Monday, 31 May 2010

where does the time go?

I remember an evening at T-Rex with Anne and Margaret
where we couldn't stop laughing (- Phillipe had made a dish of
courgettes with thick tomato sauce, goats cheese and honey
which was delicious and we had that with a texas pizza and T-
Rex's very good staple red wine-)
and I remember trying to find the MJC picnic. The above photo
is what happened - it clearly didn't happen where I thought it
would, which either means I got it wrong or they changed the
venue and decided not to tell me.

I remember a dinner at mine - God, I'm a mean cook - which
was graced by Mike and Hilary, their friend Ian, Leo and Kat -
a very entertaining group -
and I remember Sundays vide grenier which was fantastic.
Its written into the charter - has to be.

Finally I remembered the camera.

So here are Kat, Margaret and Anne at the Auberge Faby where
Sunday lunch acquired a new dimension.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Nice arse

Because humans have opposing thumbs they became tool
They developed speech centers in the brain so they could
say, who's nicked my hammer?
Then they stood up and evolved arses so they could wear
jeans and carry tools around.

Darwin should have been a working man - he'd have got the
point far quicker.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

french letters

I'm outraged at an advert I've just seen on French TV (yes, I've
been ironing again)
It shows a young woman answering her mobile phone, dropping
a condom from her handbag. Her Grandmother picks it up -
girl pulls face - Grandma says, ho, they do them in strawberry
now- and tucks it into her bra.
(Inexplicably, this is advertising a car.)

The reason I'm outraged is because they knicked this from my
own dear Grandma.
When she was in her early nineties, she asked me if I had any
condoms. I told her, no, I wasn't in a relationship. She said,
Oh that's a shame darling, can you get me some??

Turns out she wanted them to hold her opened tubes of paint
since she had trouble with the caps. She figured that keeping
the tube in a condom would keep them airtight.

So I sent a selection of coloured and flavoured condoms.
So the packet split in the post.
So the postman had to hand them over on the doorstep.
So my uncle was breakfasting with her at the time...
It goes on and its far funnier than the car advert.

Incidentally, she was right AND wrong. Condoms work for
a while but perish quickly. Cling film is better.

Monday, 24 May 2010


No escaping it - Venice is blindin'. Gobsmaking, clichéd and
Top moments: Opera, Don Giovanni, the blackest possible. This
is Mozart, pretty tunes, bit of drama, being turned into a rape/violent/
demonic orgy with cred. And a trick ending.
Downside of Venice: the earth is always moving, swaying, going
up-and-down, creaking and shifting and tilting.
Or I could be tooo sensitive.

Got back after a voyage comparable to that of Ulysses (thanks to
Victoria for rescuing me) then took a bottle of blanquette to Leos.
So did Kat. Unfortunately Leo had one too.
So after a bottle each I'm still going up-and-down, swaying,
creaking, shifting...
on the plus side, on an empty stomach the vitamins and minerals
that make blanquette such a popular health drink hit the stomach
lining faster and are quickly digested.

Thence to walk my dear Lily. The Bullfrogs are broadcasting their
astonishing masculinity; les petites ducs are looking out for dinner;
the mad chemist in the sky has puffed vulgar perfumes over our
moonlit lanes.

And where are my co-dog walkers Annie and Pete?
Elsewhere, thats where. Aint fair.

Wanted to go on about Don Giovanni and other treasures -
the head of Francis of Assisi, for example, and the many
Tintorettos left lying about in churches, badly framed.

Will probably write more on all when the blanquette wears off.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

art ahoy

Marcus and Corella are back ---- and tonight was the start of the
Artistes a Suivre, formerly known as the Chemin des Artistes.

