Saturday, 31 October 2009

mushrooms: magic?

These bizarre mushrooms have appeared by the river.
They are very hard - probably not ripe enough to eat yet.
Curiously comfortable to sit on though.

Join the MJC

Last night was the AGM of the MJC.

The MJC is part of the Federation Française des Maisons des
Jeunes et de la Culture which was set up after the last European
war to reconstruct French culture, train the young and generally
do good. It functions as a cross between a village hall and an
institute for evening classes; strictly non-profit making. Which
means you can't charge to give a class, which limits what can be
done; but stuff gets done and jolly fun it is too.

To participate in anything you have to be an adherent - you
have to join. Its 20 euros a year and less if you're a kid. For this
you get the free use of a room for your purposes, if your
purposes tally with the MJC's - and you get to attend anything
you want, from art to yoga, help with your computer or French
paperwork and, incidentally, to join the library.

Rather critically, it is paid for by the Mayor who is always
trying to close it. His latest ruse is to cut off the heating for
some of the time. It costs 8,000 euros a year for the two
buildings - the Cultural Centre and the Maison Louis Alibert,
(over the footbridge.)

It seems to me that as 10% of our commune are members, they
can expect to be warm. The Mayor wasn't at the meeting last
night but sent his adjunct who announced the central heating
cuts and added when asked that they had no intentions to
re-decorate. OK - we wont be driven out by that dingy yellow -
but cold is another matter.

The office is open Tuesdays 11am-12am and English speakers
are on hand, so come and get involved. Its a really good way to
enter the local french community.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Mock not...

I come from a culture that has been shaped by people thinking
that bread and wine can be made into the flesh and blood of a
Palestinian Jew who may or may not have lived some 2,000
years ago so I am loathe to take the mick out of other peoples'
belief systems.

-In Tilling we have a fair gamut.

There are The People that Smoke Dope; The People that are
Waiting for the Giant Reptiles; and the General New-Agers,
broadly divided into Thaumaturgists, Witches, Sorcerers,
Healers, Divinators (including crystal danglers, necromancers,
astrologers and etc). With their range of practices, eating
shibboleths and rituals they provide esoterically minded people
with endless food for thought.

Seeing someone we all know from the first category coming out
of Tilling Town Hall yesterday, (Faiant, anag.) I asked what
was happening in his life.

He had been to the Mayor to complain about being bombarded
by strange mind-bending gasses that are sprayed over Tilling
by small airplanes.

I have heard other People who Smoke Dope on this subject and
they are united in their belief that the Government - which one
is unknown - are squandering taxpayers money by building
and flying airplanes loaded with etc etc.

My informant had a new slant. He tells me that they are spraying
clouds of Aluminum in an attempt to halt global warming.

He was working in Rouvenac when a cloud of these Aluminum
flakes surrounded him and he is coughing them up ever since,
hence his complaint to the Mayor.

I was charmed by the resemblance to the medieval myths of the
Virgin being encompassed by a cloud of little white flames as a
symbol of her conception by the Holy Spirit. How these myths
mutate; but I digress.

What, I hear you cry, did the Mayor say?

Unfortunately the Mayor was busy but his Adjunct saw our
friend. He told him it was something to do with the weather.

Alors; it clearly was up to me to go and see what is happening
in the heavens above Tilling. If my mind hasn't been too bent
So off up the mountain this afternoon, and here is what I saw;
Now I don't know what you see but I see a spaceship in the middle
of a galactic battle. If you magnify the picture you can see the grey
cloud where the projectile has hit the ship before falling and
(presumably) crashing.

