Friday, 29 April 2016

This Friday's sandwich treat

Every Friday, I don't eat a lunch I made myself, instead I buy one at the local sandwich shop near work. It is my treat to celebrate the coming of the weekend. I am a man of habits, so I have the same thing: a can of Coke, a baguette with chicken mayonnaise, with tomatoes, lettuce, onions and black olives (green olives when I can, but they seldom have green olives). The olives make the difference and truly turn this rather banal sandwich into something else. I sometimes add peanuts. They don't have salted peanuts, so I go for dry roasted peanuts (from KP). I bought the bag of peanuts today as well, because this weekend is a three days bank holiday weekend, so that deserved a bag of peanuts to celebrate. But this time, the guy at the till, who knows my order by heart, had forgotten the onions. So it was somewhat disappointing: something was missing. On the plus side, this coming weekend I intend to renew with other gastronomical treats. I will blog about them, for now suffice to say I know they will not be disappointing.

L'art et le crime...

"Vous savez, on peut mêler l'histoire de la criminalité à celle de la peinture. Au début, on peignait comme on tue, à main tue. L'art brut, on pourrait dire... L'instinct avant la technique. Ensuite est intervenu l'outil, le bâton, le pinceau. Un beau jour, on s'est mis à peindre au couteau. Regardez le travail d'un Jack l'Éventreur... Et puis on a inventé le pistolet. Peindre au pistolet apportait quelque chose de définitif et radical. Et maintenant, à l'ère terroriste, on peint à la bombe, dans la ville, dans le métro. Le graffiti anonyme qui saute au coin de la rue..."

Trois carrés rouges sur fond noir, Tonino Benacquista

Je suis en train de lire un roman de Benacquista, l'un de mes auteurs de polars français préférés. Ce que je lis en ce moment de lui est Les morsures de l'aube (dont on a fait un film), mais c'est Trois carrés que je voulais citer ici depuis longtemps, cette citation qui débute ce billet. En fait, je crois qu'elle suffit en elle-même et que de la commenter serait superflu. Il est fort, Benacquista. Suis-je le seul à penser que les analogies faites ici entre l'art et le crime sont brillantes? Elles sont également prophétiques.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Mysterious Gate

I had noticed this gate, leading to a place called "Archers' Court," a long time ago. It is one of the many old or oldish properties we cannot afford. I wonder who can. I had noticed it a long time ago, but a few years ago I noticed it again and I had a shiver. The gate to Archers Court does not only look elegant with its worn out wood, it looks unsettling and frightening. Maybe it was because the day was overcast and cool, but I think the gate itself, with its bars (and enough space to throw arrows at you) is scary. Back in 2009 I blogged about a mysterious door. Well, this is a mysterious gate. It does not completely hide the property behind it and its garden, but it is guarding it all the same and the bars give both the gate and the place a menacing look. Like long, sharp teeth in the mouth of a monster. Archers Court, or at least its garden, could be a great setting for a scary story. I want to see it around Halloween time. It is a long time away, but I can't help but think of the holiday when I see this gate. It looks like the perfect haunted place.

Le Québec en un tableau anglais

Photo prise au York Castle Museum, d'un tableau montrant des soldats anglais faisant du portage... dans la forêt québécoise. On peut lire au bas des explications plus précises sur le contexte et l'endroit au Québec, mais je ne crois pas qu'on puisse le distinguer, même en agrandissant l'image. Je ne me rappelle pas non plus des détails. Ce n'est pas du grand art, je doute que la forêt québécoise ait été aussi pastel, mais ça m'a quand même fait une forte impression, de voir une image du Québec au fond de l'Angleterre. J'imagine que je suis facilement impressionnable. Et portage est notre mot du jour. C'est un joli mot.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A flock of red kites

I took this picture about a week ago, walking back home. On it you can see red kites, a lot of them, flying over the roof of a nearby house. The South East of England is full of them, but it is rare to see so many gathered together like this. It is quite an impressive spectacle. It's not a great picture, but I wanted to share the experience, at least a token of it. Like I mentioned two years ago, red kites are our most distinctive avian neighbours. They are also, I think, our most distinguished ones. So this sight deserved to be mentioned on Vraie Fiction.

