Saturday, 22 August 2015

"We aim to disappoint"

I received a mailer from First Great Western warning me from severe service disruptions in the upcoming days due to strikes. Which made me react with this sarcastic line on Facebook. Don't get me wrong, I understand sometimes employees have to strike and this means the service their employers provide will suffer. I even tend to be on the side of the employees, in general, when there is a strike. But I have issues with First Great Western, which from my experience takes cavalier ways towards their customers, when a train is late or cancelled for instance. I have good reports with the staff, but the decision makers take bad decisions which result in embarrassing service. So I wrote this sarcastic line, which I think deserves to be a great unknown line. And the beauty of it is that it can work for any poor customer service.

Un hôtel à l'air familier


Mon petit frère PJ est en vacances à Prague en ce moment et il a publié plusieurs photos sur Facebook. J'ai hésité à en télécharger une parmi celles-ci, car il veut peut-être les utiliser sur son propre blogue. Mais quand j'ai vu cette photo, je n'ai pu résister à la tentation. An Archibald unique hotel. Ca a l'air bête, mais c'est que voyez-vous, le nom de famille du côté de ma mère c'est justement Archibald. Alors... Alors rien. C'est un détail amusant. Et parlant de vacances, il n'y a encore de réponse ma question existentielle 269. Je songe bloguer à propos des réponses. Pour en revenir à cet hôtel, il va me falloir vérifier les prix, mais j'aimerais bien y résider lorsque j'irai à Prague. Car je compte bien visiter la ville un jour.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Time for H.P. Lovecraft

Yesterday's silly socks antics made me forget that it was H.P. Lovecraft's birthday! I was reminded of it by this fascinating article in The Atlantic, which popped up on my Facebook page. Social medias have their good sides. Anyway, it reminded me of these many afternoons I played Call of Cthulhu with my brothers and my friends. And that Halloween is not so far away and I should read a bit of Lovecraft in the weeks leading to it. It would only make sense. That said, the article above also shows that the heritage of Lovecraft is also dark in a rather unsavory way: he was racist, xenophobic, antisemitic and extremely so. He despised Blacks, Italians, Chinese, Irishmen and French Canadians (and I happen to be one of the latter). So however admirable and influential he was a master of horror, however creative he was, however essential he was to truly modernize the genre... He was a rather small man, I am sad to say. So I have to reconcile this with the fact that I love his work, or rather to accept that the writer of such great horror stories had horrible ideas. I will still read him in the weeks coming to Halloween.

La chute du Dom Juan de Molière

Ah! mes gages! mes gages! Voilà par sa mort un chacun satisfait, Ciel offensé, lois violées, filles séduites, familles déshonorées, parents outragés, femmes mises à mal, maris poussés à bout, tout le monde est content ; il n’y a que moi seul de malheureux, qui après tant d’années de service, n’ai point d’autre récompense que de voir à mes yeux l’impiété de mon maître, punie par le plus épouvantable châtiment du monde. Mes gages! mes gages! mes gages!

Je sais que je sui un peu monomaniaque, après avoir blogué sur Don Giovanni, je blogue encore sur Don Juan, mais celui de Molière. Qui s'écrit Dom Juan. Ou Le Avec un m. Je l'ai lu plusieurs années après avoir découvert l'opéra, simplement pour connaître ce que je croyais être la source de l'oeuvre. Il faudra bien un jour que je lise l'original de Tirso de Molina. Vous devinez que j'ai développé une certaine obsession sur le personnage de Don Juan. Mais pour moi et jusqu'ici, le libretto de Lorenzo da Ponte demeure l'interprétation définitive du personnage. À la lecture de la pièce, j'étais par ailleurs assez déçu. Il manquait quelque chose, je ne sais encore pas quoi. Cela dit, le dernier acte et la chute, avec les derniers mots de Sganarelle, j'avais trouvé ça très fort. Et ce soir ces mots me hantent, comme ils le font parfois. Il va me falloir revisiter la pièce aussi.

The figs are still green

I took this picture almost a week ago in the little alley which is one of of favorite spots in this town. The alley is rather narrow and there is a fig tree from a nearby garden which branches spread all over the side walk. I simply love it. Anyway, after I took the picture I uploaded it on Facebook with this comment: "The figs are still green because we are not in Italy". I thought it was almost wise of me to make this remark, which can be considered a great unknown line. It sumps up the difference between England and Italy: you don't harvest the same fruits, neither do they turn ripe at the same time. In fact, I wonder if these figs will ever get ripe. They are rather incongruous in an English garden. In Italy, they make perfect sense, they belong there. Figs would already be ripe, as I mentioned here (yes, the post is very similar to this one). So every time I see these green figs, I think of Italy.

