Wednesday, 30 September 2009

the morning after...

Dans farewell drinks party last night. He and Debbie ingeniously
installed two tables in the little park in Rue des Jardins, loaded
them with food and drink and asked everyone round.
I was late due to a meeting at the MJC, joy, but notably sober.
The rest were singing. Ferren had a go at that nice Lehrer song
about plagerism, Nickolai Ivanavich Lobachevsky, voy! and the
elements song ( I did the short Greek version, air, earth, water,
fire; quicker.) Phillippe and the chef from T-Rex did some
impressive Charles Aznavour and Mavis did what Mavis does.

We wish them a safe return, soon. They are doing a chunk of
Europe before returning to Indianapolis but hope to settle here
when the right house turns up.

Here is an unusual site for this blogger; dawn. Lily and I tried
to get our walk in before the hunt arrived - and just to be
extra safe we stuck to the mighty Aude, hoping this was
beyond their remit. Still heard shots: still feel guilty after
eating boar the other night.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

More gossip

Got a visit from next-doors hen.

Claudine is back! Shes been volunteering in Lourdes, sounds
awful to me but she has the good heart. She reports that the
clientele have changed since her last stint: they are Ukrainian,
Hindu, Czechoslovakian and generally not the traditional R.C.

Mavis has two splendid black eyes - looks fab but she wouldn't
let me photograph her. Came down the stairs without the stairs
and greeted the wall head on.

Oscar is OK. He leapt over a seat in the square and changed
his mind en route, resulting in a giant fall. No harm done, it
seems - very glad to hear it!

I've booked extra seats on the coach to Andorra on the 12th
October if anyone wants to come - 10 euros return, leave from
the station at 8.00 am - let me know.

News from Peter R

Finally, Peter R has written; Ive posted entire -

Salut la compagnie!

Well, I made it - though may not have done if I'd delayed
my flight until a few days ago when Manila International
was inundated and many main roads impassable.
It is a major disaster and I feel it personally as never
before, an event on the news. This is an aspect of the
mind-broadening effected by travel and it affects the heart

Safe from the typhoon here in Baguio City, 1500 meters
above sea-level, I hear wrenching stories of friends in the
capital city who have lost everything to the biblical floods:
pet dogs and family photo albums as well as the usual
worldly goods we think we cannot live without. Imagine
living on the roof of your house without nowhere comfortable
to sit eating cold noodles under an umbrella for a couple of
days while waiting for rescue. Bleak!

My former gf, who lives in Metro Manila, is okay. Perched
on the umpteenth floor of a high-end, high-rise in Eastwood
City, she managed to rescue her car just in time from the
basement carpark. Those residents who were away from
their condos will find their cars have been floating around
under water and will never smell the same again. She has
no elevator service or running water even but then walking
up and down the stairs is a good aerobic workout. Meanwhile,
she can shower in her gym and eat in the new mall that's
newly opened practically en-suite. The rich always have it
easier than the poor ...

... me? I've learned to take a shampoo and bath with a
dipper (large, plastic ladle) and a couple of brightly coloured
buckets of water. You can heat up the water but only if you
do so on the hob and carry it down a steep flight of wooden
steps. There is cold running only (and you are grateful to
have that). This is how students at the University of the
Cordilleras live and these are the children of middle-class
families. My current gf, who is studying Hotel and
Restaurant Management, is perfectly at home with this
set-up but I do draw the line - at about two weeks of this
"slumming it".

Don't worry, I've found a flat within walking distance of
downtown Baguio and have a view of the University sports
field, the four-storey SM mall and the distant hills (not
unlike the Pyrennes) clad with pine trees and frequent
fog now that it's the rainy season. I sense an old world
charm but of the dilapidated kind. Imagine Ridley Scott's
settings for Blade Runner and the atmosphere of a Graham
Greene novel. I walked out the other morning to find that
some vicious person had hanged a dog by wire from from
some railings. The dog was a bitch as I could tell by the
rows of nipples down her dead body and her throat had
been torn apart by her struggles before she died.

Why am I here? I am finding out about who I am. I've been
asking myself, "Who am I really?" and I couldn't find the
answer anywhere in Le Clerc or the everyday life of Quillan
or the way everything more or less worked according to a
central bureaucratic plan. Things are more chaotic here in
the Philippines but note the ready smiles - everyone smiles
here in spite of everything. I guess the only way to find out
who you really are is to see how the world really is and I
needed to get the bigger picture. I see the trout enlivened
river Aude and contrast it with the pestilential rivers and
streams here and well ...

