Friday, 20 March 2009

Le Philosophe - Drageur

With the shutters firmly fastened closed, the philosophe drageur bends slightly to reach the lock of his small front door, and resplendent in his shiny black veste-en-cuir bought cheaply at the Thursday market, removes his brown stained hand rolled cigarette and coughs into his Ford Mondeo, starts the engine lets it warm before moving off and proceeds down the hill to his usual cotie of philosophical friends smoking and coughing over myriad empty cups stained by bitter black coffee.

They sit in the warm March early afternoon sunshine that has now peeked over the buildings opposite for the past two weeks. The air is still cold in the shade while around the small of the back remains cool but the sun is beginning its warming arc in earnest, and the vuarnets, the raybans, police and cheapo copies are being flicked open from the breast pockets and planted fully on the face, some even being allowed to slip easily from the slicked back dark hair where they have rested all winter.

He doesn't work. He collects his unemployment or odd jobs-noir when he has to, when the social cheques stop. His circle of older women, with the dried, stained, sagging skin of the chain smoker; not pretty but with needs, look after his; both liquide and physical. He is frugal. He distrusts. The business down the road past the traffic lights is a voleur! They charge lots to do what he can, but they train youngsters, they have premises to pay for and taxes and social charges to keep the less fortunate from being further unfortunate.

They will feed him, they will buy his coffee, and they will sleep with him because no one wants to sleep with them, and he has his uses. He can erect a table as well as himself, he can put up a shelf and mend their cars, and then for a short while he will mend their broken dreams and put an end to their own small sadnesses but continue his own...

Sometimes when the women are not at hand, he has a pretty young man call upon him, and often the shutters will close firmly and the house closes down, only for the young man to remove his foreign car away the following day.

He watched quietly as my young man son strode home in his homey gear one winter day, wrapped against the wind, heaving a pack of beer. In the dull dusky light of an end of January day, he did not see me standing in the doorway in the shadow of the overhanging roof. There was longing in his lined lustful face. Not all of which were filled by the tanned tone of the new men's range...

Down in the town the tactics change, the café on the flank shielded from attack by the winds from the north, provide the warm wall to laze against, and wonder when to start the interested interrogation of the pretty black bobbed girl; her sleeves drawn up to her shoulders to start her tanning early. All about are wrapped in coats and scarves, some are gloved and hatted against the cold wind whipping across the water of the lake below.

And later, much later, the sound of a motor car reversing back into the small parking bay below the balcony announces his return with a small plastic bag of groceries for one.

The philosphe-drageur returns to his loneliness. Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

England 34, France 10

I had predicted that this 6 Nations tournament would see England beating only Italy.

I was sure that Ireland and Wales would beat us as indeed they did. The scores suggested games closer than in truth they were, but now I'm beginning to think, well, maybe they were closer than I previously thought, but no, England playing Ireland were crap. Ireland were not at their inventive spoiling best and we should have had a scoreline that showed the real difference....

And then came France. They are a paradoxical team. I thought we would have our noses rubbed in the dirt and, living here in France, fully expected to be on the receiving end of a bit of friendly French leg pulling.

I didn't see it coming.

The neighbours must have heard our shouts and cries of glee, our loud table thumping cheers and the knock upon the door after 40 minutes was half hearted to say the least, when a French neighbour arrived with a bottle of red, and entered with his daughter to sit down and watch the 2eme mi-temps with us.

29 nil and half time...

The kitchen table was covered in empty stubby bottles of Grimbergen, Leffe blonde, Carlsberg and Fischer from the Alsace; the bowls of peanuts and chips were empty... the red wine poured, I was glad it wasn't my turn to cook Sunday dinner...we always dine, we rarely déjeune on a Sunday...

And the end came, with two tries gifted to the French... well no, that isn't strictly true either, they were well worked and consolatory but the end result said 34 -10.

I couldn't believe it. I still can't.

We now have to beat the Scots, and I doubt that Italy will beat the French; they will be on the rebound and pride is at stake... and Ireland ? Who knows? I just hope they stop the Welsh from playing their game and have the steadfastness of mind to hold on, control the game and win the Grand Slam. If they do, I'll buy a bottle of Paddy. I might even go out and buy Le Maillot Vert

Thursday, 12 March 2009

As Spring approaches....

As Spring approaches my thoughts have turned to the the tiny back garden and what to do with it... there is little room for anything other than a small patch of grass and some herbs... so between the two large rambling roses I thought I ought to put a statue or similar...

This gargoyle in a garden in Cheltenham inspires me.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Sunsets ...

Winter is clinging on and the snow continues to fall while the village is surrounded by thick cloud...

Not a lot of chance to get above the cloud and the wind swirls the flakes...

How I miss the sunsets of early winter's months.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Sublime Soups I Have Slurped


Black Beans,
Not crushed.


Monosodium Glutomate.

Wondeful... £ 5.70 Chinatown.

Mediocre Meals I Have Masticated

Slice of gristly dried beef roasted some days before;
Upon which sat, a dollop... of mayonnaise dolloped,
by spoon from factory made boite. Made for dolloping.

quivering lump of fatty veal in a lightbrown thick sauce
from a packet...squeezy mustard and haystack of chips
- salty thin and full of fat...

Processed cheese creamy and plastic in this
fromage fabriquant filled France...

Washed down with wine from vines throughout the
Eeee Youuu in a starneckedbottle -

Bitter coffee finishes the chocolate sickly flan...

€ 12,00

How I wish I had had some chillis instead....

Monday, 2 March 2009

England versus Ireland at Croke Park...

This is how I felt after England's poor playing against a committed Irish team even with an off-colour Ronan O'Gara missing his kicks at goal.

The horror.

I played rugby at school and college. I loved it. There was for me, no team sport like it. There still isn't. I did not join a club and play after my college days, but now wish I had.

Nevertheless I still love the game and wonder why football/soccer is called the beautiful game. Eleven men, one of whom stays in goal while the remainder split into two unequal units; eight or nine passing to one or two others for a moment of glory. I fail to see the "team" in that. But that is just me. Never liked it or played it, except when I had to at school... but my State school preferred rugby anyway.

Having watched various teams in England over the years, both on the telly, and at the grounds I have enjoyed seeing a running passing game, but somehow it all slows down when England play and the same men who don a white shirt adorned with a rose start to ruck and maul, and forget to run and pass and take risks, and score tries...

It is all very frustrating, and I don't know what to do about it.

I wish we could have played like France played on Friday evening against Wales....