Thursday 30 July 2009

Back to school already?

I went to WHSmith today to buy some notepads (I rarely go to WHSmith to buy books as they hardly have anything interesting, especially the shop here). After I paid for my things, the cashier gave me a 20% back to school voucher. I was shocked. I mean, already? I have been on holidays for barely more than a week and they already give back to school vouchers? I am not quite on holidays yet and they already want to give me the August blues. Okay, it is going to be August soon, but still. I guess I should be glad they don't advertise Christmas yet. Still, this is awfully early.

Okay, a few more minutes to prepare tomorrow's interview and I am closed for the night.

Feeling nervous

I am going to an interview tomorrow. Been preparing it all week, yet I don't feel ready at all. I am too nervous, there are always details on the presentation I have to do that I want to modify/eliminate/add, I stumble upon words when I practice and I feel like I am running out of time. I am getting fed up with it already, which is ironic since I really want that job. I haven't felt like it towards a job I applied to for a while. It's is something I really love to do, so I want it badly. That said, the planning is really getting into me. I wish I could enjoy my holidays without worrying, but I have so much to worry about it's not funny.

The outside temperature does not make me feel on holidays either. It is sunny outside, but not quite hot enough for July. Oh, well, I guess if we have the same kind of temperature tomorrow, I will not look like a clown going to a funeral in my suit.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Une bonne nouvelle

Une secte religieuse déboutée en Cour Suprême, vraiment? J'ai peine à y croire. Maintenant, si l'on pouvait être conséquents et enlever le crucifix de l'Assemblée nationale, interdire aux fonctionnaires de porter des signes religieux ostentatoires, si on pouvait également faire en sorte que l'Église sorte une bonne fois pour toutes de l'école, on pourrait commencer à dire que Québec est irrémédiablement moderne et civilisé. Et, n'en déplaise à certains, laïque.

Et oui, ce billet est plus une série de liens sur d'anciens billets, mais bon, c'est une manière de revenir sur un sujet qui me tient à coeur sans trop me répéter.

Monday 27 July 2009

Petit mot de fin de soirée

Je vais écrire un petit mot de fin de soirée, histoire de ne pas avoir l'air trop négatif ces temps-ci. Je me prépare peut-être pour une entrevue (ce qui est bien en soi) et ça me rend nerveux, mais je suis quand même en vacances et c'est l'été. J'en ai eu une preuve ce soir, alors que j'allais faire le plein de smoothies (deux portions de fruits par verre). Il faisait en effet juste assez chaud pour que je me passe de manteau et la lumière était magnifique. J'en ai déjà parlé un peu ici, mais je crois qu'il est bon de le souligner à nouveau: les soirées de juillet anglaises sont magnifiques. Dommage que je n'aie pas pris de photos. La lumière jaune d'oeuf du soleil qui se couche vaut la peine d'être immortalisée.

Solo de tondeuse

Bon, j'ai passé l'après-midi enfermé à préparer mon entrevue de vendredi, je ne suis que partiellement satisfait du résultat. Il a fait un soleil splendide, mais pas trop chaud, et j'étais enfermé à l'intérieur. D'un autre côté, on tondait la pelouse dehors, alors c'est peut-être un mal pour un bien. L'été devient toujours un peu plus moche avec un solo de tondeuse comme bruit de fond.

Bon, j'essaie de trouver un sujet plus intéressant la prochaine fois que je blogue.

Saturday 25 July 2009


My wife and I went to La Tasca this evening, after an afternoon at the cinema watching the latest Harry Potter movie. The meal was delicious, but I left somewhat hungry. La Tasca is a Spanish restaurant specialised in tapas, which are maybe a bit small. Or I am just too greedy. That said, the mousse au chocolat was to die for.

I have never been that much into Spain or Spanish culture, I love Spain through two operas set in Seville, Carmen and Don Giovanni, the first in French, the second in Italian. However I do like the idea of tapas. It's like eating six or seven different meals at once. Eating in this particular La Tasca was quite nice, regardless of food quality/quantity. The restaurant was in an all new part of town, it had a modern furniture that did not look like a glorified canteen, there was a Spanish exoticism presence without being too tacky and the wide windows let the light of this sunny summer evening get in without leaving us blinded by it. Whatever I said about the food, the dinner certainly did not lack in atmosphere.

