Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ten things I love about England

Seeing as our government has been hard at work swiftly removing our civil liberties through their bastard terrorist act and the usual flag wavers of patriotism in this country are right wing racists I thought perhaps I'd do my bit to remember some of the good things about this country that still exist:
1. The seasons change just when I'm getting bored.
2. England has Yorkshire, in particular the Calder Valley. I have never seen anywhere more starkly and wildly beautiful.

4. In no other country can I walk into a pub 200 miles away from where I live, unplanned, and know for sure that people there will know me and I them.
5. When something bad happens someone will always offer you a cup of tea.
6. Looking at most of the art in England even in London, unlike New York, is free.
7. We have the best postal service in the world but are still allowed to get away with pretending it is to blame for being late sending birthday cards/losing important letters.
8. It rains a lot.
9. We have loads and loads of brilliant bands, and I understand their social commentary.
10. Most of my friends live here.
And just one more for luck...
11. Dancing like crazy feels comfortable and easy in good English nightclubs.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Abbreviated Vacances

So, I'm changing tack.

I'll never become an editor otherwise. I'm falling back on true blog style listings. In chronological order as far as I can recall on:
Day1. We lost the car when trying to show the police, they then failed to break in and we got ridiculously drunk whilst waiting for Europcar engineer.

Too much gin from the amorous bar tender!
Sarah and Cat sensibly went to bed after a bit more drinking, Esther and I foolishly went along with some new found friends to an awful boit de nuit; bad music, bad dancing and lots of French people who acted like this was the best club ever. Forgot to bother getting the code for the hotel, got locked out, Broke into the hotel, couldn't get in further than the bar, too pissed even to think about drinking the booze. Eventually remembered about international dialing codes and woke Cat to gain legitimate entry.

Day 2. Left Rochefort feeling striped of any remnants of dignity, but not before a quick dance on the roof!

(Image 2 courtesy of Esther)

Drove to Rayon and queued for hours to get the ferry crossing along with hundreds of French tourists heading for surfville. Arrived very late and managed to find a campsite, pitched tents in the dark climbed a forbidden sand dune, lost a toothbrush, slept - rather uncomfortably!

Day 3. We set off inland, (into naturist country) to find slightly more appropriate lodgings. We found Montelivet, and (with the help of le drapeau) the fantastically eccentric and quite possibly drunken, Madame Bordeaux with a perfect little caravan for us and lots of chickens fed on melons to provide le petit dejeuner. Some lovely French boys with doughnuts and a camper van came wooing, cleverly through our appetites. Tasty market fare, lots of wine, weird restaurant, hitch hiking and of course Absinthe!

Day 4. Swam in the Atlantic. Were fed bbqed Camembert by our friendly neighbours who put up with our piteous French, and oh no, another bad French night club. So desperate for punters that it sends out free taxis to pick you up and take you home. Or to leave you stranded if you happen to be occupied for one moment. The wooing had limited success! (Right Gregoire!) Arrived back to a beautiful moody misting morning.

Day 5. Sunbathed. Visited Le Lac, lovely swimming without stupidly strong currents. Returned the cooking favour and played 'Nights of Palermo'.

Day 6. Left the clutches of the would- be Madame (we do not want to be known as Madame Bordeaux's girls). Visited the beautiful phenomenon that is the Dune du Pilat, ocean on one side, forest on the other and 3km of soft sand dune in between, much rolling and diving fun! Drove to Bordeaux and got ourselves another drunken proprietor but this time out of the cold and with real beds! Went out for dinner, much drunkenness and oral sex talk (well we were on a girly holiday)!

Day7. Time to go home, but first there was a watch to collect, a Gregoire to see, Algerian food to be tasted, French Children's books to be translated, presents to be bought, Cathedrals to see and lastly cars to be returned. So we boarded our cheapo flights minus liquids and cosmetics along with other disgruntled englishers and home we came. Much fun was had and it was sad to separate but was definately a holiday to remember if not only for its random improptu nature and the incredible amount of kindness from strangers.

I will learn to be concise if it kills me!!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

From Boats to Break ins.

Ok, so if I don't get on with this and finish recording our escapades I getting the distinct feeling that events will slip irretrievably into the mist of time. Details are already beginning to fade so if any of you fellow travelers want to nudge me in the right direction or point out any forgotten treasures feel free. So on with the story...

Freed from the clutches of fascism sponsored transport the four advanced to ticket sales, divided as always within good old corporate capitalism, between two competing providers. So naturally, the four became two twos to speedily investigate the price possibilities. One pair being told no tickets were left and the other pair being advised it was cheaper to use the other provider! This temporary separation was seized upon by another agent-in-waiting who saw a chance to drive some distance between the comrades and hence destroy their solidarity.

