Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Free coffee from Caffè Nero

Since recently, we have a special scheme at work that allows us to have discounts and special offers in various businesses. Some are not really interesting, most are negligible, but it's always nice to have some extra benefits to be an employee somewhere, however small they may be. So a few days ago, I obtained thanks to that scheme a voucher for a... free coffee at Caffè Nero. Now, as you may know if you have been reading this blog, I happen to loathe coffee. But my wife loves it. Caffè Nero is not her favourite coffee shop and we do not even have one locally. In fact, the nearest Caffè Nero is a few minutes' drive away. No matter, next time we go to a town when there is one, she will benefit from the voucher.

Le temps de retourner à la bibliothèque

Ça m'a frappé récemment: je n'ai pas visité la bibliothèque locale depuis quelques mois (je crois que la dernière fois, c'était l'été dernier). Enfin non, ce n'est pas vrai: nous y sommes arrêtés un moment il y a quelques semaines, mais nous ne sommes pas restés longtemps, pas assez pour bouquiner proprement. Pas que je sois à court de lectures: j'ai pleins de livres ici et je mène de front plusieurs lectures. Mais il faut bien encourager la bibliothèque locale, surtout qu'elle a un bon choix d'ouvrages, en plus d'avoir du cachet.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

"Daddad"

My in-laws have been in town for a few days, to see their grandson. Well, they have other things to do in England as well, including preparing their return here in a few months, but I think Wolfie is the reason why they came. It feels like it when they are around him anyway. And Wolfie was very happy to be with them. Especially his granddad, who might be at the moment is favourite family member. Not to take anything away to anyone else, I mean he is an affectionate boys and he loves every member of his family, but these days he is always eager to spend time with him. If Wolfie calls me "dadda woo", he calls his grandfather "daddad". For granddad. It made me a bit sad when he spent the afternoon with his grandparents recently and did not even seem to miss us when he got back. But it is nice to see him showing his toys to daddad, or laughing with daddad, or asking for daddad when daddad is not there. Wolfie behaves with his maternal grandfather like he found a partner in crime. Which might actually be the case.

Ambivalences printanières

Je sais que nous ne sommes pas encore à l'équinoxe et qu'il reste encore quelques jours où il fait plus nuit que jour en 24 heures, cela dit on dirait bien que le printemps est finalement arrivé: il fait beauoup plus doux et le soir on est conscient que le soleil se couche plus tard. Je suis pris comme à chaque année entre deux sentiments: d'un côté ça me fait du bien de voir des températures plus clémentes et un peu plus de soleil, de l'autre la nouvelle saison me désole toujours un peu. Je ne sais pas trop pourquoi. Suis-je seul à être parfois triste à l'arrivée du printemps?

Monday, 18 March 2019

Jack the Ripper identified?

In fiction, I am not a big fan of stories of serial killers. Neither am I about the serial killers in real life, come to think of it. Even though I love reading and learning about true crimes. That said, I always had a certain macabre fascination for Jack the Ripper. I am not an expert, neither am I an amateur, mind you, I don't know every little details of his crimes, the ongoing investigation and the mystery of his identity, but I have a certain sinister curiosity towards him. So I was very surprised and excited when I learned that he may finally have been identified today, as Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski. it is what a new study claims anyway, using forensic and DNA evidence. But I am very skeptical. Again, I am not an expert, but things seem shoddy to me: how could we identify the DNA of Kosminski without the shadow of a doubt, is the scarf allegedly belonging to one of Jack's victims genuine to begin with and did they lead the evidence? These are only a few questions that the research does not seem to answer for now. In any case, this piece of news shows how Jack the Ripper still fascinates, more than a hundred years after his murders.

Addendum: Apparently the same "discovery" has been made by the same team back in 2014, making the same claim. So that's hogwash. Aaron Kosminski might still be Jack the Ripper, but this is not the proof people have been waiting for and the mystery of the true identity of Jack the Ripper remains.

Les smoothies frais

Cette photo a été prise dans mon ancien café préféré de la petite ville où l'on vit. Je dis ancien, car il n'est plus, ce qui m'a fait beaucoup, beaucoup de peine (lire ce billet). Ils faisaient de bien bonnes choses, donc, dont des smoothies comme celui-ci. Je sas que les vertus des smoothies sont surfaites, mais n'empêche, c'est une bonne façon pour moi de consommer des fruits (et parfois des légumes), lorsque mon fils siphonne à lui seul nos rations de fruits (moins souvent de légumes). Et quand il fait trop chaud pour une boisson chaude, ça se prend bien, un smoothie. Surtout quand il est frais. À ma connaissance, il reste encore deux cafés/restos qui pressent encore les smoothies frais, dans la petite ville où nous sommes. J'espère qu'ils ne disparaîtront pas. Touchons du bois.

A Clockwork Orange banned in Florida?

