Sampo is the Queen of the Wendy House Orangerie. Here we see her surveying her Queendom, making sure the rug doesn’t escape and no unanticipated guests can sneak in through the new French doors. Sampo doesn’t trust those French doors.
scribbles tagged ‘darned French’
A last-minute trip arranged to Geneva, do I need Euros? No, Swiss Francs. Rumania and I couldn’t use my Euros, USA and I couldn’t use my Euro’s, now Switzerland and I can’t use my Euros. Grumble, grumble, currencies, exchange rates, coins and stuff. World, stop making my life complicated!
The hotel I stayed in, outside Geneva, was approved (recommended), by my employer. It was in France. Yay! I can use my Euro’s. I speak a little pigeon French, left over from a CSE French course in the mid 1970′s. To call my French ‘rusty’ is more than generous. I try, at the GVA airport information desk. The information person talks fluently and fast in French. My eyebrows raise and meet above my not insubstantial nose as I try to repeat my understanding of the tyrannical stream of words he’s just blown at me. It seems I’ve understood him about where to get a Taxi, how much it should cost and what I should have done to travel cheaply if I’d been shrewd like I should have been. I feel pathetic and inadequate. It shows, he smiles at me but doesn’t wander from his native French language.
The taxi driver spews French at me. I raise my eyebrows to join in the middle “Je ne parle Francais” He looks at me with pity and continues talking in French. The ride from GVA to the French town of Dionne-la-bain was smooth, comfortable, and silent. I suspect silent is not the natural way for this Taxi driver.
In the Hotel foyer a large, elegant, elderly British woman is talking in a very raised tone with a plummy accent. Wealthy lady. She’s hurling a range of dissatisfaction at the receptionist. I don’t really hear what she’s saying but I hear the very strong pain in her tone. After a while I can bear it no longer.
“Are you alright? You seem to be having some troubles here”
Her son comes up “let me deal with this” he hugs his mother who appears to ignore him but turns to me
“Yes, I don’t speak much French and this is my first trip to Switzerland, it’s quite overwhelming”
“My husband’s in Hospital, he’s dying…”
We’re near Switzerland, an English woman’s husband is in Hospital dying. I immediately think Euthanasia, and all the awfully difficult decisions and actions that lead to that pathway. No wonder she’s so upset, no wonder her adult son is with her. I wish the receptionist had the insight to treat her emotions and not the content of her words, she wasn’t really criticising him she was showing all the pain of having to fly her husband here to get a dignified death after what’s probably been a terribly painful illness. I wanted to hug her. I suspect she knew. With hindsight I wish I’d asked for her permission to give her a hug.
I thought of Dad and how lucky my family has been by not having to deal with a painful illness towards the end of his life.
French doors? According to internet gossip, the French have a reputation for not being very good at keeping out invaders and these doors have big windows so invaders can see what to steal and they are easy for burglars to open, not very secure.
The cool air from the Orangerie, in the winter, is drawn around the heavy drapes by the warm air from the wood burner rising up the stairs to the hayloft in the North wing (bedrooms). A draught. On cold winter days the drapes stay closed to trap the warmth in the main living space where I lurk like vampire afraid of daylight. This won’t do if Mum’s going to be visiting this winter. Costing on ugly UPVC doors were all rather expensive, especially given how ugly they are. I found a carpenter and briefed him with
‘simple, plain design consistent with Victorian period. Wrought iron hinges and door furniture, bevelled edge glass, that’s the one fancy thing I want’
His sketch captured the ethos well. True to French insecurity, no locks on these internal doors. It took a week for the carpenter to make the doors and 2 days full of sawdust to install them. It took me a day to put two coats of varnish on them and a day to buy new Voiles and hang them without the use of the irritatingly ineffective superglue and rod solution that the last owners of the Orangerie had installed.
The droughts have been subdued with a beautiful work of art. Daylight has found the front room in winter. Mum can visit.