Question existentielle (283)

Tiens je viens de me rendre compte que les questions existentielles 282 et 223 sont les mêmes. espérons que celle-ci n'est pas une répétition d'une autre. Ça devient difficile de poser des questions existentielles originales. Mais enfin bref, avril est redevenu froid et salaud, ce qui m'amène à poser cette question existentielle:

-Quelle serait, dans un monde idéal où les mois se ressembleraient d'une année à l'autre, la température idéale du mois d'avril?

Monday, 25 April 2016

A visit to Wallingford?

This may not happen, but there is a possibility for my wife and I, if we find time in our hectic schedule (due to house hunting), to revisit Wallingford in the near (or nearish) future. It would be great if it was possible. Wallingford is one of my favourite towns in England and I miss its independent bookshop. Now I promise my wife I would behave as our small flat is already cluttered with books, but I'm sure I can find the space for a small book or two, or I can buy one as a gift to someone. You know, to encourage local businesses. Wallingford is full of independent businesses by the way, one of the reasons I love it so much. These businesses contribute to the town's unique character. I have blogged about some of them in the past. Anyway, I will keep you posted about Wallingford in the future.

Le printemps sans le CH

Photo prise à l'Aéroport Trudeeau (que je préfère appeler Dorval). C'est vous dire que même si je ne suis plus guère le hockey les Canadiens de Montréal représentent encore quelque chose pour moi. enfant, j'ai aimé l'équipe avant d'aimer la ville, j'étais un partisan des Glorieux avant de devenir Montréalais d'adoption.Tout ça pour dire que j'ai lu avec intérêt, voire de la fascination, la chronique de Stéphane Laporte d'il y a une semaine. Parce que ça rejoint mes souvenirs d'enfance, une époque où il se rendaient en série et ils gagnaient. Pas toujours jusqu'à la coupe, mais assez souvent pour que, s'ils ne se rendaient pas en finale de conférence au moins, ça causait une commotion. En fait, en 1989, quand ils l'ont perdue en six, c'était quasiment une tragédie. Maintenant, c'est juste une humiliation de plus. Bon, maintenant qu'ils gagnent ou perdent, je ne les vois pas jouer, mais ça reste que ça m'attriste toujours un peu de savoir qu'il y aura un printemps sans CH.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Nothing Like The Sun

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white,why then her are dun;
If hairs be wire, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in her breath than my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Sonnet 130, Shakespeare

"It was all a matter of a goddess - dark, hidden, deadly, horribly desirable. When did her image first dawn?"

Nothing Like the Sun, Anthony Burgess

Since yesterday, I have been thinking about one recommending one book to celebrate the Bard. It is Anthony Burgess' fictionalized biography Nothing Like The Sun. Burgess also wrote a "proper" biography of Shakespeare, for the little we know about the man, which is more a study about his work, and it is a great read in itself, but Nothing Like the Sun is a true masterpiece. It is everything Shakespeare in Love, to which it was unfairly compared, failed to be: intelligent, genuine and above all Shakespearean. Read more about the novel here and it gives you an idea of why it's so great. Here I am merely recommending it. For anyone who love Shakespeare, this is a must-read.

Un train pour Montréal

Il y a certaines nouvelles parfois qui semblent tellement bonnes qu'on n'ose pas y croire. Celle-ci en est une. Je sais que je fais dans le blogue ferroviaire souvent, presqu'autant sinon plus que dans la vie animale, mais c'est vraiment une bonne nouvelle qui mérite d'être publicisée: il y aura donc un train électrique (non, pas un train jouet) qui reliera notamment  Brossard, Deux-Montagnes, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue et... L'Aéroport Trudeau. Dans une grande ville moderne comme Montréal, un transport en commun déficient pour desservir un aéroport international c'était, c'est encore, tout simplement honteux. Le train électrique règlera donc cette aberration. Et c'est LA raison pour laquelle je suis aussi heureux d'apprendre cette nouvelle.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

George and Will

Today is a particularly special day: it is both Saint George's Day and William Shakespeare's 400th death anniversary (and also it is believed, the date of his birthday). Today's Google Doodle could not choose which English icon to celebrate, so it was an homage to both: the Bard and some of his most famous plays in the middle and George on the left with the dragon he killed on the right.As usual on Saint George's Day, I uploaded the Doodle here. So today, read about the legend of Saint George, drink an English beer (plenty are named after St George and/or the dragon he slayed) and of course, of course, read or watch Shakespeare.

