Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year 2013

Here's wishing all those straying onto this blog site in the search of pictures of Deauxma being taken from behind a very happy and prosperous New Year. Hope your Christmas was fun, too, and that you all went easy on the moderation.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Greece my palm. It's the only way.

This afternoon, we finished piano rehearsals for a diabolical production of La Belle Hélène, Offenbach's witty operetta about Helen of Troy, Menelaus, Agamemnon and the rest which, like any decent work of its genre, should be sprinkled with current events-related jokes. This particular production is notable for possessing none of the following: charm, wit, humour, style, relevance and sparkle. How we manage to spend three hours in Greece without one single mention of the Euro is beyond me, but there you go. In fact, it's probably the worst production I've ever seen, let alone been involved with. Hell, it's not even sexy (and a good operetta should be)…Quite how it's managed over the years to find seven buyers in France is beyond me. Must be incredibly cheap. In any case, it has no business being in our theatre. What's more, there were four weeks of piano rehearsals, a quota you only normally get for a complicated premiere, not a tacky provincial reprise. To say it was like pulling teeth is an understatement. I don't know how the audience, used to high quality Christmas fare, is going to react to something this shabby, but we'll see. OK, I've said enough.

Don't come and see it. Vote with your feet. And look at this picture, instead:

Saturday, 17 November 2012

We object to…EVERYTHING!!!

An important part of living in France is realising that people in this still rather desirable patch of earth are never happy. Cycling to and from work today, I slalomed round a number of vociferous gatherings but couldn't work out whether or not they were connected. Back at Château Fingers I typed Manifestations Toulouse 17 novembre into a search engine and waited for enlightenment. Ready? Here goes:

1) Allées Jean Jaurès: Demonstration in support of Palestine. For a change.
2) Place Esquirol: Demonstration against gay marriage and adoption.
3) Saint-Cyprien: Demonstration against the expulsion of squatters and repatriation of Roms. By the Etat bourgeois, of course. It's there in black and white; you couldn't make it up.

Have a look. They're all cheesed off.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Some thoughts on yoga.

I started going to yoga classes shortly after stopping smoking, back in March, 2011. If you've never tried yoga, it's wonderful. Our centre isn't a bunch of hippy, peace 'n' love prozac addicts, it's just a collection of normal people who enjoy doing yoga.

Once you settle down on either your haunches or a funny little stool prior to the class kicking off, you're enveloped by a sense of calm and well-being. Not even street noises seem to bother you any more. When the class starts, however, you realise you're part of something much bigger: you are a central component of a highly centred and concentrated group of stretching and contorting adults who are, for a full hour, simultaneously trying not to break wind.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Almodovar for children.

Anyone with a brain knows the work of film director Pedro Almódovar. Those who don't, fine. Stay in your corner and keep quiet. Anyhow, I watched his latest - at least, I think it's his latest - film last night, La Piel Que Habito, The Skin I Inhabit (for want of a better translation) and I was bowled over by one thing, and one thing only.

That the plot was typical Almódovar didn't surprise me in the least - photogenic cosmetic surgeon Antonio Banderas performs major surgery on his daughter's rapist to recreate his scarred and deceased wife - is par for the course and, most remarkably, appears completely credible after thirty minutes or so. What is extraordinary harks back to a post I published concerning the French film Les Derniers Jours du Monde quite a few months back, now. There, we had cunnilingus, full-frontal nudity, incest and fellatio accompanied by a little green box on the back of the sleeve, stating Tous Publics - All Audiences - basically meaning that your five-year old son can watch with impunity, providing he's already mastered most of the techniques listed above, I suppose. La Piel Que Habito contains the following elements: Full-frontal nudity, rape, sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, torture, group sex and murder. Its rating? You've guessed it: Tous Publics. I really wonder what it takes on this side of the pond to get an 'X'- rating. If anyone knows, drop me a line, 'coz that'll be a film worth seeing…

Get Frisky, Be that Fifty!

OK, I know it was "Be Thrifty, Stick to Fifty", a government-led advertising slogan in the '70's exhorting motorists to reduce their speed in the interest of saving money and petrol during a socialist-induced fuel crisis in my childhood, but that magical, round figure has additional significance in the developed world: it elicits most from highly-placed powers who have, in general, no other interest in your existence other than that engendered by your crossing a chronological rubicon.

