Friday March 6, 2015 18:30
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Kathleen Ferrier centenary

Kathleen Ferrier centenary

Outstanding English contralto Kathleen Ferrier would have been 100 this year. I have tried and failed to find a connection with Monte-Carlo, although she did tour Italy and France, where she is revered to this day. Also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOnMZm16dKk&feature=related

Ian Brodie

Michael Parets of Withers Worldwide to speak at Global High Net Worth 2015

Michael Parets of Withers Worldwide will be one of the main speakers at next week’s Global High Net Worth 2015 event in Monaco, organised by Monaco Life. Michael advises wealth owners, their families and the financial institutions that serve them, including private banks, trust companies, investment advisors and family offices.

His practice is primarily focused on international aspects of US taxation and multi-jurisdictional succession planning, including cross-border advice for Latin American families on matters related to wealth management and succession planning.

Michael also represents individuals and institutions on matters related to US tax compliance, including advising clients on the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP).

Michael is a frequent speaker at conferences, seminars and workshops on issues related to tax planning for non-US clients with US connections and on the impact of FATCA and tax information exchange agreements on wealth planning structures and financial institutions.

To attend the event in Monte-Carlo, on March 12 and 13, please send an email to Ian Brodie at monacotoday@gmail.com.

 

CONFERENCE FOR PROFESSIONALS IN THE HIGH NET WORTH SECTOR
Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13, at the Salon Bellevue of the Cafe de Paris in Monte-Carlo, a two-day conference of professionals serving the HNW and UHNW sectors. Distinguished speakers from around the world will address the major issues of the moment. Organised by the publishers of monacolife.net. More info: http://www.global-hnw.com
To book a place: monacotoday@gmail.com

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Fraser Yachts chief to speak at Monaco's wealth forum

Roberto Giorgi, a leading figure in the global yachting sector, has been confirmed as a speaker at next month’s Global High Net Worth 2015 event in Monaco, the two-day Conference on March 12 and 13 organised by Monaco Life

Roberto Giorgi joined Fraser Yachts as Executive Chairman in September 2014. A long-term Monaco resident, Giorgi is named in Lloyd’s List One Hundred Most Influential People in Shipping. He remains Honorary President of V-Ships, managers of 1,100 ships.

Giorgi began his career in the maritime world at sea, sailing from Deck Cadet to First Officer before transferring to shore-based roles in 1980. He has held various senior roles within V-Ships and was responsible for launching the V-Ships Leisure brand in the cruise sector as well as running the V-Ships management operation from its Monaco office.

Fraser Yachts is the world’s leading full-service yachting company.

For more information about the Global High Net Worth 2015 event, please visit www.global-hnw.com. To attend the Conference, please email Ian Brodie at monacotoday@gmail.com.

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Monday, 16 February 2015 8:00

 

MONACO FOODIE:

Monday, 18 February 2015 8:00
 

A day in the Stars' kitchen

Readers of my infamous food column taking a punch at poor culinary standards in iconic Monegasque restaurants will know that one of the critiqued establishments, Stars ‘N’ Bars, responded by inviting me to spend a day in their kitchen.

Early one frosty February morning, I wander past the superyachts in Port Hercules towards Monaco’s best-known restaurant ready for a similarly frosty reception. I am welcomed by the smiling faces of Stars ‘N’ Bars’ owners Kate Powers and Didier Rubiolo with their energetic manager Annette Anderson...

We begin the day by discussing the changes that will be announced in full during their menu relaunch this April. As well as menu additions, there will be a revolutionary menu format combining the feel of a traditional menu with the flexibility of an iPad offering print-free menu changes. Considering the 400 or so dishes that have passed through their menus over the last two decades and the weekly addition of 12 specials, this paperless book-video will fit with their eco-strategy by reducing their carbon footprint.

My morning continues with a whirlwind kitchen tour that gives me an idea of the logistical nightmare of running a culinary operation on a scale that dwarfs most of their Monegasque competition. They run a continuous service from 7am to midnight requiring a rotating staff of over 100 employees. The kitchen feeds around 600 daily diners (and up to a daunting 1,500 people during the Monaco Yacht Show), while the bar drains from 18 to 50 barrels per day.

