Le Premiẻr Sculpture
Selon Pline l’Ancien, le premiẻr sculpture vient de la fille du potier Butades de Sicyon. Elle entourna d’une ligne autour l’ombre du profil de a son amant projectėe sur le mŭr par la lumiẻre d’une lanterne. Le potier voyant cela appliquai de l’argile et l’esquisse en fit une relief qu’il mit durcir au feu.
The First Sculpture
According to Pliny the Elder, the daughter of the potter Butades of Sicyon drew an outline around the shadow of her lover’s profile which was projected on the wall by a lantern. Her father pressed clay on this, made a relief, and hardened it with fire.
Le Premier Faux Pas de la Histoire
Cain offered up to Jehovah ‘the fruits of the earth’, and Abel ‘the firstlings of his flock’.
‘And the Lord had respect unto Abel’s offering’. The carnivore was preferred to the vegetarian, thus getting history off to a bloody start.
Count Vittorio Alfieri ‘Mes Tragėdies’ (1800)
‘The Scholars criticise my spelling and scansion, the Men of the World, my plots and characters, the Ladies, the conduct of the passions, and the Bumpkins groan and contort. I don’t hold their interest.’
Seamus Heaney died on the 30 August, the feast day of St Fiacre, an Irish missionary venerated in France as the patron saint of market gardens.
Baudelaire’s poem ‘L’ennemi’ comes to mind:
Et qu’il faut employer la pelle et les rãteaux
Pour rassembler à neuf les terres inondēes…
And I must employ the rake and the spade
to reclaim and cultivate the flooded land.
I shyly offer it as Seamus’s epitaph.
Ulysses par James Joyce: Un Correction
‘Il est Irlandais. Hollandais? Non fromage. Deux Irlandais, nous, Irlande, vous savez? Ah oui! She thought you wanted a cheese hollandais.’
In a Paris café Kevin Egan and his drinking companion are at cross-purposes with the waitress. She thinks he’s ordering Dutch cheese when he’s declaring his nationality. But it couldn’t be hollandais that causes the mishearing. It is néerlandais, Netherlands. So near and so far.
‘Pas Faire un Fromage de’ may be a familiar phrase in French for ‘no big deal’. But the joke is spoiled with a sottise. Joycean scholars please note.
He’s too obviously a rogue for it to be a cover, which precisely why it is.
Rompre le Sortilėge
When you find yourself sucked into someone else’s fantasy, the only way to break the spell is to get real.
Logement Insolite (Rouen)
A homeless man found the corps of a woman (65) in the forest. She had a purse with keys and an address on her person. He carried her home, and lived with her for three weeks.
Zizanie a Perpignon
Jean Bastouill (83), un ancien combattant, shot dead with a hunting gun his son-in-law, Dr Messmer, a hospital boss. Interrogated, he accused the good doctor of poisoning his daughter, and installing a mistress in the farm he thus inherited. She had died of a heart attack after an injection administered by Messmer. The week before he had ordered a massive supply of lethal drugs from the hospital pharmacy ‘to kill his dog’. The case continues…
The guest complained of the smell in the apartment, and explained in ecological detail how to get rid of it. When he parted it disappeared.
I chased the mouse into a cupboard, and locked it. After a half-hour the battling to escape ceased. The death of small things weighs heavily.
Contre le cafard
J’ai replacer tout les ampoules mort dans la maison.
I replace all the dead light bulbs in the house.
President Pays Bas
Holland declared he wouldn’t put himself forward for a second term unless
unemployment fell. The only way to reverse the trend is to invest in emploi fictive, a policy not unknown to Sarkozy’s friends.
Pas de Pub
Sarkozy renamed the UMP party the Les Republicains. A leaflet campaign announced it. I have started a counter campaign putting stickers on post boxes: Pas de RePub.
Le Guerre Limitė
There are soldiers who kill themselves to kill others and, on the other hand, armies that work by remote control with drones, and a low dead body count. I wonder who will win?
There are five million orphans in Iraq. The boys are called Tony and the girls Cherie.
The supposed terrorist drone photographed over the Jewish school in Toulouse turned out to be a spider.
Mayor Menard of Bėziers, Front National
Now that the police municipals are armed parking spaces are no longer safe.
Le Choc National is a bit hypocritical
in the country that invented the guillotine
Histoire est Merde
On the monument to the Retirada in Argeles plage I tagged ‘Up The Republic’, and then realised that Spain is a monarchy.
Faire de la Course
A National Front activist has been expelled from the Party for dosing
his candidate’s aperitif with a laxative.
Allons les enfants de la gloire
Don’t ever forget, Marechal Petain deported nearly a million undesirables to the concentration camps. Now France have a Euro deputy Marion Marechal-Le Pen and a street in Bėziers called after him.
Vel’Hiver July 1942
A circuit made for bicycles,
with its slopes for speed and spills,
was filled with people, families
wearing their winter clothes. The tills
were manned by gendarmes in suits,
and to give the Nazi salute
the walls straightened up, and so let
the sides reform a wall of death.
Le plus ca change
Four years after the spring revolution in Tunisia an ex-Prime Minister of Ben Ali is elected president. He is two years short of ninety.
After three days of rain a black ugly bear carpet hangs from the washing line. The roof leaks.
The seventy-thousand lifts in Japan are fitted with potable water and a portable toilet.
It is estimated that in the event of an earthquake seventeen-thousand people could be trapped.
Crash d’A320, Haute Alpes, 2015
Lufthana boss said that the suicide pilot Andreas Lubitz had passed all the health tests ‘with flying colours’.
Se Chevaucher Rebours
Pascal wondered if Montaigne’s indulgence towards his dog and lower animals would extend to letting his horse ride him home.
The answer was yes, and it nearly cost him his life.
Edward Thomas’s psychiatrist was the Jungian father of Bridget Baynes who was the wife of Brian Coffey. Thus wedding on the couch one of the few Irish Moderists with the truest of the Edwardian poets. Had Thomas survived the war no doubt they would have had a conversation. I think his later work would have been closer to the Objectivists than the Formalists. The Frost in him would have thawed.
The Literary Clochard
Today he was crouched outside the tobacco shop. Realising I had no ready money I added a Mars bar my card purchase. I gave it to him so I could ask what he was reading. Le Tour de monde en quatre-vingt jours by Jules Vernes. ‘Are you planning a journey?’, I said. ‘No, I’m just back.'
Le vrai Chopin
My sister Ita was a pupil of my godmother, Lily Huban, who was a pupil of Alfred Cortot, who was a pupil of Emile Descombes, who was a pupil of Chopin.