I'm talking about being Man + 50th Birthday = Humiliating Medical Tests. Our 'president', a man so insignificant he wasn't even present at the conception of his own children, has deemed it appropriate to write to me, informing me that, as a now fifty-year old legal resident of the cradle of human rights, I need to take advantage of the nation's advanced health programme and have a highly-trained medical professional stick his index finger up my arse. I will then need to pay him, but, apparently, thanks to the wonders of social medicine, I shall be reimbursed to the tune of 100%. This is, of course, absolutely brilliant. Before the arrival of social security, people wishing to avail themselves of this service generally had to pay a lot more and had no guarantee of being reimbursed. No guarantee of their professional just using his finger, either. In a nutshell, this is why France still leads the world. At least in terms of doctors legally violating their patients. Vive la France!

If that's a Farrah Fawcett lookalike, OK. If it's Bjorn Borg, no thanks.


Anyone ever tried it? It's amazing. Still, you need a suitable ailment/neurosis/masochistic desire to have a higly-paid medical professional to stick pins in you before turning this dream into reality but hell, it's worth it. I've been going to mine for about a year, now, and he's completely cleared up my manual exczema (a real downer if you're a pianist) and is now squaring up to take on my nascent osteoarthritis. Yup, that's the joy of being fifty, it's just one frigging party till dawn, I tell you. It's not like I'm even overweight. I'm not, and I will vanquish this problem. He stuck a load of pins in me then hooked them up to an electric stimulator. I wondered, briefly, if he'd studied in Argentina or Chile in the '70's but then realised it didn't hurt. That makes writing a cheque afterwards a lot easier. My knees haven't sounded like small woodland creatures being squashed in a wine press today, either, so I can only assume the first session has already done some good.

Monday, 24 September 2012


I've not posted a picture of a pair of tits for months, but people still make the pilgrimage to FrenchFingers - as they should -in search of those celestial protruberances which illuminate our male days in such a delightful fashion. Ok, if you insist…

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Sleeping Beauty

Got home tonight, only to find our resident tramp asleep in front of his - and his poor neighbour's - door and snoring like a warthog. The police told us to call the ambulance, the town hall mediators said he wasn't creating a disturbance as he was fast asleep and the man from our house management company told me to take a couple of photos, send them to him and he'd do the rest with the owner and the agency that lets the place out to this reinsertion association. He also told me what he'd do if he didn't work for a house management company and had, basically, nothing to lose. I agreed with him.

This is urban France, where rights ride roughshod over responsabilities and are upheld by judges who swan off to leafy suburbs after a hard day's smoking outside the Assize Court. In the meantime, a mere twenty yards away, a complete waster spoils everyday life for a building full of people, some of whom pay his rent and keep him in cigarettes and beer i.e. me. A phrase you'll hear an awful lot in this country is sa juste part - his fair share. No lowlife has any problem with me footing his bills as all I'm doing is paying, yes, ma juste part.

Yes, that's him.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Detox over.

Right, we're half way through September and everyday life is, sadly, starting to poison my existence, again. I spent ten weeks in northern Bavaria without turning the TV on once and only listening to classical musiuc on the radio. I almost managed to keep it going until I got back to France on August 28th, but flirted with French talk radio between Valence and Toulouse that day. When I left Germany, I had a smooth, relaxed complexion. Within twenty-four hours of arriving in France I had crows' feet and bags under my eyes you could carry the shopping home in. I'm blaming no-one for this except myself, I'm not a victim and certainly don't subscribe to that mentality but still haven't quite managed to continue to surf nirvana whilst going about my everyday tasks of breadwinning, being a good father to the Fingernails and lusting after Mrs. F's exceptional body.

Unless I tap into The Eternal Truth, this state of affairs will continue until April, when I go back to Santiago de Chile and revel in the glory of my circumstances over there. Then it's back to France for a couple of weeks before heading back off to Franconia and Wagnerland for three months.

All this begs the question: How can you continue to live when all you do is run away? Yup, it's a damned good question, and one which Mrs. F and I are currently working on. We'll be putting our place on the market in the next couple of weeks or so. There's a good reason for this: we want to live somewhere else. OK, sounds simplistic, and it is. We want to trade our 80 sqm without any balcony, charm, greenery etc for something better. Seeing as we're in a coverted neighbourhood that shouldn't be too tricky, but you never know. With two medium-sized children (fuck, and I'd got used to writing 'small') we need a bit of greenery and a bit more room to get away from them for a little while. They'll appreciate it, too; I don't think they like us that much anymore, anyway.