French Speaking Montréal Native (FSMN): Do you know Montréal?
Wendy: I’ve never visited, but a friend from there spoke of it fondly and frequently, I suspect it’s beautiful
FSMN: was she a French speaker
Wendy: He was born and lived in France for the first 12 years of his life, and spoke French as his first language
I found Albert Camus’s ‘The outsider” profoundly disturbing. In just under 115 pages it moves the reader from a funeral through a killing to legal conviction and sentencing with straightforward and gripping prose. The protagonist appears to lack pretention. He lives with an uncomplicated world view, within a world that requires he play a role, demostrates conformity to social complexity.
Recommended for people that find human behaviour fascinating at both human and societal levels.
4 smiles: :) Ratings explained
‘The Outsider’ appears to be one of those books that teenagers are encouraged to study – there are plenty of reviews online. Somehow my teenage self missed this book, making do with ‘The catcher in the rye’, ‘To kill a mockingbird‘ and slighly later with ‘On the road‘
I found the book disturbing because it was so easy to identify with the protagonist, to be him. To feel his pleasure, pain, passage of time and the way others criticise any lack of socially acceptable expression of strong emotions.
I picked up my copy from Reading town’s Oxfam, this 2nd hand copy came littered with the study notes of someone who read the book in a radically different way from me. I found the notes almost as disturbing as the book itself. The notes accuse the protagonist of being unemotional, unfeeling. Yet I read him as experiencing a wide range of normal feelings described in short sentences, using very physical descriptions.
The TV is brimming with commercials for perfume occassinaly pausing for a Drama show, Quiz show or the chat show that hangs on to the old school branding of ‘the news’. The commercials all seem to contain
- artistic images
- scantily dressed young heathy people
- shadows and strong directional lighting
- swathes of chiffon
- kissing and caresses
- last scene including a bottle or a few spoken words, normally the name of the perfume spoken in a French accent
I’m looking forward to when someone innovative and brave steps away from the formula. Lets see some wrinklies wielding power-tools in a well lit garden shed.
‘Eaue de Woodshed‘ bought to you by the gardner and Black and Decker.
Hoorah, I’d consider dousing my skin in that!
wendy: I first fell in love with Nyman’s music in 1983 when I saw the Draughtsman contract
mumsie: I remember, you’ve been playing Nyman’s music to me ever since
As we talk I realise how each time I purchased a Michael Nyman album I would bring it to mum and dads then play it to mumsie, insisting that she listened. I remember her continuing to do the laundry, prepare dinner, vacuum the house, never seeming to take time out to focus on just listening.
Now, watching the Bournmouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) perform pieces that I’d only previously heard. I noticed new things; how the lead Violin spoke to the lead Viola in Trysting fields, how the voices of different instruments came from different places. Listneing to music in the car, the instruments seem to be disembodied, the have no place to come from.
After the tuba’s and french horns had made some floor rocking contributions to ‘a watery death’:
mumsie: he does like his brass
wendy: which one is the Cor anglais?
mumsie: next to the Oboe’s, the tall thing that loops to the floor and back
Mumsie was pleased to recognise all the pieces. The closing scheduled piece, Memorial, was Nyman’s tribute to the victims of the 1985 Heysel stadium disaster. They decided to add a lightweight encore before letting us loose on the watery night streets of Bristol. Mum was pleased, evidently the BSO don’t normally do encores.
Michael Nyman wrote ‘Departure‘
I hate French men, they’re all animals
Spoken by anyone other than Jane this might not have seemed so suprising. Jane adored France. Studying business studies in French, recently returned from a year’s work experience in Paris. I listened, hoping my silence would draw out answers to the whirlwind of questions running through my mind.
Jane is one of the most beautiful young girls I know, palest china skin, amber glowing eyes, natural ring-curls, high cheekbones and a ski-jump nose. Even in this anger she maintailed a doll-like beauty. Our silence continued. Jane clearly had something to say about French men, but didn’t know how to continue
Do you want to talk about it?
