I've decided to write different sections of my life on different pages. This page is going to be mainly about searching for my natural father in France as a British person who didn't know much about France before.
After finding my mother and her not being nice, I paid a detective in France to find my father. I had always known my father was French, so it felt strange being half foreign and not knowing anything about it. My adoptive parents were even a bit racist to me while growing up, as would accuse me of having stereotypical French traits. I wouldn't know if I did, as I had never had the right or opportunity to know my French family.
I was member of a charity for adopted people called Norcap and had their newsletter with mostly positive stories, about poor women who were forced to give up their children and they still always care about the children. I didn't read any other experiences like mine, where it didn't go great. I didn't understand how some of the parents could be horrible after their children spent years searching for them, as I think I would rather die then think I had a child who went through the things I did.
All I had was a name of Jean-Claude Mazoyer and the town he came from which was Dijon. The detective phoned to tell me he found him after a short while. Then I had a phone call from my father. He was acting nice and speaking in good English, as said he thought it was exciting I found him. He said he was divorced and lived alone. He had three children from his previous marriage, but they didn’t live with him in the Village of Villevallier which is near Auxerre. The detective sent me the letter my father sent him, which said he wouldn’t have knowingly abandoned me, so I was quite happy and positive about that. Looking back though, I think it was more about him not wanting to look bad to the detective than caring about me. There's a lot more information about what he wrote in the letter, and what my natural mother did to be nasty when I told her I had found him, but I will put all that on another page. My mother who hadn't been interested in me when I found her, suddenly started to phone me every day to demand information about my father, and to see the pictures he sent me. It was as if she was blackmailing me to have contact with her which wasn't nice.
He had met my mother when he was working in the Randolph Hotel, Oxford. The same hotel that's often in the Inspector Morse TV drama. Even though he was only 19, he was made the head of the grill room there. I had always thought of it as quite a grand hotel. The best in Oxford. It's located opposite the famous Ashmolean Museum.
I couldn't stop looking at the photos he sent me after all the years of not knowing who I looked like or what I might grow into. Even just a similar hairline or lip shape made me feel as if I know who I am. One thing I noticed was a few of the family had quite round faces. I never liked my round face while growing up, as in Britain it's more common to have a longer face, but I think from around the Alps in France it's more common to have a stocky stature and round face. I saw the facebook page of his other daughter, and she had exactly the same necklace I have. My father even had a photo of my mother from when he was in Oxford.
I think I was very naive, as when you grow up dreaming of finding your parents you don’t really think logically, and just think of how they’re half your DNA and your parents. I didn’t think they might not be perfect or they might have problems, or might not act in a way that parents are supposed to. I had often gone to bed crying as a child after being hit, dreaming of my real parents and how they would care about me. I think having a bad childhood made me too soft and nice, as I hate to think of others going through the same things, and often nasty people walk all over me. When I see cruelty against anything vulnerable such as old people, animals or children, it feels as if I can feel their pain myself, or maybe it brings back memories. My younger sister was the opposite though, as she grew up thinking it’s normal to be cruel and abusive. My older sister who ran away from home as a teenager because of all the shouting and abuse is more similar to me, and I've started to have more contact with her lately which is nice, because she's the only person who acknowledged the abuse I went through. The younger one seems to care more about what money she can have for not speaking against the abusive parents. She was given land in an expensive village to build a house on, so it's nice my older sister tells the truth and isn't selfish like that. My older sister is married with children and they bought a small ex-council house, so even though she doesn't have as much as the younger sister she's a better person. I didn't grow up poor, because the adoptive parents had a big house in a nice village with stables, but they were greedy, selfish, control freaks. Such as when their parents died, all they cared about was how much money they would inherit.
I hadn’t had a good childhood, and now my husband was being mentally cruel, so when my natural mother was nasty after I found her I was quite depressed. Finding my father picked me up and made me feel more positive.
My father wrote to me quite often which I liked. He went on a bit about how he was in love with a woman who was a bit older than him but things weren't working out, and how he was depressed. He was doing up his house, and sent me pictures of the bedrooms he said his children stay in when they visit, and said I would be welcome there. I thought the way he kept going on about being depressed about the woman was a bit pathetic, but then I thought maybe French people are more emotional like that and it was nice he wanted to talk to me about it. When I told a friend about how he was nice at first and then not so nice later, they said maybe he was just using me when he was sad and lonely.