I don't want to get back onto my old warhorse, that French urban planning ranks alongside 'Taliban Democracy' as one of the most redundant phrases every conceived in a language recognisable as English, but that's the truth of the matter. I don't ask for sympathy (wouldn't get any, anyway), just for any info you may have regarding public transport and schools in our area. Just in case there's something I've missed.

Sunday, 2 September 2012


Ever been faced with a situation you can't solve on your own? Ever been confronted with a scenario which has no logical beginning, middle or end? Ever felt completely powerless to address the elephant in the room? Ever felt that you're just treading existential water and that life is something that other people benefir from? Ever had the feeling that nothing has moved in a positive direction for the last, say, five years? If so, then at least I'm not alone. Discretion prevents me from expanding on any of this, but I just felt like committing a general malaise to 'paper'. Carry on; as you were…

Friday, 27 July 2012

Carlos Kleiber - Legend.

I'm currently reading a biography of my favourite conductor, Carlos Kleiber, who died in 2004. Anyone familiar with the name will be familiar with the main points of his history: son of the great conductor Erich Kleiber who went on to be considered by many the greatest exponent of his craft who ever lived. Kleiber's performed repertoire was comparatively small but his knowledge immense. A controversial and seemingly contradictory man, he never gave interviews and even rarely answered the phone, facts which makes Alexander Werner's remarkable book of his life even more astounding: he had practically nothing to go on save testimonies from former friends and colleagues.

Ever since I started getting interested in Carlos Kleibers achievements (and personal philosophy) I regretted never having experienced him live. Until today, when I reached page 412 in the German hardback edition and realised that I had, in fact, attended one of his performances. I was a 24 year-old student at the Royal College of Music in London when our Opera Department received a clutch of dress rehearsal tickets to Verdi's Otello at The Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Naturally, I wanted to go. After all, Placido Domingo was singing the title role, Desdemona was to be sung by Katia Ricciarelli and Iago by Justino Diaz. Someone mentioned who was conducting but I didn't retain the name. After all, it was a dress, so there were no programmes.

The performance was electrifying. I don't know why, but it just was. I talked about it soon after with Felix Aprahamian and said 'Domingo's first entrance was spectacular'. He replied that Verdi had a hand in that, too. Fair dibs; I wasn't going to argue with Felix Aprahamian. I do remember an incredible ovation greeting the conductor when he came out but, seeing as this was my first time at Covent Garden, thought that all conducting geniuses were so received.

This afternoon, I found out that the special reception had, in fact, been reserved for Carlos Kleiber. People had stood in the January cold for three days to get tickets to this series of performances, and our dress rehearsal tickets had just sat on the Opera Department Secretary's desk for any old Tom, Dick or Harry to pick up. I've maybe never made such a good decision in complete ignorance, and probably never will, again.

There's not enough time nor space, here, to go into why Carlos Kleiber was so amazing, so I can just heartily recommend Alexander Werner's astonishing biography. It'll probably remain the premier literary document on Kleiber's life and work for ever; his former collaborators are disappearing by the year and his recordings are sadly not numerous. Always conscious of his abilities and market value he never did anything for purely financial gain. His appearances, compared with the jet-set 'maestros' of today, were few and far between and he would cancel even the most lucrative and expensive project at a moment's notice if he felt the music was not being served. He must have been infuriating to deal with, but for us, who just lapped up what music he did release, he was God incarnate.

So now, when I ever get into a conversation about Carlos Kleiber, I'll be able to say: "I was there".

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Drive, shmive…

I've been driving for over thirty years, but I've never had to deal with a car pouting on me, before. Yesterday morning I left northern Spain, somewhere between Tarragona and Barcelona, to return to Bayreuth, leaving Mrs. F and the Fingernails behind to enjoy a bit of Iberian beach and sun before jumping on a plane to join me in the Land of the Teutons, beit Bavaria or Austria.

Anyway, as I was sitting in a traffic jam outside Barcelona yesterday morning, a mere 45 minutes after setting off, I realised my engine fan had packed up on me. That meant that, if you were sitting in traffic, your engine temperature would rise so high and so quickly, that you'd soon look like something out of a Buster Keaton film if you either 1) Didn't get moving again quickly or 2) Turn the engine off, sharpish. Fortunately for me on this occcasion, the Keystone Cops-scenario was averted by the traffic suddenly clearing, but I didn't need anyone to remind me that not only did I not have a mobile phone on me, I also had another 1000 miles to go through three different countries.

