Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
Carolyn Mohr on The ups and downs of English
Michael Jennings on Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
priscila on The ups and downs of English
Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (4): Preparations
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
Most recent entries
- Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
- So painters also used to “take” pictures
- Funniest run out ever?
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
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Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
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Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
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Everything I Say is Right
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Category archive: France
Lunchtime O’Booze is the name given by Private Eye to a certain vintage of Fleet Street era (i.e. when they really all did work in or near to Fleet Street) journo. One of these (now long retired) characters was staying with me earlier this week, kipping down on my sofa-bed to be precise. Tony now lives in France, but he was over here for a few days, to participate in a lunch, with a dozen or more of his old Fleet Street cronies.
I met up with Tony on Sunday evening, and we dined out, very well. Thanks to my twiddly screen, I was able to take photos of him like this, with the camera resting in the middle of the table, and me just looking down at it:
Tony looks rather like one of those South African type villains in The Saint, which I have been watching lately from time to time, waiting for the IPL to start on ITV4.
Next day, Tony departed for the lunch. Ring me when it’s over, I said, maybe we can do something in the evening. Nine hours later, Tony rings to say he’ll be back soon, and eleven hours later he is. I feared drunken disruption. Which I would have survived. Tony has been very hospitable to me over the years. But the evening ended very pleasantly.
To give you a further idea of what kind of lunch it was, here is a limerick, which Tony brought back from it:
An Argentine gaucho named Bruno
Said I’ll tell you something I do know
Girls are just fine
And boys are divine
But a llama is numero uno
And here is a photo, taken by someone else with Tony’s phone:
The big guy - a very big guy indeed - in the middle used to play prop forward for the Harlequins and is now a wine correspondent, the sort of bloke who has a special table in his home for drinking guests under. The ultimate oh-stay-a-bit-longer-and-have-another-one bloke. I think the guy on the right drives new cars for a living, in such places as the south of France, and then writes about them. Certainly, someone of this kind was involved.
Do not ask men like this to drink and drive. They just might do it.
Madsen Pirie has a posting up about the Parisian origins of the Statue of Liberty, featuring one of my all time favourite photographs. Which gives me an excuse to exhibit some snaps I took in Paris last February, of the Statue of Liberty.
There are two miniature Statues of Liberty in Paris. Before visiting Paris I didn’t realise there were any, and since being in Paris until now, when I looked it up on the www, I hadn’t realised that Paris contained two. There is a very small one in the Jardin du Luxembourg, and a less small one next to Grenelle Bridge, which is the one I went to see:
I still have tons more Paris photos to show off, but that’s a start.
However, I don’t believe the Moists actually care that their precious prophet has had his picture flashed about. I think they’re just looking for a fight, and I am giving them the oxygen of publicity. Oh well. But you can’t just ignore this crap. Here’s hoping the Gendarmes get them.
Don’t agree with the French politician (second link) who wants everyone to “respect” all opinions. Just tolerate, even as you despise and/or detest, is quite sufficient.
What’s Mo saying, by the way? Anyone? Ah, answer here.
A couple of days ago, Antoine Clarke dropped by chez moi, and gave me one of these:
This evening I had it for supper. But what was it? If Antoine told me, I immediately forgot. Pate (please add appropriate accentage - also to Henaff above) made of pork, I think. But my French is hopeless and I cannot be sure. All I can be sure of is that it was delicious.
Around this time of year, I often take a break from regular blogging, and I will be again, this year, starting now. Before I went on my recent trip abroad, I warned that my usual rule of something at least once every couple of days might take a bit of a hit for the duration, but actually, regular service here continued. But now I feel the need of a break. So, for at least the next few weeks or so, and quite possibly for as long as two months, things will only appear here if I entirely feel like putting them here, and this time, I think I can promise some quite long gaps. I am not forbidding myself to blog here, merely saying that for the next bit of a while, you should expect only whatever you may happen to get, and no more.
I’ll sign off with another of Goddaughter 2’s editings of one of my Rennes pictures (see below), this time of crippled bicycles:
I hate it when people do that to bicycles.
And a happy holiday to me.
Many photographers get bored with photoing big photogenic things like famous buildings, gorgeous landscapes and spectacular sunsets. I think part of this is because the more beautiful something is, the more people (as opposed to photographers) already look at it,and I mean really look at it, in the flesh, as it were. And what they remember of the real thing is typically better than any photo the photographer may later show them. Certainly better than any photo I take. The trick therefore is to take photos of things that people don’t normally bother to scrutinise in any detail. With your photo you are showing them something they wouldn’t normally bother with.