Yet Kate and Didier carry the stress lightly. The two of them encapsulate a Monegasque success story: behind the façade of glamorous insouciance lies decades of gruelling hard work. They both come from culinary-school backgrounds: Kate in Texas, Didier in Avignon. They met at the Roof Club – a celebrity-studded private dining club that Didier used to run.
Together they set up Monaco’s first Tex-Mex restaurant, Le Texan.

1n 1993, they created Stars ‘N’ Bars in a three-story, abandoned warehouse with the help of a royal connection or two. In the last two decades, they have worked hard to build Stars ‘N’ Bars’ reputation as a sought-after venue for local families and celebrities alike. Surprisingly given the volume of young families around the principality, it’s the only restaurant in Monaco to run a daily kids’ club. It’s also the place in Monaco where you’re most likely to rub shoulders with Jude Law.

My dedicated tour guide, Didier introduces me to some of their United Nations staff. I watch as longstanding chef Sarath from Sri Lanka teaches a Filipino stagiaire how to make an apple pie, while Vimal from India cooks up a vat of chilli con carne. Then it’s my turn to don a chef’s hat and apron to test out one of the new menu items. I am happy to find that they have taken on board my suggestion to add a healthier salmon option to the children’s menu. As we cook the salmon together, Didier tells me:

“I like everything. When I cook at home, I never know what I’m going to cook until I have visited the market and been inspired by the myriad fresh fish and vegetables on display. There is so much choice here in Southern France.”

As Didier enthuses about food, the secret to their success dawns on me. Instead of merely shooting the messenger, they have faced up to my criticism with open-minded grace. Their willingness to listen and to implement rapid changes not only shows sound business and marketing sense, but also ensures my loyalty. As Annette adds wisely: “We’re best at human interaction”.

To read earlier Monaco Foodie columns: http://www.monacolife.net/?action=show&id=4014

Louise Simpson is a food and travel writer based in Monaco. Since studying French literature at Cambridge University, Louise has written for The FT, The Times, Condé Nast and The Independent in the UK and for Zagat and Google in the US. She also publishes travel books with Frommer’s: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Louise-Simpson/e/B0034OTN6Q/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1373370624&sr=8-2.

 

Sunday, 15 February 2015 7:00

Letters to the Editor

Israel and the Jews

Dear Editor,
 
I have not read such claptrap in a long while as that written recently in your publication by Professor Ben-Meir.  Mr Netanyahu was simply stating that Jews would be welcomed in Israel “with open arms” in response to the well understood concerns of many Jews regarding their safety in France.  He did not “call for Jews to immigrate to Israel” as he claims.
 
Furthermore, the professor is in denial if he thinks “Mr Netanyahu was rudely [italics added] suggesting that they [the Jews] are no longer safe in France”.  If he does not know any French Jews, the French emigration statistics should tell him the story.
 
I would also strongly dispute his assertion that: “Netanyahu must accept the fact that the occupation is one of the main causes (but not the source) behind the recent rise of anti-Semitism.”  Why so?  Why is Netanyahu responsible for the bigotry in France?  And why should European Jews accept the consequences for the foreign policy decisions of foreign state.  We would never say that Hindus should accept the consequences of the Indian foreign policy, Buddhas of Tibetian policy, Muslims of Indonesian policy or Shintus of Japanese foreign policy.  Many Jews have very little to do with Israel; they were born and raised in Europe, are European nationals and consider Europe to be their home.
 
Furthermore, and I hesitate to wade into this area of his commentary, “the occupation”, as he terms it, should be viewed in the context of an uneasy truce between the Palestinians and Israelis.  He seems to forget that these territories are occupied as a consequence of the 1967 and 1973 wars.  Unlike the Jordanians and Egyptians, who have accepted Israel’s right to exist and have settled their territorial disputes, the Syrians and Palestinians have not.  Thus, like North and South Korea (nobody calls this “an occupation”), they remain at war albeit under a truce.  Settle the war, then the territory.
 
Blaming anti-Semitism in Europe on the situation is the Middle East is simply a cop-out.
 
Clyde Johnston

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Offensive media

Dear Ed,

I think Kristi Prenn missed the point of Jeff Daniels' challenging opinion piece on the Paris disaster. No one, yourself included, could condone these barbaric murders nor feel that they were in anyway justified. I did not feel this was the point of the message.

As is too often the case the world was immediately influenced by an offended media who sycophantically turned this appalling tragedy into something they could portray as an attack on free speech.Thereby defending their right to continue to be offensive to whosoever they please.