Unbelievably, I was able to dodge the bullets until Karlsruhe, 600 miles later in south-west Germany, despite most of my trip that far having been on coastal motorways over a holiday weekend. Right after Lyon, the clear, sunny skies gave way to rain squalls akin to sitting in a particularly violent and aggressive car wash and this continued right up to the point where I was greeted by a four-mile tailback around which pushed my poor little Audi just too far. It peeped authoritatively at me, and I duly obeyed, pulled over onto the hard shoulder, set up my warning triangle and waited for the engine to cool down. As 'luck' would have it, other cars were dropping like flies this morning and I was able to speak to an ADAC (German Automibile Club) technician as he came to grips with an elderly lady's 20-year-old Mercedes, which was belching smoke like there was no tomorrow. He offered me his mobile phone to contact my insurance company in France, which I duly accepted. The only thing was that he had to leave before the company phoned back. He spoke excellent French, though, and told me he'd get them to send me a tow truck. I went back to my car and waited.

Nothing happened, so I eventually wandered off down to the orange emergency phone. I explained the problem and the lady told me to wait another half an hour, and to come back then if nothing had happened. While I was waiting in my car, I heard a screeching of tyres and saw a small Opel - going at about 100 mph, skid and career into the side of a BMW estate not twenty yards fom where I was sitting. The little car stopped and the driver pulled off the motorway into the central reservation. Nobody from either vehicle moved for about another five minutes. Eventually, a girl in her mid-twenties climbed out of the trashed passenger door of the little Opel and started shouting at the ocupants of the BMW. Showing incredible composure, she put on her high-visibility jacket and set up her warning triangle. I took this as my cue to go back and phone the emergency services, again.

I got another lady on the phone, to whom I patiently explained what had happened. She expressed according horror when I told her I'd been there for three hours and promised to get on to the ADAC immediately to send out a pick-up van as a matter of urgency. Just at that moment, an ADAC pick-up van came roaring down the road. 'It's OK, he's here' I cried; 'Cancel everything!'. I spoke too soon, the truck was not for me at all; it was for the BMW, whose driver had presumably got the whole operation moving from his mobile phone just after the collision. Hats off, really; not sure whether I would have had that presence of mind and composure after being rammed at 100mph. Anyhow, I ran back to the emergency phone, got someone else on the line and asked them to forget that cancellation from Herrn Fingers. The man on the other end, seeing where the call was from, surmised that I was an accident victim and was, understandably, hysterical, waffling on about French insurance and that other lady who was going to send me an ADAC truck. At this point, another breakdown man showed up and informed me that 'He was there to help me, too', so I bid my farewell to the emergency man and walked back to the car, explaining my story as we went. After it became apparent that he thought I was an accident victim and was not going to tow me away and fix my engine fan I decided I'd had enough of this little game and made up my mind to leave. After all, I hadn't actually broken down and the ADAC man had given me a useful tip: if your engine is overheating, turn the heating up full. It's not a solution I would have dreamt up, but I resolved to try it out. Double or quits.

Back at the car, the police asked me to make a statement about the accident. I described what I saw, climbed into my Audi and set off. The traffic jam had dissipated a little but I decided it wasn't worth staying put and risking sitting there for another three hours while nothing happened, particularly as my car still ran and the fact that I had a trick up my sleeve to keep the engine cool. Whether or not it worked was a moot point, but any port in a storm, eh?

Well, blow me down, it worked like a dream. Fortunately, I only had to use it once, but it kept the temperature at 90° and I was able to sail on through up to Bayreuth without any further mishaps. The only thing about driving in Germany is that roadworks are legion and you never know if you're going to get a free run or not. Their motorways have two other selling points that attract drivers from other countries: 1) They are free, and: 2) There's no speed limit. So you can imagine how many people choose to cruise through the centre of Europe…I saw at least five people doing 150+mph today, though quite why they bother is beyond me; you always have to brake within a couple of minutes, such is the volume of traffic on the roads.