I read this piece of news yesterday which really got me fuming: in Florida, a group of legislators and conservative lobbyists (well, of course!) are trying to ban books from public schools that they deem "pornographic", among other things. Among these books is A Clockwork Orange of Anthony Burgess. My favourite author and the novel that introduced me to him. ACO is actually more than that: it was the coming of age novel for me. It taught me a lot about the nature of freedom and art and was my true introduction to proper literature. It is one of these novels that makes a young man (or woman) think and grow. Trying to censor it is pathetic, it is cowardly, it is stupid, it is despicable.

Le ouistiti du lundi

Hier je faisais dans le calembour atroce, aujourd'hui dans la rime et l'allitération. Un peu arbitrairement. Enfin bref, cette photo de ouistiti a été prise à Branféré et j'ai pensé la partager ici parce que c'est un petit singe mignon et que c'est lundi alors autant essayer de vous remonter le moral un pour la semaine de travail qui s'en vient avec une photo cute. C'est souvent long et pénible, le lundi. Je songe d'ailleurs commencer une tradition semi-régulière sur Vraie Fiction le lundi, avec un billet accompagné d'une photo ou d'une chanson ou autre chose pour vous faire rire ou sourire, afin que la journée passe plus vite.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Dicey Reilly

Well, Saint Patrick's Day is not over yet, so let's celebrate, at least on this here blog, the lovely country that is Ireland. This is the one and only Guinness I've had today, such is the life of a father. But please feel free to have more and enjoy Irish music, hopefully in a pub, if not then at home. I have been listening to a lot of it today and tonight. Here is a famous one which I wanted to share tonight, called Dicey Reilly, about a lady of ill repute who is also an alcoholic. It is a proper drinking song. It is here performed by the Dubliners. It is the version of the late Ronnie Drew, and his low, raspy voice and attitude alone are worth the price of the ticket.

Nouvelles littéraires et calembour atroce

La blonde de mon frère Andrew est enseignante en littérature et je l'envie un peu d'ailleurs à cause de cela. Elle a récemment demandé sur Facebook cette question: "Littéraires (ou pas) parmi vous, j'aurais besoin de suggestions de recueils de nouvelles. Des nouvelles efficaces, pas trop compliquées, pas trop longues, mais pas ridiculement faciles non plus. Tsé des nouvelles juste presque parfaites pour un futur cours de renforcement en français. Ça peut aussi être des nouvelles disparates, au pire." J'ai de l'expérience sur le sujet, j'ai déjà enseigné la nouvelle littéraire française aux Anglais, dans une autre vie. Cela dit, je n'ai pas pu m'empêcher de lui donner cette suggestion: "Les nouvelles du sport?" Je pense que c'est le pire calembour atroce que j'ai commis depuis des années. Elle a été bonne joueuse et m'a répondu: "À méditer." Je crois, j'espère, qu'elle ne m'en veut pas. Tout de même, c'est vraiment épouvantable.

This year's Saint Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone! I hope everybody is enjoying it, hopefully with a good pint of Guinness, like I did earlier on today. Sadly, our local Irish pub is gone, so I had to take it in one of the many, mundane English (shudder) pub. But I should not complain: Saint Paddy's Day truly is a celebration of the Irish diaspora and expats. Although I would give a lot to celebrate in Ireland itself, once in my life. Funny little anecdote: we know for sure that little Wolfie does have some Irish blood, from his maternal grandmother's side, whose grandmother was a bona fide Irish. This is far remote and we cannot claim that we truly are Irish, but that makes him one of the 60 millions people with an Irish ancestry. One of his aunts (my wife of my wife's brother) is Irish, and her daughter (Wolfie's cousin) now has Irish citizenship and passport. So our link with Ireland is stronger than one may think. That said, I don't want to make to overplay it. I love Ireland, but I want to avoid becoming a Plastic Paddy (see my recent posts on the subject). So I end this post with The Simpsons' take on Saint Patrick's Day. It is silly, full of clichés and stereotypes, very Plastic Paddyish, but hilarious all the same.

Montréal, Irlande

C'est aujourd'hui la Saint-Patrick, l'une de mes fêtes préférées dans l'année, bien que je ne la fête guère depuis que je suis papa. Je veux tout d'abord vous souhaiter joyeuse Saint-Patrick et je commence la journée sur ce blogue (dans le monde réel elle est déjà bien entamée ici) par souligner la contribution irlandaise à la culture du Québec en général et de Montréal en particulier. Sans entrer dans les détails, Montréal est à bien des égards une ville irlandaise. À preuve: le trèfle irlandais est sur les armoiries de la ville. La devise de la ville, "Concordia Salus", "le salut par la concorde", est bien entendu un mensonge éhonté: l'histoire de la ville est remplie de tensions et de mésententes. Mais bon, pour le meilleur et pour le pire, Montréal est au moins un peu irlandaise.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

The Plastic Paddy starter pack

I recently mentioned in a post the expression Plastic Paddy, basically a faux Irishman. As Saint Patrick's Day is tomorrow, let us prepare to celebrate Ireland and everything Irish, but let's not get carried away, shall we? Let's avoid to become Plastic Paddies. I found online this meme, showing the Plastic Paddy starter pack. If you are doing all this, just stop, all right? Let's give the Irish people the respect it deserves, by not pretending to be Irish.