Nick Harley

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Jeff is not a journalist

Sir: ‘Jeff Daniels’ is not a journalist.  ‘Jeff Daniels’ is an apologist for evil.

There is no justification for the murder of innocent people, yet ‘Jeff Daniels’ seeks to justify the appalling murders of fellow human beings, to insinuate that the satirists deserved to be murdered because their work was offensive to Muslims (and himself) and that Charlie Hebdo was anti-Muslim. ‘Jeff Daniels’ mocks the gatherings across France and the world who united in Je suis Charlie marches to mourn for and to declare their abhorrence of the murders of innocent people, killed for being journalists or in the case of the Vincennes deli, for being Jews.

This article is crass and repulsive nonsense.  It is wickedness justifying itself with pretentious pomposity and seeming piousness.

JE SUIS CHARLIE

Kristi Prenn

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'Breath of fresh air'

Dear Sir,

Thank you for publishing Louise Simpson's review of Monaco restaurants. It was about time that someone drew attention to the lousy service and inadequate food in our little village. Free and independent press is a breath of fresh air for us Monaco residents, whose usual source of local information is what passes for journalism in Monaco Matin.  I see the very outrage over Ms Simpson's column to be a direct result of our lack of exposure to honest criticism in Monegasque media.

There are some harsh words in Ms Simpson's article but they are based on facts that we all recognise and are no worse than what Monaco residents discuss in private. They will hopefully inspire these establishments to make some changes. I look forward to reading about her day in the kitchen of Stars'N'Bars, and sincerely hope that its management will take the opportunity to listen to her suggestions. I, for one, would welcome variety in starters and salads, which have remained virtually unchanged at least in the past 15 years that I have been living in Monaco.

Yours sincerely,

Zeynep Castel-branco

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'Refreshing'

Dear Editor,

It is so refreshing to read local Louise Simpson's honest review of restaurants in Monaco. TripAdvisor is a place I often turn to to get a general idea of restaurants, but this is the first time I have ever read an honest review by a local, which provides a completely different perspective for those of us living in the Principality.

It seems to have inspired a great deal of discussion, which is precisely the point of a quality review: to inspire people, or perhaps discourage them yes, but first and foremost to provide a personal perspective, to which everyone is entitled. Thank you so much for sharing. Bravo.

Lisa af Rosenborg

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Follow-up awaited

Dear Editor,
 
I was impressed to see Stars n’ Bars’ response to the “Kitchen Nightmares” column - an invitation to spend the day in the kitchen and see how food is prepared – great reply!  I look forward to the follow-up article on Stars n’ Bars…

Tracy Rohan, Monaco

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ACM is a private club

Dear Sir,
 
I would like to add a comment -so far not addressed- about Monaco’s Automobile Club of which I have been a member for many years. If we are going to “name and shame” maybe we should ask ourselves by what right we are doing so. The clue is in the name: the Automobile Club.

Apart from the excellent food (try getting kidneys like that elsewhere in Monaco, and yes they have cream with them if you ask nicely) and what must be the most sublimely best group of waiters on the Riviera (many of whom have been there for years), a piano bar with music you might want to listen to (and I am a Rock fan so they must be doing something right), there is its best feature: their wine list.

Small but perfectly formed, you can buy a great Burgundy, or a Bordeaux if you must, without having to sell your Ferrari to afford it, indeed for less than a poor wine from the Languedoc sold in some other places in Monaco. It is the rip off in wine prices in some restaurants which beats me; I won’t pay them. But you can afford to have a great bottle of wine at the Automobile Club. People who have lived in Monaco for a long time know these things. The Automobile Club is, all round, the best thing we have got in terms of a dinner out.

I suppose if you are not a member and you are lucky enough to get invited to eat at the Club by a member you will not know this.

But to visit what is a Private Club you have to be a member or accompanied by a member to go there. The members of the Automobile Club would prefer to mix with people who appreciate the Club. Who invites a restaurant critic to a Private Club, and for what reason does a restaurant critic consider she should comment on anything in this private space? This is not a restaurant open to the public. Did the management of the Club invite her to make comments? I think we should be told why a member of the public is opining on our Private Club’s restaurant.

It is solely a matter for the members to judge what they think of their Club restaurant  which, incidentally, is about a lot more than the food on your plate. If a member has any comment to make about his Club he will take it up with the Committee, not a news service. For these reasons might I suggest we ignore what the Club’s critic says, about anything, and give the Club back to its members’ views for it is nobody else’s place to opine.   
 