Ne pas se découvrir d'un fil

Photo prise au Totnes Museum, je la télécharge ici parce que ça illustre mon propos. Vous connaissez le proverbe: "En avril, ne te découvre pas d'un fil." Ma mère me le disait à tout bout de champ quand j'étais jeune, dès que le temps d'avril était doux. Ça me mettait en beau fusil. En grandissant, je me suis rendu compte à quel point le proverbe est véridique. Il faisait chaud ces temps-ci, un peu avant la mi-avril je bloguais en disant que ça ne pouvait pas durer. J'ai eu raison: depuis hier, il gèle presque. Alors voilà, ceci est un billet d'intérêt public. Prière de ne pas se découvrir d'un fil sous peine de geler.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Monkfish, king of the plates

This is the birthday meal I had yesterday in a local restaurant: monkfish. I first tried it a few years ago, again on my birthday (I usually have fish on my birthday), in the same local restaurant and really loved it, so I could not wait to have monkfish again. Yesterday was my second time. Good things come to those who wait, I guess. In any case, it was worth the wait.

The thing you need to know about monkfish is this: as a fish, in the ocean, it's ugly as sin, even by fish standards. Do a Google Images search and you'll see what I mean: they are scarier than sharks. It has more fitting names: fishing-frog, frog-fish and sea-devils. It would not sell so well if you would see one of these names on the menu, obviously. But once it is cooked and on a plate, it is truly the king of dishes. It truly has no bones to speak of (bog enough to easily separate the fish from it), it has plenty of flesh and is absolutely delicious. Especially accompanied with capers and olives like this one was. I adore olives and capers, so this monkfish dish seems to have been made for me. One of my cousins told me his gastronomic theory about fishes: "The uglier the fish, the tastier it is." My experiences with monkfish proved him right, so it deserves to be a great unknown line. In the ocean, it may be the ugly duckling, but in a plate, the monkfish is king.

Un paon

Non seulement Vraie Fiction pourrait parfois devenir un blogue sur la vie animale, il semblerait aussi ces temps-ci que je pourrais le transformer en blogue sur l'ornithologie, si j'en savais un peu plus sur les oiseaux.enfin bref, voici la photo d'un paon prise à Branféré. Malheureusement, Il n'avait pas ses plumes déployées. C'est néanmoins l'une des rares occasions où j'ai vu un paon en chair, en os et en plumes. C'est loin d'être mon oiseau préféré, en fait je le placerais pas loin de la queue de la liste, mais il faut bien avouer que le paon a une apparence assez singulière. En fait, je le trouve artificiel comme animal, je ne sais pas comment le dire autrement. Ils ont aussi un cri strident assez désagréable. Cela dit... Bien c'est quand même une présence remarquable sur un terrain et le paon fait d'assez jolies photos.

Tawny Owl (the bitter)

I try as much as possible not to judge a book by its cover and a beer by its label or name. That said, sometimes one gets curious by the appealing label of a certain beer. This was the case when I saw this little piece of advertisement in the steam train station of Totnes (or maybe Buckfastleigh) in Devon, promoting the Tawny Owl (or the Tawny Bitter as written on the image) from Cotleigh Brewery. I love all owls and I loved look on the image, dark and mysterious. I wondered if this beer still existed and had a colour similar to the bird of prey it takes its name after.

As I discovered, it does. Not only that, but the Tawny Owl is a proper bitter, just dark enough and with plenty of character. For once, its label didn't lie. Because as I found the beer at complete random in a garden center my wife and I sometimes go to. It was a couple of months ago, when I had completely forgotten the picture I had taken in Devon. And there it was, with other products of Cotleigh Brewery, all with names of birds of prey. I bought two for home. I will blog another time about the other beer, but the Tawny Owl has so far been one of the best discoveries I've made this year and I cannot wait to buy some more and drink it again. The brewery is from Somerset. I think we might go there one day on holidays.