... you're very lucky to be where you are, my friends in
Quillan and Esperaza and little Ginoles.

The food here is great, though, very diverse and South East
Asian except you can't easily get hold of magret de canards
or cassoulet but there's pizza, McDo and churros

So, churros for now.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Kat's patisserie

Everyone in Tilling turned out to offer Kat all the best for her
new home and gallery ...
Bonne courage, ma belle!
It was a fine start -

Sally and Pete here assess the artworks

-and Edith, knackered from making sculpture, settles down
outside with the charming Lily.

And Tillings party animals party on -

Orange latest

Was about to call a new provider for the landline when Ian,
whose phone I have to use not having my own on account of
they have cut me off without permission, see below ad
nauseaum, said to try Orange again to see what happened.
Using the English helpline number I got an agreeable
American who helpfully explained that I'd been cut off.
The reason they hadn't turned up to reconnect me is that
my number had already been relocated.
He has arranged to have folk come and reconnect me with
a new number.

Watch this space.

I have had those cute postcard thangs printed with the
old number. Will they replace them? Will they charge me
for the new reconnection? I asked and was told, this is

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Please dont

My Moon Cake fortune said that someone will invite me to a
karaoke party.
If you are out there - please, please, don't.

How to cook a superb french dinner

Last nights dinner was a classic in many ways.

Leo did his famous entrée, salmon in whiskey sauce. Kat made
the salad; little tomatoes of different colours with walnuts,
cucumber, onion and those little pretty salad leaves. I've just
finished it, it tasted as good as it looked.
Sally did the fruit crumble and Maggie bought the apple tart.
There was a little quince and fig tart as made by Annie left
from the night before.

I boiled potatoes and opened two tins of white beans, which
I heated.
Msr Charlie, of Chez Charlie, cooked the wild boar.

There were nine of us and everyone bought good red wine
and the superb blanquette.


(I thanked Msr Charlie this morning and he thanked us back.)

At 10pm on the dot we remembered the firework display after
discounting what at first seemed to be the space aliens attack.
We all scampered out to the old bridge where the fireworks
were being let off - no fey wispy golden showers here, thank
you very much. The earth moved and every demon in town
was expelled by the crashing explosions and the showers of
burning embers that fell on us all - it was great!!

The band afterwards weren't too bad - here they are,
below, being watched by the ex-mayor and his wife.

I'm tender and delicate this morning and I blame the whiskey
in the starter. Nonetheless, off to the market - the other side
of the river because of the overcrowding in the square.

Then on to the vide grenier, big and fun and crowded. Bit
too hot - I shall go back in the cool of the afternoon.

En route I spotted unusual activity in the church and stuck my
nose in to catch the Bishop blessing all and sundry in front of
the astonishingly gaudy statue of St Michel and his endearing

Shall we start a Society against Cruelty to the Emblems of Sin?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

From the Relais Occitan this morning

All is quietish, finally, in Tilling.
California finished playing at 2.00am, Leo thinks; he thought
they were very good. He has got red eyes like an alien this
morning. The tall handsome sort of red-eyed alien, of course.

Me and Lily sauntered around about midnight and Lily was
frightened and we left.

Not before bumping into Saveria and Kelly. I was complaining
that all the girls looked exactly alike (long hair, black t-shirts
cut across one shoulder, tight jeans, long boots, stamping about
in groups smoking furiously) and they said, these are our
children you are talking about Nils - at which point I
remembered my own girlhood and the sharing of the Biba
dresses on rotation, the swapping of the feather boas.

Whatever. But we had better music

Friday, 25 September 2009

Orange curse

The spate of suicides at Orange/Francetelecom are nothing to
do with me. I have not cursed them. I mean, its only a phone;
its only the line to my dear old mother and the handful of
family and friends that don't use the internet, its only the line
that commissions would come in on if I ever got commissions.

Its only been down a month. I've only wasted a total of about
15 hours so far, waiting for them either on a friends phone or
at the house or, like today, after an hours bus and train trip to
get to their showroom, then to hang around Carcassonne
before being able to come home.

Like I say, I haven't cursed them and I wish them no harm.

But my 'bonne appetit' - after I was told by the Orange
salesman that I should get another provider - was very ironic.

So what server does anyone know that is reliable? I have to
give up on Orange, I've run out of ideas.