Like tables and chairs, without people. I photoed a lot of these when I was in Brittany recently:
Those were my versions. As usual here, click to get any of these pictures bigger.
Goddaughter 2 got hold of all the snaps I’d taken that day, and those two were among the ones she picked out to play around with. I.e. she used Photoshop to pick out everything red in the pictures and make it even redder, and probably added several doses of sharpening to the mix too:
The reason I was photoing empty chairs and empty tables is that there did seem to be an awful lot of these about in Brittany while I was there, in Quimper, in Saint Malo and in Rennes. (The above two snaps were taken in Rennes.) My guess is that the mostly very bad weather throughout the time I was there, together with, I suppose, the larger financial climate, had caused business, in the kinds of places with lots of tables and chairs to put out in the street and serve food and drink on, to be very hard hit indeed. Every pile of chairs or clump of unused tables was money not being taken by people who are very much in need of it.
I don’t always do cats here on Fridays, but I often do. For me they signify the fundamental point of this blog, which is to entertain, and in particular to entertain me, rather than just to be serious and political about everything. There is more to life than the fact, if fact it be, that the politicians are making a mess of everything. So it was that, when on my recent trip to France, I kept half an eye open for cats.
Another thing I found myself snapping was motorbikes. The French really seem to love their motorbikes, perhaps because their roads are longer and emptier than they are in Britain.
So imagine my delight when, wandering around the centre of Quimper of an evening, I came across this:
And I wasn’t the only one who felt that this was suitable material for digitalised immortality:
My favourite snap of a fellow digital photographer in Cat-on-Harley action being this one:
Was the cat in any way disconcerted by all this attention? On the contrary:
The cat loved it.
Here, I hope you will agree, is the appropriate song, sung by one of the all time great French sex kittens. (I actually have this on CD.)
I’m back from my travels in the land occupied by the above creatures, but that will have to do for today.
One of the symptoms of an infrequent flyer such as me is that we IFs like to look at the view, and in my case, if it looks nice, photo it. I’ll never top this, but in the meantime, yesterday, this looked good:
But what was it? With much messing about (on a foreign computer ("ordinateur") using a foreign keyboard) which is a serious pain in the behind (every time I type an a without thinking I get a q - just as a for instance, there being lots of other things in wrong places besides thqt) I eventually identified the above as the tip of the ... and now fucking Yahoo who should go to hell for ever have fucking inserted a “canyon link” that I can’t fucking remove but which means it fucking removes the thing I’m fucking trying to put. I have no idea how to point you at any sort of map, so you’ll just have to take my (now non-) word for it that it is what fucking Yahoo now fucking prevents me from putting, but I can tell you that the grey smudge in the middle is not a big town but rather an Usine de Retraitement. I now want Ya fucking hoo to be thrown into this Usine to be well and truly Retraited themselves.
My original point was going to be that a frequent flyer wouldn’t care about what he happened to see out of the window. And I now add that a frequent flyer would bring his own computer with him and connect it to his own stuff and his own internet. I did do the former but have yet to accomplish the latter.
The tip of the Cherbourg Penninsular is what I was trying to say. I finally managed to actually say that by getting out of (and I will never return to) Firefox (now owned by fucking Yahoo?) and into Google Chrome.
Of the one on the left, Antoine tells me that “be relax” (click to see this) is Frenglish for “be cool”. But as you can see, the other sign forbids, by day and by night. So, being cool is forbidden, all the time. Someone tell the French.
The one on the right was snapped in Fes Medina, Morocco, the day before yesterday by Michael J, who says Danger de Mort sounds better than Danger of Death. Both sound pretty scary to me. Again, click to see the bigger picture.
Messieurs, je vous remercie.
You think you can send me funnier or more interesting signs? You know what to do.
Incoming from Antoine ...
... to whom: Merci beaucoup!
Yes, this may be just the thing for French backs, but I can’t see English forwards taking to it.
Next weekend the Six Nations Rugby will end, I trust with England winning the Grand Slam. England have certainly been the best side, but there are worrying signs that they aren’t that good either. England’s best moment came a few minutes into their second game, against Italy, when the England halves cut the Italian defence into fragments and put Ashton in for the first of his four tries in that eight-tries-to-one drubbing. Italy never recovered their defensive poise after that early shock to their system. In particular, they had probably not prepared for those inside passes that England have specialised in this year. But subsequent England opponents, I surmise, have practised against this particular ploy, and there has been nothing quite as good as that Italy performance from England since. Other sides are getting wise to the England threat, and once they respect it, they can settle down to nullifying it.