Fi-Fi was not the most predictable choice for a government agent working on such a project, one that united the British and Spanish anti-terror intelligence, but all the same, you have to give them credit for their innovative recruitment. She was a petite, smiley, brunette with the characteristic short tousled locks and familiar French accent designed perfectly to appeal to the Amelie generation. Fi-fi's approach was friendly and generous; offering a lift in her car to Newhaven where she intended to board the ferry to Dieppe, but of course there was only room for two of the comrades and the chances of her actually delivering even two of them safely to France were more than unlikely. Spotting her ploy the two comrades politely declined her offer and rejoined the others who in the meantime had miraculously secured incredibly cheap tickets on the 'full up' overnight ferry crossing to Le Havre. With only 20 minutes to departure it looked as though there luck was beginning to change.

Famished, but full of relief, the four were provided for with gifts of free food surreptitiously handed over by those who were clearly aware of the dangers of aiding enemies of the state. Refueled, but exhausted from the day's travels they boarded the ferry and found a comfy spot in the Blue Mountain cafe to rest their weary heads. Well equipped with sleeping bags and blankets, after quick inspections of any potential dangers on board and affirming the whereabouts of their allies (more free food provided by the resistance loving French crew) they slept until sunrise. The bright lights and queues for croissants didn't exactly delights the comrades at 5.30 am but they rose and readied themselves for adventures ahead.

Off the boat and into Le Havre the special skills of most competant French speaker were in immediate demand. The first challenge of the day (after tea in a suitably French looking cafe of course) was to persuade the kind comrades at Europcar to transfer their booking from the Bilbao office for the previous day to another country and town. Thanks to brave efforts back to the memory of A level french and a helpful dose of language barrier induced generosity a car was secured with no extra payment. It appeared that it was no accident that the comrades had found themselves in France, home of the original federalist dreamers for Europe. Such people would surely support the movement for Basquian independence within the structure of a Europe that abandoned the regime of arbitrarily imposed nation states. So the plan was to head south to the border, but journey was not to be that straight foward as even the the most staunch supporters of the movement have their weaknesses; the charms of the french folk, countryside and copious amounts of fromage de brebis were all to play their part in a complex web of enticement.

So shakily, due to obscure sleeping arrangements and unaccustomed to driving on the wrong side of the road they set off along the western coast with a short stop to collect provisions and funds using the phrases that caused so much hilarity at GCSE "Ou est le banque" etc! On they drove with a short stop to consult the map and eat at the romantic French alternative to service stations (as you can see the countries charm was already beginning to wear away at the resistance spirit and doing the work of the government agents for them). Finally, hundreds of kilometres later and a with the unfortunate addition of a speeding fine they found themselves in the delightful town of Rochefort whereupon they were to encounter rather mixed fortune.

Firstly the comrades, in search of internet facilities, stumbled upon a lovely clarinet playing proprietor of the smallest internet cafe of Europe with a cute ickle kitten to welcome them. But it was during such an onslaught of charm that the keys to the much needed transport found themselves locked in the boot along with all desperately needed vetements and cleansing products for the increasingly smelly comrades. Initial attempts by some common criminals enlisted on the street thwarted by modern technology; once again the need for excessively complex levels of french was required in the commisariat. But, the designated french speaker busy on the phone to the car hire, two of the less qualified speakers headed off to procure a breaker inner from the notoriously helpful French police.

To be continued....

Friday, August 18, 2006

Baguettes Not Bombs!

Ever wondered what was the point of GCSE French?
Well, take four potential Basquian terrorists; long separated comrades, one with copious medical knowledge and three with an overdose of social conscience, up for a bit of armed struggle and send them to a somewhat chaotic Heathrow airport on Thursday the 10th August 2006 with bags packed for adventure and sunshine and the outcome is somewhat different from what you might expect.

On arriving at the initial rendezvous point - the symbolically chosen Swatch stand in Kings Cross station (make of that what you will, infuse it with meaning or disregard with the flippancy it deserves) it became swiftly apparent that some further force than chance was intervening to prevent these particular travellers from reaching their desired destination in the heartland of Basquian resistance. At every point along the way were placed deterants cunningly disguised as the well-meaning British public. Contrary to the massive screen broadcasting the eight hour old 'breaking news' that all incoming flights to Heathrow were cancelled but failing to mention anything about the outbound flights, the over zealous evesdroppers in the ladies gave the distinct impression that no planes were landing or leaving from Heathrow.
Initial attempts to reach Bilbao thwarted, the four headed to a small and secluded travel agent on the Euston road. Whereupon they were met by an agent placed to ensure full discouragement of any airbourne travel who went to great lengths to prove that leaving the country was not an option (all be it in a friendly and well meaning manner to throw them of the scent of government intervention). Tired and disheartened the comrades headed to familiar territory to refresh themselves with the fuel of resistance and hope for alcohol induced inspirations.