Tears fell. Even for the most skilled coordinating crying, breathing, nose-blowing and conversation, is a tricky operation. Jane was skilled. I listened.
I was raped
it wasn’t my fault
he was an animal
I didn’t report it
I’d invited him into my flat for a coffee
who’d believe the foriegn girl
french police are men too
they’re all animals
The only real suprise to me was her bounding this experience to focus on French men. Alas, she’ll learn that rape’s internationalised without me pointing it out.
they will be terminated,
only long trains from now on.
Those French are both assertive and sizist.
As a 14 year old I found this song really cheerful and bouncy. I still find it engagingly bouncy and will occassionally pogo around my front room and garden singing the chorus. The ability to sing repetitive lines, badly while bouncing in the privacy of my own home has always been important to me. It’s a fettish that my parents gladly indulged. They sniggered. Now the song features in a traditional ‘bread’ advertisement, prompting bouncing-breaks during advertsing breaks, unexpected bouncing is fabulous.
Plastic Bertrand sang ca plan pour moi
The British Psychology Society Research Digest includes many thought provoking and entertaining articles from all over the world. Sometimes it is difficult to work out if the articles are serious, tongue-in-cheek, or some-other-body-part connecting with some-other-body-part that should ultimately be censored (smirk).
For example, in a recent edition a French researcher wrote a thesis diagnosing Darth Vader with a mental disorder - Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Evidently this could explain why the film is popular with teenagers – a group where BPD is more prevalent than the rest of society. Surrupticiously implying that people with BPD will tend to like the film.
I’d like to make it thoroughly clear that despite any evidence to the contrary, I’ve always found the Star Wars films rather unengaging. Really, no, it’s true…. Mwa hahahahaha HA!
3pm. Somewhere near Didcot. 21st December
work colleague: leaving already?
wendy: it’s started snowing
work colleague: I didn’t think you were the nervous type, to leave so early.
Wendy: I’m not nervous, I’m sensible. Call me sensible wendy. I’ll call you when I get home safely.
Ha hahahahahaaaaaaa how sensible am I?
Once again Reading’s December Poet’s cafe offered the treat of the engaging Mr. Hegley.
Mr. Hegley manages varied and entertaining audience participation during his perfomance.
For one poem he found a member of the audience that was prepared to nominate another member of the audience to translate a poem from French. John would read each line and the audience member translated. For each line John would comment on the quality of the translation. Some of the French phrasing lent itself you English people making translational errors. The mistakes lead to some smile and laughter inducing imagery.
I giggled myself off the chair on several occassions,
Another form of participation involved the audience being given a line to sing on cue from John. For example, when he said ‘blah’ we had to say ‘mange’. I do like being able to take part.
During the evening’s events I learned many things including
- there are many, published, poets in Reading that regularly attended the poets cafe
- John’s head moves with agility through all sorts of angles, often quite dramatic.
- AFH’s fingers are prone to splaying and twirling
I wonder what bodily movement I should develop to enhance my (to-be-developed) poem delivery talents?
A small sign above an arch in Chepstow castle warns visitors of the back curvature required for navigating the doorways originally designed for the short people of medieval times, in this particular case, the French.
This display made me smile and envy the people who constructed it for the obvious fun in both conceiving of the idea and implementing it. Very creative and entertaining. Excellent job. I wonder what their christmas decorations will be like? I will certainly be returning to the Broad Street mall…
Today is the anniversary of a day when the darned Normans (French of viking origins) defeated the Anglo Saxon’s (English of German and Danish origins). The English were led by the recently elected (Witenagemot, Witan) Danish Saxon king of England, Harold Godwinson, the nick-namesake of one of our current princes, just outside a holiday resort called Hastings on the English south coast.