I take lots of pleasure in life simply by the atmosphere of some situations. It has something to do with my wild imagination, I think. Eating the same meal is very different in a rustic restaurant than a trendy one. You are experiencing something as much as eating. Sometimes you feel like you are a character in The Godfather, or some hardboiled fiction, or something of the sort. Same goes with pubs: the feeling is different when you have a beer in an old man's pub (as my wife calls them) or a modern one. I usually feel out of place in both, but I often prefer old man's pubs as it makes me feel younger. When you travel to Brocéliande, whatever happens during your trip you will be filled by the otherworldly atmosphere of the place. Some books are perfect for rainy days and I prefer to read horror stories in Autumn, especially when it is cold and dry outside (and even better when it is windy). When the last book of the Harry Potter series was released, I bought it the very night (I thought I would do it, being in England at the time and all). Summer 2007 was a very bad one, always rainy and windy, and this night was no exception: it was cool, sometimes rainy and the wind was blowing madly. It was as if the weather had decided to fit the dark tone of the novel for its release. Reading any other book of the series, I never had as much pleasure than I had reading the first few chapters of The Deathly Hallows that night. The time/timing was just perfect.

And this evening, after the meal, I spent a few minutes outside watching darkness slowly falling. Summer evenings are the best, I think, when daylights are getting dim and taking those dark orange colours, while shadows are growing around you. Summer has evenings full of atmosphere and I love them.

Friday 24 July 2009

Vacances relatives

Bon, je suis en vacances depuis mercredi, mais je ne suis pas particulièrement dans l'esprit des vacances. Je dois préparer une entrevue pour vendredi prochain, entre autres choses. J'aimerais bien passer du temps à ne rien faire, mais je n'en ai pas l'occasion. Il y a aussi et surtout le fait que les vacances scolaires commencent ici fin juillet, alors que l'été est déjà bien en cours (quoique ça n'en ait pas l'air à regarder la température extérieure). Je vais quand même essayer de m'amuser un peu d'ici à ce qu'on parte en voyage. Je vais donc essayer de passer une soirée au restaurant en charmante compagnie en fin de semaine.

Thursday 23 July 2009

Des nouvelles de Mozart

Je sais que ça peut arriver pour tout artiste, malgré cela je suis toujours heureusement étonné par ce genre de nouvelles: on a découvert deux nouvelles pièces inédites de Mozart. C'est comme si Mozart sortait aujourd'hui un nouveau hit. Ce sont des oeuvres de jeunesse, alors leur intérêt strictement musical est sans doute très relatif, mais pour l'admirateur (le Mozartien? le Mozartiste?) c'est quand même une excellente nouvelle.

On holidays for now

I am on holidays since yesterday afternoon. I will not be inactive however, as I have a couple of things to our departure to Montreal, among other things a job interview (already!) next Friday. It is another temporary job, but the salary is really good and it is something I would love to do, so I hope I get it.

Anyway, yesterday was quite a moving day and, while I kept my eyes dry, I had a slight feeling of sadness when I left the school. The staff had a farewell barbecue lunch in a local pub, the same we went to before the Easter holidays. I got very gluttonous, as I love the chips there and thei mayonnaises they have. There was loads of food, which I greedily swallowed with two pints of Hobgoblin. I felt really full after this, so much so that I was still not hungry at dinnertime. But those chips and the mayonnaises were so, so, so good! Never found such good chips here in England.

Some good news from yesterday: I am going back in September, but only part-time. And the despicable colleague I dislike will be in another school, so I will not have to deal with her. She was quite nice yesterday, well, as nice as she could be, which means she was not rude and spoke to me in an amicable tone. All the same, I am glad she is gone, and I clapped least as possible when we had to do so.

When I got back to the train station, I saw by total chance some of my students. When they saw me, they shouted my name and came to me, asking me where I was heading to, if I was living nearby, etc. They were quite curious, and one got inquisitive enough to say: "Mr ... you smell of alcohol, did you drink?" I replied that it was the end of the year for me too. Although I was not drunk, that was slightly embarrassing. When I left, they shouted "We love you Mr ..., we love you." I don't know if they were sincere, but that was nice anyway.

Monday 20 July 2009

Mysterious door

This door is in a red brick wall surrounding a park nearby, one of my favourite parks where we live, as it is full of old trees and sort of secluded from the rest of the town, because of the walls surrounding it. It makes the whole place look more like a forest than a park. Somehow, this door makes me think of the door leading to the Old Forest in The Lord of the Rings. The picture was taken by my wife something like a month ago, maybe more, on a weekend day when it was warm but not hot. I love walking in English parks, maybe I will blog about it one day, but now I want to blog about this mysterious door.