Question existentielle (269)

Une question existentielle qui pourrait s'appliquer à bien des pays, mais c'est du Québec qu'il s'agit cette fois-ci:

-Y a-t-il un endroit au Qébec, ville ou village, qui est à la fois idyllique et n'a pas encore été envahi et massacré par les touristes?

Bref, peut-on être à la fois idyllique et anonyme? C'est une question très profonde aussi, mais commençons par le microcosme, si vous le voulez bien.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Brotherhood of socks

In the mood for something completely trivial? When I am looking for one sock from a pair of socks, I ask where is the sock's brother or little brother. This is something I picked up from mum since I was a child. "Have you seen his brother", "does this one have a brother", "here's the brother", etc. I don't know if it is a lost Québec expression or a family one, but I never heard anyone use it outside my family. Maybe my mother invented it because she only had boys. And I use it often, since I easily lose socks. The expression used to amuse my wife a lot, until she started using it too. She told her friend (the mother of the Tickler) about it, who thought it was so good that she decided that she was going to use it. So there you have it. There is nothing to say to it, except that it is a fun expression. Please feel free to refer to your socks as brothers, but don't forget to mention where you learned it first. I'd like a bit of credit.

Le pommetier et ses fruits


Mon père m'a envoyé des photos du pommetier familial. Dont celle-ci. Elle est tellement impressionnante que j'ai décidé de la publier sur Vraie Fiction. C'est dans des moments comme ça qu'il me manque, plein de fruits à cueillir. Les pommettes mûres et prêtes à être cueillies, c'est le début des récoltes qui annonce l'automne. C'est encore l'été, mais on peut sentir qu'il se termine. Et puis il n'y a rien de plus plaisant que de cueillir les pommettes un après-midi un peu frais comme celui qu'on a eu ici.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Time for Don Giovanni

As those of you who read my posts in French know, my brother PJ is in Prague these days and tonight he is watching/listening to Don Giovanni by Mozart on the stage that first produced the opera. The performance might actually be over as I am typing this. To say that I envy him is an understatement. I am bleeding jealous. Don Giovanni is my favourite opera and I also consider it the greatest ever written, bare none. So these last few days, I have been dreaming about future time in Prague to do exactly that and been listening to the music a lot. I also read through the libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte (yes, I have it, see the image on the left). But I mainly listen to the arias on YouTube. I wanted to upload one here, I was not sure which one to upload as I have already uploaded many. So I decided to upload the duet La ci darem la mano, which I already did years ago, but followed by Ah! Fuggi il traditor!. So it's a double bill. Anecdote: I did sing the duet when I was learning opera, it was the one and only duet I ever sang actually. Sadly, I never did in front of an audience. On the plus side, I was never chastised by a Donna Elvira looking like Cecilia Bartoli.

Un alligator à Montréal

Parfois la réalité rattrape la légende urbaine la plus tirée par les cheveux. Nous en avons eu un exemple aujourd'hui à Montréal: Le SPVM a capturé un alligator en cavale. Un saurien. En cavale. À Montréal. Bon, on a déjà eu des cas de boas, mais un alligator, je crois que c'est une première. Bon, je n'ai rien d'autre à dire sauf que ça a fait ma journée, parce que bien que ce soit un fait divers très divers, il est en même temps vraiment inusité.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Scheming Salieri

My brother PJ is in Prague, to see a performance of Don Giovanni. So he is in a musical mood. So am I, as well as in an envious mood, this being my favorite opera, bare none. Anyway, he also made me aware today of a very special anniversary for people into musical history: today is the 265th anniversary of Antonio Salieri. Contemporary of Mozart, an urban legend makes him his murderer. And various works of fiction, among them the movie (and the play which inspired it) Amadeus, which used this urban legend to great effects. But Salieri was apparently in conflict with Mozart and scheming against him, which is enough to be disliked nowadays by people like me. I am merciless aren't I? Still, it is very ironic that he is now famous for a crime he probably never committed. And that his rival his now renown as the greatest composer of all time. So in "honour" (hum, hum) of Salieri, I uploaded this introductory scene from Amadeus, which pretty much sums up his stature now in our memory.

