Monday 29 May 2017

Vide Grenier joy

(boot sales, garage sales, yard sales joy).
The Vide Grenier season is well-established here and so far has been useful for a much-needed re-filling of t-shirt drawer and replacement of manky mugs.
This Sunday, however, was a junk market Zenith moment with a finding of a Napoleon and Josephine coffee set for five euros, (only out-done in naffness by our gold rococo edged Stealth Bomber plate, now sadly broken), and a tree-hugging bear lamp that would have happily featured in a 'Blue Velvet' kid's bedroom, had there had been one in the film.


Saturday 27 May 2017

The playfulness of the mind



       Small boulder in a rectangular hole for no apparent reason, or a fish peering out from its shelter? 

Tuesday 23 May 2017

seeing into the future

An excellent comment on over-production of non-needed stuff from back in the 70s! 

Oliver Postgate was a total hero - a creator of marvellously weird animation for kids, but not just for kids . . . Bag-puss, Noggin the Nog - what a genius name for a series!

I was an avid watcher of The Clangers as a child and we bought a video cassette set for Ezra when he was about seven (and we were all still watching the videos when he was well beyond ten.)
He brought up the subject of this very favourite series a few days ago after happening to see there is a NEW version out - complete with jolly, non-BBC-voiced woman and happy blue skies replacing the old black space-scapes that made up the backgrounds of the original series.
He summed the 1970s series rather well, I thought: 'as if David Lynch had decided to make a kid's program' . . . and it was; a little eerie, dark, dream-like and with Mr Postgate's gentle voice-over's emanating as if from the mouth of some benevolent god dressed in a worn flannel suit, sitting in an armchair up in the heavens.
Each story seemed to have a light-hearted but real enough moral side to it; a gentle warning, but not finger-wagging, something that kids should absorb rather than just happy-happy and candy-floss colour.
I reckon Mr Postgate could absolutely see where we are heading and it's a brilliant comment on man's over-production of unnecessary stuff. Fortunately for the Clanger family, the plastic things-producing machine - in film above - is eventually made to stop and the unwanted stuff buried in a large hole. The beasts dust off their hands (or, knitted paws) and return to their more puritan and happy lives. We don't have this solution (well, land-fill and not a solution), but we do still have the chance to stop the seemingly never-ending flow of plastic before it engulfs the world.

Saturday 20 May 2017

the changing day-scape

So there I was yesterday, happily putting in some tomatoes after getting all the domestic jobs/emails and other work out of the way. It was a sparkling day after the rain of the night before; birds were shouting, plants thrusting upwards - (weeds especially); all rather wonderful really . . . I went in to make a cup of tea and write something and heard an odd noise in the living room.
    Our older Spanish Greyhound appeared to be about to have a crap on the floor tiles - you know, that rounded-arched-back sort of shape. I was about to reprimand when I saw blood and what appeared to be a knife sticking out of her chest. I just stood pathetically for a moment watching her shake and wondering what I was supposed to do in such a situation - vet obviously but Gala is about the size of a small deer and I can't lift her.
I hastily drove the car up to the door and phoned lots of friends and neighbours - no one in. The vet said there was no way they could come and get her. I looked at the object amongst the bloody fur - could I give it a quick yank out? No. Fire brigade? Ambulance? I tried a neighbour again, with luck this time.
He appeared and we both circled her wondering how to try and pick her up. He tried and she screamed - never heard a dog actually scream before.
    "Will she bite me?" he asked, quite understandably.
    I shook my head. "No - well, she is the most gentle dog in the world, 'normalement' mais . . . "
Whose to say what a normally placid dog might do with a sharpe projectile stuck in her chest and possibly about to peg out. He just did it, somehow - bundled her out into the car and I drove to the vets, Starsky and Hutch style.
    The waiting room was crammed with sad cats and limping dogs. I ran in feeling dramatic: "Au Secours!  - my dog is about to peg out!"
    I was suddenly in a reality TV pet show. Dr Zanin ran from a back room where he had been no doubt dealing with something less exciting; a stretcher was produced which he thrust aside and man-handled the howling dog from our bloodstained car.
    "Vite - prepare the anaesthetic!" The operating room door closed and everyone turned reassuring and sad expressions onto me.
    The receptionist suggested I go home and wait for a phone call. I thanked him and turned to leave feeling still quite dramatic and close to tears. Then, I couldn't find the bloody car key and the car was blocking the door. After a search of the car, the gravel surrounding the car, the reception area and listening to helpful suggestions, I found it in my pocket . . . I slunk off and went home to finish planting tomatoes to find the other dog had dug them all up due to some particularly fragrant chicken poo I had used as fertiliser.
The sun was still shining and everything else as bucolic as it was before the dog accident but I couldn't concentrate on anything much other than drinking tea and reading about Donald Trump's latest stupidities.
An hour before vet-closing time, I rang them. She was ready to go.
I arrived, paid (arg!) was shown the eight inch stick that had just missed one of her lungs by a fraction, and the helpful assistant got her into the car. The key wasn't lost; I went home and couldn't get her out of the car. Drank more tea. Showed her the small runty dog in case she was lonely. Covered her with a blanket and watched dusk approach.
Of course in their natural(?) habitat a wounded hunting dog such as this would probably have had a gun to the head, or worse, but Gala is a pampered, sofa-greyhound, so I did worry . . . bit of music, an extra pillow?
Anyway, an hour later she stood up and got out of the car like some ancient member of a royal family about to greet her subjects, had a piss for about five minutes and hobbled into the house where she tried to get into her normal chair. "No!" me and son cried, "it's the wrong shape." We wheeled the chair to the sofa and she eventually decided the sofa was a better option and fell onto it at which point I poured a large glass of wine and wondered where the day had gone.