And here is one of the blue spirits generally assumed to be aliens
but zoom in and you can see little wiggly things, some with faces -
perhaps alien helpers?
Finally I think we can take heart. This last image has hope in it;

it shows clearly the mask of Zorro.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

goodbye Maggie and Adrian

Maggie and Adrian are off back to Blighty on Sunday.
Heaven knows why.
They gave a farewell dinner for Annie and Pete
incorporating Arden and Ellen (and Ryan), plus petite moi.
It was enormous fun. Much laughter and lavishness in food and wine and amusing talk. Adrian and Maggie do these things so well - I figure, lots of blanquette, lots of red wine and the rest looks after itself. They do different wine with each special course.
An original and delicious idea.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Mr & Mrs Scottish Dave:that wedding in full

for the complete troth plighting experience -

It wasn't that long ago but everyone looks very young - or is it
that everyone is happy??

chocolate kisses

Big sloppy kiss to whoever left chocolates in my mailbox.

-I've asked a few folk if it were them and got an apology, like,
sorry I didn't think to give you chocolate. Embarrassing all round.

Not embarrassing enough to share the chocolates, however -

Sunday, 25 October 2009

cultural weekend

On Saturday morning I hopped the bus and train to Carcassonne:
booked into a hotel, La Bastide in the Rue de la Liberté, which I
recommend if you need to stay in Caca. (Little family place,
clean and cheap and far, far from pretentious -)

Did some galleries and met up with Adrian and Maggie - Phillipe
having dropped out on account of work - and drove out to the
Pont Rouge for the much awaited live link-up with the
Metropolitan Opera in New York, doing Aida at the multiplex.


As my neighbour said, beaucoup d'emotion... of course the singing
was amazing but seeing everything that close up gave a chance for
the acting also to develop. There were strange glitches in continuity
during the intermissions when the stars were interviewed; from
huge stage and massive voices and big frocks, to backstage chat -
then back on for deathless avowals of love. Weird.
I liked seeing backstage, the revealed fact that an opera is like an
iceberg, only an eighth visible (and audible). Mega support staff
silently making it happen.

I'm sure you know the plot - boy meets girl (1), boy in business of
killing girl (1)s family and friends, other girl (2) demands love of boy
who denies it on account of being in love with girl (1), who is
bullied by her father into tricking him to give away military
secrets. Girl (2) denounces boy who is sentenced to be buried
alive, joined by girl (1) who has anticipated this and instead of
bringing sandwiches and a shovel, sings an incredibly
beautiful song and dies.

What can you do? Boy meets girl, sees futility of relationship
and marries princess? Girl falls for boy, recognises the
impossibility of life together, goes out with the milkman?

Verdi was apparently interested in the old argument of state
versus personal fulfillment. Betray your country or your friend.
I wonder what people argue about nowadays - whose name to
have tattooed where, probably.

On getting back late to Caca, in an operatic daze, found the
Occitane manif going strong. They want to be recognised as
an independent region with its own political representation,
culture and language. José Bove was allegedly speaking though
I didn't see or hear him but 20 thousand others were there, very
mixed; old and young, families and activists. Mostly good
humoured, some militancy, air punching and shouting.
Pussycats though.

I had a video of them singing in Occ but it wouldn't upload... so
here they are not singing in Occ.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Biekes back

Haven't seen Bieke here for a couple of years but here she is -
hurrah! - until Thursday.
Shes fasting, hélas, so if you want to feed her its raw vedg.
If you want to feed us both, its raw vedg and and three courses of
something delicious for me. And wine - don't worry, I'II have


One of the many delights of dinning with friends in the mountains
is that, if you are lucky, you get to stay overnight.
So this morning after a marvellous evening with Adrian and Maggie,
this is what I saw when I woke up -

Thursday, 22 October 2009

dinner in Montazels

Dinner with Stephen last night. I'm wary of publishing some of my pictures of him - our aesthetics differ and what I regard as
appealing he inevitably dislikes - and Leo has had too starring a role in this blog for too long, or so I'm told.

Which means Roo and Alinda get featured and here they are on the plateau, which was just light and warm enough for the apero before dinner.

Stephen has dietary restrictions which didn't mesh with the other dietary restrictions around the table.
As a result he cooked a totally separate meal for his guests,
which he couldn't taste. It was excellent - how did he do it?
-Inherent skills, I guess.

