Friday, 21 April 2017

Dreams and acting on them

I dream a lot and usually remember them, well probably not all of them as there possibly are tens or hundreds per night?
Anyway, I woke this morning with one still present in my head which for a time (as I 'came round' - er, what day is it, etc,) that seemed so real that I started to plan the day around it.
As in the dream, I would go to the dump, line up all the disposed-of fridges and spray-can paint 'Stop Le Pen' across them. It seemed like such a perfectly sensible and straight forward idea, something that could be achieved while doing the other jobs in that direction - buy dog crunch, go to the post office and so on. Then as my brain caught up with the rest of me - already on auto-pilot, tea-making mission, I realised this would be more difficult than the dream suggested.
Our local dump doesn't keep white goods there, (even though I think the guys there would most certainly be into the idea of the graffiti); most fridges are taken away when you buy a new one and end up . . . where? and Mark had the car for the day, meaning I would have to take the train to Carcassonne and walk about looking for a bigger 'decheterie' in which to carry out my political statement, also we had friends staying, food to prepare and all the usual jobs to carry out, SO, I opened for a ink and paper version.

Interesting that I imagined fridges in the dream and not wardrobes, old kitchen units or cookers - something glacial in the offing if, God forbid, she were to get in.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

perfect film endings

I was just adding a bit into my current book where, Hamish - main character - is deciding between watching Withnail and I, Singing in the Rain or the above. This must be one of the greatest film endings ever.

'Well, nobody's perfect'.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Vide Grenier (car boot/garage sale) season

And we're off to a good start with this 1970s juicer in perfect working order and with a motor that sounds like it could operate a draw-bridge (think, or maybe don't) of the wood-chipper scene in Fargo . . . I asked the woman how much she wanted and she shrugged as only the French can "Beh . . . trois euro?" I asked if it worked and she eyed me in a friendly but defensive way, "Mais OUI!" It was a bit stupid to ask but I didn't want to lug home a giant piece of orange plastic to find out it would fuse the whole house.
And it didn't. We had fun with withered apples, celery and oranges and the machine duly dribbled out foamy and delicious juice, and deposited a nice brightly-coloured mulch of fibrous material in its box at the back which the chickens went mad over. Cleaning it was a challenge as the special 'key' was missing to demount the various bits but hero husband found a pair of scissors do the job admirably.


Other Vide finds: the lad found found a vintage phone to take apart to make a microphone from (?) and I bought an ancient wooden rocker blotter with which to blot my inky drawings with - the total sum: seven euros for a nice stroll about and a chat with stall-holders.
The last stall had a rather lovely plaster Madonna (Jesus's mum . . . not singer). I asked how much she was but he shook his head: "Pas a vendre, Madame." Apparently, she has accompanied him for forty years as young and older market man; placed out on his tarpaulin along with his goods, overseeing his health and fortune.
Going back to the juicer, think I might approach the Guardian re doing a new column about OLD kitchen gadgets. I love Rhik Samadder's reportage, but I think we need info about vintage, unloved useable gadgets too . . .

P.S: scroll down to find my poet-materialism site which I don't have time to do much on - more old stuff-usage, etc, on there.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Inflated things

I wonder what the daily domestic life of Mr Trump is. Now't I should imagine.
Maybe he should take up cooking to calm himself a little, find something to fire up his creative side; something to calm those twitchy nerves and divert himself from bigger, longer and more expensive things to fire off.
Egos can be quite happily inflated without having to spend, what was it, fifteen million dollars on that last penile display.


This is my first souffle. Cheese and apple, made with five eggs from our hens. How very satisfying it was to open the oven and take to the table this erect and smoking hot main dish.
Oh, the cries of wonder and amazement. How my ego swelled, and the whole thing only cost about seven euros including the cheapo souffle dish, corn for the hens, cheese, a plop of flour and some milk - maybe factor in part of the cost of the wood for building the chicken pen and perhaps a few pence for the gas used, BUT, it was pure testosterone excitement and totally harmless.
Give the president flour, eggs, a Nigel Slater cook book and a few sharp knives. Either he might whip up something quivering, tumultuous and tasty or perhaps slip on a butter paper and impale himself on a Sabatier, his last phone operation a call to the E.R rather than another victory tweet.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

