Monday, 31 December 2007

The Unity

The marvellous thing about early morning rises is the chance to be abreast of world events and much, much more.

The 3am scream from the boy is nothing new. Neither is the game of musical rooms and beds.

Surprisingly I couldn’t get back to sleep. So from my cushion complex comfort zone on the floor, I listened into BBC World Service.

After a few hours of that I thought it best to start on the day, my birthday.

By the time everyone was up at about 9.15, I had views on the debacle in Pakistan in the wake of the Bhutto assassination and the allegedly rigged polls in Kenya. I’d also absorbed a feature on the ineffectiveness of New Year’s resolutions.

And through surfing the internet I’d managed to find some help on converting tracks from my Itunes library into an MP3 format so they could be transferred onto the MP3 player I’d acquired for my eldest.

I followed the instructions and deposited the 30-odd songs selected by the eight-year old.

What a hip cat.

But as one of the World Service programmes was suggesting the internet and interactivity is changing the rules of modern journalism.

People are blogging. Really?

By the time I’d laid on breakfast for the brood the only thing to do was to retire to bed but then the boy decided to join me and I guess I was back to square one.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

The Rethink

I should really be writing this in a cafe in St Germain. But I'm not. I'm in central London.

But the thrust remains the same. I'm looking at the essence of the blog.

Having been allowed to take unpaid leave of absence from my work in London, I'll no longer be travelling between Paris and London on a weekly basis.

I'll be staying in Paris. The reasons for this are quite simple. I'm going to tend the flock while my partner goes to Argentina to work.

The only way to take advantage of a chance like this is for me to take time away. We're not entirely sure when she's going but at least when the moment arrives I'll be prepared.

For a while www. won't be an address that accurately portrays the whirligig that I call my life.

Fortunately paul's chateaudeau at least covers me in terms of the Trade Descriptions Act.

And that's important because you need trust. Especially nowadays with social breakdown occurring all around us and our leaders bereft of ideas.

Hang on. The year in review comes in a couple of days. We're still supposed to be full of Christmas cheer.

Friday, 14 December 2007

The Letter

I received a missive today from the Eurostar chief executive, Richard Brown. The idea, it says, is to keep me informed about all the latest developments.

Since the super fast tracks opened, punctuality is at 93.9%. I have to say I don't know if this is better than before since no information is given to me.

So let's assume that 93.9% is better than it ever was. Wow. Good stuff.

There's another part of me which says about time too. Britain joins up with the rest of Europe which has been whirling around in high speed luxury for a while.

The letter then comes onto the thorny subject of the lounge which should have opened a few weeks ago but which has had an array of teething problems as I discovered a few weeks back.

During the reconfiguration we've got an ersatz lounge in the departure hall. This is cordoned off by dark velours curtains and within the domain we've got most of the creature comforts the old lounge at Waterloo had.

I dare say when the St Pancras one is finally revealed to us it will be spectacular. The rest of the station is, if a tad belittling.

Mr Brown says he'll inform us of the opening of the lounge.

I find lots wrong with the new station but I can't fault the PR offensive. It's as slick as the high speed line.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

The Kick Inside

Needless to say a semblance of national footballing pride has been restored with Lyon's 3-0 victory at Rangers.

L'Equipe was lyrical on Thursday morning and slapped a picture of Karim Benzema (Lyon's teenage two goal hero) over its front page under the headline: Un pur bonheur.

Well, we all know the similarities between football and sex. And I'm not about to descend into that realm.

The kickabout with Simon on Wednesday night was just what the doctor ordered. In fact just as we left I said it was akin to being really young again. An impromptu game of football with a couple of mates over the common.

As Simon is coming back from six months out with a knee injury, it was a light workout passing the ball with another bloke called Patrick.

To cite one from the array of self-affirming cliches ... restoring confidence ahead of sterner tests ahead.

Simon's wife had an article published in the New York Times today and it seemed linked with the ethos of getting back on the bike.

It's good to know that the state is keen for this kind of re-training. But with the teachers getting ugly and willing to strike over the sizes of classes and working conditions, there's clearly a need to concentrate on what happens before we get round to perpetuating the species.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

The Downsize

The advice after falling off a bike is to get back on straight away.

So after the 10-1 thrashing last Saturday morning, the offer to go and play 5-a-side with Simon's team just seems too good. Even if I don't have the appropriate footwear.

After all I don't want to be frightened the next time I go on a pitch for a competitive game. I watched the Marseille v Liverpool slaughter on TV last night.

It was horrible. Horrible. The Marseille boys seemed stricken. Stevie G roused his international Scousers and the rest was slaughter.

Good for them. The main sports paper L'équipe described Marseille's destruction as La Lune dans le caniveau ...the moon in the gutter......I knew this phrase as it was the title of the second film of Jean-Jacques Beineix who shot to fame back in the early 80s with Diva.

During my term at the British Institute in Paris I did a project on Beineix from his time in advertising, via shorts to his feature films.

Le cinéma du look and its flashy abstractions.

Anyway that was long before Beineix was anywhere near Betty Blue and the uberpout that was Béatrice Dalle.

Wednesday's L'équipe has naturally turned it's attention to the Rangers v Lyon match at Ibrox. Lyon need to win to progress to the last 16. Rangers merely need a draw.