He has stopped drinking alcohol and is trim, lean and charming.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

More from the Philippines

Peter R writes from Baguio city;

The great winds continue to pass me by. I have, though, a front
row, grandstand view of the unfolding disaster movie.
By next week, the typhoon season should have blown over and
the latest threat "Lurpit" will require, on my part, nothing more
than a quick check on stocks of drinking water, loo-flushing
water, candles and tinned food. etc. It's possible power, water
and roads will be knocked out again for a while. This is a bit
more of a nuisance than going round the house changing all
the clocks by one hour when British Summer Time is due or
undue but, given our British pluck, grit and stiff upper lip, I
am resolved to cope. We made do and mended during the Blitz,
after all. Or, well, we only just missed it.
But, there is weirdly, something chronologically laggard about
this place. This morning, at 4.30 am. I was wakened by the
rhythmic stamping and chanting of marine cadets as they
jogged by my condominium block from the local outpost of the
Philippines Military Academy. You know the sort of thing: Birdy,
birdy in the sky, Drop a little bird shit in my eye. I'm a big boy,
I won't cry. I"m just glad cows don't fly. And every so often, we
see pairs of "Apocolypse Now" choppers go whap! whap! past
our French windows, the side doors open but, a bit disappointingly,
no machine guns are seen mounted and manned.
Now, must go do a little desultory panic-buying of essential
provisions. Must remember to find a transistor radio and some
more batteries.
Après moi, le déluge! eh? But though it seems to be after me,
it never seems to catch me.
Do I miss Quillan and Esperaza? Good question.
Will you take a rain check?

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Orange free state

Believing today to be my last on line due to the arrival of Orange
to mess about with my line again, I killed the time waiting for
them doing some research.

The hot news in the art world is that skulls and owls are in and
glitter is out.

And the good news is that Orange didn't come.

Monday, 19 October 2009

fun brocante invitation

This just arrived in the in box:

Dear All,

Because we have accmulated so much stuff,we are
having a fun Brocante this coming Wednesday 21st
October 2.30p.m. - 6.00 p.m. with music and good

Its taking place at our stables at Le Picou. We
have loads of different things to sell - pas cher!!!
- very cheap.

Jewellery, loads of crystals, pictures, curtains,
cushions, cloths, CDs, DVDs, records and videos,
crockery,garden implements and much more.


Lots of love Julie x

Julie Soskin M. Phil
Le Picou
11, Route de Montferrand,
11190 Rennes Les Bains

vide grenier

What a nice weekend!

Tilling had another vide grenier (literally, empty attic - where
get rid of your junk for paltry dosh) This one was in aid of the
school so there were good cakes at the tea stall. No tea, mind you.

It was cold but bright and all the world was out in force.
Peter G is back from Amsterdam with Nel. Corella is back from
England, Martin was out from his house, most of Tilling was
treasure hunting and happily chattering. Zaheer, co-Master of
Western Esotericism, visited with his partner Eliza and found
some old records that he wanted.

I got two smashing rugs for 2 euros each.

That was following on from finding a totally brill jacket at the
fripperie. Photo of that to follow -there are no words- when I
get round to it .

Here is our phone box, a second home to me since Orange cut
off the land line. I know I said I wouldn't mention them again
but they have sent me a text saying they are coming here on
Tuesday. Why? I didn't ask for them.

Perhaps they are bringing me flowers.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

knees-up at Ginoles

Biz and Mick held a party last night in their tiny village by
Quillan... the views from their back windows are like a
fanciful surreal painting, swooping down the valley to over
the mountain tops.
Perfect setting, really enjoyed seeing some old friends (Dawn
and Derek were there, Victoria and Fred, Nino and Paloma,
Garth, Julie...) Marcus gave me a lift and left early to collect
Corella from the train, Pete and Annie took me with them to
drop Theo and Ben at a party above Limoux before going to
their Quillan palace for dinner.
This is more information than you need but I wanted to see
what I could remember.