L'Espace d'Art at Rennes les Bains played host to the expo of
Anna dos Santos - she is in the last pîcture - and here are
Gaynor and Jamsie, Kat and Trebour all having fun - there
would have been more photos of people there, all coming out
of the woodwork after this long winter, except by my third
blanquette I forgot.

afterwards met with Annie and Pete and Theo and Ulla B and
Aileen and Mat and many others, for a very fattening dinner at

It was great.
I'm off to Venice tomorrow morning for 10 days. Bit of a rest.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

democracy in action

Cabinet member and university

David Cameron - Oxford
Theresa May, Oxford
George Osborne - Oxford
William Hague – Oxford
Michael Gove - Oxford
Chris Huhne - Oxford
Danny Alexander - Oxford
Dominic Grieve - Oxford
Jeremy Hunt - Oxford
Philip Hammond - Oxford
David Willetts - Oxford
Nick Clegg - Cambridge
Andrew Mitchell - Cambridge
Vince Cable - Cambridge
Kenneth Clarke - Cambridge
David Laws - Cambridge
Francis Maude - Cambridge
Owen Paterson - Cambridge
Caroline Spelman - Queen Mary College, London
Cheryl Gillan, College of Law, London
Baroness Warsi - Leeds University
Liam Fox - Glasgow
Andrew Lansley - Exeter
Eric Pickles – Leeds Poly
Iain Duncan smith – Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Patrick McCloughlin - Staffordshire College of Agriculture at Rodbaston College

ooh and look at all those women - !!- erm =

country living

In our cosmopolitan fun-filled haut valley, it is easy to forget
that we live in the country.
Not at this time, however; the country won't let us forget.

In the house are fledgling birds, fat mice and now frogs.

After a jolly soiree last night with Virgini, Philippe and Pascal
I found myself trying to round up pretty 2 ins long frogs...
farcical. Gave up.

It feels like something biblical is happening. Perhaps a
reflection of the coalition that is now apparently ruling blighty?

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Vide Grenier season

Hurrah for the vide grenier season - though actually it started
last week, I was just slow off the mark. Here is Nel not buying
a bike at Fa.
She did get some brill chairs though and Pete found a faux
Tiffany lamp that is lovely.

Heres Eddie, strolling from his house to the centre of the action-

many stalls set up under cover in Fa as the weather is so
uncertain. In the event, its hot and clouded over with volcanic
ash. Bummer.

At La Serpente, not many greniers were being emptied so here
is a photo of a barn door covered with wild boars feet.

And the piece de - !!!! some well dodgy theology here, a brass
cross entirely stamped with roses and wound with an apple-
holding snake. Best value at 1 Euro.

Also got a bottle of violet ink, 2 books and 2 blocks of beeswax.
With the mergez baguette lunch and a cup of coffee I managed
to spend 7 euros in total.

Have determined to enjoy France to the max.

Willie Hagues speech, which should have been read to the EU
today* (had the Tories accessed to power) will leave the Brits
in some potage, if not for the effect on our status then certainly
for our relationships here. Et alors, mes amis! La Perfide, c'est
lui, pas nous!!

*The complete text is at

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Katherine in India; Allenna in Germany

Reports from the wide world; here is Allenna -

I've had a super busy and/or internet scarcity time since
heading off from Esperaza ending up with five extra days in
Munich waiting for the ash clouds to clear.

Got back with two days to do laundry, etc. and be ready for
a pre-six a.m. start for Medellin Colombia where I did a
university talk and a conference. Back in Toronto last weekend
and still not even half dug out to say nothing of not getting my
tardy taxes done!

Did see lots of art including contemporary German stuff ...
Beuys, Baselitz, Richter, and a special show of Neo Raush.

Would have felt guilty if I didn't go out to Dachau.
It was really strange - like it had been disinfected and we w
ere looking at an empty container of poison. It was almost all
in grainy black and white and somehow less interesting if there
had been any redeeming features but there wasn't so it was
both boring and horrifying at the same time.

Also checked out the Nymphenberger palace and Residence -
completely over the top. They had a lot less taste and savvy
than the Medicis.

Did you know they surf on the river in Munich?
                                     and here is news from Katherine -

Hello all,
am finally online after 4 afternoons at
phone shop and computer place
and today having
had my phone totally
wiped of all information
and 140 euros
credit whilst they were clearing

the block on it .

Welcome to India!

All is well. I have a good gang of
and the treatments are
fantastic as is the
yoga which has
kept me very calm through the
2.30 hrs
at the mobile place this afternoon.