I'm going to go and see the second half with Neil over at the usual pub near Chatelet.

That's providing I can literally get on my bike after the 5-a-side kickabout.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

The Slaughter

I always get a bad feeling when the opposing team do their warm-up routines across the pitch in a synchronised phalanx.

After all this is supposed to be Saturday morning jollies, not testosterone-fuelled combat.

But when they stripped off their identical tracksuits to reveal their names on their football shirts, the feeling got worse.

When I saw Tito 13, I felt relieved that I was only going to play in the second half.

By the time I spotted Kaiser 9, I was starting to hope that the niggling hamstring might snap me out of having to take part altogether.

I watched from the touchline and it was an even opening 10 mintues. But AS Cheminots scored two quick goals. Even though we pulled one back they increased their advantage soon after and nothing else happened to stem the tide.

I wished that we could have played them three weeks earlier when the cheminots (railway workers) were all on strike and holding the country to ransom.

Perhaps they would have forfeited the game. It seemed that the lay off from actual work had reinvigorated their team and now they were expending their pent up energy on dismantling newly promoted sides.

To use a cliche. We were given a footballing lesson. When I went on in the second-half I started up front but was drafted back into midfield to stem the tide.

But by that time they'd taken their foot off the pedal. It was 9 or 10-1 at the end.

The dressing room was actually quite ebullient after the defeat. Everyone realised that the opposition was just better on all fronts.

The railway workers are planning another round of industrial action starting on December 12. I'm hoping it's going to drag on.

We play AS Cheminots at their place in early January.


Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The Director's Cut

I felt as if I'd been granted a reprieve. Blade Runner — the way the director really wanted it all those years ago — hadn't disappeared from the screen at the Renoir Cinema in Russell Square. So I went to see it.

The last time I saw the film was on the giant screen at La Villette in Paris during the open air summer shows there. That was so long ago I can't remember.

It was altogether cosier in the Renoir on Monday night. But as the credits rolled and I saw the names such as Rutger Hauer and Sean Young, I wondered what had become of them since their halcyon days of 1982.

Daryl Hannah is now a big eco campaigner. I know that as she was featured in one of the British Sunday papers last weekend. Harrison Ford is simply big and Ridley Scott is massive. Indeed the Renoir's programmers can congratulate themselves on harmony. They have Scott's latest work — American Gangster — also showing.

About half way through I began to ask myself why I was sitting there. I don't have the same forensic knowledge of Blade Runner like I do of Star Wars (Episodes 4,5,6) so any extra, extended or deleted scenes would have been lost on me.

I don't even have any of the compromise cuts on DVD. Was I just succumbing to hype?

Well it was entertaining so why not. There's nothing wrong with such intellectual feebleness. This allowed me to take in the Louise Bourgeois at the Tate Modern on Tuesday morning.

This is a big show. Call it a retrospective even. She's 96 and still going strong, experimenting with forms and ideas.

There were so many shapes and concepts to admire but the most salient for me was an etching in ink and pencil from this year entitled: Where my motivation comes from.

And the etching states: "It is not so much where my motivation comes from but rather how it manages to survive."

Go girl.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The Lust for Life

I'm going to do my utmost to stay injury free because it might extend my life.

I missed Saturday morning's match. I felt I could have played but didn't feel I would have had that devastating turn of pace - so crucial in my angles running game.

As part of my rehabilitation for next week's game I cycled over to the radio station for a day of surveying international sports.

On Canal + Sports they were showing the English Premiership match between Chelsea and West Ham.

It made me angry. Chelsea got rid of Jose Mourinho because he was avowedly no frills. And what I saw on the box was a spectacularly workman like 1-0 victory over a defensively minded team.

I have no reason to return my support.

There was a mass of traffic on the roads in the evening to the point where I had about three close calls as the motorists failed to spot me as they tried to turn right and through the cycle path.

I'm not quite sure why the system is set up this way. Pedestrians are ushered across the road by the green man at the very same time that drivers are urged to turn right. The idea is that cars and motorbikes will give way to pedestrians.

What it often leads to is deluded flair merchants in the cars slaloming through the banks of pedestrians. Very bizarre behaviour.

After the third near catastrophe I realised that I don't usually cycle on a Saturday night during the winter because I'm invariably lugging a bag load of football kit and therefore on the metro.

Sitting out the game meant that there wasn't the agonised gait as I wended my way to the Gare du Nord this morning.

It was fluidity in comparison with last week.

On the Eurostar I finally got round to watching a documentary on Edwyn Collins. It was directed by Paul Tucker, a mate of mine from university, and charted Collins trying to recover his poise and bearing following a stroke two years ago.

It was extremely moving. The shots of all his guitars from his years of performing juxtaposed with him at the physiotherapist trying to unknot his right hand.

Playing the guitar with anything approaching his former aplomb is out of the question for the moment.

But his wife said working on the new album had rekindled is lust for life. He knows what's wrong and won't be told otherwise, she stressed.

"The great news is that you're back to being stubborn," she said to her husband. ... "The great news is he's back to being cussed ....awkward," she confided to the camera.


"Steady on," says he turning away. "Good God."

"So this is cause for celebration," she continues with a mischievous giggle.

It captured their dynamic of fight, tenderness and optimism.

Brilliant stuff.

Sets you up for the day.