When growing up I'd imagined he might be a dashing handsome French man, but when I saw his pictures he was quite ordinary with an old fashioned big bushy moustache a bit like Poirot. I felt a bit bad being disappointed it didn't fit what I had imagined. He said he first grew a moustache because people always thought he looked younger. I always had that problem myself when I was younger Maybe it was from me being short, with a round face and very blonde hair.
He said he had enjoyed his time in England, and liked the way people who were very different, such as a man in a suit and a hippie talked to each other. He said they don't do that so much in France. He also said he would like me to go to France to meet the rest of my family.
After contacting me often, I then didn't hear from him for ages, so thought I would try to email him again to see if he wanted me to meet him in France. He replied that he does, but his life had changed a lot because he married a woman younger than him (two years older than me) with about 5 children with 3 different men, who all moved to his house. I assumed as she moved to his house with her children, then she might be nice to me. I asked him if it was best that I stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast, but he said that I would be welcome to stay at his house. I also said that maybe it was best if I learn French before I go, but he said not to worry because he would help me talk to people and my brother and sisters had learnt English in school.
I'd had panic attacks for a while with awful things going on in my life, but I made myself more strong to travel to France and I was feeling pleased with myself. I also felt proud of myself for having most things stacked up against me all my life, but I found all my family by myself.
I caught the ferry and coach to Paris and enjoyed sitting on the ferry looking out over the sea. I didn't like the idea of going under the new channel tunnel so I didn't take that route. I met my father at the station. His big moustache was gone and he had a goate instead. Maybe his younger wife had made him to change that. I was very nervous as I had wanted to find my family all my life. We had a coffee at the station. He asked for them to make it weak with lots of milk, because he knew British people don't have such strong coffee. We caught the train to his village called Villevallier, which took about an hour in between Paris and Dijon. It was nice to see the fields of sunflowers out the window, as we don’t have that in England. I was looking forward to meeting his wife and having a nice time. While on the train I thought it would be polite to ask if his wife minds that I visit. I never expected his reply, as it hit me like a bolt out of the blue with how it hurt me. He said she asked why I want to go there. It made me feel quite bad, but I always try to see the positive in people so I didn’t take it personally.
Before we got to his house I wanted to stop at a local shop to buy some credit for my mobile phone. I forgot that they don't queue in France and stood behind some others before being served. The shop keeper laughed and asked my father if I'm British. I still don't have a clue what people are supposed to do about being served in France if they don't wait their turn. It seemed unusual that the local shop didn't have any chocolate bars or snacks like we have in Britain.
When we got to his house it looked just like the pictures he had sent me. He seemed proud of the renovations he had done himself so sent me many pictures of his work. When we walked through the front door, his wife didn’t even say hello or bonjour, but instead was shouting about in French. I asked him what she was saying. He said she works a couple of days a week in Paris for a company that translate English films into French, and she was complaining about the English language. I should have seen there and then that she was just a nasty person, and only saying it because I come from England, but I still thought the best of her and wanted to get on with her.
I gave her and her son a present from England. Then my father said he’d had enough of speaking English, and we were going to the local cafe for a drink. He never minded about speaking English to me before, and even told me that I didn’t need to learn the language before I go, as said he would help me speak to others. It was quite strange, because as a British person I had never expected to experience racism and I'm half French anyway, but never had any right to know about it. Just her young son was at home, because the other children stayed in a convent school at that time, so I had her daughter's bedroom. I think it's more common for children from villages to stay in convent schools in France than in England.
His wife was medium build with short dark hair. She looked quite attractive until she smiled, because she had quite big horses teeth with big gums. All I really remember about her for the whole time was of her giving me nasty looks. I don’t know why she worked for the company that translate films into English, because she didn’t speak a word of English to me. Over time I started to think it was a shame it didn't work out for my father with the older woman, as I'm sure she would have been more friendly and mature.
We went to the small cafe around the corner that was similar to something out of Allo Allo. I got speaking to a man called Alexandre Dali although his English wasn't good, but he was trying. He kept saying to me that my father's wife keeps giving me nasty looks so must be jealous, but I just laughed and thought he was being silly. It must have been so obvious for a stranger to have to point that out. Maybe it's normal in France for a woman to be like that to another. I don't know. I saw Alexandre a few times during my stay and he gave me his phone number, but when he phoned me after I returned it was a bit difficult with his bad English.