meat and two veg

Or two veg and one meat, or six veg and no meat, and preferably as un-messed about with as possible.
I was fascinated to read Jay Rayner's review of 'Le Cinq' in Paris, a gastro-palace the likes of I am very unlikely to step inside even if I did win the pools which again is highly unlikely as I never do them.
If I did win them, or went out to celebrate the publication of my latest book and its handsome advance ;o) I would probably choose a good Indian restaurant or perhaps somewhere very beautiful with a menu of say forty pounds a head, or perhaps just the small fish restaurant I went to with my son the other day where we sat on a covered terrace looking over the sea and ate lovely fish that still looked like fish.
When did all this farting about with food really start? In the 70s? Nouvelle cuisine, I suppose, but then I just looked that up and Wiki told me that N. Cuisine was actually a movement away from over-faffed food - simpler, fresher, less rich ingredients, etc. So the stuff in eateries such as Le Cinq must be a combination of the two: old classic/ haute cuisine and nouvelle - rich sauces, marinades, gold leaf, aspic droplets, stuff hanging off bits of other stuff and/or balanced precariously/sizzling, on fire, dry iced and so on.
When I worked in a 'French restaurant' in Farnham in the early 80s, there was a lot of piddling about with food: placing small bits of meat on top of a carefully sculpted potato with a slalom of sauce, etc but it still was generally food that you could recognise unlike some of the oddities in Mr Rayner's photos and other over-elaborate messes I've seen while trawling Google for Michelin signature dishes.
Then there's the cost . . . Which would you rather eat?
This fresh fish salad with goat's cheese which cost fifteen euros at the afore-mentioned sea-side restaurant.


Or this depressing lamb thing at a price of ninety-five euros


                      Jay Rayner iPhone photo

Okay, their overheads must be a little different - small town in Southern France compared to a spot on Le Champs Elysees must there must be a happy medium . . .

My favourite part of Mr Rayner's review - the bit about the chocolate pud:

A dessert of frozen chocolate mousse cigars wrapped in tuile is fine, if you overlook the elastic flap of milk skin draped over it, like something that fell off a burns victim.


And it's true. My son turns quite grey at the sight of milk skin, and I don't think most people find it that appetising, so why drape it (or leave it in a rumpled heap) on some dessert that was probably going to set the diner back sixty odd quid when there could be the subtle use of an edible flower or a nice honest blob of clotted cream. But then what do I know? I get excited about a buttered and Marmited crumpet or home-made coleslaw. You eat to live, not live to eat . . .

I love this line I happened to read this morning in Will Self's Psychogeography Too tome:
'Food is just shit waiting to happen'.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Here and Now

I feel it's vital to remember, for us creatures roaming about over the earth and on/in the sea along with all the other mammals and fish going about their (much more sensible and less destructive) lives, where we are and to appreciate it even when dealing with the more tedious stuffs of everyday.
It's good to step outside of all that, into a field, park, or onto a mountain if you have one nearby; or gaze at a lake, a river, or even a municipal pond, just for a few minutes to remember where we are on this amazing ball in space. That's all we really have after all, this time, now, this instant.
A couple of days ago while climbing up into some hills above Port de la Selva in Catalonia, I turned to look at the sea and felt more powerfully than I can ever remember before one of those 'Here and Now' moments; points where you know a memory is being laid down, woven into your mind to be there forever, perhaps surfacing on a grim winter morning when everything is monotone and returning to bed with a hot water bottle seems to be an inexorable pathway.
It was perhaps the combination of the smells of new foliage, lavender I had trampled, the birdsong and the wedge of white-flecked sea in the distance. I had flung my arms up and shouted something, I've forgotten what but probably along the lines of 'Here and Now', and stood for some moments feeling the stretch in my arms and the tail of the Tramontana wind in my hair.
Luckily no one else was about apart from a small hairy dog ahead of its party of walkers who appeared shortly afterwards. It might have smiled at me but it was difficult to tell through the beardy wisps framing its face.


Friday, 7 April 2017

Hothouse soundscape

video video

While doing a bit of in-tray sorting this morning, I stopped to listen to the interesting mix of stringed instrument playing going on. Usually it's piano (husband) and guitar/drums or bass (son) this morning's soundscape featured cello rather than piano in some bizarre free-improv thing where neither party were aware of each other.

Well, it was there on the preview .  . .? Maybe it'll turn up later - the video.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Three things

We need less things, or at least we need to use the things that already exist on this over-cluttered planet.
When nipping into the hyper-market this morning to buy a packet of yogurt culture (yes, intelligent stuff, yogurt) I felt a familiar panic creeping up on me. This one store on the edge of a small town in France, (one of about 36,000 according to Wikipedia) has an aisle just for yogurt about as long as a bus. All those pots - all that plastic . . . and then there's the 'bits and bobs' aisle, even more scary; the stuff you can't even eat - just made for . . . I don't know, looking at, removing dust from - large silver apples, hideous giant retro wall clocks, a thousand 'make-your-life-easier' plastic kitchen gadgets . . .
Any car-boot sale or 'vide-grenier' you might go to will be full of this crap, so why not buy it there for a fraction of the price, or perhaps don't buy it all.
The vast world treadmill we are on, producing all this unnecessary junk must somehow be ceased.
I know nothing of business but it seems to me that if all the people currently forced to make plastic Santas holding signs saying 'this way to the North Pole', Frankfurter slicers, glow in the dark toilet roll, pistol-shaped ketchup dispensers and all the rest of it were to be employed making parts for solar panels, cladding inner-city buildings with mural vegetation or making recycled paper, or . . . a billion other actually needed things it would be a lot more useful and less soul-destroying. Like I say, I know nothing of business, but I do know about the satisfaction in coming across good quality second hand stuff.
Last week in our local recycling emporium I found this lovely little sofa for twenty euros: tad dusty but really comfortable and plenty of life in it yet.