Yours faithfully, William Easun

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Overpriced and unwelcoming

Dear Ian,
 
I cannot agree more with Louise Simpson, perhaps not with all her criticism of each restaurant but the way she described the overpriced restaurants like Saliere, Avenue 31, makes sense. I can even add the Beefbar where they practise the same attitude.

It is a disgrace the way you are treated in Saliere, you do not even get a proper bill, in the evening they treat you as a tourist, so neglected and not taken seriously. During dinner in the Beefbar they wait as long as possible with the advertised menu in order to force you to the ridiculously priced standard menu.

It is good there are other restaurants like Le Bouchon and Mozza, where they understand the word "guest", joined with reasonably priced menus and daily-changing specialities, this at least avoids us driving to Italy on a weekly basis to enjoy good food and normal prices.
 
Best regards,
 
Jan Dingenouts

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Dear Sir,
 
Further to Annette Anderson’s (of Stars N’ Bars) letter to you published (below) in Monaco Life, may I also express my disagreement with Louise Simpson’s comments on certain restaurants.
 
Stars N’ Bars serves Tex-Mex food and does it well, Tex-Mex is never going to be a gastronomic delight but the produce is fresh and the service is generally far better than most ‘high class” establishments. There is no guilt to be attached to serving good hamburgers made with real beef, fast food enterprises have hi-jacked the hamburger and given it a bad name. The ones served at Stars N’ Bars are the best I have tasted anywhere over the last 30 years or so.
 
I consider the Monte Carlo Country Club restaurant to be one of the best in Monaco for quality/value for money with a limited but well balanced menu, again with fresh produce very well cooked and presented. Every meal I have had there has been a delight.
 
The Automobile Club is also a top rate and reasonably priced restaurant.
 
I agree with Ms Simpson that restaurants in Monaco are generally overpriced and at best mediocre with the service often very poor but I also agree with Ms Anderson that this looks like “clever text for the sake of being published”.
 
Rents are very high in Monaco which explains the prices but there is no excuse for failings in produce, cuisine and service.
 
Perhaps Ms Simpson should turn her attention to the so called ‘top” restaurants which are really a disgrace and reflect badly on the Principality.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
David Solomon

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Unfair review

We do not know when Louise Simpson last ate at the Automobile Club but her account certainly bears no resemblance to our own experiences. As members of many years’ standing, we lunch and dine there frequently and find the daily-changing menus and ingredients to be of the highest quality whilst, at the same time, tasty and healthy. There is even a “menu allegé” every day, to which cream and other less than healthy “70s” products are most definitely strangers! The salade d’haricots verts and chicken breast, followed by grilled salmon with leeks last Friday were outstanding examples of Chef Olivier Ribaute’s extremely attractive  and consistent cuisine which never fails to please and impress – please take a new look, Louise!
 
Vivienne H Taylor and Richard Hale, Monaco

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Criticism 'not valid'

Dear Editor

We were disappointed to read your "Monaco Foodie" remarks about our restaurant and the "tasteless freezer to microwave tat". We try to be open to valid criticism ....we certainly are not perfect....and we act on it.  In fact we give customers a card with a direct link to Trip Advisor to "grade" their meal and give us feedback.  But, we have to admit, it's soul- killing to see food "critics" who enjoy writing clever text for the sake of being "published".

Our cooks arrive at 7 a.m each  day and prepare freshly delivered vegetables, meats and ingredients to create about 500 meals during a non stop food service of 12 hours. (Yes, we are guilty of serving burgers but the meat is 100% organic. ). Has your Monaco Foodie actually ever been in a kitchen?  Probably not, but we would like to invite her to spend a day with the cooks that she has so thoughtlessly belittled. Heck, we'll even share our recipes with you, Louise.  You can roll the chicken filet in the flour, bread crumbs and egg wash to make our chicken fingers.  

We are very sorry that Miss Simpson dislikes the restaurant but we do thank the thousands of regular customers, especially the families, who often come daily and who have supported us for more than 20 years.  (The editor of this newsletter, MonacoToday, in fact, and his family are customers.). Sorry to take this personally but I know the people who work hard everyday to serve our customers and they deserve a more professional review.

