How To Quit Drinking

photo: la corona terrace

When it is too rainy for the terrace, a pot of hot tea
can hit the spot inside.

Not the Easiest Thing To Do In France

Paris:- Sunday, 18. April 1999:- 'How to quit drinking' is an actual question in France where there are estimated to be a lot of people who drink alcoholic beverages all the time. In an explosive report last year, a famous doctor stated that alcohol is as toxic and as dangerous to the health as some restricted substances such as marijuana.

Bishops recently joined the battle against booze by 'violently' denouncing it as being a 'legal' hard drug. Apparently the government is preparing an anti-drug plan for June, which may include heroin addicts as well as alcoholos.

United anti-booze doctors have issued a five-point plan for curing alcoholics, which includes a definition of the illness and a description of how to tell if the ill person is yourself. If you are not sure about this, there are professionals to consult. Since a lot of people in France 'drink like everybody,' finding somebody who really thinks otherwise is not all that easy.

The cure is simple: stop drinking. No sipping. No cutting down: cold turkey, stop!

It seems to me as if France is a bit behind with professional treatment for alcoholism, because there is nothing in this report about alcoholism being a form of addiction for some people. This is hinted at, but 'addiction' is not explicitly stated.

Thus, the French 'cure' involves abruptly stopping, staying home, going to work and doing what your doctor tells you.

For severe cases, the doctor may even prescribe tranquilizers forphoto: le cafe de la gare a month, or order taking a 'cure' at a spa for a couple of weeks - up to 'postcure' treatments for a long as three months, with psychological treatment if necessary. As a last helpful measure, your family is not supposed to 'spy' on you.

The alcohol industry employs half a million people in France. This industry supplies each and every resident of the country with 11.9 litres of pure alcohol per year, and wine accounts for two-thirds of the consumption.

Before you start to think everybody is tripping over empty bottles in France, the report also says only one in thirty people is alcohol-dependent. But the way the determined Doctor Claude Got uses the word 'dependent,' he means addicted.

Le Parisien ran its series about alcohol from Thursday though Saturday. Some members of the public health sector and some concerned doctors want to see alcohol included in the coming 'drug' measures the government is expected to propose in June.

Gran Couva 1998

For chocolate fans who have been getting along with any old stuff from any old year, here is what you've been waiting for. Gran Couva is made entirely from carefully selected chocolate from one selected plantation in Trinidad, all of it harvested in 1998.

This is the idea of Valrhona chocolate company, located in Tain-l'Hermitage, in the Drôme. The 1998 vintage is neither too bitter nor too acid, and sits in the mouth a bit before delivering its tasty blast of zest. According to Jean Colanéri, secretary of the chocolate lovers club, it is one of the best he's had for a long time, despite its relatively low level of cocoa content.

There are only five tons of this '89 Gran Couva currently available; for about 16 to 18 francs for 75 grams, at high-class chocolate outlets. Unlike wine, chocolate does not age well and should be kept in a sealed container, and should be consumed within three months. This will leave you with nine months to wait for next year's, but it'll be worth it.

Self-Fulfilling Tax (Re)Form

This is like one of those flags that has been hoisted and nobody salutes. The Minister of the Economy, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has a dream. It is the pre-filled out tax declaration form; one filled out by all the organizations who are watching over you like big brother.

Your employer pays you so and so much, and he transmits this information to some central computer. Your health and social securityphoto: bassin igor stravinsky deductions or payments are taken into account, as well as what you pay out for consulting doctors and fulling the prescriptions they write - and this goes to the central computer.

There are little 'tax gifts' or 'tax penalties' for everything you do, and all of these are transmitted to the central databank. This is all wired together with your social security number, or a new one to be made up by the office of statistics - which is currently having problems with census-takers who are threatening to strike over being paid as little as 15 francs per hour.

The 'dream' is, at tax declaration time, you get a declaration form already filled out with all the numbers and all you have to do is sign it and send it back.

The reason for this 'simplification' is simply because it costs more to collect taxes in France than in most other countries. While it costs the USA or Sweden 0.5 percent, France pays three times as much. France pays twice what it costs Britain to collect the value-added tax.

Because of this, France has to introduce the tax-tax - which actually has another name - but it changes every week in order to be an unhittable grievance.

As in most countries, salaried employees have no way to fiddle their taxes. Even so, the tax collectors would like to have some handy way to keep track of all 60 million residents of France and their money, rather then the 30 million they now have under their thumbs.

I live in France and I know - you don't live in France and you know it too - nobody in France is going to sign a computer filled-in tax declaration form and send it back. There are exceptions for everything after all.

One exception is that income-taxes are not withheld by employers. Suspicious minds believe the economic minister's plan is a subterfuge to introduce this notion to France.

In Case You Wanted to Know

In France, a sign outside a town announcingphoto: blown photo its name, costs 3500 francs, without taxes included. Taxes: plus 20.6 percent. Granite paving stones run between 120 and 250 francs, sans tax, per square metre. A municipal 120 litre garbage will set a town back 150 francs, plus tax - but this can be offset by all sorts of subsidies, which are not available to householders.

Metropole is a 'consumer-truth' magazine. If case you were thinking all photos in it are nearly perfect, here is one that isn't.

All of this has come out because there is sort of a salon for municipalities; where elected officials and administrators get together with suppliers, to figure out what to do with all the money they collect from us. I wonder how much the speed-bumps cost - compared to a speed-limit sign.

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