I apologise that so much of my inspiration comes from France and I have to give links to French newspapers. This is an interesting problem.
A homeless man, though it turns out that he does have a roof over his head, has been begging on the streets of Nice accompanied by a Jack Russell puppy. This little dog has now been taken from him by an animal welfare charity. Local businesses have drafted a petition to have the dog returned to the man.
It turns out that, although a kind waiter brings the man food and the dog always gets some, French cuisine does not always agree with canine tummies. This beggar has already had animals removed from his care. Personally when I see beggars anywhere accompanied by cats and dogs, my first instinct is to cut the leads and make off with the animals. A friend of our daughter kindheartedly bought some food for the dog in one instance and needless to say got a mouthful of abuse by way of thanks. Presumably you don’t get much by way of drink or drugs in exchange for a tin of Whiskas
Personally I think the local businesses in this corner of Nice are wrong. The beggar lost his wife and daughter in a fire, it is reported, but no one put a collar and lead on him and made him sit all day on the pavement.
Hello all, as you may have noticed I have been away more-or-less continually since February.
It was an odd time. I spent a total of 3 weeks during the last three months at home, the rest being spent travelling backwards and forwards to Nuneaton, where my parents used to live.
Mum and Dad went into hospital on the same day. Mum came home after a few days and was attended by care workers four times a day. Dad remained in for six weeks after a fall which hurt his back. He was medically fit, but couldn’t walk for some reason that they didn’t really understand. Before Dad came out of hospital Mum was back in with kidney and heart failure. I held her hand for two weeks until she finally lost the battle on 18th April. Dad went into a care home two days before she died. He was medically fit but not able to walk except very short distances with a frame. After he understood that Mum was gone, he turned his body off. It was as if a switch was thrown and he died on 22nd May.
Why am I telling you all his? Well, I am not looking for sympathy, and am certainly not wishing to make anyone sad with such news. I would like to tell you what I have learned from the recent events.
Firstly, I had a very good relationship with my Dad and we were very close. I was the ‘chip off the old block’. We understood each other. Conversely, my connection to Mum was not so good. We were very different characters and never seemed to get close all through my life. I had expected that I would have very little emotion on her death, whereas would find it hard to deal with the loss of Dad. Well, the opposite happened. I was good for nothing immediately following Mum’s death, whereas I took Dad’s with very little emotion or sadness. Is this because of our past relationships working the opposite to what I would have imagined or is it simply that Dad wanted to die as he had lost his life partner, therefore it is difficult to be upset when it was his wish?
The second thing I learned is the power of the mind. Mum’s body and organs were in a severely ill condition for the last two months of her life. Even the doctors told me two weeks before she died that she only had a few hours left. But despite the terrible condition she hung on, never complained and always gave us a weak smile. She fought until the very last breath, against all the odds. Dad was medically fit when she died, but after 66 years of marriage had no wish to carry on alone. He closed his eyes, shut out the world and managed to destroy his body in one month, such that he died quickly. The contrast between their ends was controlled more by their will to live or die, than by their medical condition.
Despite the loss of my parents in such a short time I really can marvel at what I have seen and learned from them recently.
I’ve just seen an advert for a rerun of a Rebus episode tomorrow night with, it said, either John Hannah or Ken Stott. For me Ken Stott is Rebus and that’s that. Similarly Sean Connery is the only James Bond for me, and Ioan Gruffud is the only Hornblower (sorry, Gregory Peck). To go even farther back in my viewing I consider Rupert Davies as my only Maigret with Ewen Solon as Lucas. Apologies to Michael Gambon, but there it is.
Do other Charioteers have their “only” actors to play certain roles?
There’s an article in Nice Matin this morning about an Antibes artist who uses charcoal to decorate local walls and trees. He seems to confine himself to the narrow streets of the old part of the Cité des Remparts, as Antibes is often called at least by the press. It still possesses a fair part of its old defensive walls overlooking the sea. As you can see the back streets of old Antibes rather give the lie to the reputation of Riviera glamour.
There are penalties for graffitti “artists” in France if they are caught. This artist would face them. Yet his work, as he points out, does no harm to surfaces and washes away in the rain. This is not the case with the mindless “tags” applied with spray paint on buildings and trains by those who are basically writing “Achmed woz ‘ere” and not creating a thing of beauty but just delineating their gang’s territory.
