dimanche 13 février 2011

And all were lost in the path of the Mighty Finngrund

Finngrund. Now there's a name to conjure with, to roll around the palate and savour even.

Here be the battle colours of the Mighty Finngrund, he who is said to have discovered America in 900AD, accompanied by 20 Viking longships and an undecided dog.

Actually I was kidding. Really it's a multi-coloured spotty shower curtain from Ikea, designed by somebody called Emma Jones.

However, I've long had the idea that you could dream up a super soap opera, based entirely on the wonderfully eccentric product names listed in the Ikea catalogue.

It would probably turn out to be a cross between South Park, Changing Rooms and Noggin the Nog. Now there's a relief; however gloomy the Nordic Saga, it couldn't possibly be as miserable as EastbloodyEnders.

The idea returned to me when girlfriend Claire expressed the desire to visit Ikea in Montpellier. Now this is a periodic girl thang so all decent chaps should be prepared to surrender gracefully to such a request on an occasional basis.

Have you ever tried to find Ikea in Montpellier? How can you possibly lose a giant blue and yellow thing, indelibly imposed on the skyline? Believe it or not, you can. It's just a case of whizzing interminably round a labyrinthine retail park, entirely devoid of useful signposts.

Frankly, I'd had have preferred to follow the Mighty Finngrund, because discovering America is, by comparison, a piece of piss. It stretches from pole to pole. Keep sailing west and you can't really miss it.

Beneath an unsuspected sun, moments of reflection

You may well feel that this humdrum pic serves no useful purpose, apart from to celebrate a bright, sunny blue sky in February, still sometimes an astonishing state of affairs for anyone raised within the dim, dank shores of Ongleterry. Actually it makes a very important point; it shows nothing happening in Fa.

Nothing happens most days, save brief outbursts of traffic pandemonium at school time, and the enjoyable exchange of minor local intelligence and mellowed philosophy with Dave the Underdog at our well-beloved Cafédefa.

Thus I find myself with a quiet moment to reflect that I have lived nine full years in France and in Fa. How time has passed, at once infinitesimally slow and simultaneously with the speed of a demented tornado. Can it be nine years already?

It seems a very long time since I lived in England and I don't think that I could readily do so again. Just because you feel English in France, doesn't mean that you still do in England . . . at least not in the way you used to. Really there's no going back.

Somehow I've survived, still the right way up, despite a few ups and downs along the way. Mainly this is due to the many good friends about me, so I pause to make thoughtful if silent tribute.

I suspect that the calm will not last. There is a warning in the limpid pools of the languid Faby, practically stationary beneath the deliberate concrete of Le Pont de Fa. If it doesn't start bunging it down soon and hard, we're going to have a full-scale drought this summer.

Then there's a first class row brewing over the future of the dinosauric Fêtes de Fa; a four-day binge of booze, noise and various bands that we have seen too many times before, which inflicts itself upon us every August.

I don't wish to take sides myself. I like a good bop with the rest of them but the people who run these fêtes (largely holiday residents, though most of them claim an ancient ancestry in the village) seem determined to run the event whilst totally ignoring the views of those of us who actually live here. I can't help thinking that it's all going to end in tears sooner or later, but if you like a good scrap, then watch this space . . .

Still, at least we've got the End of the World to look forward to next year. Look on the bright side, it may not happen. Of course, it's a bit of a bore if you really want to be in on the big event and nothing does happen.

I've got a couple of updates in mind for the set-list. I always meant to include That'll Be The Day by Buddy Holly and The Crickets, whilst my old mate and one-time fellow garage band member Glenn proposes The End of the World As We Know It by REM.

Must admit that I'm really not an REM fan and it actually would be the end of the world if Les Malfonctionnaires had to play their songs, even if one of them would make a very nice car hire advert. Think about it . . .

mardi 1 février 2011

Apocalypse now? Actually I'm free next Thursday

Apparently the world is going to end on 12 December 2012. Or it may be 21 December 2012, presumably making the whole event a nine days' wonder. Assuming that total global catastrophe is indeed imminent, you may ask yourself what, if anything, you can do about it.

I am momentarily reminded of that legendary Home Office publication Protect and Survive, which advised what to do in the event of a nuclear holocaust. As I recall, you had to hide under the kitchen table, shut your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and count to 23,752,232,671,459 . . . by which time it was safe to come out.

However, in this case it seems you have to head for Pic Bugarach (see pic), our friendly neighbourhood highest mountain. According to an increasing number of esoteric types (or, if you prefer it, loons . . .), there are oodles of arguably amiable aliens living in a special chamber under the peak, who will leg it in their spaceship at the first sign of Armageddon.

Now, if you are very good, and mummy and daddy let you stay up late to watch the End of the World Show, there is a just a chance that the legendary Zargatrons of Planet Thargs will whisk you off to safety, somewhere the other side of Alpha Centauri.

Personally, I can't help feeling that there is rather a rash assumption here; that we are talking about a partial Armageddon, involving the mere termination of Planet Earth, rather than a total Armageddon, which would wipe out the entire Universe, including Planet Thargs.

How can we tell? Sometimes this worries me. Be that as it may, Pic Bugarach has a lot of cred in the Suitably Weird Places To Escape Armageddon Stakes. For a start its rocks are upside-down, with the new ones underneath the old ones - definitely a geological curved ball, as I understand it.

It looks strange too, as if some passing Zargatron had emptied a large bowl of grey custard over it, and let all the drips set solid. Seemingly, Jules Verne gained inspiration there for Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Steven Spielberg for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Nostradamus himself is reputed to have experienced cosmic thrills on Pic Bugarach.

Monsieur le Maire de Bugarach, the nearby modest village of 189 peaceable and relatively normal souls, is understandably peest erf at the prospect of being overrun by anything up to up 10,000 loons. Usually, the only genuinely bizarre thing about Bugarach is the way that all on-coming drivers whiz round the many blind bends, on the wrong side of the road. Too much waccy baccy, methinks.

However, ringside seats for Dec 2012 are already being sold on the net. Monsieur le Maire wants the army on the alert to deal with any such inundation by crétins cosmiques, and I can't say that I blame him.

We of Les Malfonctionnaires take a more robust, dare I say commercial, view: We'd just love to play the End of the World gig, and the resulting album, Almost Live, could be a massive hit. All real rock stars make shedloads more money when they're dead. It would be nicer to be a live millionaire than a dead legend but you can't have everything. I suppose you just have to lie back and think of posterity.

I've just run through some possibilities for the set list:

*Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell

* Don't Believe A Word - Thin Lizzy

* We Gotta Get Out of This Place - The Animals

*Fly Me To The Moon - Frank Sinatra

*Fireball, Space Truckin' - Deep Purple

* Gimme Shelter, Get Off My Cloud - The Rolling Stones

* Life on Mars - David Bowie

* Close to the Edge - Yes

* My Apocalypse - Metallica

* Armageddon It - Def Leppard

* Fool on the Hill, The End - The Beatles

* The End - The Doors

* Until the End of the World - U2

* End of the World - The Carpenters

Should the show unfortunately Keep On Running (Spencer Davis), then it has to be The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again