(Alternating between the stool and
the fan
which of course were not
nearby. One sweats

India really is disgustingly dirty.
seems to have heard of dustbins
and cow shit
is everywhere as are the
cows and numerous
sleepy dogs all well
fed on the rubbish.

I imagine this is why they take off
shoes before going indoors.
Even the Ayerverdic health centre
clean properly.

This is the first thing that hits you
the place.

I have moved into the best room in
the hotel
for an extra £7 per day.
This only took 4
days to organise!
It has a table I can put my
functioning computer on,is much
reasonably clean and has
windows on 2 sides
and a large balcony.
The first I got had
mould on the
ceiling, loads of pigeon shit
on the
small balcony, and was directly above

the air conditioning units for the
main areas.

It took me two moves to get to this

Things don' come easy in India even
But what is great is the yoga and
massages of which I shall
write more another
evening as it is
late now and my days start
at 6am.
My love to you all.
Katherine x

How very unlike Arques!

Friday, 7 May 2010

election void

As a politico remarked this morning; the British people have
spoken. The trouble is, we don't know what they said.

One of the things that have emerged from the shambles is that
some thousands of people were not allowed to vote. Not
enough ballot papers, staff, whatever - the fact is that the
election process has been compromised enough to render it

So hey!! Lets do it all again!!!!

Thursday, 6 May 2010


Here are Larry and Barbara; they leave today, alas.

Last night they took a hideously large crowd of us -Annie and
Pete, Ferren, Ulla Bendic and Aileen, Andrée, Kat, Joan -to Le
Cantou, who did us proud. Really good meal, prearranged by
Barbara with the chef, featuring amoung other delights cinnamon
ice cream with the tarte au pommes.

All paled before the conversations though - what an extraordinary
and mixed bunch of people have settled here and what terrific
fun they are. Barbara and Larry fit in very well and should start
thinking about their retirement plans.

They are off to London for a few weeks before returning to the
USA. It seems that there is an election in England.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Its my fault

Of course its my fault - only an idiot would put on summer frocks
and pack away the winter rags before the end of May.
Its snowing again and I'm sorry, so sorry -

However, I do blame Larry and Barbara for the intermittent but
regular power cuts.

Despite this climatic grimness we are having fun. Joan hosted
tonights dinner - shes got gas to cook on - and being a brill cook
we had a splendid evening.

Very sorry for Bob who went back to London sunshine.
No planes out from Carcassonne; he was re-routed through
Bezier. Arrived home after a ten-hour trip.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Damien Abbott RIP

Im so sorry to write that Damien Abbott, friend to a handful of
SE London refugees in Tilling, died this morning. Hes been ill for
ever - first Chrones, then various cancers - all managed whilst
editing and finding the funding for Inventory, a remarkable arts
journal. Theres a lot to be said about his work but not right now.

The somewhat scratchy painting poorly reproduced here is called
The Apotheosis of St Damien. I did it in memory of the Psychic
Attack on the Arsenal Gates (12 years ago) organised by Damien,
Clive, Gracie and Dave - a roaring success in that the site no
longer makes weapons -though something of a failure in that it is
now a gated community for the rich.

Funnily enough the picture is the property of Greenwich Museum,
now re-sited as Greenwich Heritage Centre on the very site that was
being targeted that night.

Damien was a rare one. Intelligent and not a bullshitter. Indifferent
to personal prestige but willing to help others succeed in their
dreams. Clear thinking and uncompromising. Censored by both
the Courtauld AND the Royal Academy - both invited him to
create installations and then invited him to remove them, pronto.

Daniel Love Peacock has been in close touch with Damien at this time
and it was he who told me of his death at 8.30 am our time this
morning. He has written of the pain... there is comfort in knowing
Damien's suffering is ended.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Those photos in full

Last nights photos have been expurgated as they were so bad -
I blame Leo but Bob says I should have taken them before the
Here are Annie and Kat, laughing with Leo and Toby who are back,
Toby for two weeks and Leo for the summer stint.