Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


I welcome your comments, so do please write. Please note however that all comments are moderated prior to publication. Whilst I fully appreciate that life can be frustrating, nevertheless, abuse, SMS language and illiteracy will not be tolerated!

Wednesday 27 October 2010

A Little More on The Late Paul

After an interval of 13 months, someone wrote a message in my "chat box"; his name, Mr Lonely.

Mr Lonely lives in Malaysia and posts in English; whilst some readers might find his blog "A Growing Teenager Diary," self-indulgent - doesn't this apply to all or at least, nearly all, blogs?

In one of his posts he covers the subject of Paul the Octopus and includes a splendid illustration of a suggested memorial. It is true of course that since Paul was resident in Germany, one would expect his stone to carry a German epitaph rather than an English one!

"Miss Cleo"? Shurely shome mistake?

Until the next time

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Still More Smoke

This time it's a short one to introduce you to a blog called Frogsmoke, subtitled "Behind the Gallic Fumes."

Some funny things to be found there, including (shock!) pictures of people actually SMOKING.

This piece on "Frapanese" (Japanese French) made me smile - it does help if you know one or two French words though.

Here's a picture from the piece:

"Zizi" is French for "Willy"...

Until the next time.

Paul is Dead

It was with sadness that I read today of the death of Paul the Octopus (Paul le Poulpe in French) who became famous this summer with his amazing football forecasts during the World Cup.
The BBC article includes two videos, although one has to put up with an appallingly irritating advertisement for an insurance company.

Rather better - for my French friends and readers is Le Monde's contribution, which, certainly in the case of the statement from the aquarium where Paul died peacefully on Monday night, I found really rather moving:

"Son corps est à présent au congélateur en attendant que la direction décide de la façon de marquer son décès", poursuit le communiqué de l'aquarium. "Nous déciderons peut-être de lui accorder une petite tombe dans l'enceinte de nos jardins, et lui dédierons peut-être un modeste monument permanent", selon la direction. "Ceci peut sembler une curieuse façon de faire pour un animal marin, mais Paul était devenu tellement célèbre pendant sa courte vie qu'il semble que ce soit la bonne solution", a-t-elle ajouté.

("His body is at present in the freezer whilst the management decides how to mark his death" [...] "We will perhaps decide to give him a little tomb in our gardens." [sorry cannot translate "enceinte" in this connexion - it means 'pregnant!]* and perhaps erect a little permanent monument to him." [...] "This may seem a curious thing to do for a sea-creature but Paul became such a celebrity during his short life that it seems to be a good solution.")

I can't help it, but I have a lump in my throat reading the last sentence.

Requiescat in pace, Paul

Until the next time.

*Edit: A friend, fluent in French has kindly solved the mystery for me: "dans l'enceinte de nos jardins" = "within our gardens" - as simple as that!

Monday 25 October 2010

More Smoking (Not actually)

I have never visited Spain, as indeed I have not visited many countries in Europe - and none at all in the rest of the world, unfortunately.

Since 2007 when so many countries enacted absurd anti-smoking (and anti-smoker) legistlation, Spain had become attractive since its government decided that bars could declare themselves either "smoking" or "non-smoking" a fair solution I thought in the face of hysterical anti-smoking lobbies.

Now Spain has dropped well down the list since, as the Daily Telegraph reported last week, it has decided that smoking in public places is to be banned, bringing the country into line with other oppressive regimes like the United Kingdom and France. It was pleasant, now that the weather has turned very cold to visit my favourite frontier bar yesterday morning, to be greeted with a warm and welcoming fug as I walked in!

Those who are critical of, or resent my stance on this subject, or those who believe all the propaganda, would do well to visit Frank Davis's Live Journal. His articles are very readable and appeal very much to me as an opponent of "Big Government." Mr Davis has performed some exhaustive research which makes fascinating reading and clearly shows how data have been manipulated to provide the "correct" results - exactly as have data concerning so-called global warming. Here

Until the next time.

