Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Zen Interlude

The advert goes the future is bright, the future is Orange. I do have a mobile phone account with Orange. But it really isn't on the basis of their shop in Place de la République. Actually there you do get to taste the future because it takes at least 30 minutes to get served.

But that was the subject of a previous blog or was that a rant?

I sent off a voucher to get some kind of refund for buying an iphone. Still nothing back. Maybe it will come. If it doesn't I don't foresee a bright future with Orange.

My point? Went to yoga. Highly indulgent this. No football this Saturday so what was the motive? Sheer pleasure at pushing myself to the edge and being happy to bounce out at the end.

I do believe the gammy side is healed. I did some things that three weeks ago would have been impossible.

The moral of the tale is next time I go up for a header, don't.

Of course now I'll be conscious of my torso. Maybe I should look for some exercise that strengthen that so I will be super tough next time a goalkeeper tries to take a chunk out of me.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Cultured Club

I stood in the Basquiat exhibition at the Musee d'art moderne in Paris the other day looking at all the pretty pictures. Scribbled drawings and slashes of paint. References to a heritage and a present and it was all rather fascinating.

Thought about going to see the Gauguin at the Tate Modern in London on Monday but realised that Tate Modern and school half term did not really go hand in hand. So I have left that blockbuster for after the school holidays.

As I slouched onto the platform at St Pancras International this morning I looked out for the ICE. But it wasn't there. A couple of weeks ago it was being shown off ahead of the Deutsche Bahn service between London and Frankfurt that will make the German city accessible in only four hours.

Mein Gott.

I have very happy memories of Deutsche Bahn as I swept through Germany during the 2006 World Cup in its first class carriages. There was some month long ticket available on a special rate to journalists so I bought one and had a rail of a time.

That's a poor joke.

But with the new sleek ICE trains, Germany will be even closer. And for an anti aircraft person like myself, this makes me happy. If this possibility had existed before, I'd probably be living in Deutschland and commuting to London rather than Paris.

Cologne will be soon just a three hour breeze away. Wunderschön. And with 500,000 or so public sector workers newly idle, the trains ought to be full of day trippers heading off to savour the delights of the Chocolate Museum and the local beer.

But they're not likely to have much cash to be able to travel. Oh weh.

I assume the bigger brains than mine have taken all this into account.

Or is there a bigger gamble going on? I'd love to think about right wing military take over but even the armed forces and the police are being reduced.

That's reassuring in the event of social unrest. I'm going to seek the odds on a state of emergency being declared in Britain in less than five years.

The Strike

A few people in the office in London have engaged me in conversation on the subject of the strikes in France. Moreso since the eldest was interviewed by a reporter and asked about running the gauntlet of hate - that's my spin on it.

I thought it was quite strange, a journalist from my paper phoning up the daughter of a journalist on the paper. Let them get on with it which was apposite for both spheres.

The Economist was succinct as ever on the issue. Demography and economics make the pension reform in France inevitable. And bleating about it in the streets doesn't alter the state of the nation.

I'm always intrigued by the amount of anger that can spill onto the streets over these issues. And I muse why couldn't this energy have been used to rally support against Nicolas Sarkozy.

I mean if it is so appalling and everybody hates it why did they vote for him two years ago? It's something to do with the fact that he said pensions wouldn't be touched.

So he's gone back on his promise. Wouldn't be the first politician to do that. Ho hum. In two years time there's another presidential election.

Maybe in the campaigning for that the candidates will promise to put the pensions back to the way they were.

And Iraq will be uninvaded.

The Plunge

All of a sudden gloom appears to be the theme. It is very important from a media point of view because nothing sustains the chattering classes like misery. Systemic incompetence is so very good for the debate.

And there's been such a lot of it that it's impossible to call it a vicious circle because the virtue is that we've been forced to face the reality of big living.

Only now the cuts that are being heaped upon us are going to hit the very people who were powerless to stop the reason why they're being visited upon us.

As my little brain understands it, the banks had to be saved because they spent and spent without restraint. The taxes plugs the holes to save them because they're really important. And now the things that tax payers like - things like hospitals, decent rail services and local services like libraries all have to shut because the country can't afford them any more.