The invading Norman team were lead by William the bastard who had allegedly been promised the English throne by King Edward the confessor (Saxon). King Harry’s team had just hiked from York (241 miles, 386 kilometres) in a remarkable 4 – 7 days after fending-off an invasion by the Norwegian King Harald the hard who may have been promised the English throne by a Danish King Canute the hardy.
The basic plot is that William the bastards’ team kills most of Harry Godwinson’s team.
William the bastard, Duke of Normandy, became William I of England, namesake of the current heir to the English throne, 2nd in line. Most histories subsequently refer to William the bastard fellow as ‘William the Conqueror’ or ‘Guillaume le ConquÃ©rant’ . Apparantly Londoners don’t acknowledge or use the ‘conqueror’ part of his rather convincing political spin, they politely refer to him as William Duke of Normandy.
William’s arrival appears to have marked the end of the system of elected monarchy in England, though the Witan remained in name their role changed to that of the Norman feudally based system where membership was based on gifts of land originating from the King, effectively a King’s court, this system later evolved into the current Parliment.
On a linguistic note, according to Jonathan Stern:
Anglo-Saxon and Norman French wouldn’t agree what gender some noun or other was… so they’d just forget about it and call it “it”.This has created a very flexible language (once referred to as “a lot of foreign words mispronounced”) which often has two subtly different words for things (e.g. compare our “come” and “arrive” with the German “kommen” and the French “arriver” – remember Anglo-Saxon would have been very like German; Norman French was closely related to Parisian French).
According to a Westminster tour guide and the world wide words website:
Our parliament comes from the old French parlement, which at first meant only a â€œtalk, consultation, conferenceâ€ (it derives from the same French word parler, â€œto speakâ€ as parlance, parley and parlour, the last of which, etymologically, is a â€œroom set aside for conversationâ€). Later parlement evolved to the sense â€œformal consultative bodyâ€ and so to â€œlegislative bodyâ€.
Now that was interesting, wasn’t it?
The US the tax year runs from January 1st to December 31st. The UK Tax, fiscal, year runs from April 6th to April 5th based on 18th Century ‘quarter days’ when servants were traditionally hired and ‘rent’ was gathered from the predominantly non-home-owning population and, of course, the introduction of Tax to support the Napoleonic wars. Those darned French. The UK corporate financial year runs from April 1st to March 31st, something to do with not loosing money when the Gregorian calendar was introduced.
Do not destroy
The P60 helpfully announces this instruction in bold type on its authority-imbued graduated pinkness.
I’m currently somewhere in Cambridgeshire dressed as a 1940′s French Cabaret artiste pretending to be at a dinner party in Casablanca while trying to work out which of the other guests, or me, murdered someone.
I’ll probably need some character witnesses so vouch for me, if you see me.
The people pictured on this sign on a bridge over the river Kennet do not look altogether happy about Reading gas company. I wonder who they are meant to be? Maybe it is King Henry I who founded the Reading Abbey in 1121 and was subsequently buried there before its completion. The Abbey was built with stone from France and staffed by French monks from Cluny. Maybe the chap in the crown is king Henry VIII who was responsibly for dissolving the Abbey and martyring the last Abbot by the gruesomely messy method of ‘hung drawn and quartered’ for failing to swear an oath of allegiance to Henry VIII as the supreme leader of the church in England. Four of Henry VIII wives died (and 2 more a little later)*, maybe that’s who the four other people are and why they look so sad. Does anyone out there know?
*edited after AFH’s insightful comment
A new word.
It doesnt mean:
- an entrapreneur on intranets.
- an introverted entrapreneur.
- the space between more multiple entrepreneurs.
It is actually a contraction of ‘internal entrapreneur’ attributed to a 1983 UK PhD thesis. It’s possible I’ll explore the subtle distinction in meaning and its French origins later. Or possibly not.