Sunday 17 October 2010

The "smoking/non-smoking" stamp...

The ultra-rare withdrawn Hepburn stamps

The news reported today by the BBC that a rare sheet of stamps is to be sold for charity attracted my attention since it concerned an image of the late Audrey Hepburn with a cigarette holder in her teeth. The article states that the the stamps, produced in 2001, were quickly withdrawn by the German Post Office (which had commissioned them). I imagined that they were withdrawn for "non-smoking" reasons but in fact this was not the case - and of course in 2001 the stupid political correctness about such images had not reached the fever pitch of 2007.

Anyway, the piece reminded me of an article from 2007 on CM's blog Jour Après Jour (French) concerning the stupid business of Stalinist-revisionist air-brushing of old images of famous people with cigarettes, cigars or pipes. CM was not the only one by the way: another blog called Frogsmoke carried pieces on the same subject and in particular the commemorative stamp showing an image of André Malraux:

And the stamp?


Even Winston Churchill has been "sanitised" as reported on an amusing blog called "The Chap"

The irony of all this of course is that in the case of the Hepburn stamps is that the cigarette holder was a replacement for a pair of innocent sunglasses!

How the world changed in six years!

Until the next time

Friday 15 October 2010

A bit more on the "Lemmings"

A scene from today's France

From today's DailyTelegraph website:

"The barricades are up, acrid tear gas is filling the streets, angry hordes of striking workers and students are preparing to do battle against a common enemy. Eh oui, the French are at it again. In the past, I have found the Gallic shrug the best response to the country’s trigger-happy strike culture – it’s just something you have to learn to live with. This time, though, I’m finding it difficult to shrug off – and I am not alone. "

The article finishes with the following paragraph:

"But it will be like facing an incoming tide. As Le Monde pointed out yesterday, France is a very conservative country “hell-bent on keeping the status quo and acquired (social) rights, with history used as a windshield against reality”. Even the Iron Lady might have resorted to a Gallic shrug at the thought of trying to break the Frenchman’s bond with his placard. "

Since his election in 2007, President Sarkozy has attempted, at least from time to time, to introduce a few reforms. There was the idea for example, to allow minicabs to operate; this resulted in total chaos in Paris as the taxi drivers mounted a very large protest. And there ere the 2006 student protests referred to in the Telegraph article.

It is important to understand how different certain things are in France. You cannot buy cigarettes or aspirin in a supermarket, why? Because the Tabacs and the Pharmacies are cartels; the taxi-drivers are obviously another example, even if their cartel is an unofficial one. Such privileges are jealously guarded by the (very conservative) French.

(Those of us who are fortunate enough to live close to the Swiss border are able to circumlocute some of these inconveniences - and often save money too. Near where I live, there is a bar right on the border. There one can buy half a litre of beer for four Swiss francs - about €3.10 whilst less than 100 metres away in France one pays €2.50 for a quarter of a litre. The best thing is that when drinking my near-pint of Feldschlossen on the border, I can sit in the bar and SMOKE - hurrah!)

Any suggestion that M. Sarkozy can follow in the steps of Mrs Thatcher would seem to be doomed to failure: in 1984, Mrs Thatcher had to deal with a very determined National Union of Mineworkers; Sarkozy has to face, it seems millions of angry - and misguided - people ranging from schoolchildren to pensioners.

Perhaps France itself is doomed?

Until the next time.

Thursday 14 October 2010


At present enormous protests are taking place in France, with no immediate end in sight. Students are marching and nearly all of France's oil refineries are blockaded causing panic-buying of petrol and diesel fuel.

There is an intriguing blog called Paris Parfait which has featured some photographs of the protests in Paris - here.

The French like the English 35 years ago, love to strike and wave banners etc. For an expatriate like me it brings back memories of the death-throes of the British motor industry, with luminaries such as "Red Robbo" at British Leyland sleeping away the night-shift, and the morons at the Triumph works at Speke. (Mind you the latter might have had a case since they were as I recall, producing the disgusting Triumph TR7!)