Doors don't need much to be mysterious: they just need to be kept shut. As long as you don't know what is on the other side, they can even be threatening. A door, when you don't know what it leads to, is always a door leading to another world. I think I will take a picture of the door in autumn, the perfect season for otherworldly atmosphere. One of my colleagues (one of the few colleagues I have that I really appreciate), an art teacher, showed to a pupil and me some sketches he made of remote churches' doors (among other things), and mentioned that the only interesting door is the closed one. Once open, it looses its mystery. This door so far had kept it all. I have still no idea where it leads, but that could be the great starting point of a story.

Ballade à la lune

"C'était, dans la nuit brune,
Sur le clocher jauni,
La lune
Comme un point sur un i.

Lune, quel esprit sombre
Promène au bout d'un fil,
Dans l'ombre,
Ta face et ton profil ?

Es-tu l'oeil du ciel borgne ?
Quel chérubin cafard
Nous lorgne
Sous ton masque blafard ?

N'es-tu rien qu'une boule,
Qu'un grand faucheux bien gras
Qui roule
Sans pattes et sans bras ?

Es-tu, je t'en soupçonne,
Le vieux cadran de fer
Qui sonne
L'heure aux damnés d'enfer ?

Sur ton front qui voyage.
Ce soir ont-ils compté
Quel âge
A leur éternité ?"

Ballade à la lune (extrait), Alfred de Musset
C'est aujourd'hui le quarantième anniversaire de la conquête de la lune. Étant de nature plus artiste que scientifique, j'ai pensé mettre ici en citation la Ballade à la lune d'Alfred de Musset, datant d'une époque où notre satellite avait encore une nature mystérieuse, voire mystique. Ironique quand même, la lune est maintenant réduite à un objet de recherche alors qu'elle a été pendant des siècles l'inspiration des poètes, bons et moins bons. La ballade de Musset a déjà été mise en musique par Georges Brassens, en version écourtée (l'originale est très longue). C'est cette version (que vous pouvez écouter ici) qui me l'a fait découvrir. Il y a au moins une autre version musicale, mais celle de Brassens est ma préférée.

Sunday 19 July 2009

Compter les jours et les heures

C'est dimanche et j'ai hâte à lundi. La raison est simple: il ne me reste que deux jours et demie de travail. Il se peut que je travaille entre mercredi prochain et mon voyage au Québec, mais je serai officiellement en vacances mercredi après-midi. Je suis au travail à temps plein depuis quelques mois seulement et pourtant j'ai hâte aux vacances. Comme quoi on se lasse de tout, surtout quand on se sent étranger au milieu de travail. C'est ironique quand même: l'un des pires emplois que j'ai eus était une position de telemarketer, mais j'ai vraiment apprécié mes collègues là-bas, à défaut du travail lui-même. Maintenant, je vais quitter une position de presqu'enseignant avec une certaine amertume et j'y reviens en septembre à temps très partiel sans le même enthousiasme.

Saturday 18 July 2009

Reasons to be cautiously happy

Life has not always been kind to me recently and many aspects of it make me anxious,but I do have reasons to be happy. I thought I would make a list as a reminder:

1)I am going to be on holiday soon, therefore no more commuting, no more dealings with despicable people for a while.
2)I am going to see Montreal soon.
3)I am going to see my family soon.
4)I will be able to spend more time with my wife.
5)I might work more closely on an author I admire (guess who?).
6)I am still appreciated by some colleagues, two of them really loved the Glove Man.
7)I will have more time to blog (and hopefully more inspiration).
8)Today I went to a little farewell picnic/party with the children I teach to every Saturday morning, as it was the end of the year. My wife went with me and she had the pleasure to meet many of the cuties I teach to. It was very nice, I ate my weight in sugar, had some Pimm's and overall it was a nice farewell.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

La Bastille hier

Je n'ai pas eu l'occasion de le souligner sur ce blogue, mais c'était la Fête nationale des Français hier. Ce n'est pas la première fois que je l'oublie. Assez ironiquement, je n'ai jamais été très amoureux de la France, que j'aime beaucoup moins que l'Angleterre. Cela dit, j'admire le républicanisme français et je troquerais volontiers la monarchie (au Québec comme en Angleterre) pour une république. Hier, j'ai souligné la journée en écoutant La Marseillaise et en regardant un peu de La Révolution française, une excellente minisérie que l'on peut retrouver sur youtube (le début ici pour les curieux).