So, my next task is to find someone to fix my fan. After spending the last 48 hours recreating Sandra Bullock's role in 'Speed' I'm going to have a good sleep. After all, I had to keep it up for 1000 miles…

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Enforced obsolescence

This really gets on my nerves. OK, I bought my Mac laptop in 2005, but I'm running 10.5.8 even if I do still have a Power PC processor. I know I can't update to 10.6 unless I upgrade to an Intel processor, but that will entail changing computer, something I don't want to do as there is absolutely nothing wrong with this one. However, every time I log into some Google product like Gmail or Blogger I get all these warnings that Google can't support my browser any more and that I should update or just get the hell out of town. Or better still, change to Google Chrome. Well, I can't. You need an Intel processor for that. And I can't update my Firefox either, because - guess what - yes, you need an Intel processor for that, too.

So, I'm running Firefox 3.-something and Skype 2.-something and the geek world is peeing itself laughing at me. Gradually, everything I've been able to do perfectly well until now will be denied me, purely because I've not respected the computer world's right to get even richer at our unwitting expense, even if all I ever do is write e-mails, check a few websites and write Word documents. I don't download films, nor do I play online games. In short, I do nothing which requires state-of-the-art technology, but I'm eventually going to have to be able to because if I don't, I won't even be allowed to write e-mails. There is something gravely wrong with this picture.

It's a shame there's not a slow-track internet community, one which just wants basic functions and is happy to use technology which can do just that. But no. Well, I'm not changing until there's no choice. There'll have to take this computer out of here IN A BOX!

Friday, 29 June 2012

Snot true, I tell yer…

A funny thing happened to me today at the pool. When I swim, I spend most of my time diving and returning to the surface. In that time - duh - my pipes fill up with water so have to be cleared when I can breathe again. At some stage I popped up and caught a lady's arm. I apologised but noted she gave me such a withering look I thought I'd better swim off.

I saw her later in the steam bath, where she spoke to me: "Could I ask you not to clear your nose in the pool as it's absolutely disgusting". I stayed calm, told her not to worry and said it was only water, the same water which had entered my nose when I dove. "Only water. Really?" "Yes" I replied, "but I appreciate how you may think it was snot. Rest assured, it's not". She then said she'd seen some people rinsing off their flip-flops in the pool and was sure she wasn't alone in finding that utterly repulsive, too. She was slowly outing herself as pretty anally retentive, but not wishing to pour oil on the fire, I kept shtumm. After all, if you could see how clean the pool and its environs are…She finished off by saying "It's not personal", to which I replied I damn well hoped it wasn't, seeing as she didn't know me from Adam and left it at that. She left the steam bath almost immediately and left the pool just as I was returning about ten minutes later, presumably unable to cope with the ambient filth any longer. If I see her again I'll invite her to take a dip in an urban French pool and see how long she lasts. I also wonder if I'll see her again here…

Fabulous Evening

I've just come back from a fabulous evening spent in a country inn which brews its own beer. The three of us were pretty much the only people in a place normally heaving with excess flesh, the reason being that the world and his Frau were somewhere else, watching Germany be forcibly ejected from Euro 2012 by Italy who now form the SI or IS remains of the PIGS in this competition. So Angie may not have the privilege of rubbing the noses of those mediterranean shirkers in the mud but at least Germany will be back at its desk a good three to four days before anyone south of Marseille, if that is any Vorsprung worth mentioning.

The headlines naturally imply that Balotelli et al have now shown Germany who's boss, but that's just cheap, opportunistic journalism, as if there were any other kind after showcase events like this.

None of this nonsense should detract from the pleasure of a peaceful, civilised, football-free evening enjoyed by three honest, working people in need of a good chat and a few jars of stunning home brew. There was at least a trio of winners in Merkelland this evening.

This second picture is actually where we were. Now imagine it completely empty, and that's what we had. Heaven.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Euro 2012

The title of this football tournament became even more significant when the quarter finalists were announced: apart from eternal half-measurers England and sulky, selfish France, it was basically Germany v. the PIGS, two of which dispatched the former participants of the Hundred Years War, clearing the way for the day when sport and politics didn't just mix, they had a drug-fuelled gang-bang.

Germany, amidst Bild-Zeitung headlines of 'Tonight We Won't Save You' saw Greece off at the coach station with a 4-2 drubbing a few days ago. Spain cocked a snook last night at Barroso's homeland, giving them Iberian peninsulan bragging rights, if nothing else. Germany will square up to Monti's well-behaved but still recalcitrant post-Berlusconi mediterranean basket case tonight. If Merkel goes on and beats Rajoy in the final, will this give Germany even more legitimacy to impose its views on economic management? After all, they'll be able to say they're superior in every department, won't they?