Then again, an optician took half an hour to extract and
replace the broken bit of my glasses and refused to charge me.
Kindness indeed.

Tonight is the start of our Fete!
California are playing, oh god not again...
do you know, they have been together for 30 years? That our
commune pay 5 grand every year for them? That no-one has
ever met anyone who likes them?

There are those that are complaining that the mayor is forking
out 3 grand of our increased taxes for fireworks, but at least
that'll be over quickly.

The only other startling news - wait for it - is that it isnt raining.
Everyone knows that it rains on the fete of St Michel.

- Though it aint over yet.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

MCJ meeting

Last nights meeting was a blast.

The animateurs - people who run groups - get together to
establish the years timetable. There is a deal of argiebargie
to allocate the many rooms at our disposal.

As ever, everyone spoke at once, loudly, in french. Children
ran in and out; breastfeeding occurred. Since everything is
staffed by volunteers there is a level of amateurishness but
it all works, eventually. And eventually we opened the
blanquette, brought out the pizzas and the snacks provided by
the participants.


So, should you be a member of the MJC (and for a poxy 20
euros*, you can be -) you can sing in occitan: learn traditional
dance: paint and draw from the nude: do Feldenkrais (?),
yoga, gym, English, French, play chess and/or ping pong,
get taught computers and take the kids to do plastic arts,
dancing and drumming.

When I was a kid they cut your hands off if they caught
you drumming.

The photies I took were rubbish so here is a picture of Pete
who does not give a fig, hoho actually he gave several; at this
mornings market.

*plus whatever nominal charges are
incurred on your

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

orange why are you doing this to me

So they didn't come. From 8 till 1.00 I ground my teeth.
Finally at 1.30 I called from Ian's; they cant tell me when
they will come because - hey! - I don't have a phone.

Using my trip out of the house to good effect, I thought,
I stopped off at the tabac where they have allegedly been
copying a big ancient key.

They have lost my only one.

The third massive inconvenience is surely even now
sniggering around the corner...

Monday, 21 September 2009

Tillings new restaurant

I'm idling away time waiting for the legendary telephone
repairman so here is a blow-by-blow description of last
nights dinner.

Peter G., his daughter and little grandson Sonny
plus Kat and I decided to eat out to celebrate the family's

Being Monday, everywhere was closed except for the
new place - Jean-Luc Robbins' old restaurant, in front
of the café de la Gare.
There were a couple eating but otherwise it was deserted.

Kat had checked that there was a 15 euros menu and we
were agreed on that; onion soup/plate of meat/plate of vedg
(doesn't it sound better in french) chicken and chips or steak,
illes flottant/chocolate mouse/ice cream. Plus a bit of wine.

And it was vraiment excellent. Certainly not haute cusine
but dead good nosh.

My onion soup was homemade with real croutons hot from
being fried in olive oil; Kats crudites looked brill, well presented
with a good variety of fresh raw vedge. We all tried the meat
because there was too much - paté, salami, ham, prettily
tricked out with salad and a carved carrot flower.

Three of us went for the poulet supreme which was smart of
us - leg of chicken in a delicious sauce, little round mounds of
puréed carrot , home made chips. Reports of the entrecote
were good.

Me and Pete had ices - me because I was afraid the chocolate
mousse would be one of those pinkish/beige gelatinous ones.
My mistake. It was house made proper chocolate mousse
though I didn't get a taste as the girls wolfed it down. Ices
were as ices are and they had a good selection (though no

The extra half litre of house plonk came in at 5 euroes which
is where they make their profit; ditto the little muscat apero
at 3 each. But hey, celebration.

I suppose to congratulate the sweet waitress on the level of
service is a bit daft, given that there was no-one else to serve.
She was funny and attentive and helped with Sonny and felt
like a friend by the end of the night.

Unlike the phone repair man - still no sign of him. Guess I'll
just go to work...

download the book FREE

You came to the expo; you got the postcard; now
you can download the book FREE

do let me know if it works....
It'll play havoc with your ink cartridge, there are
21 pages in full colour.
There's free and there's free.

Though you can just view it in a PDF file.

Rennes-les-Bains party animals

I've been in Rennes - see above, viewed from a hill- and now
closed the expo and come home for a rest.

Last night was dinner at Mark and Kates - smashing, but I was
so tired after dinner at Trebours, the vernissage at Artoteque,
the meal at Will and Marvis and the dinner I gave before
leaving that I fear they may regret having made such an effort
for such a dull guest.