Brownies avec crème

Je sais que je blogue souvent sur de la bouffe ces temps-ci, enfin assez souvent. Peut-être que je n'ai pas d'inspiration, ou alors je suis un obsédé de la bouffe. Dans tous les cas, je voulais depuis partager cette photo rien que pour le plaisir de faire de la food porn. Ce sont deux brownies que j'ai mangés lors de mon atelier de création littéraire. Avec de la crème. C'était vraiment pas mal décadent.

Friday, 15 March 2019

"The Ides of March"

Today is the 15th of March, day of the Ides of March, which is of course the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar. For guys (or gals) like me who are into history, it is kind of a big deal. It is one of the day I always remember, and I always commemorate it on this blog. This year, I thought I would mark it by giving my readership a reading suggestion: the novel The Ides of March, by Italian author Valerio Massimo Manfredi. It is a fictionalization of the fateful day, which in spite of the tragic predictability of its plot, manages to be suspenseful. I enjoyed it anyway, when I read it back in March 2014 (I think it was 2014). Sure, it's not great literature, but it's solidly entertaining and it feels genuine. In any case, it is the perfect read for today.

Cargo sur glace


Nouvelle photo prise par mon père à La Baie, d'un cargo qui se manoeuvrait dans le sillage du brise-glace sur lequel j'ai blogué il y a peu de temps. Si vous en avez assez de la glace, de la neige et de l'hiver, je m'en excuse profondément. Ça ne devrait plus durer trop longtemps, Vraie Fiction prenant les couleurs des saisons je devrais bloguer des photos plus printanières sous peu...

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Musing about otters

I took this picture in Derbyshire, in a sanctuary of otters and other animals. Otters are one of the staples of English wildlife, but I have never seen any in the wild. I have seen many of them, however, in captivity, in zoos or in sanctuaries like this one. I like them quite a lot. The lion is maybe the emblematic animal of Britain, but the otter would be more fitting. I say this without sarcasm or irony. There is no lion in Britain, not in the wild anyway. The otter, on the contrary, are very British indeed. They adapt easily to wet and cold weather, they are strong, resilient, capable, almost like a British version of a beaver. They don't build dams, but they are fine swimmers. And they are quite cute. So yes, I am a fan of otters.

Le vent qui abat les clôtures

Il vente pas malc es temps-ci, comme je l'ai déjà mentionné. Or les vents violents ont fini par faire des ravages: la clôture de la voisine a (encore une fois, parce que ce n'est pas la première fois) rendu l'âme, comme vous le voyez sur cette photo.Je déteste quand ça arrive. Au moins, c'est sa clôture, pas la nôtre. On ne paiera rien, mais j'espère que la voisine ne perdra pas trop de temps. Elle a tendance à procrastiner quand il est question de faire réparer sa clôture.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Plastic Paddy

As Saint Patrick's Day is coming, I thought I would give you a quick reading suggestion that would be fitting for the day. It is not a novel, but a short story from The Martini Shot by George Pelecanos.The story is called, as you guessed it, Plastic Paddy. Grosso modo, it is about a small time criminal and overall loser who claims to have Irish blood and decides to totally embrace it: he changes his name from Tool to O'Toole, starts listening to Irish music, to go to Irish bars, he adopts the most superficial aspects of Irish culture, or what people think of Irish culture. In other words, he becomes a Plastic Paddy. I don't want to give anything away, but this is (among other things) a brilliant exploration about identity and how much of it is a construction. I recommend to read Plastic Paddy for this occasion because all lovers of Ireland, and I include myself in the lot, are to a degree Plastic Paddies. What makes O'Toole a pathetic, maybe even a tragic character, is that he is completely unconscious of it. So we can reflect on this (and in the meantime get a kick out of Pelecanos' writing). The other stories in the book are great too, but save this one for Saint Patrick's Day.

Gâtoreo

Ma femme et mon fils sont allés voir une famille de nos amis avant-hier. Hélas, je n'ai pas pu y aller, mais ils ont été assez généreux pour me laisser une pointe de gâteau. Vous ne voyez peut-être pas bien sous le crémage, mais la pâte à gâteau est faite d'oreos. C'est un gâteau aux oreos ou, comme je l'ai rebaptisé, un gâtoreo. Je sais, c'est un calembour atroce. J'avoue que je publie ça ici tant pour faire de la food porn que pour commettre le calembour atroce. Quant au gâteau lui même, c'est riche (très riche!), mais c'est bon (dans le genre décadent).