OOH Anyone like Verdi's Aida? A cinema in Cacassonne have a
live link with the Met in NY on Saturday. You'll see better than
if you were at the Met and at 20 Euros it'll be a deal cheaper too.
I'm going; if you want me to get a ticket for you too, let me know.

What could be more fun than watching entombed lovers dying
on a Saturday night?

Saturday, 17 October 2009

remember summer?

Jo has sent this over... it was seconds ago we were complaining
about the heat. This'll bring it all back while you look for the thermal

Theological news

St Theresa of Liseaux is on tour and arrived at Westminster
Cathedral in Victoria (London) on the 12th of this month.
(Cut and paste the link above to see a youtube film of her

Tony Blair has been spotted there - unluckily for him, by
Matthew Parris, who writes that this means hes a REAL catholic,
not a political opportunist (Pope Ratzo Nazi is backing him for
President of Europe, according to gossip)

Visiting the relics gets you a plenary indulgence, that is, all your
sins forgiven. Tonys off the hook for war crimes then, phew.
- used to have to pay for these things, what is Holy Mother
Church coming to...

St Theresa was one of those nice saints who was very much put
upon by life, the church and her convent. She had a vocation to
the priesthood, which she felt strongly, but then as now if you
dont have a penis you can't be a catholic priest. She died aged
24 - the age that men are ordained.

And now we see whats left of her being tarted about as if that
gives legitimacy to the church that did her in.

As Parris says, god help us all.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Sinking Ships

To say that Mavis is leaving Tilling is like saying the Ravens are
leaving the Tower of London. Impossible to image life here without

She says she is going, though - and tonight invited us all to
La Creperie for a farewell bash. Back in six months, maybe.
She'll be on a plane elsewhere tomorrow, followed by Dave and El
on Saturday. Fortunately Peter G will be back soon with Nel or life
will be distressingly quiet.

Mavis has pulled, at least...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Fait accompli...

Ians new kitten - Feta - here seen inspecting Lily

Almost as cute as Mrs Scottish Dave being given the bumps
on her wedding day - Toby has sent her photos over (shes back
in Amsterdam, hoping to be back for Christmas or at any rate
the spring)

Yesterdays fun -

So here are the shadows of me and Ian as we paused on our
cycle ride to Campagne-sur-aude by the old hydro-electric
dam -

and here is why we were going there, at Carmens, for the vernisage of young Gaelle Navarro and a gig by Bizern.

Feeling our age somewhat we didn't stay and instead went on to inspect Ferrens new eco-palace.
Not only fabulous and environmentally brill,
but also very nearly completed in under a year.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

end of the world not coming - its official

According to Apolinario Chile Pixtun, a Guatelmalan Mayan
elder, the end of the world is not nigh after all.

Anyone called Apolionario Chile Pixtun has authority and gets
my vote.

Those who have been packing their bags to enter the shelters in
2012 may as well not bother. And its in the Telegraph today,
so it must be true.

It was the Mayan calender - misunderstanding of - that
started the rumour in the first place though it seems there may
be something landing at about that time so maybe the lizard-folk
of these parts are right after all (they expect Mount Bugarach
either to hatch, revealing the lizard civilization within, or for the
12ft high lizards from Betelgeuse to land there.)

On a saner note, Annie put me on to this: Foutaises by Jean-Pierre


What can one say? Its a frontier town entirely
composed of shops all selling the same things,
all round about the same prices as Ed's or Super U.*
On the other hand, the mountains are as big as they
come and the bus trip a living comedy strip.

Yesterday we were over
subscribed. You have to book and there nine people too many.

The lady from Grocelles announced that the guilty ones had to own up or we'd sit there till they did.


So she took out her list and came down checking names. Nasty moment when we thought I had bought in one extra but diligent re-reading of the list made all well.
The unlisted ones claimed to have phoned in and booked and that the error was on the part of the admin. Much shouting ensued and a refusal to budge followed.
Eventually - full - we left late and then had to turn
away people who had booked at Fa, Lavenet and points
en route.