Annette Anderson
Manager

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR CAN BE SENT TO monacotoday@gmail.com. Please include a telephone number.

Previous letters can be found at MORE

Friday, 12 December 2014 0:10

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FURNITURE: Moving apartments.  Must sell- Lovely furniture items, excellent shape, including Italian design couch, for quick sale, now only €1200; Danish design desk, asking now only €500; special French chest of drawers, asking now only €1450. High end loudspeakers, Avance Signature 8 Mk2, only €800. Will consider all reasonable offers as we must sell. For full information, including photos, and additional description, please contact stacy@living-excellence.com.

FOR SALE (Monaco plates): SAAB 9-3 Cabrio SE, year 06/2001, 110k km, grey metallic, gasoline ecopower engine 2.0l turbo 150hp (fiscal cat 10). The car is in a very good condition, low mileage, with spotless 2014 Controle Technique  SAAB 9-3 Cabrio SE, year 06/2001, 110k km, grey metallic, gasoline ecopower engine 2.0l turbo 150hp (fiscal cat 10) , manual transmission (5 gears), 4 full adult seats, dark grey leather interior, climatronic, electric roof, windows and mirrors, central lock, ABS, dual airbags, anti-fog lights, cruise control, aluminium wheels. New complete clutch (2013). Clean technical certificate. Bonus: + 4 winter tires on aluminium wheels. Asking Price: €8000

SERVICE: Computers, IT, Internet, BBC reception - Philip - 06 1542 3824

FOR RENT:  3 Bed / 3 Bathroom beautiful modern townhouse in the centre of St Jean Cap Ferrat's fishing village. Approx floor space 90m2 over 3 floors. Patio 16m2. On street parking. Air-con/heating throughout. Priced at €3000 PCM +33 6 01 43 55 89  

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LANGUAGE SERVICE: Improve Your Communication in English — Written and Spoken. English language training, coaching and consultancy tailored to your needs. Group or individual. Help with Documents, CVs, Cover Letters, Academic Theses, Writing and Editing. English mother tongue teacher. Berlitz trained, MBA, professional background. Flexible availability. tel:  0678635709   email:  englishplusmc@gmail.com

To see our terms and conditions, please click on MORE

DRUNK DRIVER: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4 - A Monegasque motorcyclist had a hard landing when he fell off his scooter at the junction of ave. du Roqueville and blvd. Princesse Charlotte last week. Two passing police officers who helped him to his feet then breath-tested the 45 year-old eimployee of SBM and found him to have 1.11mg/l of alcohol in his blood, almost three times the legal limit. He was sentenced to two months suspended, fined 45 euros and three years probation with the obligation of treatment for alcoholism.

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Monte-Carlo Diary

Sunday, March 1

A tale of half a pizza

It’s been a very busy week, and most of the time I’ve had a banana for lunch. But I do remember leaving half a pizza in the fridge. News of the killing of Boris Nemtsov put me off my food altogether, not because of its shock value but because it confirms everything I know and suspect about Vladimir Putin, and for those readers who might be tempted to pick up their quills and ask “what has this got to do with Monaco?" let me say that if matters get very much worse Europe could soon be little more than radioactive dust, including what's left of dear old Monte-Carlo and even Fontvieille.

Now the Brits are taking notice. After the annexation of Crimea and the stealthy invasion of eastern Ukraine they started by refusing to go to the Bolshoi Ballet, believing that this outright show of disapproval might force a change of mind in the Kremlin.

The Hansel and Gretel of European diplomacy have also been horribly naive, as if peace talks in Minsk or anywhere else would make any real difference. The Germans can be excused, perhaps, for being a little bit shy about saying anything at all about the affairs of another country following the unpleasantness of 1939-1945, while Hollande follows big sister.

But I had hoped for more from the Brits. A couple of weeks ago someone in Whitehall said that the UK had been caught napping by the Kremlin because of a lack of qualified foreign policy analysts while another idiot said this was because of a lack of money. Such a claim beggars belief and drives me to the use of an exclamation mark!

Anyone who has spent more than two weeks east of the Elbe knows more about Russian history than Dave old-Etonian Cameron, and if the British government needs a think-tank to tell it what’s going on this is a very sad and a very serious condemnation of the knowledge, wits and understanding of the men and women who supposedly lead what was once a great nation.

My half-pizza has disappeared. Either I ate it or it left the fridge of its own accord.
 