And you may indeed be wondering why you are bothering to
read such a dull entry.

Off for a kip.

Friday, 18 September 2009

what to do if your landline stops working

The first thing NOT to do is to call FranceTelecom on 1013.
They have many button pressing options which take time and
ultimately lead to a human, who (in my case) will be unable to
help because there is nothing wrong with the line.

There is an Orange line that will talk in Franglais,
(hang onto this number) but even so they will insist there is no

Except the phone doesn't work.

They had me do all sorts of tricks given that the ADSL line is
fine and still assured me that the phone, which hadn't worked
at least three weeks according to my mother, is working.

Diligence revealed that Leos phone is right as rain.
They had been testing the wrong number.
Mine has been 'degroupez' without authorisation.

Now we come to the important number; English Customer
Service line for Orange. Tattoo this somewhere visible.

0800 364 775

press option 1.

They are allegedly coming on Tuesday morning to fix it.

Others have said that you should always go to the English
helplines because the service is better.

Exhaused. Off to Rennes les Bains for the weekend.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Ferren MacIntyre has a birthday

Tillings genius, Ferren MacIntyre, was not celebrating his
birthday today so we had to do it for him. Pete and Annie
arrived at dawn after a summers absence and despite attendant
exhaustion did the birthday dinner, with me and Peter G. as
The pressie Ferren is holding was a gift from Barbara Jackson:
her pastel portrait of Aileen. The birthday boy was well chuffed!

Monday, 14 September 2009

new page for expo


-then you don't have to bother going to the exhibition
though of course the psychic presence of the work is
an added attraction, as is Rennes-les-Bains.

Magie et Mythe vernissage

It was a lively event, as Ian's photo shows...
people were nice: people I'd never met came to me with
generous things to say. Others were mercifully silent.

It is always horrendous for an artist to exhibit, its like
dropping your knickers while (inexplicably) dancing on
a strangers dinner table.

I managed to enjoy the evening by thinking of myself as
the curator, not the artist, having selected work from many
periods of my working life; Glasgow, Manila, Bexleyheath
(weird residency at Hall Place), Lincolnshire (result of the
Artescape Fellowship) with some current work sneaked in.

Dinner was at Will and Marvis at the Place Deux Rennes with
a large crowd that included Henry Lincoln of HBHG fame.

A remembered snatch of conversation, Trebour to Ferren:
What came first, matter or consciousness?
Ferren: I don't think consciousness has arrived yet.

Many thanks are due. To the amazing Marcus and Corella for
inviting me, giving me an apartment to stay and work in for
the duration, for organising the invitations, for the vernissage
booze, for all their unstinting time and trouble; to Peter G., hero,
for packing and shifting the work; to Corella, who has the
mysterious ability to take a load of old art and make a coherent
show; to guests and visitors known and unknown.

I must also mention Mike Hincs. The slot at l' Espace d'Art was
his but his mothers terrible illness and subsequent heart attacks
prevented him from taking up the opportunity - I was a last minute
stand-in. You can imagine what a pleasure it was to see Barbara
on Sunday - Mike drove her up for a visit - looking terrific!

Mike looks wrecked, mind you.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Fridays vernissage

Crotal fun

Bunked off today. Spent the morning seeing Mike Hincs show in
Quillan, highly recommended; then watched Marcus change a flat
tyre with masterly efficiency.
Tebour and Mark joined in for a fossil hunt - to counter the chasse,
(do wear red if you go into the mountains on a Wednesday) -
and found the usual extraordinary stuff, plus the above which
I'm sure you recognised immediately as a section of a crotal bell
(well, Marcus knew what it was)
A great souvenir of the 9th of the 9th of the 9th -

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

a bee in the bonnet

Last night was very busy, as you may see from the activity in
my lampshade.
It was quite quiet for me though.
Which is as well; Friday is the private view of my marvellous
new exhibition!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Le weekend

Whats the point of having a Daddy who used to do TV if you cant
blog him?
Here is my old Dad, aged 14 (ish)...

I have been away for the weekend with Robin, my childhood
chum and his wife, Brenda. Excellent! Of the many good fun
things we did, the expo this morning continues to glow in what
is left of my consciousness.

Valérie Favre is the artist; it is at the Carré d'Art in Nimes.
Sort-of Luc Tuyman-esque, but not. Her series on suicide
are, ahem, to die for. The video of 40 retired persons and a
dwarf dancing is mesmerising and far more - it'll be on the net
somewhere, properly called
Choreographie fur Hellerau fur Rentner und einem Zwerg
I'd check it out and post a link but I'm knackered.