I have been reading around trying to find out what the 500,000 public service workers are going to do once they've lost their jobs.

And exactly how are they going to get some cash to live on since things like housing benefits are going to be cut.

I am sure an article will tell me in due course, perhaps the articles have already been written. I just need to surf the web to find it.

Of course once I've found it, Ill probably be quite gloomy.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Zen Times

When I started on my yoga journey the idea was to stretch my limbs so that I could play football without recoiling every few weeks with terrible strains.

Of course the yoga didn't save me from a terrible clattering a few weeks ago, perhaps it was because of the yoga that I was in a good enough shape to be able to jump for the ball which enabled the goalie to take out my side.

But I don't want to enter into cause and effects too much.

Even though I am not going to be shuffling around the pitch on Saturday I went off to the yoga session because I just needed to evade the fallout from the shenanigans at the radio station.

Change, as Barack Obama once said, is a coming. Not quite sure what the French for that phrase is. But the powers that be have decided they want to change the way the English service is run. So now there is work on change. Mr and Ms Uberboss had a meeting about this on Tuesday when quite a few people were on strike or like sap boy me looking after the children whose teachers were on strike.

Ahoy there, sensitive superbosses, don't you see the gutless irony of your actions? Non? Well let me explain it to you in terms that you can never comprehend. It's not that cool to be so remote.

The social meltdown is underway at large in and managers at an underfunded radio station want to run down a service but don't have the courage to eliminate it.

That's so sad.

I thought a couple of downward facing dogs of a Thursday evening would put the horror into context.

It has in so far as change is a coming and the old world was a laugh and a half. Ghana, Beijing and South Africa.

"Nothing lasts for ever of that I'm sure," Bryan Ferry once sang. Or to quote the bad man from the Water Margin: 'You've had a good run prime minister, now die with grace.."

Or something to that effect.

But it's time to adapt. Mac is not here to talk to about this. What would he say? Stay calm. Survive. Keep your integrity because without that you've got nothing.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Bleak Books

Fresh from reading Last Orders about how four chums go on a trip to dispose of a drinking mate's ashes, I am now into The Distance Between Us.

I found Last Orders disturbing because I still haven't decided what to do with the ashes of my dad. I might bury them in my garden once I reclaim my house. I can't bear the thought of scattering them somewhere.

I was upset on Monday and not much better off on Tuesday. The middle child is learning the saxophone which was bequeathed to her by my dad. She is finding it very hard and I wondered if she was getting weighed down by the implication of it all.

I spouted a tune about patience and learning a tiny bit at a time and we both ended up in tears which was all very sad. It was raining outside too.

Probably low blood sugar levels because after I'd made lunch me, her and the boy watched the Return of the Jedi from the sofa.

I think these strikes are fantastically good for father child bonding.

Society may be on the verge of meltdown but at least this family will burn together.


Never has an injury lay off been such a breath of fresh air. I have come to appreciate the joys of being able to stretch out. I am still nursing my traumatisme intercostal and though I am now capable of lifting my leg over my bike, I am still probably quite a way from being able to run around a football pitch.

So I won't.

The paper phoned up to ask me about how the eldest was coping at her college and about the shenanigans that the Lycee students are indulging in.

Well I guess the likelihood is that some of these kids' parents are out on the street being all anti-Sarkozy so why not the offspring.

To me there's something a bit strange about school kids getting politically involved. But I guess that I was just so institutionalised at 15 or 16. All I thought of doing was studying for my O levels or thinking about studying for my O levels.

I guess that is a default setting for someone who isn't that naturally bright. It never occurred to me to rebel. I figured that my best form of rebellion was to get educated and revolt that way against the constraints of poverty.

Gosh that's not so dumb. Perhaps I'll figure out how God was born.

Monday, 18 October 2010

London Past and Present

It seems like self mutilation to return to London to be sad. But I can't avoid the past because London is very much part of my present and therefore my future.

I wander around bits of south London and think of how my Mondays used to be spent - dropping in to see my dad and then going on to work.

Now it is a case of sorting out his bits of paper and going to work.

I went round to his flat today as various junk mail people are still sending out the win a billion pounds coupons. The couple who live downstairs at his place save up the letters just in case there's something important.