The protesters/strikers are "en colère" (angry) because the government has had the effrontery to propose the raising of the retirement age from 60 to 62, and the age at which a full state pension may be claimed, from 65 to 67.

I have been told that in 1946 in france, there were eight people working for every retired person; in the 1970s the ratio was four to one. Now it is 1.8 to one.

France like the rest of Europe has an enormous public debt, partly due to the disastrous presidency of the late François Mitterand who must be held responsible for France's irresponsible "social model" and also for the staggering number of fonctionnaires (public sector employees - civil servants etc.) and thus the DEBT or at least a substantial part of it.

So how do the lemmings on their protest rallies and strikes imagine that these pensions are to be paid? They seem to imagine that by taxing the rich the gap may be closed and of course by increasing employment by massive government subsidy. All utter nonsense of course: they just cannot understand that governments do not have money!

There is a another side to the protests however, reported today in Le Nouvel Observateur showing how the deeply sinister CRS (Compagnie républicaine de sécurité) - the French riot police - have attacked legitimate journalists - of course the article is in French, but the videos included make very shocking viewing.

Un journaliste de Canal+ matraqué par les CRS à Paris
envoyé par TELEOBS. - L'actualité du moment en vidéo.

I think that the strikers are very stupid, but the CRS (and indeed many police forces) give me the creeps.

Like my late father, I often feel that I should have been born sooner - quite a lot sooner in fact.

Until the next time

Wednesday 13 October 2010

A Favourite Film

I see that since I started this blog that there have been just 197 visits to view my profile. I agree that my profile is perhaps not riveting stuff, but those 197 of you that have visited this dank corner might have noticed that one of my favourite films is the late Michelangelo Antonioni's BLOWUP.

As I am not a film buff of any sort (see my post here concerning film directors) it is perhaps surprising that I love this movie as it is considered to be "arty" which I suppose it is.

Set in "Swinging London" in 1966 it is wonderfully atmospheric - hardly any music apart from some Herbie Hancock jazz and the famous cameo of the Yardbirds with Jimmie Page and Jeff Beck performing "Train Kept a-rolling" - and I think that the film can be enjoyed as much for the clever use of incidental sounds as for its excellent photography and fine acting from David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave.

Here's the trailer:

I suppose I have watched this film at least thirty times and yes, like other members of the "cult" have been to Maryon Park (a central part of the film) and made a few photographs there too. Whilst at the park I spoke to one of the park-keepers - and of course he was full of fascinating information, since he has to deal with enquiries from the many eccentrics (like this writer) who just have to visit the scene.

The Internet Movie Data Base has plenty of information and many fine critiques submitted by members and of course lots of fascinating trivia plus a list of MISTAKES.

While researchinng for this piece I found that another fanatic has cleverly put together a short video illustrating the errors; shame about the soundtrack, but quite amusing nonetheless:

Finally enjoy this clip featuring Hemmings and the amazing super-model, Verushka. Listen to the sounds at the beginning of the scene - atmospheric!

Until the next time

Wednesday 6 October 2010

"Snugfit" Seems to be the Word

As a person who should perhaps "get out more" I had never heard of pervy spray-on latex (ugh).

Now though, as reported in Wired, some genius at London's Imperial College has come up with a genuine spray-on fabric product which apparently rejoices in the name "Fabrican":

Free safety goggles with every can?
Picture Source: Wired.com

As the article states, there should be a number of applications for this interesting development quite apart from making pretty T-shirts for gentlemen who take care of their hands and are good to their mothers! Medicine is one area mentioned and the idea occurs to me that the product could be sprayed onto the mouths of politicians, EU officials, football commentators and Z-list celebrities, thereby improving quality of life for the rest of us.

There is a video showing the process "as it happens:

No more "Fruit of the Loom" - "Fruit of the Spraycan"!

Until the next time