Basically, I think defences have got very, very solid. Professional is the word. As in: very, very boring. They make all the backs they are up against either run into them, which is boring, or run sideways, ditto. And England’s defence is one of the best.
Antoine Clarke asked in a comment on this what I made of Italy. Briefly what I think of Italy is that they are slowly improving, while France are struggling with the fact that those professional defences can no longer be bamboozled with Gallic flair. Something to do with defenders not making eye contact, but just covering all the likely areas, and hunting in little teams. One guy takes your top half, the other your lower torso. This leaves France reduced, humiliatingly, to just another collection of Six Nations cloggers. This is not new. It has been happening for some years.
France also have the problem of a coach who has completely lost it, his extraordinary eruption after France got beaten narrowly by Italy having been by far the most amusing Six Nations thing that happened last weekend.
But question. During that Italy France game, the BBC were calling the French coach “Lee Vr Mon”. But I regularly hear other people who also ought to know call him “Lee Yeh Vr Mon”. To put it another way, is there a grave accent over the first e in Lievremont, or is there not? I’m thinking: yes there is. You might miss an accent, but you are less likely to make one up that isn’t really there.
You expect individual English BBC commentators who used to be players to screw around with foreign names. Yesterday Guscott, for example, was calling Rougerie “Rougier”, and I recall complaining about this kind of thing from Jonathan Davies a couple of years ago. But you don’t expect BBC people who are there because their expertise is talking to mess up foreign names. But I rather think they did. Antoine?
And talking of screwing up, Serge Betsen was and I believe still is a fine player, but his command of English is inadequate for him to be a commentator on Brit TV. All he did was subtract the question mark from the questions asked of him. So Betsen, are France very optimistic about bouncing back from their loss against England and winning this game this afternoon? Betsen: Yes eh eh eh eh eh France air eh eh eh eh vairy optimistic eh eh ay bout boun seeng back and eh eh eh weeneeng thees gemm. The more tongue tied he became, the longer the questions got, just to make sure that something coherent was said. Betsen may be an expert on rugby in French, but in English, this is not expertise.
Yes, I’m having another attack of link constipation, and another posting along these lines is called for.
Soros Whores. A blog flagged up by its author on the LA email list. Not saying I agree. Just saying: interesting. I don’t care for libertarian class analysis, because it seems to say that, come the libertarian revolution, it will be my duty to murder my sister, who spent her working life being an NHS doctor, and her husband, who spent his working life being first a social worker and then a social work bureaucrat. I like these two people a hell of a lot more than quite a few libertarians I can think of. Or to put it another way, if such a revolution ever does erupt, don’t count on me. I might decide to be on the other side.
Infallible Systems Limited. The website of a charmingly named enterprise which I encountered and photoed the sign of, on a recent photo-ing expedition. It turns out they do roofing. Infallible because, presumably, it never leaks or caves in. I thought it was some kind of electronic security firm until I found the website.
Étang de Montady. Good picture here. The point being, I photoed this mysterious thing from an airplane, in 2005, but without having any clue as to what it was. And then, on September 30th 2010, a commenter called Steve told me. How he found this posting, I have no idea. I asked. He didn’t say.
A speech by somebody called S. Paul Forest about ObamaCare, which I first heard about here, and which I strongly suspect might be quite a lot of the answer to my Samizdata question here, about just what it is that everybody I don’t hate in America hates. I have no idea who S. Paul Forest is.
There are some strong and sincere libertarians who are in the Tea Party who generally don’t believe in government intervention in the market or socially.
I can remember thinking: it’s only a matter of time before lefty politicians start talking up libertarianism in order to split their Conservative-stroke-libertarian opposition. But that was more than a decade ago. And after I’d given up hoping, now it’s happening. Obama is trying to screw with the Tea Party, by talking up some of it and trashing the rest. Plus, there may even be some genuine Marxist-type respect, deep calling to deep, etc. I haven’t seen much comment from other libertarians about this little plug for our movement from The Most Powerful Man in the World. Has anyone else seen any responses to that?
Come to think of it, I can remember when the Daily Telegraph had a policy of never mentioning the L word either, presumably in case it made difficulties for Conservatives.
That’s enough for one enema posting.