People bought things as conversation pieces and talked about them and talked about sailing, fables. cuckoo clocks and the French. Urgghhhh, I realised 30 seconds before people other than LaCroix arrived, maybe the Bonzo Dog Doodah band wasn’t right musical accompanyment for an afternoon of tea and conversation with North Americans. LaCroix saved the afternoon…
Tea was consumed by the pot-load, green, white and a red (Rooibos, not really tea). Subtle (white) through to strong (Assam), with and without biscuits, dunkakable. I had a fabulous time. I must remember to ensure that my guest have a fabulous time too. Ooops. When the tea flows I’m accustomed to leaving enjoyment to fate…
Thankyou guestipoos, you know who you are, you were wonderful and frighteningly well turned-out too
Niece (teenage): “I HATE YOU”
Bros: “do you know how to say that in French?”
Niece: “Je tu deteste”
Bros: “shouldn’t that be Je vous deteste?”
Neice: “NO, you are tu and I hate you”
By this stage I’ve fallen off my chair giggling and started dribbling tea on my woolly jumper (It was cold in England). During my 4 day stay I managed to avoid my niece’s wrath without ducking or walking into any nearby walls.
Conversation in the currency exchange shop:
manager: are you a city fan?
Wendy: I’m a Pompey fan (sniggers)
manager: I don’t like Zidane
Wendy: he’s French
Algerian Customer: he’s Algerian, Like I’m Algerian, though I am an American citizen and I drive a Mercedes that’s my Mercedes there (points out of un-treated window)
The conversation rapidly went down hill from here on with the Manager admitting that he’d never heard of David Beckham and the Algerian describing how football (US = Soccer) had changed his life. Meanwhile I swapped my US Dollars for English, not Scottish, pounds and compared the design properties of the 5 and 20 denominations:
- irrespective of the denomination US dollars are all the same size. There is no way for a blind person to distinguish between denominations by touch alone. English notes are all unique sizes, smaller sizes = smaller values.
- US notes have the denomination displayed on all 4 corners, on both sides. This supports visual search to identify the amount. For something as commonly used as currency a single location should suffice because people will learn where to look. English pounds use the top 2 corners to print the amount.
- The English notes have a distinctive colour that marks the denomination. Above you can see that the £5 is green and the £20 is purple. US dollars appear to be all the same colours. People who cannot read the numbers on the notes (normally very short people) can learn the value of each note based on ints size and colour. This helps ensure the illiterate are not discriminated against when attempting to purchase something.
- The Queen’s image is on all English legal currency. US notes normally have a president (i.e. lots of elected men) here its Lincoln ($5) & Andrew Jackson($20).
- On the reverse side the English pounds are culturally significant contributors; Elizabeth Fry ( £5) with some dudes and girls doing good deeds, Edward Elgar ( £20) with Worcester Cathedral and St. Cecilia. The US dollar reverse sides show presidential related buildings; the Lincoln Memorial ($5) and the White House ($20).
- The US notes have the phrase “In God We Trust” on the back. English notes do not mention the relationship to the State recognised God.
- Clear oval area for viewing the intricate water mark (oval area with no print) and silver threaded through the English notes.
NPR reports on how the US Embassy decides not to pay the London congestions charges. The report is rather disappointing because it focuses on Ken Livingstone’s expressive style, essentially criticising Ken, rather than the fundamental issue of whether the US Embassy should be exempt from paying the London congestion charges.
More recently, the New York Times reports on the French Embassy’s announcement of not paying the congestion charges now that the congestion zone has been extended to include their embassies base. The report includes userful information pertinent to the basic principles at stake here though does not focus the article whether or not Diplomats should be exempt from paying the charges
The charge for a vehicle entering the center of London during weekday business hours is roughly $15 a day, and it has inspired some other European capitals, notably Stockholm, to follow suit. While European officials say that roughly half of the European Union’s 25 members are refusing to pay the charge in London, Sweden is not among the rebels….
