� accepte cette mise � l’�cart? Y a t-il eu des dessous de table ou d’autres avantages? Ce revirement aussi brusque qu’inexpliqu� est plus que bizarre; d’ailleurs M Reis n’a jamais voulu s’en expliquer.

Que penser de M Jost qui nous a dit qu’il n’avait de comptes � rendre � personne, qu’il s’en fou de ce que pense les autres (pr�cisant m�me de ses propres parents), qu’apr�s plusieurs divorces il en avait entendu d’autres. En clair tout le monde est bon et peut �tre assez con pour lui faire gagner de l’argent mais �a s’arr�te l�. Pendent que Roland manifestait paisiblement, il l’a plusieurs fois insult� avec un vocabulaire indigne d’un employeur et devant t�moin, il lui a demand� s’il n’avait pas le temps pour lui faire une fellation. A chacun de se faire une opinion et d�cider s’il veut faire confiance � une telle personne et la soutenir.

La nouvelle serveuse, Claudine Bossenmeyer �pouse Moynier habite rte du Gal De Gaulle � Schweighouse. Elle a rabaiss� et humili� Denise en lui disant qu’elle ne parle pas aux personnes b�tes; elle se class niveau sup�rieur mais alors pourquoi diable prendre la place de serveuse � Denise qui �tait heureuse et �panouie dans son travail. Elle �tait d�j� � l’origine du d�part d’une salari�e dans une entreprise de chocolat o� elle travaillait auparavant. Elle a aussi menti � la justice en portant plainte contre Roland pour menaces de mort (l’affaire est encore en cours au tribunal correctionnel de Strasbourg).

Nous protestons, contre cette injustice, contre ses promesses non tenues, contre ses mensonges, contre cet irrespect du travail et des salari�s. Personne n’a le droit de traiter de la sorte une personne humaine, de la d�truire, de la rabaisser, de la jeter comme un chiffon us� don�t on a plus besoin. Il fait d�noncer ces agissements, si aujourd’hui �a ne sert peut �tre � rien, �a cervira, esp�rons le, � l’avenir; nous n’avons pas le droit de laisser � nos enfants un monde pourri de la sorte.

Denise aujourd’hui n’est plus la m�me, on l’a trahi, elle ne croit plus en rien. Elle avait totalement confiance en M Reis, directeur de Trumpf; elle avait m�me refus� en 2000 un autre travail mieux r�mun�r� pour rester chez Trumpf o� elle se sentait reconnu. Elle a perdu ses rep�res par rapport � certaines valeurs humaines, elle est d�pressive et n’arrive pas � oublier sa cantine; elle a les larmes aux yeux chaque fois quand on passe � proximit�. Alors quand M Reis dit qu’en manifestant nous harcelons la nouvelle serveuse; qu’il fait pression aupr�s de ses salari�s pour contre-manifester contre nous en mena�ant de fermer la cantine, il abuse de ses pouvoirs en utilisant la crainte des salari�s pour leur emploi. Quant � Tonic Magazine qui parle de monde fou, parce que Roland continue � manifester, sans chercher � conna�tre le fond du probl�me, nous dirons seulement qu’ils nous ont d��us en subissant eux aussi la pression de l’argent (le restaurant Aux Berges de la Moder a chaque mois une annonce dans leur magazine).

Pour terminer, un grand MERCI a ceux et celles qui nous soutiennent.

Denise et Roland Schoenn 19, rue de la Fluess � Schweighouse.

 

Posted by bigblue on 18/12/2003 at 07:02 PM
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La Cantine a Denise (reprise)

Roland Schoenn

The above picture was taken outside Triumpf across the road.  It shows a Mr Roland Schoenn, undertaking a single-handed demonstration on behalf of the rights of his wife, Denise.

I have translated Roland’s pamphlet, but as I was going through it tonight I realised that should still touch it up some more.  I will therefore post the explanation of this picture at a later stage.

