lundi 29 novembre 2010

Just when you thought it was safe to come out . . .

I've previously hinted that my principal excuse for unblogness of late is that I was writing a novel. Matters have reached the point where I've decided to unleash a couple of chapters on unsuspecting readers of this time-honoured and distinguished chronicle. The story starts with a bloke who wakes up every day in a different time and place and kind of rambles on from there for 70,000 words or so, each of them lovingly hand-crafted and personally selected by individually-etched virgins, blah, blah, etc, etc, hem-hem.

I'm not being so rash as to clog up le blog space sacré with the aforementioned masterpiece but if you like to follow the link, you can check out a couple of chapters of The Reluctant Trilogy. Any fervent praise, blistering brickbats or even constructive crit gratefully received as it would be extremely helpful to know what anyone makes of it.

Ta in advance, Eddie

lundi 8 novembre 2010

Let's get moody and evocative dans les rues de Paris

I have to admit that there are moments when even living in the Centre of the Known Universe, AKA Fa, does induce a certain stir-craziness. Moments when I need to seek yer actual kulcher, the zest and pace of city life etc etc.

This is when it's good to spend quelques jours à Paris, a city I am fast coming to love and actually to know rather better than I know London. So thanks to kind invitations from some very nice friends of girlfriend Claire, we braved the slings and permanent grèves of the outrageous SNCF and wizzed off up there.

They adore grèves on the SNCF, think how frustrating life must have been for them before the invention of the railway. Actually strikes in France are not all bad; they tell you that all is as it should be in the world. If they ever stopped, there really would be something wrong . . . Still we got there and back.

Particularly intriguing on the way up was the presence of no less than six guards, not one of whom checked any of the tickets. On the way back one lonely valiant operative faithfully carried out his appointed task, though his compadre on the drinks trolley was deeply unmotivated, prompting severe caffeine deprivation on the slow bendy bit, just this side of Limoges.

I seem to be lucky with Paris. The weather was good again and all the Parisians we met were friendly and polite, in complete contravention of their notorious stereotype. We managed to wander straight into Notre Dame without queuing at all so the pic is, I hope, a reasonably unobvious one of said famous landmark.

It's years since I did any moody, evocative black-and-white photography so it was rather fun to discover that I can fake it on my picture editor. As it's only a couple of buttons, I can only conclude that I must be terminally thick not to have noticed the facility before. I also love cropping pix dramatically deep and narrow. So that's what I did with this one.

It Came From Somewhere Else 2: The Tin Dinosaur

In straightened times, both of pockets and jackets, it never ceases to amaze me what the powers-that-be can find to spend money on. I have remarked on this before and now I am provoked to do so again.

It has to be said that rival Quillan set the pace some months ago with its instant classic, the kitsch tin feesh complete with pretend waterfall on the roundabout outside Carrefour (see blog entry, previous).

Not to be outdone, Espéraza has hit back with an absolute masterstroke, a fabulous fabrication in polished steel, Dolores the Amazing Tin Dinosaur. Shopping trips to Intermarche will never be the same again.

Actually I suspect that this lovingly-crafted waste of money was partly put there to paper over another more yawning gap in somebody else's financial sanity. Only a few years back they spent a huge amount of time and money hacking a mountain to bits to provide room for a roundabout serving Intermarche, various other businesses and the local EDF leccy depot.

The EDF received a magnificently extravagant slip-road for their exclusive use. Now one end of the slip-road has been blocked off and a stout chunk of crash barrier installed, together with delightful Dolores and some landscaping, presumably to pretend that none of this ever really happened. Well, I believe them . . .

Actually, as local readers will know, the dinosaur theme is not entirely spurious. They do dig real dinosaur bits and pieces out of the hillside up the road at Campagne-sur-Aude, and bung them in the dino museum in Espéraza. Some species are even exclusive to l'haute vallée. I'm quite a fan of said museum, largely because its dinosaurs are genuine. Which of course begs the question of why you have to waste money on a fake one, especially as I've just noticed that it looks like it's on crutches . . .