Tuesday 26 October 2010

links, past to present.

There is a stuffed crocodile on our bedroom chest of drawers. It is a treasured family item.
When I was about ten my main obsession, apart from sherbert dip-dabs was the pet shop in Highgate, or Finchley I can't remember now. A dark cavern of mystery and wonder, they sold (probably very unlawfully) pythons, birds of prey, immense hairy spiders and ....crocodiles. Most of my quota of childhood nag time must have been spent trying to get my poor mother to agree to housing such a reptile. Me, the child, free of such worries as gas bills, car repairs etc could of course not see why having a three foot long tooth laden creature would be any sort of a problem, and continued ad infinitum to put forward all the advantages..
On my birthday, instead of a tank, bulbs, small rodents, and reptile, I found a large newspaper bundle at the bottom of the bed. It was a small adult crocodile with horse hairs insides, marble eyes, and mouth open in a time preserved bite at some unfortunate small creature.
It was love at first site, the decoy worked, and he went everywhere with me. On the bus, on holiday, into Foyles bookshop, no-one ever asked why I was carrying a stuffed reptile, and I no longer hankered after a life one. 10 out of 10 mum for ingenuity .
There then followed a series of acceptable childhood pets, budgies, various poo producing furry creatures, and even a cat, although we we not really supposed to keep them in the flats.
We moved to Dorset when I was thirteen, and fairly soon after Pink Floyd, Rush and David Bowie took over on the list of obsessions, not to mention Peter whatever his name was.
Fast forward to the present.
Our boy seems to be firmly in my footprints. We've done the nibbling things, including ratty rat, a violent animal who ate his way through our kitchen wall, and was 'given his freedom', Timothy, a very endearing mouse who lived for three years, whom I suspect was a reincarnation of Dickens, Guiness and Rocky, two other mice, a whole troop of budgies, lead by Betty, a big mama blues singer bird, who had quite a lot of offspring, sad swallows with broken wings, snails, butterflies, and fish.
Tropical fish for Christmas last year, I thought it would all be horribly complicated and boredom would set in, but he has been really diligent, feeding cleaning, etc etc......and now he wants a reptile.
His childhood is very different to mine, no trip down to the library to look in plastic covered old books about 'how to enjoy your reptile' 'fairly' unlimited access to youtube and obsessive's websites concerning every aspect of lizard ownership
We seem to be considering the prospect. Well he's pretty cheap to run, Ezra, happy to wear hand-me-downs, no longer a fussy eater, has no expensive sport habit.
Due to the fact that the above featured creature, an iguana, is vegetarian, we thought that one might fit in to our lives. Have listened to the arguments, visited a reptile park, have a lovely voisin who is happy to work on a cage making project with Ezra.
Fate has stepped in.
We were about to buy an iguana from a man in Carcassonne, who is moving countries, he rang on the day of igunana inspection to say it had died....Ezra became strangely silent on the subject.
Boy and husband are in Paris for a few days. Mark rang last night to say they had been to reptile specialist shop, and the man had pointed to a two and a half meter iguana and said, 'you don't want one of those' Can grow to three meters, can become aggressive, can live up to fifty years, (oooek) and eventually need a whole room rather than a cage. There goes the B&B room.......
So back to the drawing board with...a bearded dragon apparently, unless he suddenly finds Lucy in class more alluring...

Saturday 23 October 2010

Food for thought

Was in the kitchen with Mark yesterday eve preparing confiture de grenade. He surprised me by asking if I thought we spent too much time cooking . . .
Odd, I thought. . . I suppose we do spend a fair part of each day making food in various forms, but it just seems a normal way to exist. Then I had a really good think during the day about the extremes of food preparation in the world. Food as fuel to food as a luxury art form.
A good example of each I can think of comes from reality TV programmes, which I did watch, IN FRENCH, purely for improving my language skills, of course.
One, which I think was called 'welcome to our tribe' was appalling, but fascinating viewing - French family removed from consumerism and plonked in Amazonian jungle with strangely accepting indigenous family. Suddenly removed from the choice between Super U and Leclerc, the French were caught up in the daily preoccupation of finding the next meal. The staple base of the local diet was a yam like vegetable, which was chewed (by the womenfolk) and spat out creating a ready liquidised pulp . . . good viewing as the Parisians were invited to try it.
On that particular day it was decided that the men would go on a notoriously dangerous mission to trap a type of monkey for the village to prepare and eat in the evening. Four hours of jungle hike, success, four hours back, monkey prepared, eaten.
Cue next day.
Actually, the most interesting thing was that the men in the French party on all the programs that I saw became more and more keen to adopt this new life of building, hunting and survival, far removed from snug car interiors and flat screen TVs.
One of the worst R. TV shows I stumbled across was a vile program called 'lets bitch about somebody else's cooking' - four happy folks from across France, each stage a themed dinner chez eux. Each time the three not cooking, are invited to dine at the fourth's place of residence. (You might have seen the same UK version or any other country's version). There then follows a hideous evening of critical comment on the food, the decor, and not the meaning of life etc.
Food as leisure activity, or food as a means of life support.
I would hope to be somewhere in the middle.
Pleasure in choosing good basic ingredients, liberal enough to think, what can we make with one egg, half a cabbage and a tin of chickpeas, and occasional forays into risqué areas of buying food to follow a real recipe . . .