Posted by bigblue on 18/12/2003 at 12:52 AM
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Wednesday, 17 December 2003
Gockelburg

Gockelburg

This afternoon Fabienne invited me to meet up in Strasbourg this evening and visit the Christmas market with some friends. I had no other plans, except to rest, so agreed. Then at 6:30 p.m. she phoned to cancel the arrangement, and make another for Friday. So I immediately called Carles who had mentioned he was going to Karlsrue, Germany, with some other guys and ended up tagging along.

The above photo is where we had varying degrees of hot spicy chicken, bread and beer. The restaurant was packed, and one of the guys had booked last Friday. After that we went to another pub/brasserie in Karlsrue.

As it is late, I will not be posting the story I mentioned yesterday about Denise.  I’ll do so tomorrow.

Posted by bigblue on 17/12/2003 at 12:58 AM
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Monday, 15 December 2003
Salut Dylan!

Disneyland Paris

I got back to Strasbourg at noon today, courtesy of a delayed Air France flight, but also of the most perfect landing ever.  I suppose the weather might have been perfect for it: cold and dry, with no wind.

Then it was a mad dash to Haguenau for work. Again, standing outside the factory over the road was the man with the banner La Cantine a Denise. I therefore managed to take his photograph, and will post this tomorrow. I have also roughly translated the pamphlet he gave me last time and will post his story tomorrow.

The above picture is also from Disneyland Paris, showing Pinkie, Bluemeanie and Dylan in front of the Christmas tree display.

Dylan left from Heathrow this evening, so will arrive back in Cape Town tomorrow morning. Over the past two days I have been reviewing all the videos and pictures that I took since he arrived in February.  It�s incredible what we have done with him (and of course he did lots of other stuff by himself, like his busabout in Europe and his trip to Canada).

Bon voyage Dylan!  Until we meet again.

Posted by bigblue on 15/12/2003 at 01:41 AM
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Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Well, we are back from Disneyland Paris, although I am writing this on the TGV Eurostar on the way back to Ashford in Kent. From there it will be a one hour drive back to Oxted.  The above picture is from Saturday evening, in front of Le Ch�teau de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty).

I didn�t feel that we did as many rides as we have on past trips to Disneyland, but we walked around and saw a lot. Pinkie and I also skipped the Disney Studios Theme Park and did some extra shopping while Bluemeanie and Dylan.went there for a short time on Sunday.  On Saturday it was pretty wet and cold, and we got wet, especially in the evening when there was a big downpour just before the final parade.  We had been �trapped� by the crowds and marshals blocking the way for the parade, so didn�t manage to escape the rain. We were exhausted on Saturday night, but still found time for dinner (and a balance-the-spoon-on-your-nose competition with two charming young women in comfortable shoes at the next table).  Still, we did all oversleep on Sunday morning. The other unfortunate thing was that I had gone to the park on yesterday with only 5 minutes of taping time left in the camcorder, and having left my blank tapes at the hotel. We tried to make up for it today, taking lots of shots.  The weather and the light were better anyway.

On the way back, we had a one and a half hour changeover at Lille Europe station. So we decamped to the large shopping centre over the plaza from the station, for a late lunch and a Euro spree. Bluemeanie and Dylan bought some p�tisseries from Paul and some biscuits from Carrefour Supermarch�. Pinkie bought two tops and a pair of gloves from Pimkie (no relation) and a pair of silver dice earrings from a stall.

There seemed to be loads of Dutch people in the Park today. I must check if that was Thomas and Jessa�s experience too � they were there earlier in the week.  I noticed something about the Dutch accent. Someone told me that the Dutch find the Afrikaans accent harsh and guttural.  I was listening to some of the Dutch people talking to each other, and found their accents very soft and child-like, even the adults.  They sounded like Afrikaans children talking with affected �sweet� accents to each other.

Posted by bigblue on 15/12/2003 at 12:40 AM
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