At dinner time later they were all eating with just their fork. I had always been taught to eat with my knife and fork, but I heard that on the continent people eat with just their fork, so I put my knife down to just use the fork. Suddenly his wife gave me worse nasty looks than before and saying things to my father all angry. My father said that it’s wrong to put your hand on your lap when you eat in France, so I felt a bit embarrassed and stopped doing it. I asked some other French people about that when back in England, but they laughed and said that she was just being nasty to make such a fuss. I told my father before I went that I didn't know much about French customs, so could he tell me about them. Then my father started being nasty about the British, saying we still think we have an empire, but nobody in France cares about it. He was similar to a French Alf Garnet with how everything French was better. I never thought Britain still has an empire though, and was very interested in learning about French culture. Quite ironic how I had my adoptive parents be nasty because I'm half French, and the my natural father being nasty because I'm half English, when I don't feel strongly about either culture as like being half of each.
I made a joke about how I'm like a Concorde with being half made by France and Britain. I like Britain and think it has many things to be proud of, but there's so much tacky culture, such as not being able to walk into a newsagents without rows of magazines full of talentless, orange manky half wits, selling dumb stories, and I think French people have more sophisticated style than that.
We were talking about cooking because he once had a hotel and restaurant, and he was saying that cooking is like making love because you give a piece of yourself. I thought that was quite amusing, as I couldn't imagine a British person saying something like that, because it's all about making food as fast as possible and eating in front of the TV in Britain.
I decided to go alone to Auxerre on the train to look around. The train fare is so much cheaper than in Britain. I surprised myself that I managed to get by with the little French I knew and even picked up a few words. On the way back from the train to my father's house I saw Alexandre again, trying to talk English. He still kept saying my father's wife was jealous of me, but like an idiot I still just laughed it off. I can be a bit of an idiot with not noticing when people are nasty. My ex-husband's sister was the same, as when she moved to Australia with her boyfriend she would get jealous that I went out with her family back in England, because she wanted everybody to still run their life around her in Australia. Maybe I'm just not used to being spoilt, so why I'm not like that and don't realise when others are. My ex-husband's sister used to write letters to him to tell him not to invite me to places with their family, as said just because I don't have a nice family like them, he shouldn't let me join in with theirs. My ex-husband didn't even tell her that was wrong to say, so obviously I didn't like him for that and the marriage didn't last long. Quite ironic that two important men in my life seemed so gullible with not seeing how nasty other women were being to me.
The next day we were going to visit his mother in Dijon where all the rest of the family would meet up for a meal, so I would meet my grandmother, my half brothers, sisters and my uncle. It was important for me to look nice, so I washed my hair, and before it was dry with my hairdryer my father said that I should just let it dry naturally. As I didn’t want to speak against him and get on, I just left my hair in a mess half dry. We went in my father’s car. His wife sat in the front and I sat in the back with her young son. I think I’m quite good with children so laughed and joked around with her son. He had a CD player with some children’s CDs, so I put on one with a song to sing along with and we were having fun. Then his wife turned around all angry and snatched the CD player to put on another CD. She did it in a really nasty way. It was as if my father couldn’t even see how nasty she was being towards me, or maybe he could but didn't care. When we stopped at the motorway we had to pay a toll, unlike in Britain, but I think their car tax is lower in France.