Thursday 21 October 2010


New forms.
If I am destined to be a constant gardener, that's not a bad thing. Gardening is really just playing and art rolled into one big possibility. Here is a new tree, birthday present, caught and hauled back to the compound in the back of the kangoo.
New sculptural form and colour, it will become a shady seat area for when we start the hothouse tea-gardens, project 5,467, fraught no doubt with legislation nightmares and new toilet arrangements, but I think it could be a good one.
For the ultimate in land transformation, take a look at 'Le Jardin Bouichere' in Limoux near Mr Brico. They purchased a rubbly field about fifteen years ago and after extreme toil it is now a paradise of plants, trees and parrots.
Another favourite inspiration of mine is/was Derek Jarmen's garden. Situated almost in the shadow of the concrete bulk of dungeoness power station, its stones, sculptural objects, and salt-brave plants were a wonder.
Am now going to google it, might add a link...

Monday 18 October 2010


Sorry ms Ayres for bastardising your beautiful painting (Ceret), but I wanted an image of the pain I was experiencing in my teeth and face a couple of days ago.
Have had toothache, or what appeared to be for a couple of months, dentist took x-rays, nowt.
When pain became like someone drilling for oil in my cheek, became alarmed . . . well one does. What do we do in our present period of world history? Look up scary stuff on the internet, n'est pas. Scary indeed. Will not bore with facts, histoires etc. Could be one of 200 or more things of course, some much nastier than others.
Went to the doctor, mentioned a few possibilities and got a reaction I had anticipated.
'Bof, you are stressed,' after which he gave me magnesium and nice calm feeling (temporarily).
Next couple of days, big pain and smaller pains, but gradually figured out the stuff that works.
Sleep: good, vegetables: good, gardening: excellent, walking: excellent, housework: good. Stress:  not good, well, I think we know this; sitting about: not good, art: not good at the moment, hoping to sort this one! and computing.....very BAD.
Brings me back to title of blog post . . .
We are not perhaps meant to be hunchy over a keyboard; more to be running over rocks in pursuit of some dinner. Rather extreme, I know, but in my case certainly putting some onions in rather than looking something up on safari is better for me.
Anyway, must stop as am having to write this in strange John wayne/Alexandre tecnique posture, hence worse spelling than usual.
Have a good stress free day y'ouall.

Sunday 10 October 2010

If only....

We had left this mechant beast on guard . . . possibly we would not have got broken into. Or at least they might have died of laughter before getting very far,
But we took both the hounds with us.
Nice afternoon out, me and the boy to look at lizards in Narbonne, as one does. Just driving towards the car port, and noticed the side door smashed in. A horrible feeling descended - one I remember well from the times we got home in Birmingham to find smashed glass, things turned over, etc. Not in the sleepy S.O.France, surely. Anyway, good kick up the bum for us, and for all the rest of you out there who have got lazy about shutters etc.
Oddly enough, my strongest feeling was horror that anyone had seen the state of our bedroom.
I once had a break in to my flat in Edgeware Rd, London. The only things I found missing were, a pint of milk, and a Michael Jackson cassette.
Performance art?

Saturday 2 October 2010

Half a century, makes a girl think....

One of Miss Munroe's classic phrases from some like it hot. Except she said 'quarter of a century', and she was dressed in black satin with wonderful pointy breasts, not slouching in some deeply unattractive old pyjamas, with body parts somewhat gravity challenged.
I digress.
The half way mark, so to speak is...interesting, its all downhill as far as cells go, in fact I think I read somewhere that you've had it in that department from about twenty-one. Oh dear. What is the point of it all? why are we here? and other assorted questions regarding time, space, Ikea etc.
Putting deeper questions to one side in a small dusty box for the moment, I must celebrate the fact that I was fifty, still am, and we had a very good fete to pin time to.
In fact, I actually became fifty years of age (on the 2nd) around the time Ezra put the event firmly into our minds forever by cannoning into a metal bench outside, and cutting his knee open.
Quite a bit of flapping, (mainly by me) emergency services-quizzing, crowd of kids saying things like blimey in French, and poor white faced Ezra . . . Mark drove him to Carca hopital, and I swam about ninety lenghts in feezing swimming pool water to clarify my mind.
Not really, went round like crazed teenager drinking dregs of other peoples wine in attempt to get back into party spirit which Mark had said must be done.
He was right: stiff upper lip, Hokey Cokey, etc . . . Actually we didn't do afore mentioned ancient English country dance, but my spirit was re-ignited and rest of eve was fab.
Would have put photos up but blogger would not perform, so small film of rendition of Muddy Waters favourite, probably not how he would have done it.
And my mojo had well and truly buggered off to do a bit of shopping this morning, slight hangover, erhem, one thinks one could find the off switch when one reaches this age.
Thanks for all beautiul presents and cards folks. Flower arrangements, Roses, plants, artworks, Jack Daniels, fancy wine, composition, tree, chocs, beads, super bath stuff, vachement excellent carnaval of Limoux bag, and complicated and wonderful present from Debs.
Stan ruined the presentation of it slightly by striding into the kitchen with two massive bags of fertilizer, throwing them to the floor and saying something like 'madame, I bring you, with instruction from my lovely wife, two bags of finest horse defecation' use the Stan Adler tranlation button on your ordi to reveal the true parole.
That was the part of the present concerning the fifty onwards years, fertilizing the future . . .
The other parts concerned olive oil, body lotion, chocolate and soap. Think we should make it into an opera, to be be performed at the next big B.