I think that if this charcoal artist is ever caught, he should not face the same penalty as spray paint vandals. In fact if I were to find his work on our front wall when we go back in a few weeks, I would feel quite honoured. Surely this is a case where the law should not be applied equally.
While it is often said that there is never any good news to be read in the press, I think that yesterday and today have been pretty satisfactory.
Yesterday we had Merkel and Hollande announcing their latest scheme to show who rules the EU roost by putting forward a plan to make corporation tax the same throughout the EU. There are more member states than the UK who would object to this, particularly Luxemburg, the homeland of that useless president of the EU commission, and Ireland, which recently discovered through the IMF just how it had been bullied into austerity to save the euro. ( I did like John Redwood’s definition of euro as European Unemployment and Recession Organisation as well.) But the dreadful duo’s announcement should show Cameron that we might as well get out of the EU now. Referendum next week and stop the cheques today! I can understand Hollande’s desire to reduce every other member state’s competitiveness to France’s level, but not why Merkel bothers with him. Perhaps he’s mastered saying “Jawohl meine Führerin” nicely.
Today’s pleasing headline concerned the dawn raid by the Swiss police on the Baur au Lac, one of Zurich’s most prestigious hotels, to arrest half a dozen FIFA officials, allegedly corrupt. Whether they were dragged out in their pyjamas was not reported. Said pyjamas are probably of silk lined with hundred dollar bills (to misquote P G Wodehouse).
The news about the dire financial straits of the Cat Rescue Society in Menton was less pleasing, but I can’t have everything.
It would be very helpful if in the case of novels ( and perhaps some other types of book) you provided a dramatis persomae.
Also perhaps in the index a synopsis of each chapter.
Older publications often provided these and they are very helpful to those of us who are doing other things and returning occasionally to the book.
And one more thing. Travel Books !! How about some decent maps ? Rather than the pathetic line drawings normally provided.
Actually travel books aren’t the only culprits in the map department. Field Marshall Slim’s book ‘Defeat into Victory’ suffers badly from not having comprehensive maps particularly now that many of the places named have been changed after Burmese independence.
So the Swedes win Eurovision again. It only took them two years! I am pleased that Australia did well and has shown interest in competing again. My personal favourite entry, Norway, also did well at 8th place. Meanwhile, the Huns and their neighbours, the Austrian Huns, have competed with each other for null points saving the United Kingdom from bottom place again. You are welcome. Next year, watch out for China competing. In the process, could they please colonise Hunland? I’m sure they couldn’t run the place into the ground any more than the present lot!
Not many entries but thank you to James Leck, Janus and Christopher for your varied and excellent photographs.
I liked them all, the Danish coast, converted car-ports and Belfast but I think the winner is Mr Leck for his excellent photograph of Brittany Shadows, but I admit I do love boats.
Now if James would please just judge the poetry competition he can then set the next photography challenge.
Over to you, Lecky!
Have just returned from a fortnight sailing on the West Coast of Scotland during which we transited in both directions the Crinan and Caledonian Canals having missed (due to Skipper incompetence ) a weather window to sail around the Mull of Kintyre.
On the plus side the scenery as ever was fantastic and the Scots natives were (with one or two exceptions ) on their best behaviour and on balance I’m glad I went.
Downsides…boat falling apart…damp quarters…..skipper incompetent every manoeuvre a drama which can get pretty exhausting when you’re transiting a flight of locks or reefing a sail in a gale. ( inadvertent rhyme ?).
My Helly Hansen sailing gear wasn’t up to the conditions and on a brainwave i went to the Fishermen’s Chandlery at Oban and bought fisherman’s waterproof trousers and jacket for less than half the price of yer actual fashionable yachty stuff. It was a bit heavy duty but I stayed dry. Another bit of kit which turned up trumps were my crocs which turned out to be fantastic deck shoes totally (as far as I could see) non slip…..miles better than expensive deck shoes… and they float if you drop one into the water. All in all I was the driest if least fashionable crew member.
Apparently it doesn’t matter if you’re wet and cold as long as you look good.
One random observation. The ablutions on the canal were clean and well heated with plenty of hot water but they haven’t discovered mixer taps yet….note to Ms Sturgeon.