Le temps des feux de foyer?

Photo prise au Totnes Museum, téléchargée ici parce qu'elle illustre mon propos et parce que j'aime bien télécharger des photos inédites de mes pérégrinations passées. Si la photo comme le sujet vous semblent familiers, c'est parce qu'il m'arrive parfois de bloguer sur les mêmes sujets et d'utiliser des photos d'un même objet. Enfin bref, j'ai blogué là dessus ou à peu près l'année dernière. Mais ne me blâmez pas s'il y a un air de déjà vu: je ne contrôle pas mon état d'esprit. Si au Québec il y a semblerait-il une canicule, ici il fait de plus en plus frais, surtout le soir. Nous sommes encore l'été, mais l'automne donne des signes, petit à petit. Je crois en fait qu'il ferait assez frais pour faire un feu de foyer. Et ça me tenterait pas mal. On en faisait dès qu'il commençait à faire frais quand je vivais encore chez mes parents. En fait, on peut bien en faire le soir à tout temps de l'année, s'il ne fait pas chaud. Mais il y a un moment en août où (allitération ici) ça commence à être propice, en tout cas si le mois devient plus frais. Ah, si seulement j'avais un foyer! En espérant que la canicule sera une chose du passé lors de mon prochain séjour au Québec...

Monday, 17 August 2015

Black Cat Appreciation Day

This is my fourth post today. I only expected to write two, but decided to blog a bit more more when on Facebook Ms Misantropia made me discover that today is Black Cat Appreciation Day. I missed World Cat Day on the 8th of August, I did not want to miss that one. I love all cats, but black cats in particular. And my long time readers know that there is a special black cat that that I love particularly: Odin. Who tragically died. I have never completely recovered from his death. This is one of the few unpublished (I think) pictures I have of him. You can see better pictures of him back in 2013, when I was blogging about him loads and loads. Now there is a cat who semi-adopted us, a tuxedo cat, so black and white, he is a regular guest in the flat anyway, but while I love him he is no Odin. I never felt such bond with an animal. And his blackness was not the only reason why I loved him so much, but it contributed to it, as well as contributing to his attitude I think, cool and aloof, yet sure of power over silly primates like myself. See how easily he took his ease in our bed. So next time I adopt a cat, there is a big chance he is going to be black.

Un pub renippé

Cette photo a été prise il y a quelques semaines. C'est celle du pub local près de la gare de trains, celui que j'ai découvert en premier en arrivant ici dans la ville et peut-être mon préféré. Il m'a fait découvrir bien des bières de microbrasseries et il est plein d'atmosphère. Le problème, c'est qu'ils l'ont renippé récemment. Mot du jour: renipper, ce qui signifie remettre à neuf. Or, je ne sais pas, mais je trouve que ce n'était pas une bonne idée. Voyez la photo du pub en octobre 2014, ou encore celle-ci de septembre 2014, il avait plus de cachet. Les briques sont maintenant moins sombres et il n'y a plus de plantes grimpantes. Alors je trouve que c'est moins beau. Ca n'altère pas le goût de la bière, remarquez, mais e trouve que l'expérience y perd. vous, vous trouvez que c'est une amélioration?

Wild geese flying south

There is another sure sign of autumn coming I have been witnessing these days. Or rather these evenings: for the last few evenings, I could hear and see wild geese flying from north to south. Last year I saw geese flying in September, now it is in August. And it happens with the regularity of clockwork: when the sun goes down, you can hear them coming, flying over the house, going straight south. It tried to take a picture of them on Saturday evening, but they were too fast and it was already too dark. Geese can be elusive. It makes me feel all fuzzy inside watching them, all eager to see more signs of autumn. Wild geese flying also remind me of Selma Lagerlöf's The Wonderful of Nils, which is one of the things that made me discover Sweden. You can read more about this memory of mine here. So anyway, when I see wild geese flying, I think of two things: Nils Holgersson and autumn coming. When the flock flies south of course.