Monday 13 July 2009

Cats are superior creatures

I just read this article on BBC News, giving yet another proof that cats are so much smarter than us humans. I really want a cat sometimes, like when something like this reminds me why I love those furry manipulative little devils/angels. Cats are just as beautiful as they are intelligent. Anyway, it reminds me too of the cat I "had" in Liverpool (I blogged about her before), a black female who shared many nights purring next to me while I was marking the essays of my students. Sometimes she was standing by the bath, asking for water when I was shaving. Memories... She was my best housemate. Anyway, I miss her purring.

Sunday 12 July 2009

Un dimanche de farniente

Je ne sais pas si c'est à cause de la dernière semaine, qui a été assez frénétique, mais je passe ce dimanche à ne rien faire. Enfin si, quand même, je lis un peu et bien évidemment je blogue, mais je n'ai à peu près rien fait de productif, ou si peu. Je ne suis pas encore en vacances, mais je suis en état de farniente. Le dimanche, que je trouve d'habitude plus déprimant que le lundi, est donc aujourd'hui assez plaisant, en tout cas plus plaisant que ma semaine de petites misères au travail. Et parce que l'année s'achève, je n'attends pas le lundi qui s'en vient avec beaucoup d'anxiété. C'est un des problèmes que j'ai avec les dimanches d'habitude: ils annoncent une semaine de travail, ce qui fait qu'on ne se sent déjà plus en congé.

Friday 10 July 2009

Feeling like an outsider

I thought a lot about this today, as I am not sure what is going to happen of me next year, what job will I have and if I will still work where I work and in which capacity. I often feel like an outsider at work, like I don't belong there. Not to the school itself, not to the world of teaching (teaching is my place really, although maybe not at that level), but to the teaching crowd. I simply don't feel welcomed by many of them, don't feel like they give a damn about my presence there, don't feel they appreciate me in any way. I know one is borderline hostile, but that's not only her. They simply don't talk to me, and in reaction I don't feel like talking to them. Yes, I probably blogged about that before.

Well, I am not the only one feeling like this. The art teacher, a really nice lady (I say this and she is probably only marginally older than me), told me today, when I asked her how she fel, "not part of it". We had a special day today, and they had simply forgotten to tell her that her class was cancelled. It was not the first time it had happened, and it irritated her a lot. I really felt her bitterness, which was similar to my own. I really like her and her colleague, an older guy who does FX and puppets and other similar things. I showed them the Glove Man and they really got enthusiastic, saying that it was probably the most ingenious puppet they saw in ages. The man got so enthusiastic in fact that he asked me to teach him to make it, then showed Glove Man to his son, who has been making a riot at school with the puppet since then. With all the anger I can feel sometimes about some people in my school, I still feel like being there is worth it sometimes. But it is obvious I connect more with other outsiders.

Thursday 9 July 2009

Ah les fraises... les framboises et, dans le cas qui nous concerne, littéralement. J'ai déjà parlé de cette chanson ici, dans un long billet culturo-culinaire (viens-je d'inventer ce terme?) que je fais parfois. On chantait la chanson étant jeune, ayant cueillir l'un ou l'autre. Surtout des framboises chez mon oncle, car on ne cueillait pas vraiment des fraises, sauf parfois des petites fraises des champs dans une coulée près de chez nous, mais on les y trouvait en quantités minuscules. Certainement pas assez pour faire de la confiture. Mon petit frère pourrait vous raconter le souvenir inoubiable d'avoir cueilli enfant des petites fraises des champs avec notre gardienne préférée (véritable Mary Poppins, je bloguerai peut-être sur elle un jour). Mais enfin bref, au Québec il est rare que les deux fruits viennent ensemble, puisqu'ils sont cueillis à deux moments différents de l'été. Ici, on les retrouve sur les étagères tout l'été, elles se sont donc retrouvées ce soir dans le même plat. Je mets la photo ici pour donner une couleur estivale au blogue. L'esprit chauvin que je suis parfois trouve que les fraises ne sont pas aussi bonnes que celles de l'île, mais c'est quand même un mélange intéressant. C'est certainement approprié pour la saison.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Rain after sunshine

Well, the heatwave is gone for now, but instead we had intermittent rain since the beginning of the week, sometimes heavy showers. After the oppressive heat of last week, the drop in temperature is welcomed. We sleep more comfortably at night. I am also hoping for a big summer storm, but it has not happened yet. I do enjoy rain from time to time, especially when I am working. One does not feel trapped at work when it is pouring down outside. That said, I hope it does not last too long. Not after the end of school anyway.

