14th January 2018

In The Times yesterday: French Hospital Offers Help For Cancelled NHS Operations. That headline epitomises the differences. Both countries have a similar population, each has excellent health staff, yet the system in one works perfectly; in the other it doesn’t. Why? For we who have experienced both, the answer’s obvious. It’s human nature that if, for 70 years, something is offered free of charge to all, it will be abused. In a nutshell, every sore finger ends up in A & E. Ask any Frenchman and he’ll say he’s entirely satisfied and proud of health care there. The French government pays 70%, the citizen 30%, the latter free to the low-paid and longterm sick/disabled. The rest have access to subsidised top up insurance (not commercialised as in the US) to cover the 30%. Everyone legally entitled to live there has a coveted carte vitale. Every ambulance/medic/pharmacy etc thereby gets instant digital access to your medical history, essential in emergencies. Wake up Britain. Time to learn from Macron when he visits on Thursday.

7th January 2018

I’m looking down on the new year and speculating. What’s going to happen, both politically and personally?  With Trump there’s a conflict in my mind. On the one hand writers like Wolffe paint him as totally incompetent, whilst I believe the President has achieved something wonderful and historic in recognising the incontestable: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. (Just check the bible if you don’t agree!) On the 18th the French President will visit London and preach what Britain is doing wrong, but I’ve got a longer memory than that. Listen M. Macron: we saved you in ‘45. Theresa May should present him with a copy of my book Vichyssoise if he doesn’t believe her!  On a personal note, I seem to be unique in writing in every genre possible. Experts tell me I should stick to just one. But when did I ever listen to them? I am human, therefore I must follow my own heart. So this year my sequel in the travel/comedy genre is out in June, and - are you listening M Macron? - my new project is book 3 in my wartime noir thriller series called Locomotive. Watch this space.

31st December 2017

What a year that was! A year of Trump, who withdrew from UNESCO, climate-change agreements and immigration laws. He understood that Israel was being treated unfairly by the UN via majority Muslim votes then formally recognised Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel. In France pro-EU centrist Macron beat the far-right Le Pen. Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorists and Iran. Zimbabwe's Mugabe resigned. The UK launched the process to quit the EU but the PM lost her parliamentary majority. Brussels and London agreed divorce terms. Humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Escalation of nuclear race in North Korea. Myanmar's Rohingyas' genocide. Catalonia's autonomy suspended. Weinstein scandal. Isis largely defeated.
....and I thought we'd had a difficult year! From my own experiences: don't be swayed by the material things in life but remain true to your own inner feelings. Don't choose where to live based on the weather but recognise where you feel most at home and not treated as a permanent 'foreigner'. A very happy and healthy New Year to you all.

Blog extra

Hurry. Grand Sale.
27 - 29 Dec only at this reduced price.
Just 99p/99c. (Paperbacks also available).
Which books do you like to read? Wartime noir thrillers/college murders/humorous adventures abroad - they’re all here. Now’s the time but you’ll have to hurry. One more day at the reduced price. Enjoy.

Lamplight. authl.it/4q0

Vichyssoise. authl.it/52l

3rd Degree Murder. authl.it/4ia

Pensioners in Paradis. authl.it/86j

23rd December 2017

It's that time of year to focus on family. My own history reveals the terrible family consequences of letting misunderstandings fester which could have been easily solved if someone had reached out in time.Yesterday in Birmingham Paul Williams, 38, died homeless outside the Bull Ring.  Although he'd been offered hostel accommodation he didn't want to lose the friendship from an old man sleeping rough beside him. In times of trouble, they stood beside each other and helped.  They chose a spot to sleep outside the Wagamama restaurant because there was a downward warm draught from an upper vent cooking outlet. It appears there was a long rift with his father over Paul's drinking. Coupled with this was Paul's epilepsy problems. The father had tried looking for his son as he feared he might have been sleeping rough but despite a search he'd been unable to find him. What a tragedy. Particularly at this time of year, whatever the cause of your family's problems, think of this vulnerable man's death and also of the poor father who will never get his son back.  Take it from me: don't let family problems and feuds fester over long periods. Give everyone you love a hug whilst you still can.
Season's greetings from Olga to you all.

17rh December 2017

Those of us who trained as dancers were all agog. Who would win the Strictly Come Dancing show?  Who had the best dancing skills?  However the winner was judged by the viewers. Similarly in the far more serious fields of politics and in the criminal courts. Should Britain leave the EU? Let's ask the general public.  Never mind that the average man in the street couldn't possibly understand the intricacies and financial consequences. In the courts, back when we had the death penalty, a jury of ordinary citizens, completely untrained in the field of criminology, were handed the role of life and death over some poor person. Imagine if this happened in other fields.  Picture the neurosurgeon about to decide which bit of the brain to excise to cure a terrible disease: should he then call in a 'jury' of complete novices to make the ultimate decision?  In football, was it a penalty?  Let's ask the baying, opinionated crowd. The general public will always choose the personality, be swayed by the current fashion/media, will tend to use emotion rather than raw facts. In TV programmes the result isn't that important. In more serious issues, it is. When important decisions must be made, ALWAYS leave it to the experts in the field.

10th December 2017

For me it's been a good week. My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, has announced that they have signed my sequel to the successful Pensioners in Paradis:  it's called Paradis to Perdition: A Year in France.  "We're delighted to announce that Crooked Cat signed the sequel to the multi-bestselling PENSIONERS IN PARADIS today. Olga Swan's PARADIS TO PERDITION: A YEAR IN FRANCE is to be released in mid-2018."
What's this new one about? Hot off the presses, here's the blurb plus a recent review:
"After a successful transition from the gloom of England to La Belle France, the year starts well for our two pensioners in Paradis – but all is not as it seems.  An ageing Him Indoors has written a composite diary in true Jack Benny style. In the fine art of humorous self-disparagement, he recounts exactly what happened between him and She Who Must Be Obeyed.  From January to December it’s a time where self-humiliation and realistic comedy battle against a rising tide of Brexit and angst. This is France as you’ve never seen it before. What exactly do the French think of two ageing English pensioners and how to cope with looming disaster in a foreign land?  Take a personal peek inside a fateful year in France – exactly as it happened. English self-deprecating wit at its very best.
 ***** Fabulous
Olga invites you to become a part of her journey to a new life with her husband in sunny southern France. Written from a casual, enjoyable mature pen, Olga give such warmth and life to all they encounter, good and challenging. Pour yourself a nice glass of your favorite wine and dive into this refreshing tale"
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Of course today's news brings the angst even further forward as Theresa May continues Britain's lone quest to leave an increasingly difficult EU. What's up with everybody. No-one wants all these theatrics. It's as if unelected EU individuals are each glorying in the global spotlight of their own petty self-importance. Time it was all over and done with!