I went into the Cancer Research shop on Balham High Road and bought a couple of things. Took a coffee in the Cafe Nero just opposite.

It would have been a bit too much to have sat at the window seat where me and him had a coffee just after a visit to the hospital in May 2009. That was in early May and I remember thinking what a strange way to spend part of the May bank holiday weekend.

But a month later he died. Ladies final Saturday at Roland Garros.

I guess he knew the end was in sight because he made sure to tell me that I should not fret nor worry. He also said that I shouldn't be sad and to look after the children.

I ought to follow orders.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

New Phone Old Phone

It was the irony that kept me going. Having decided to get a newer version of the iphone, I was locked into a spiral. I needed Mac OS 10.5.8 to be able to download itunes 10.1.

I couldn't do this with my computer which was Mac OS 10.4.1.

It was frustrating. But I remained zen and went and got the new software. The man in the shop warned me that I ought to store all the data before installing the software.

I said I had storage somewhere but I bought some new storage anyway for the missus.

Lo and behold, the old data was stored and the new software was installed.

Itunes 10.1 was mine and the iphone did its things.

Almost seems a shame to have the same old photos and music on the new contraption.

But it puts progress into perspective.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Orange Tree

I'm not so sure that reading a book is the best way to survive the Orange Store in Republique. The system won't change unless pure anger is poured forth by everyone.

I arrived at 1030 this morning to find a queue outside the shop. Even when it is closed there are people waiting.

Some bloke arrived after me and just silently pushed his way towards the front. This is where e can enter into national characteristics because of course "the French" don't queue like "the British".

So it allows people to do that kind of thing. But rather than getting bolshie at the queue barger I just kept cool because I knew that another 10 minutes wouldn't make much difference.

Besides I had alloted an hour to the whole process.

Hallelujah, the things that didn't work on Wednesday work on Thursday and I have the new phone.

I just have to go and get the protective film for the screen and a case to hold it.

At some point I have to work today.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

More Battering

After the crunch collision on Saturday morning, I decided to take my battered left side to the doctor. There was great news in that she said I didn’t have to go for an X ray.

But after getting me to lean left, right and contort, she declared I had un traumatisme intercostal.

This translates into one month off football and tennis. Since these are my principal methods of exercise, let’s look at those kilos in a month.

The doc said I could do anything as long as it didn’t hurt. Fortunately the local swimming pool has reopened following a revamp which took a month longer than scheduled.

The doctor’s chat was offset with some intriguing news from this morning about the school where the eldest goes.

Apparently there is no decree guaranteeing its future. This means that technically it could be closed down and we’d have no redress.

I like the idea of edgy education.

Perhaps as I sit out the next few Saturdays I can look into these kind of niceties.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Battering

Not quite sure where the book came from but it's found its way into my home. Am reading Last Orders by Graham Swift. Won the Booker Prize in 1996 so I am really in the groove.

Probably not the book for me since it is all about death and some drinking buddies going along to scatter the ashes of their erstwhile drinking chum.

Am getting through it in a methodical 20 pages a day way. Decided to leave in Paris for the weekend so I could concentrate on the newspapers and the magazines on the train this morning.

Was doing OK ploughing through the Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday which the paper informs me is 70p cheaper than the Sunday Times.

When I returned from the restaurant car - that sounds so Orient Express - I found a rather long haired tattooed type standing next to my seat and talking to three women in the seats in front of mine.

They turned out to be members of the Cellestial Cello Quartet on their way back to London after doing a gig at Le Grand Palais. They'd lost the fourth member of the group. But it was interesting listening to their tales of being one of the warm up acts for Laurent Garnier.

They're going to be at the Savoy later in the month.

Their stories kept my mind of my aching side. Horribly crocked was I in Saturday morning's shuffle. The only positive about having my side bruised was that the team won 2-0.

I'd like to think it was the image of me jogging round the running track which inspired them. As it was those few laps wer about the extent of my exercise in the second half. I went back on, ran a bit as I did my bit to defend the 2-0 lead but when I tried to stretch a leg out, I realised I couldn'ty go on any more.

Off I went.

Don't know if I'll be back on the park next Saturday.

If I'm not, more time for reading and listening to cello quartets.