And today's finds in the junk shop after reeling from the supermarket's football pitch of stuff, two perfect-nick old teapots for a euro each.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Looking over the edge of the nest

It's like watching swallows trying out their wings: launching, bit wobbly, oops, return to the watchful eye of the parent bird, then try again, a little bolder, a little more confidence and then they're off . . .
We've been watching our son trying out his various wings for some time, drumming in a band being the real debut of detachment although he was, and still is happy to return to the comforts - food, familiarity, dogs etc, and hopefully, us.
Come the autumn, it'll be for real. Him on his own in a flat in a city (luckily not too far away). We've were graced with an extra year of him to-ing and fro-ing as he undertook a foundation art year in our local town, and thus I/we feel a little more prepared for the . . . departure.


I've talked to several friends about this phase of life with mixed responses from: 'A year on, I still go and sit on his bed and sob, occasionally, to: what a bloody relief . . .
I hope I won't be doing the former and I certainly won't be feeling the latter; hopefully an emotionally healthy point in between with probably the odd pang of worry . . .
Going to look at art colleges with him has brought back many memories of my own forays out from the family nest in Muswell Hill. I think I did all of them on my own as Mother wouldn't have had the luxury of time to accompany me, being on her own and working full time. I do vaguely recall staggering around Exeter with a huge falling-apart portfolio of my stuff and hating the interview. Luckily the one at Farnham was good and I was accepted onto the film and photography course there. Why I mention this is because I never thought at the time, (being young and over-excited about my new life in my halls of residence eight-square meter abode) about what my mother was going though - only child leaving home after a very close relationship of seventeen-odd years.
I have a clear image of waving her off after lugging my wardrobe-sized Wharfedale speakers up to the flat - 'bye Mum, see you . . . sometime, soonish'. She might have gone and howled in a lay-by, or driven back home and downed a few pints in the local (unlikely) or maybe she managed to control it all, got on with her life and half-listened for the phone, without realising, the flat now so much quieter.
I never asked her how it was for her. Maybe I will on my next visit back although her mind is fairly unlikely to recall much now being mostly on its own planet elsewhere.
Maybe it takes the same thing happening to us to fully appreciate the emotions connected with this detachment. I don't suppose our son will think too much about it, as it should be I suppose, but I hope the years we have spent together will leave him with a residual desire to come back and take up his place in the family once in a fairly often while.

Checking out the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Nimes; one of the three colleges applied for.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Follow on from last post

Humph . . . the vid was removed, so here's the original screening that people were reacting to. I defy you not to at least have a few goose-bumps.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Human voice

While posting something on Facebook earlier I watched (as you do - er what was I doing . . .) a video posted by a friend. The choice of song isn't something I would particularly listen to but the voice is extraordinary goose-bump wise.

The twenty-two year old from Kazakhstan, Dimash Kudaibergenov has an incredible octave range, and happily for him, he's lovely to watch too.

Someone has kindly made this collection of extracts of people's reaction to his singing - worth catching especially the girl's reaction at around 8.42 . . .

We are all moved by art, ballet, sunsets, orchestras, films, books, cake, etc but perhaps a truly unusual and frisson-inducing voice unites most humans.

It was especially interesting to me to find this as I recently wrote a short story that features humans' emotional reactions to singing.

In the story, Dog, an Earth-visiting alien slowly pieces together but possibly never understands human behaviour. Befriended and given shelter by a young woman called Ruby, our hero is left in her flat while she goes to work. After trying all of the fridge's contents and exploring her book collection he takes a bath.  When his saviour returns and hears him singing in the bathroom she reacts in a way that surprises him.


I like this so much that I stand and try out all the modulations, tones and possibilities. Jars and bottles rattle. The water surface undulates against my legs.
As I reach the top note that I can see – blue with shimmering edges – the bathroom door opens. Ruby stands with the open-mouthed expression again. She has dropped her bag. Tears run.
I stop the singing and the sound continues, flailing itself against the tiles.
Taking a cloth from a pile, I step out and wrap my lower half.
“Forgive me, did my phonic experiment alarm you?”
She says nothing but steps forward, even lunges; grasps me and fastens her mouth to mine. Hot colour swarms in my head. My tongue dances in her mouth as her hands slide over my wet skin.
She pulls away suddenly: “Oh . . . I don’t know quite what happened. Sorry.”
I think about this gift: “So, that was a kiss?”
“It was . . . but I don’t usually go about seizing and kissing people – well, at least not without knowing them for a while.”
I pull her back to me: “Would you mind if we did it again?” 
Link to the song that's mostly in the background of the extracts video