Jeff Daniels

The Jeff Daniels column is published in the interests of editorial diversity, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the publishers.

to read previous columns, please click on MORE

Monaco Events, Announcements

Training camps: Be Fit Monaco are currently launching their next training camps for the Nice half marathon, 10km or 5km and the Cannes Triathlon. Training camps are open to all abilities whether you're just starting off and want to complete the 5 or 10km, if you'd like to challenge yourself to the half marathon or triathlon or simply improve your fitness and fat loss. www.befitmonaco.com

Art Open: Explorers, seen here, is one of the artworks in the Open des Artistes Monaco at l' Entrepôt in Monaco, which opened on February 10 and runs until March 11. Bart Ramakers, 52, is a Belgian artist. His tableaux are inspired by ancient myths and tales about beauty and power, passion and betrayal, sensuality and brutality, life and death. The exposition of 30 artists is at Galerie d’Art l’Entrepôt Rue de Millo 22.

‘ANDY WARHOL: The exhibition “Andy Warhol” continues at the Galerie Adriano Ribolzi (Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 - 12:00 and 15:00 until 18:00). See also display ad at www.monacolife.net

Global High Net Worth Conference: Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13, at the Salon Bellevue of the Cafe de Paris in Monte-Carlo, a two-day conference of professionals serving the HNW and UHNW sectors. Distinguished speakers from around the world will address the major issues of the moment. Organised by the publishers of monacolife.net. Visit www.global-hnw.com for more details.

Chamber Music: Monaco’s Chamber Music Association at St. Paul’s Church, on March 24 at 20:00. Pauline Litvin will perform together with Polish pianist Andrzej Tatarski. On the programme will be Mozart, Brahms, and Polancz. The Monaco Chamber Music Association’s concerts are sponsored by the Giraudi Group, known for its restaurants in Monaco that include Beef Bar, Avenue 31, and Bouchon, by Egor Boyarkin and Mrs Boyarkin, and by Monaco Life. More info: www.musique-de-chambre.org or 06 43 91 67 43.

Princess Grace Irish Library: Tuesday April 21, at 19:30. Why did the Irish experience of emigration, so prevalent in the post war period, feature so rarely in the literature of the time? A Talk and Readings from ‘Home from England’ by James Ryan. The Ireland Fund of Monaco Academic-in-Residence at the Princess Grace Irish Library from 20 April to 15 May 2015, Director of the Creative Writing Programme, School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin. Info and reservations: pgbooks@monaco.mc

Listings in Events & Announcements are free for non-profit associations, charged for commercial events and entities. To place listing email monacotoday@gmail.com

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Monte-Carlo Diary

Pushed to the Max

SATURDAY, JUNE 21: There will always be tensions when a large crowd of people are crammed into small spaces, especially when they take an instant dislike to each other or harbour long-term differences. I am not talking about the long-running opening ceremony of the splendid new Monaco Yacht Club attended by le tout Monaco - a splendid affair - but the lingering impact of the lengthy and tedious French rail strike.

Tasked with taking my youngest son to Nice for a Saturday rendez-vous with a schoolmate, I squeezed with him onto the 16:43 from Monaco - delayed for 18 minutes in Menton while the frazzled French border police sifted out the usual suspects, young Somalian males who, having crossed the inhospitable Sahara, are trying in considerable numbers to make their way to the economic paradise that is France. Or possibly the UK.

Most people were eminently sensible and moved down the train to occupy every available space to allow yet more frazzled and luggage-laden bemused first-and-last-time tourists onto the only TER regional express to visit Monaco for the previous three hours.
Someone sitting down said something to me. I assumed he was offering me a space to sit. I bent down to hear better. Translated from the French, what he said was: “Can you get your arse out of my face!”

To say I was astonished hardly covers it. A number of responses flashed through my hot head: “I am surprised you are bothered about my arse, since it resembles so closely your face,” was the most polite. I wanted physically to strangle him, and since I was standing up and he was sitting down I sure as hell had a good shot at it.

My nine year-old restrained me. “He’s an idiot Dad, don’t take any notice,” he said in a French that can only be described as impeccable. At the next available jolt in the tracks he managed to more or less fall onto the idiot’s mobile phone he was holding high in the air while playing what looked like patience, and make it look like an accident.

You can mess with me, but you can’t mess with Max.

Jeff Daniels

previous column at MORE