                                         Recovering dog with wounds and sad eyes.

Friday 12 May 2017

moments in life

I've recently come back from seeing my mum in the UK. She's been in a different home now for a year and is sliding each time I see her into a slightly foggier place, mentally. Luckily I am still me in her eyes and I dread the time where I might not be me but some other relative or friend . . .
It was a good visit: the weather was mostly kind so I could wheel her about around town and down by the river where we looked at herons and swans and talked about passing dogs and whether it was time to have a cup of tea yet.
The last day of my visit involved a trip to the coast by wheelchair taxi. It looked like it might rain and the taxi was half an hour late due to GPS directing the driver into some municipal car-park. I was beginning to fear the trip would be fated and stress-inducing with Mum querulously demanding I take her to the loo (utterly impossible) every five minutes and that the café would be shut, scones and tea just a mirage on the sand . . . BUT, it wasn't. It was one of life's perfect moments - sun, light warm breeze, distant clear views of loved land-marks; open tea-shop, scones, tea and a happy waiter called Victor.

On the way back to meet the taxi we were beguiled into 'buying' shells by a happy band of kids on the promenade, (much to their parents' embarrassment). I handed over 50p which sent them into raptures, and chose a large flat oyster-type shell, while Mum pointed out the more unusual one pictured on the left. She looked at it for some time while we waited for our cab and then announced that there was a small dog inside it. As she had said the home had given her wolf for lunch the day before I nodded and said 'really' as I wasn't sure what else to say.
Mum was never really a 'dog person' but in her own more misty world canine creatures seem to have become fascinating; a bit like when we are children I suppose.

Friday 5 May 2017

Life's crossroads

For months now we've known it would be happening - our lad, off to a city to study fine art. I knew it but it didn't seem real, just a vague thought, hazy, not graspable.
I went with him to Lyon's beaux arts college. It was impressive, huge and cold - building and possibly the staff too . . . I don't know, I was so bloody freezing that my brain had ceased to think about anything other than being in one of Lyon's snug little 'Bouchon' bistros. It all seemed so alien, so far away from our own small town, the dogs, the boy's stuff, instruments, his present life.
I looked up at the clusters of buildings lining the hillsides and tried to imagine him in a top-floor garret cooking a lonely soup - and couldn't. Lyon is as highly regarded as the Paris schools so we were of course keen, but I didn't feel keen, very, at all . . .

Nimes college was good: small, intimate and they had a soup club on a Thursday evening.
Ezra liked the place and the tutors, The one we listened to talking in his Northern French accent without rolling R's, was kind and enthusiastic. The city is beautiful with a fine modern art gallery, easy access to other interesting cities and, unfortunately, a thriving 'bull-annoying' scene.
I could imagine Ezra there in a garret, and it would be considerably less cold in the winter than land-locked Lyon.
Bordeaux - 'edge-of-water' was our last visit and the one that made a joyful impression - what a city: the river's expanse, the knowing that the sea was only a few snaking kilometres down its length away; the elegant buildings, the plethora of cheap eats (in certain quarters); and the college itself . . .
As we went around the various departments, Ezra's smile grew. Everything was fascinating and inspiring; they even had a special room in which to make weird electronic music. By the end of the tour Bordeaux had overtaken Lyon by a long measure, and Nimes by a smaller one.
So he applied to the three, forgot Lyon as the interview coincided with the Bordeaux dates (a tad stupid); got accepted by the other two and, of course, chose Bordeaux.
Now it's real. I'm hopping off and on the estate agents sites, checking for garrets, train journey- planning, thinking and feeling very excited for him, and us. Although my mind is inviting me to imagine those familiar end of days when he arrives, gate creaking, dogs alerting me, somewhat differently: no creak or bark, just a glance at the calendar to remind myself when he will be visiting next, or when I will be visiting him in his garret to eat cabbage and potato soup - one of his specialities.