Monday 6 July 2009

Les cent ans du Toblerone

J'ai appris aujourd'hui que le Toblerone a eu cent ans récemment. L'article que j'ai lu est ici. Ca m'a étonné que l'histoire de ce chocolat ait été si mouvementée. Pour moi, le Toblerone est surtout un souvenir d'enfance: c'était le chocolat qu'on utilisait pour nos premières fondues. je croyais qu'il était fait exclusivement pour ça. Je trouvais que sa forme était particulièrement exotique et il me donnait l'impression d'être un produit de grand luxe, en partie à cause de sa forme triangulaire et de son contenant aux couleurs riches. J'ai encore un peu cette impression quand j'en mange.

Sunday 5 July 2009

Festivals, Montréal, absence

Alors qu'ici je n'en finis plus de finir l'année scolaire, au Québec on est déjà en vacances et à Montréal il y a le Festival de Jazz qui doit battre son plein. Cela dit, j'ai une confession à faire: le jazz ne m'a jamais particulièrement attiré. Je ne déteste pas, j,aime en écouter de temps en temps, surtout des vieux classiques, mais je ne suis pas un connaisseur, pas même un amateur. En fait, côté jazz, je suis plutôt inculte et ça ne m'a jamais dérangé. Je suis allé au Festival de Jazz deux ou trois fois dans ma vie, dont une fois en 2005 avec ma femme, il faisait une canicule épouvantable mais on avait bien aimé, quoique ce que j'avais apprécié le plus c'est un spectacle de marionettes en pleine rue, lequel était un peu incongru pour l'évènement. On avait aussi assisté gratuitement à un spectacle de Ron Sexsmith, qui paraît-il est un grand nom du jazz contemporain. Je suis inculte, vous dis-je, surtout à propos des dieux du jazz branché. L'ennui au Festival de Jazz, c'est qu'on sert de la bière de grosse brasserie (des produits Labatt je crois) et que c'est hors de prix pour ce que ça vaut (et ce que ça goûte!).

Parland de bières et de festivals, c'est le Mondial de la Bière qui m'a manqué le plus cette année. Cette année et, je dois l'avouer, les autres années aussi, puisque je n'y ai été qu'une fois. Il est vrai que, vivant en Angleterre maintenant, les festivals brassicoles ne manquent pas.

Friday 3 July 2009

Chronicle of a heatwave

Since the last time I blogged, we are still in a heatwave. After the mediocre summers we had the last two years, I don't complain, but it often gets difficult to go through. This morning, as it was cloudy, I thought there would finally be that heavy rain they have been announcing all week and that finally we would get some rest. I was wrong: it rained yesterday night, but not today, and the temperature slowly got hotter and hotter during the day. I was my natural sweating self by the end of the afternoon. When I travel by train, I sometimes feel like a character of a spaghetti western, minus the five o'clock shadow (I shave daily because of my job). I feel like this especially when I am waiting for the train, somehow the heat and the wait somehow reminds me of the opening scene of Once Upon a Time in the West. My life is incredibly banal, but I try to escape its everyday boredom by daydreaming about various works of fiction. I am a bit of a Don Quixote I guess.

I try to enjoy myself as much as possible in this heat: I drink beer and cold white wines, eat Italian (I guess I cannot escape it), eat lots of fruits (strawberries of course, but I think I should eat more watermelons as it fits the temperature perfectly), listen to Carmen arias (for some reason I am really in the mood for Carmen these days) and overall trying to be on holiday even though I am not yet. I don't know how much I can really enjoy this summertime. The future is uncertain for me: I don't know if I will work in September or where, except for my Saturday job which is secured for the time being. In the meantime, my current job is sort of frantic these days and I have barely any energy left for anything when I am home, and that includes blogging. But I will try to correct this situation as soon as I get on holidays. I don't want the blog to suffer the heatwave too much.