We got to my grandmother's house in Dijon and she was very welcoming. I met my brother and sisters for the first time. Frederick the oldest was a couple of years younger than me. I looked most like Claire, but Isobelle who they said looked most like her mother was the most friendly to me, although she couldn't speak much English. We all had a meal together which was nice and my father took some photos, although I felt a bit conscious because my hair was a mess, but then I thought that my family are supposed to care about me no matter what I look like so it shouldn't matter. My grandmother's house had 3 stories, and I had my room at the top. It had a wedding photo of her and my grandfather who was no longer alive that I liked to look at. The next day we were all going to visit my uncle who lived near with his wife and children. I had some tea in the morning, and was surprised she had a kettle to boil water, as my father didn't and I had to boil water in a saucepan. Most houses in the UK have a kettle to boil water to make tea. My grandmother picked up a cup that had grand-mère written on it, and pointed to herself, which was nice. We then drove to my uncle's house. He's called Christian Mazoyer. He was very nice and welcoming. Quite unlike the welcome I had from my father's wife when I arrived. I smoked at the time which I don't now, and so did my father and my brother's and sisters, so we sat outside in the back garden because my uncle and his family didn't smoke. Then we sat down for a meal indoors which was very nice, but nobody spoke to me in English, and my father didn't help me speak to anybody. I had never been in a situation like that before, where I couldn't understand anybody when they were speaking away. I have been abroad but only to tourist resorts. Then after the meal my father and his wife sat on the sofa behind, where I looked behind to smile at them or for them to give me support in a difficult situation, but they were looking at me and his wife gave me a nasty look, which wasn't nice so I was feeling uncomfortable, but the others at the table were nice when offering me tea. When we got back to my grandmother's house and were talking in the sitting room, my father's wife was giving me worse nasty looks than before, and cuddling her son while looking at me in a nasty way. I don't have a clue what it was about, but as I mentioned, I can be a little naive when people are being selfish and nasty.
Then later we went with my brother called Frederic to his flat that he shared with his Hungarian girlfriend who was studying in France. He was studying computers at university, so I wanted to show my father on my brother's computer that I had made a web site. When I wasn't getting on with my husband I found an interest in making web sites. At that time it was quite difficult to do because there wasn't much software to help and it was all code, so I was quite proud that I could make web sites. I had put a few things about British history on the site, but that wasn't why I showed my father. Then he went off again about how the British still think they have an empire, and nobody was interested in the web site. Then he went on about how even though my brother's girlfriend was from Hungary her French was good. Even though I always knew I was half French, I was told my father ran off and abandoned me, so I thought it was tempting fate to learn a lot of French if he wouldn't want to know me. I wanted to learn French though, but nobody was helping me in France. I really don't know if it's usual for French people to be that nasty, or if I'm just unlucky.
Then later we drove home back to Villevallier, and when home my father was saying his wife is worried I want to live there. The thought had never even entered my head, as I just wanted to meet my family for the first time. It was my father who told me I would be welcome to visit him there. I suppose only a nasty woman would have thoughts like that in her head, but he was obviously under her thumb and turned into a completely different person than the one I first found, and all her children were living in his house anyway, but I suppose she only wanted him to care for her children. She wouldn't have let him treat her children how she treated me. It seemed to me as if men turn stupid when there's a woman doing what they want, even if the woman is nasty. He also said that my brothers and sisters didn't have to accept me and I should have made more effort to learn French to talk to them. I have been teaching myself French at home although it's nothing like going to another country where they speak the language, and I probably won't meet my family again anyway so I'm not sure what I'm studying it for, but I suppose it's always good to know another language anyway. As far as I was concerned, they were my family through no fault of my own, and it wasn't my fault if I hadn't known my French family, but I was being made to feel guilty because I couldn't speak the language or know about the culture.
I caught the coach and ferry home again, to my husband who wasn't being nice, so I felt quite alone. I emailed my father a few times after, but he never replied. I saw my uncle Christian Mazoyer on facebook, and was surprised he accepted my friend request. I wrote with the friend request about who I am and how I thought he was nice when I visited. He didn't write back, but I was on his friend list for about a year. I wished him Merry Christmas in French on his profile, and then he deleted me off his friend list, so that wasn't nice either. It isn't nice being abandoned again, but I suppose at least I know a bit more about myself, although I don't have much confidence, especially with relationships.
I'm quite unsure why I have to be one of the few who doesn't have a welcoming and nice family, as I think I would feel bad if I knew I had a relative who spent years looking for me like I did and I didn't make an effort to do something nice. It was quite difficult to search when I found them because the internet wasn't so popular.
I was recently watching Raymond Blanc on the TV, who's a French chef with a hotel in England, and I thought it was ironic how I was watching the TV to get tips for cooking, when I have a father who's a French chef but I can't ask him anything.
To be continued
Jean-Claude Mazoyer when he was 19/20, working at the Randolph Hotel, Oxford.
Me age about 21
With my ex-husband when I was about 24.
Biological mother, Beryl Ann Lee. Not sure how old she was there.
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