Lady from Grocelle gave the coach a strict talking-to
which amounted to instructions not to phone Grocelle
staff at home but only at the office and after that she
calmed down.

It is a brilliant day out. If you want to book for next month,
phone 0468 74 09 32

*except for the booze and the fags which are toxicly cheap.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

shock horror housework

Idly reading Mat Hiltons site concerning his current work, I was struck by the emphasis on sweeping his studio in the mornings and engaging with the calm and contemplative rhythm of the action.
It dawned on me that a lot of energy is wasted in crossing my atelier as it has become an obstacle course. I haven't cleaned it in three years, possibly more. Can't even see the floor, let alone sweep it.

Bearing in mind also that Autumn is the time for new beginnings, with Kellys help a load has been binned. It hasnt actually been cleaned but you can see a lot of the floor now and I have hopes for a calm start to each day.

Here is this mornings sunrise from the field at the back of the house -

The market this morning was awash with friends and gossip though nothing publishable.

I myself had a blameless Saturday night - after eating with Ian I watched channel 3 TV, a brill french
detective movie called les courriers de la mort.
Left it to walk dogs with Annie,Pete and Di, that is to
say Tech, Lily and Jenny -
I got back late in time for the denouement, so I know
who did it but not why.

Anyone else see it? Enlighten me?

Friday, 9 October 2009

Baguio city cut off

Peter R has written from the Philippines where he was last
heard of expecting a typhoon at Baguio city. He has survived
with his good humour intact; he writes

We've just heard on SMS that all roads in and out of Baguio
are closed because of mudslides and rock falls.

Help! We're cut off from the outside world! Okay ... should
we panic? Oh, I know. Quick! let's jump into a taxi and go
shopping - we need comfort food in this dire emergency.
How's about loads and loads of take-away dim sum to eat
back home while watching all of the Scary Movie series.

It's dead easy to discount the live horrors of this apocalyptic
weather when you're lucky old you.

What fun we had, shopping! Enough now as the skies are
already darkening and I want to gloat over my purchases, than
which nothing is more essential for those setting up home in a
strange new apartment: duct tape, one big roll of.; WD40, one
aerosol tin of (making sure the little flexible tube you push into
the nozzle is there; double-sided mounting tape; rechargeable
LED lamp; a claw hammer and strong scissors, etc, etc. And
loads of dim sum with appropriate sauces to fortify you when
you are facing the end of the world.
... Look! I've even remembered to buy a big can of Baygon
cockroach killer. Now, I'm ready for anything.

Brr. Good luck, Peter, and thanks for remaining alive.
l'm sorry to see that seventeen people have been killed in
Baguio's mudslides and storms.

Seems irreverent to mention that we had a sudden storm
last night - from calm night to high winds in seconds - but all
over in about an hour. Got thunder and lightening too, earth
smells marvellous this morning.

The cave of Mary Magdalene

Tebour has posted a video of the cave he's found in
Rennes les Bains, referencing the image on the altar of Rennes
le Chateau church of the Magdalene. Looks like they are the
same though I dont know how much variety there is in caves...
one small curved rock space with a spring is much like another,

And if it is the same and was known locally as a hermitage, what
does it tell us? Place was riddled with hermits - still is. Nice to
know some of them were women though difficult to confirm that
they were the widow of Jesus.

Trebour also mentions Platos cave. Clearly Rennes has always
been a popular holiday destination.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Putting out our Kat

Kat left this morning to go to Greenwich (London) for five weeks
to go on a course. Naturally we gave her a send-off.

Toby arranged dinner for about a dozen of us with a few
contributions from the participants. Mine own was dead mens'
fingers' pie which went down very well (the secret is to always
use fresh ingredients.) Ian produced his legendary spinach pie.
There was more from others of which I remember chiefly Annies
salad ...

Toby did something marvellous with a chicken and lemon; Thai
inspired. Yum.

And there was much laughter with the squirty cream and jelly.

