Showing posts from February, 2020

The Gardens of the Ars

This latest photograph shows the dismantling of the building site at the base of the Innova tower: the tower is now complete, some of the offices are in use and some of the apartments are occupied. We'd love to go up and see the views.


There's been a few more cases in France, which means that we are now at stage two of the epidemic. What that means I do not know. But I do know that in Paris the priests must no longer put the host on the tongues of the communicants, and that the receptacles for holy water have been emptied. Meanwhile the word "coronavirus" is useful for practicing French pronunciation, particularly aspects of stress. In English we say coROnaVIrus, stressing the "ro" and the "vi".  French is an egalitarian language and in principle no syllables are stressed in this way. So to get away from our instinctive pronunciation as Brits you can practice pronouncing it COroNAviRUS. The end result sounds pretty good.

A strange February

February is usually the longest, dreariest, greyest, most dismal month in Bordeaux. The skies stay resolutely sunless. It's rarely very cold but always chilly. It's a cheerless month. To combat it I pay occasional trips to shops with brightly coloured clothes. My favourite was Desigual, a Catalan clothes designer whose neon creations used to fill a shop on the corner of rue Vital Carles and Rue Dijeaux. But they closed down. I wondered how I'd survive February without them and planned trips to sportwear shops or to Benetton instead. I need not have feared. This February has been bright, sunny and warm. Sometimes over 20°C. Cloudless skies have filled our horizons. Flowers bloom. We seemed to have moved seamlessly from Autumn to spring without passing winter or needing to spend £200 on heating or warm woollens. Seemed. This week is the winter school holidays, when people flee to the Pyrenees to go skiing. Imagine! All that warmth and beautiful snow, too. Meanwhile

The pension debate


Do you know the poem about

Doctor Foster? I thought we'd end up talking about English place names, like Bicester, Gloucester, Cirencester, Leicester, Alcester, Worcester, Towcester and Rocester *, so I said "Yes : Doctor Foster went to Gloucester In a shower of rain..." and so on. There came a perplexed look. "He sold his soul to the devil." "OH! FAUST!" * pronounced, of course: Bister, Gloster, Sister, Lester, Aster, Wooster, Toaster and Roaster.

Act 65

of the gilets jaunes took place on Saturday. Our first indication of possible unrest was when we tried to leave between 4pm and 5pm to go to Catrin's housewarming party at her flat. A helicopter was hovering over the railway station and we were passed by about four police motorcycles, ten unmarked police cars and maybe 15 police vans. Surrounded on all sides, we waited for the number 11 bus, but it wasn't obvious how a bus would get through. Eventually we walked to the station and as we neared the forecourt we saw a bus 1, several bus 10 and a bus 11. We hopped on. Victoire was very busy with market stalls for the grande braderie, the end of the sales when remaindered stocks get sold on tables in the street. We got to Catrin's slightly late, me clutching my parsnip cake that had taken some effort to make. You do NOT want to grate a pound of parsnips. But the cake was good. I later learnt that there had been violent confrontations between the police and certain gilets

The little things count

One drawback of renting is that generally all fixtures and fittings are pretty cheap. The sink is made of thin steel, so every time you turn on the tap the whole thing wobbles, and the cabinet below it is pretty shoddy. One day we'll have to sort it out, but for the moment it's OK. One thing that has annoyed us considerably more is the quality of the toilet seats. The seat itself is OK, but the hinges are flimsy and almost impossible to adjust. Believe me, I tried. The effect is to suddenly lurch sideways perturbing the person enthroned. Annoying. So we ordered a new seat. I was very particular about the hinge mechanism. I won't go into particulars but we'd examined many seats in the shops, supermarkets and hardware stores and I rejected them all. Finally I found what I was looking for on Amazon and it came last week. It's wonderful. You cannot imagine the difference it makes not to lurch sideways in mid-session. Or maybe you can. Anyway, I thought we'd

Disenfranchised !

"Since you left the United Kingdom fifteen years ago", began the email I received a few days ago. "If the law changes, then of course" So I can no longer vote in UK elections. Then today came a letter from the Town Hall, marked Urgent! What could it be? "Since you are no longer European you can no longer vote in the local elections". So henceforth it is officially NOT MY FAULT. I am disenfranchised. A serf. It's official.

Post Brexit fun and fear

So there was choir yesterday. We're learning, very meticulously, some South-American Baroque music that has a delightful mix of Southern European baroque polyphony with Latin American rhythm. Double choir, very jaunty, missing barlines, sudden 6:4 in the middle of 4:4. It's non-trivial. At one point I thought, "Why do I do this?" I think it's an attempt to stave off dementia. Anyway, I possibly brought it on myself because I was wearing my bright green hoodie with "CYMRU" printed on the front in ddraig goch to support the lads thrashing Italy while we sang a perky "crucifixus est"... At one point the conductor explained some future projects. "It would be good to have some cradle songs from folk that are not French." "Alan", came the quick reply. "Yes, and preferably not european." Like a shot, "Alan!" I put up my hood and went to my happy place. Later we chatted about the closing of Je