jeudi 22 décembre 2011

Man, we've just got to have the Stuff . . .

Glancing over the online Grauniad, I am immediately reminded of one of my enduring reasons for quitting the ever-viridescent shores of Ongleterry - endemic and rampant addiction to Stuff.

The aforementioned Grundina reports that some shops opened as early as 6am on Boxing Day to satisfy the cravings of thousand of unfortunates, deep in the grip of Stuff withdrawal. Cold turkey indeed. And the right day for it too.

Now this is not usually an F-blog but this time I'm going to indulge: Who are these sad F*@k%rs????????????

Back in dear old Keef's outlaw heyday, Stuff meant 'Erroin. It was hip, it was cool. OK, it usually killed you sooner or later, so millions of rock'n'roll fans are eternally grateful that our beloved Stoner eventually kicked the Stuff, and lived to tell the tale.

Today Stuff is just . . . Stuff. Cartons, packets, encapsulated unopenable plastic units, boxes, pallets, lorries, warehouses and inevitably homes; all packed to bursting with yet more consumer Stuff.

No-one can escape Stuff. We have car boot sales, e-Bay, bring and buy, charity shops, incinerators, skip hire, landfill, and possible termination of the planet. But we keep on heading inexorably towards Terminal Inundation by Stuff.

We cannot cease from buying Stuff. Even if we try to quit, it just arrives. It is given to us or thrust upon us. I have a new conspiracy theory that if the world does end, as predicted, in 2012, all the Stuff will be left floating in space. Poor old Mars - it doesn't want our crap either.

Perhaps I should be less harsh on all those pitiful addicts, who have hocked themselves to the eyeballs to buy Stuff. Every year, Santa preys on millions of innocent children, luring yet another generation into Stuff addiction.

Stuff-peddlers are getting ever more cunning. Nobody wants cars, telephones, or TVs that are ludicrously over-complicated and fall to bits in five minutes. Nor do they want an over-priced "choice" of 9 billion different mobile chargers or printer cartridges. But THEY force us to buy them. You will buy what we want you to buy.

Soon you won't be able to buy nice simple drugs like 'Erroin. It'll be replaced by Tri-methyl-dioxy-trypto-phospo-penta-hyper-gunge-amide, which gets you high for about 3 milli-seconds and costs 14 times as much. Sometimes it's even worse. There are dealers in the banks who steal your money . . . and then don't even give you any Stuff.

But we're all criminals really. Even those of us who have kicked buying the Stuff, still have to make the Stuff. Until someone comes up with a way of enabling several billion people to survive without having to make yet more mega-tonnes of Stuff, nothing is likely to change.

I suspect the world is more likely to end because we have successfully excavated every last gramme of anything vaguely worth having. Answers on a postcard please.

Yup, I reckon it's that time of year again already

Oui, c'est le saison festeeve. Encore?? Déjà?! It seems but a few fleeting moments since 'ere we had last Tinsel Time. I'm sure it comes quicker every year.

Whether that's due to the ever more speedy passing of unrecorded time, or because Christmas now starts in November even in l'haute vallée de l'Aude, I don't know.

The good ladies of Fa, who faithfully decorate everything whether it likes it or not, have truly excelled themselves this year. What with the café doing its bit as always, Fa has become a three-tree village. Quite impressively kitsch.

I've only pictured one of them, partly because I don't like these things to get out of hand (Bah! Humbug!), and partly because, with the other two trees being at the far end of the bridge, I couldn't get them all in at once.

The weather too was not co-operating; all matters the other side of le pont being largely lost in the dim and driving greyness. My notoriously obtuse Kangoo also felt mysteriously compelled to join in with the general festive denial, by spending three days refusing to start.

I must congratulate Renault on producing a vehicle so incredibly difficult to service. It was only by combining parts of two comprehensively gigantic socket sets, that my mate Graham and I were finally able to extract and replace the duff glow plugs, essential for adopting Go-Mode.

Once upon a time, there were two sorts of spark plugs: Big and small. There are now about 12. Why? I ask myself, if not to make sure that you CAN'T possess the right spanner. I'm not naturally paranoid but sometimes I can't help feeling that THEY are out to get us all.

It was with some relief that Claire and I repaired chez sa mère at The Last House Before Spain, where all is bathed in brilliant sunshine. Bonnes fêtes à tous!

Round 'em up boy! C'est le collie de Collioure

One man and his geese. I didn't know Phil Drabble Syndrome had penetrated so far into our beloved South of France, but evidently they have their own take on it.

As a long-ago trainee hack, I was once deputed to telephone the late Monsieur Drivel; a distinctly abrupt man to put it tactfully, so I don't mind cracking the odd franglais gag at his expense. The geese-herding collie was nonetheless rather the star of this Christmas market, which Claire and I visited in Collioure.

Your bill, Sir? That'll be €15 and a Matisse . . .

I've been meaning for a long time to drop into le café des Templiers. You'll find it at Collioure, a seaside town near Perpignan, closely with Les Fauves - that's to say Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck etc.

Being penniless and unknown back in those hopeful days before the First World War, the young artists were in the habit of bartering paintings to pay their hotel and bar bills.

Thus the bar eventually ended up with a remarkably valuable set of pictures. I'm not sure how much of the original collection survives, as some of the current paintings are of distinctly later period, but it's still a great place for a beer.