…Ken Livingstone, announced a plan to cut bus and tram fares by half for about 250,000 people who live on welfare…
…According to Transport for London, the official body running the cityâ€™s transit system, the American embassy owes more than $1.95 million in unpaid congestion charges and fines already…. …â€œThose embassies that flout the law of this country and misuse diplomatic immunity to avoid the charge are enjoying the benefits of reduced congestion but contributing nothing,â€ Transport for London said in a statement.
My impression is that this toll is imposed as part of a set of measures to improve the experience of travelling in inner city London. A praiseworthy social goal. It is accompanied by other actions to improve the public transport system. I do not see why foreign Diplomats should be exempt from paying tolls that improve the environment within which they are based. I pay for the services that I use while I live in America, Diplomats should pay for the services they use while living abroad.
Am I missing something here?
The Daily Telegraph reports that an:
“English secretary is bringing a test case under French labour law after allegedly being sacked for bringing her employers into disrepute by writing a… …blog describing her everyday life…
…Her blog postings… …do not reveal her own name…. …..and have never identified her employers*…. …..she made herself and therefore the firm identifiable by including her own photograph** on the weblog“
ce n’est pas de ja vu
- *my employer is the absolute dogs bollocks.
- **any similarity to me in photographs on, or linked from, this blog is purely coincidental.
Paranoid? Moi? Non! I normally walk this way due to an old injury sustained by falling off a bar-stool during a fit of impudently unanounced giggles and several pints of pre-planned Marston’s Pedigree.
The BBC debunks barbering. The full article is worth reading. Here I’ve pulled extracts that provide an insight into why Christian Ohio male teachers might be considered of ill repute if they attended a barber:
“Hair, it seems, had been a very important social and religious issue throughout all of the history of mankind, especially since many ancient superstitions revolved around it… …In 1308, the worldâ€™s oldest barber organisation, still known in London as the â€œWorshipful Company of Barbersâ€ was founded… …By the end of the 18th century, most barbers had given up their rights to perform surgery, except in small towns where surgeons were not available. They lost their status and became labourers, fashioning wigs in the 18th and 19th century, and their shops became shady hangouts… …the art of barbering was revived in 1893 when A. B. Moler established a school for barbers in Chicago. Several years before, in 1886, the Barbersâ€™ Protective Union had been founded in Columbus, Ohio, which eventually became Journeymen Barber’s International on December 5, 1887. In 1897, the State of Minnesota passed the legislation for a barber licence.“
In the 1970′s the English barber shops were still supplying their customers with “A little something for the weekend“. Their exclussively male clients could avoid the embarressment of going into a chemist* to ask for ‘french letters’ over the counter where the shop assisstant might be neither male nor discrete and other customers may overhear the request. That’s very embaressing. Barbers are discrete and approving of your opportunity to use the french letters. How do I know this? Let’s just say ‘word of mouth’
* Chemist (UK) = Drugstore (US)
The Doomsday book, a survey of England completed in 1086, is one of those historical artifacts that every English schoolchild learns about, part of a sense of cultural identity, like the date 1066 when the french fellow “William the Conqueror’ successfully invaded and commissioned it to work out what he could TAX. As of today the Doomsday book is available online. For the English the term “doomsday” has become synonymous with a thorough and detailed ‘Directory”, as illustrated by the online Dalek Doomsday book.
This passport is a replacement for a passport ‘Declared LOST’, urgh. I anticipate delays and humiliation at US immigration. My new 10yr UK passport ID page has this special warning printed on the back:
Pretty illustrations of different birds on each page and dual language (English and French) almost make up for the likely extra detailed questioning when trying to get back into the US. Sigh.
Inbetween watching world cup soccer I am
- washing floors
- scrubbing ‘restrooms’,
- de-fluffing the fluffballs
- writing my annual work performance review
- drinking enough tea to sink a large, ill-tempered, French goat.
- staying away from people I might impulsively bite (because it’s THAT time of the month)
Anyone want to swap places for the weekend?