Just before leaving a letter from Barbara arrived from far-flung
Vermont; took a miraculous short 4 days to get here.

She writes of hearing Wolf Kahn speaking at the Brattleboro
Museum. I'm sure she wont mind me listing some of the quotes
she lifted from him ...

"...It is important to be ignorant. Innocence of spirit is
essential. Expertise is the enemy of ignorance. The special artist
must have a capacity for spontaneity.... arrogance, deceit and
disrespect are necessary. One gets further without modesty.
Colour is liberating, the essence of innocence, it moves one into
the world of the imagination"

Its a great letter. If you are passing come and check it out.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Bienvenue Jackie!

Yesterday was Jackies first day in her new home at our old
home in Rue des Jardins. We celebrated in the traditional
fashion plus a delicious meal.

Here are Louis and Oscar, already settled.

Everyone who has stayed there will appreciate that Jackie
will enjoy it - when shes got used to the church bells -
heres wishing her good luck and much happiness

Iains news...

At last, contact from the frozen north. Iain, do come and stay
and tell Msr Hall and our other friends to as well.
Its so quiet without you*sniff. [editor pulls herself together..]

Iain has this to say for himself:

We are in the middle of the Edinburgh Festival which has been
great so far. Been to lots of concerts and going to another 5.
The big exhibition this year is titled Spain, Goya to Picasso
but I'm going to leave that until after the festival crowds have
left. Even if there was no street theatre or acres of posters I'd
still know that it was the festival as it has pissed with rain
To be fair it didn't wait for the festival to start, it has been
chucking it down for weeks. Reading about other parts of the
country with brilliant sunshine and lusting after the sun in
other climes proves to me that I have settled back into Scottish
life. The saddest part is that once the festival is finished it
almost seems that autumn is here and then its the long
darkness till spring(ish)time.
I had intended to be more advanced in the garden but the
weather has not permitted that. The house is nearlyish
finished but it is still like living on a building site which would
be fine if they were an attractive bunch but alas, no. We have
about 17 or 18 men working here fairly regularly and you
would think that there would at least be a little eye candy.
I am going to a fringe show or two this evening with Stephen
McGowan and I 'm hoping that la Hall will be able to come along.
I don't see much of him at the moment as he is always working.
Stephen McGowan is having his medical today which will be his
final hurdle allowing him to fly off to Australia at the end of
December. I am happy for him but I will miss him.
I hope you are well and are able to cope with all that warmth
and sunshine.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Summer Report

Daniel has sent a piece from an English paper, The Independent,
about the goring of a bullfight official in Carcassonne.
La Depeche says Christian Baile is still in hospital in Toulouse,
in intensive care.

Poor chap was a big cheese in the revival of bull fighting.
French law says that bull fighting is illegal unless there is an
unbroken tradition... there is more of an unbroken tradition
in Tilling where, until they closed and demolished the abattoir
by the church, bulls were run regularly to ensure that they were
fit enough to be eaten. But dont tell the mayor.

Half a ton of bull broke into the safe zone at the Carcassonne
run and attacked Msr Baile; then came back and gored him in
thigh and abdomen.

It seems to have chosen him in particular to attack.


Now its raining and the temperature has dropped after the 36°
of yesterday - a welcome respite. Time to update on the state
of Tilling.

Basically, it aint good financially. The Petit Casino has closed as
has the chinese takeaway and - heaven help us - the Café de la
Gare. Our Chambres d'hotes have no great drop in numbers but
the happy carefree spenders seem to have stolen away in the
night. Why is the mayor not assisting critical businesses here?
Has he offered them a temporary respite from taxes? Of course
its every homme for himself but these places impact big time on
a small community.

What IS our leader doing to ensure our survival and maintaining
our bourgeois life?
Well, hes had a bench put outside Andrée Bonnetts gate, so you
can sit and watch her house.
Fair enough.
But to put in traffic lights outside the school is an anarchists
charter for traffic disruption - unusually intelligent of him -
though they are gently toppling over.

See that angle?
I saw him the other morning trying to push it upright.
Perhaps he was just trying to see how loose it was.
The opposite one, on Jill and Tony's side, has been
fenced in with red and white plastic ribbon for several weeks.

I think he fears it will try and gore him.