Un calembour atroce tchèque (mettons)

Mon frère PJ est en vacances à Prague. Sur Facebook, il a commis ce calembour atroce: "Tchèque ben ousque j'suis!" Quand je dis que c'est atroce, c'est atroce pas rien qu'un peu. je pense que depuis celui du clavier Azerty, je n'en avais pas lu d'aussi mauvais. Je ne crois pas que j'en aie produit d'aussi atroce moi-même depuis celui de la nausée qui abonde. Alors je me devais de l'homologuer ici. Désolé si ça vous fait grincer des dents.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The crab apple jelly of Wild at Heart

There is a COOK shop now in the little town where I live. For those who are not from the UK, Cook is a shop specialized in ready meals, mostly frozen meals, but not only. It is fancy food, especially for frozen meals. It is also quite pricey, but from time to time it is nice to eat a fancy meal that you don't have to cook. As my wife and I both love their meals, we decided to pay them a visit and get a few things from there. I found among the things they sell that is not frozen and not made by their company this crab apple jelly from Wild at Heart. at £3.99, you can see it is quite a pricey product, especially for crabapple (I write crabapple in one word, not sure which is the correct spelling). In my parents' place, they have a crapabble tree that gives us plenty of fruits every two years, sometimes every year, and my brothers and I used to pick them up to make crabapple jelly. You can see the crabapple tree on this post and the crabapples in the making here. We have enough crabapples to make dozen of jars and more of jelly, and at a far cheaper price than these.

So I was reluctant to buy the jelly, but in the end I did it anyway. Because it is getting at that harvest time when I would usually pick up crabapples and because I wanted to enjoy them on toasts. I was also curious about the product and how it would compare to the home-made stuff I am so fond of. So I had some this morning with my breakfast. It is indeed quite nice. That said, it is not quite a nice as the crapabble jelly my family makes (I understand I am most likely biased). The Wild at Heart version is more like a jam than a jelly, truly: a lot of it is liquid and the solid part is rather soft, not as firm as what my parents make. At £3.99, it is rather expensive for a delight that a commoner could make just as well. But it was enjoyable to taste crabapple jelly on a toast all the same. And Wild at Heart gave me a brilliant inspiration: it says on the label and on their website that their jelly is ravishing with roasts, as an alternative to redcurrant jelly or cranberry sauce. And reading this it struck me: why did I never think about it before? So tonight we will have some on the side of our Sunday roast, which we also bought in COOK. And next time I am home, I will also accompany our Sunday roast with crabapple jelly.

La chasse aux papillons

Ce billet appartient à la catégorie des trésors qu'on trouve sur YouTube. Sans rire, c'est incroyable ce qu'on peut parfois trouver comme trésor. Par exemple, La chasse aux papillons de Georges Brassens, interprétée par nulle autre que Diane Dufresne accompagnée à la guitare par... nul autre que Georges Brassens. Je n'ai jamais beaucoup écouté Diane Dufresne, qui était (et est encore je crois) l'une des chanteuses préférées de ma mère. Mais là, elle interprète la chanson avec une réelle affection et puis c'est un peu irréel de voir Brassens à ses côtés. Et en plus je crois qu'elle roule ses r naturellement.

"Glow Back to School"?

Well, after what I saw last week, this was to be expected. I saw this on the front window of Tinc, a stationary shop specialized in funky designs. My wife and I like it quite a lot. I am going to like it still, in spite of this dreadful word play. "Glow Back to School" might look and sound funky, the furry beast of Tinc might be all enthusiastic and wild, thus depicting the back to school time exciting, it nevertheless reminds me that the beginning of the school year is imminent. And even though I am a grownup, it has the same effect on me as it did when I was a child: the August melancholy comes in full force. At least Tinc is a stationary shop, targeted at seven and eleven year old children and what they sell is nice and colourful. So I forgive them. All the same, it was a horrible word play and I can't shake off the melancholia.

La fin du règne des condos à Montréal?

Il semblerait que l'achat de condos à Montréal montre des signes de fatigue, c'est du moins ce que j'ai appris dans La Presse Affaires. Il se construit plus d'appartements locatifs ces temps-ci. Si ça pouvait faire baisser le prix du condo, ce serait une bonne chose. Lorsque mes parents ont acheté le condo familial sur le Plateau Mont-Royal, au milieu des années 90, l'investissement revenait moins cher à long terme que de louer un appartement. Quelques années plus tard, les prix sont devenus prohibitifs. Si jamais un jour je reviens vivre à Montréal, j'aimerais pouvoir être en mesure d'acheter, ce qui est pas loin d'être utopique là où je vis. Cela dit, je ne me connais pas dans l'immobilier. Moins de condos, ça veut dire aussi plus de rareté, donc des prix qui peuvent augmenter, ou rester aussi élevés. Si vous vous connaissez en immobilier, dites-moi ce que ces changements signifient.