The plans indeed began to flow in great multitudes but were seriously hindered by the missing element of self belief. The ability of those with all the power to intervene in long made plans so easily was hard to overcome. But then came the flash of hope that the comrades required, a leak from our side, that yes planes were beginning to leave, bound for adventure and contrary to the warnings and scare mongering the only viable course of action was to get to the airport as quick as possible. So the newly revived travellers set off, racing against the envisaged security chaos to reach a plane scheduled to leave in half an hour but which they had been assured would be flying late.

However, the phones must have been tapped, when they arrived security were waitng for them. Dressed as and acting like over zealous airline staff the forces of the powerful approached the comrades immediately on arrival, with surprisingly accurate question statements about the airlines required and the appropriate desk to attend to be told that ALL Iberia flights were cancelled. Tricked into wasting precious time, the four wasted no more. They quickly settled on a plan to leave by boat and headed swiftly for Portsmouth accompanied by a potential recruit who, apart from the Aussie accent, bore a not so striking resemblance to a mutual acquiantence by the name of Smithies working for the Epoch Times who had previously been mixed up in the affairs of the comrades(!!).

Upon eventually reaching Portsmouth (but losing the Smithies lookalike along the way) they were met with immediate and unasked for instructions as to how to reach the boat. This unfortunately involved a taxi ride from a man who can best be labelled as a Daily Mirror reading facist who took it upon himself to spout his racism and anger at the four stunned comrades. His comments on 'bloody foreigners' and his expressed surprise that nobody had bombed the mosques in Portsmouth (yet!) gave the distinct impression that perhaps this was what he saw as a positive solution to race relations in the town. This was however clearly another obstacle placed to incite the anger of the comrades and halt their progress. Upon recognising it as such they bit their tongues and rode out the urge to convert the unconvertible in ten minutes. Finally reaching Portsmouth ferry port, geting to Europe seemed at last within grasping distance but the adventures were just beginning and many more obstacles would be placed in their way.

To be continued....

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Last Life in the Universe

The last life in the universe is a film i watched over a year ago at the wonderful cinema the Duke of Yorks. Wonderful, in the good arty cinema type of way, in that it plays all the best films that don't get shown at the big business cinemas and it sells beer and cake. What more could you want! Anyway i digress (distracted by the thought of cake mmm, or beer, mmmmmm life is full of so many difficult decisions!) point is that i have been trying to remember what this film was called for about the last nine months but thanks to the wonders of the internet and ingenius sisters i now know what it is called. The film is shot in Thailand, but with a Japanese director. It is the story of, well really its more the portrayal of the relationship that develops between two people. The film starts with a series of unsucessful suicide attempts by the main character. How this can be made incredibly funny but not be out of place in a beautiful piece of cinematic magic realism is beyond me. The cinematography is absolutely stunning and it is just one of those great films that makes you see the medium of film in a whole new light. Anyway, if you haven't seen it, watch it. Unless you are person who needs constant dialogue because there is more than a generous helping of blissful dramatic silence!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Why we rage?

Ok, so as interesting and enthralling as the whole toilet project is going to be i'm going to need pilfer someone's digital camera as however much i love the traditional film format it isn't exactly conducive to easy computer viewing. So for now i shall start to use this blog properly as a forum for whatever i've been dwelling on this week.
So to start with a cheery subject, i've been wondering about anger. What exactly is this emotion all about, does it ever have positive consequences? As someone with quite a temper i'm not unfamiliar with the rising tide of blind rage but rarely has it propelled me to change things for the better. I can see that anger might be construed as necessary to motivate social change but does anything ever change whilst the anger still rages?
On the other hand, this week has been rather a swirling storm of anger from all directions in a certain group of my friends and aquaintances. Promted by the two major culprits in inciting anger: Lust and Revenge. But in the midst of this and being both the recipient of many peoples anger and having had my trust betrayed majorly i feel it completely unnecessary to get angry. It is as if an overload of other peoples emotions has laid bare the pointlessness of this emotion in achieving anything. So believe it or not i find myself being told that i must be angry in order to make others realise what they have done wrong, but surely if someone faces anger thay are much more likely to defend their actions then repent. Still pondering.