Un arbre sur un escalier vert

Photo prise à Dartington dans le Devon. C'est une image saisissante, d'un arbre (je n'ai aucune idée de quelle sorte d'arbre) qui pousse sur la pente d'un terrain organisé comme un gigantesque escalier de gazon. Je voulais la partager sur Vraie Fiction, sans trop savoir pour quelle occasion. J'ai songé à en faire la photo du mois, dont le thème d'avril était "la nature en macro". Sauf que j'ai finalement estimé que la main humaine était beaucoup trop présente sur cette image, alors j'ai choisi autre chose mais toujours du Devon. Sauf que je voulais toujours partager cette photo, alors j'ai décidé que ce serait aujourd'hui, pour le Jour de la Terre. L'un de ses rituels est de planter un arbre. Ne pouvant pas le faire pour le moment, j'en montre un.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

A birthday memory about trains

I took this picture at the National Railway Museum in York, maybe my favourite museum in the world. It illustrates this post's topic. Today is my birthday and as it is often the case on my birthday I reminiscent of some of my past birthdays. Maybe it is because I'm getting older, maybe it is because the birthdays from childhood are always the best. But anyway, as far as I remember, I always loved trains, especially the family's electric train. This is likely why on one of my birthdays my parents bought me a book about the history of trains, one of these educational books for children. And... And I barely read it, only bits here and there. I remember being very underwhelmed by this present, shame on me. I don't know why, maybe because for me trains were either very fancy toys or very big ones, things that were dynamic, impressive and the images (none were photos, they were only simple drawings) did not convey the majesty and beauty of trains, railways and train stations. Maybe because it was not a story book and thus I didn't find it really exciting like fiction is. But now that I am a grownup and I have learned about the history of trains and railways, I would love to read this book again and see if it was any good. I think I'd appreciate it more now. My parents must have given it to charity, so this is unlikely to happen. All the same, I thought about this present today.

Marquise, si mon visage...

"Marquise, si mon visage
A quelques traits un peu vieux
Souvenez-vous qu'à mon âge
Vous ne vaudrez guère mieux"

C'est une tradition annuelle lorsque c'est ma fête: je télécharge sur le blogue les Stances à Marquise de Corneille, chantées par Georges Brassens. Avec un ajout des derniers vers bien ironique. À 39 ans, c'est ma dernière année avant la quarantaine, les quelques traits un peu vieux, je les vois comme plus distinctement dans le miroir.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A republican moment

There is one thing I share with Queen Elizabeth II: we have the same birthday. Except that I am much younger. It means that tomorrow she'll be 90 and I 39. It also means that people spoke about it all day at work today. This is maybe the only one thing I hate about England: the reverence they have for someone who was born with blood right and holds her power and wealth for no other reason than this, and her subject's subservience.  But to my great surprise, when I was on lunch today, I've heard from a colleague (one I don't know much) this amazing thing: "I think the monarchy had its days." I nearly clapped, I was so happy. She was saying this, matter-of-factly, to someone who was a staunch monarchist, so I nearly clapped. I did not want to start a controversy (I am good at that when it comes to take a bite at the queen, so to speak), but when the other started saying the usual weak argument that they are a return on investment because of tourism and prestige and so on, I said: "Then put them all into formol, and you would have the same result." I admit, this was borderline seditious and certainly lèse-majesté, but this made them laugh. Well, maybe not the royalists, but that is true: if a crowned head is so sound economically, they are basically crowned scarecrows. So I think it deserves to be a new great unknown line. In any case, it was part of a republican moment and I love living republican moments, especially here.

Archibald passe à Labatt

Nouvelle brassicole québécoise que je tiens de la page Facebook de mon frère PJ: la Microcrasserie Archibald se fait avaler (engloutir?) par Labatt. Bon, on parle de partenariat, mais on va s'entendre, dans les faits, parions que c'est Labatt qui va prendre maintenant les grosses décisions. Je vais avouer une chose tout de suite: à part La Chipie, qui passait à peine le test parce qu'elle était rousse (je suis superficiel et philistin comme ça), je trouvais les bières de la Microbrasserie assez insipides, à l'image de la matante qui donne son nom à l'une de leurs bières. Ce n'est pourtant pas faute d'avoir tenté de les aimer. Alors le mariage avec Labatt est peut-être aussi logique que mérité. Tout de même, quand une microbrasserie, même médiocre, se fait prendre par une grosse brasserie, surtout une dont j'exècre les produits comme c'est le cas de Labatt, ça me chagrine toujours.