Nobody hardly drank anything oh no hohoho honest.

The night was balmy enough for us to eat in the garden and since
the camera has no flash - I dunno why, am I a techie?? - my
photies are but black.

Alors, a late night. When I woke at my customary pre-dawn
time I thought the sound of bees swarming was in fact bees
swarming -these things happen - but it turned out to be rain.
Forgotten what rain sounds like. Didn't last, the sunshine is
gloriously back, so it wont have helped the land much.

Off to market, I found our Kat waiting for her lift to the airport...

We'll miss you!!!

But life must go on- so there were six ladies at the lunch Louise
cooked in Kats absence, Sue from Fa, Mrs Scottish Dave, Yvonne,
Toby, me and Lou herself. Stonking delicious.

At least Kat will loose some weight in London, though she doesn't
need to. I shall have to find some sort of diet or just stop going out-
won't be able to waddle up the mountain soon.
Here is lovely Louise, grafting over a hot oven to ensure that I stay
upholstered like the middle-aged matron I seem to resemble.
Brilliant lunch and over far too soon - I blame Andy and Jon for
coming back - thanks Lou!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

not a shotgun but a wedding, for sure

The Scottish Daves Wedding... here Leo is taking control.

At last they're legal, probably - is it legal to get married in what
Leo calls a skirt?

These photies from Louise - there are more coming from Toby,
perhaps others too? Many folk from Tilling turned up to make
sure all was proper and they are back now with tales to tell...
It will not surprise you to know that the wedding of Dave and
El happened in Scotland, where it must have stopped raining
for the day. Andy and Lou were there - see above - Lou as
bridesmaid, Andy as himself - one of the french guests wrote
a poem for the event which it would be fun to get hold of, anyone
got a copy?

-And congratulations to our own Mr and Mrs Scottish Dave!!!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Orange end

I'm very sorry that in 19 months, 24 employees of France
Telecom/Orange have killed themselves.
I tried to be nice today to their representative - who did at any
rate turn up - when he tried to cut off my ADSL line.
They cut off my fixed line for no reason that they can explain
see below (or don't - boring boring, endlessly boring.)
In order to give me another fixed line he has to cut the ADSL
for some time - maybe only two weeks.

I will either proceed without a fixed line using only Skype,
facebook, email and portable or find another provider.

I will also try and find a mechanism to make a formal complaint.

And I will now stop talking about it.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

weird dawn

This mornings dawn - two views up and down the railway line.

Signs and portents, probably.

All quiet here. Had dinner last night at Le Cantou, which is an
archaic word meaning the seat by the fire (probably best
translates as inglenook) Captain has gone and Frank and Liz took
pity on me; had a lovely evening.

Again, Im waiting for the Orange man to fix the landline...
this week Im using the time to clean up the garden.

The Hot House event -

Kates open studio was a blast - you could just wander about and
see her work in situ. Prices were slashed. She done good.
And Marks chocolate and orange cake was some type of gateway
to a new order of being.
Bob and I basked in the sun on the terrace and enjoyed the
people, the art, the tea and naturally, the whippets.
I don't know the name of the mezzo soprano who sang to Marks
piano but I won't forget her voice... they are playing together
somewhere grand. I'II blog as and when.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

natural disasters

Latest from Peter R. -

This was texto'd to him, while he was at coffee in Baguio City;

Typhoon comin tmrw. Storm eye now north of us. 240 km winds. May move south direct over us. Get plenty food+water, candles+flashlight."

He continues:

I think we'll survive this one. If not, then this will be the second and last of my brief bulletins from Baguio City in a dreadfully soggy Philippines. Please send what you can afford to any reputable agency collecting money and supplies for the poor, storm afflicted people of the Philippines.

There is no more news... Bonne courage, Peter.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Kates art sale

Tomorrow- Sat 3rd - from 10.00am till the evening - is Kate
Hardy's studio sale.
Mark will make cake. There will be tea. There will be music.
Be there!!