I fell out of love with football a few weeks ago and haven't seen one match of this tournament, yet. The only thing I'm interested in is a favourable economic outcome to this infernal euro crisis, and if it takes a football match to do it, then so be it…

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Joaquin Turina

Just heard a wonderful piece on Bayerischer Rundfunk: Rapsodia Española by Joaquin Turina. Alicia de Larrocha, piano, London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Rafaël Frühbeck de Burgos. Glorious. Just wanted to post it so I wouldn't forget the details.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Art of Letter Writing

This morning, I got one of the most pleasant surprises I could have had: a letter from Fingernail I, telling me about what she'd been up to in Frogland while I cavorted with Wagnerians. Letter writing was still the communication of preference in my student days (only the 1980's, so calm down), at least during the holidays, as it was a lot cheaper than phoning. Seeing as we all stayed with our parents in the holidays, their word was law when it came to British Telecom, and the word was invariably 'No'. Understandable, considering what interminable crap teenagers spout when among their own kind.

So I was delighted when I got this letter from Fingernail I this morning. Fingernail II's is still in the post, I gather. They seem to enjoy writing them as much as I do reading them, so the pleasure is mutual. In order to start a real Letter Writing Retrofest, I bought some writing paper, some envelopes and some stamps and have just finished writing letters to them, too. And I can't wait to post them. Focusing on the few important things that happen in our daily lives is somehow more substantial in a letter compared with how quickly the information is processed over the phone. It also means more; you have to invest more time and effort in a letter than a phone call. Actually, that's not always true: I find writing letters - or writing, full stop - a real pleasure, whereas picking up the phone to make even the simplest of calls requires a supreme effort of will on my part. I've never really been one for the phone and as you get older, you just become more of what you always have been.

I wish letter writing would come back wholesale. It won't, of course, but e-mail is not a bad substitute. At least it got people writing again - no matter how badly most of them do it - after years of phone hegemony, and that needs to be applauded. That's another thing about getting older: nostalgia. Even if it's not what it used to be, of course…

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

More family stuff.

This is for me so I know where to find it if everything goes belly up. So look away and stop being nosey.

In answer to your question; if conjecture is right then it would have been the elder brother who would have been our grandfather. That being said, I am beginning to think that Nadine with her almost Byzantine mind, was having in the Australian vernacular, ‘a bit of a lend of the family’ (translation: deceiving by misdirection or subterfuge) I base this tentative conjecture on what may seem flimsy evidence, but one must start somewhere and as you say, I seem to be the only one left who was in touch with a primary source.
Nadine was in every sense a Victorian, and abhorred the telling of lies, but supresio veri or sugestio falsi was not in her view the same thing at all. An example of this was her attitude to the old mans birth certificate. She always signed declarations that he had been born in the United States and yet no one has been able to find any record of his birth there and her descriptions of America were no more than any one might have from reading a travel brochure or looking at pictures of well known sites. Her descriptions of extensive European travel were on the other hand full of detail that fleshed out the scenes and events so that there could be little doubt that she was relating first hand experiences. Interestingly she was fluent in both French and German. As to the German, it was not the halting usage of the school room but idiomatic and fluent. As a non German speaker you might wonder how I can be so certain that this is so. I often stayed with Freddy and Nadine in Norfolk when I was small and I remember her talking to a German pow who worked on one of the local farms. Their conversations were often long and sometimes punctuated by laughter. I find that whatever language that one speaks it is very hard to be humorous in it unless one has a totally idiomatic grasp of the language. It would seem reasonable to conjecture that she had spent a considerable time in a German speaking Environment.

Now we come to the matter of family resemblances. I remember being introduced to James Nugent (Baron Nugent of Clonlost) who was an Austrian Baron and I think the nephew or great nephew of Graf Nugent Von Westmeath, the resemblance to Philip was so marked that they might have been brothers. I should point out that It was Philip who introduced me to him.
I believe that both Graf Nugent von Westmeath and Baron Nugent were descended from younger brothers of an eighteenth century Earl of Westmeath. From the digging around that I have been doing there was a strong pan generational tendency for Nugent younger sons to take service with the Austrians starting with the defeat of the Jacobite cause in 1745 and continuing at least until the early twentieth century. The college of Heralds mentions inter alia that at least 20 Nugents had taken service with the Austrians. As child I remember Nadine telling of riding through the snow in a horse drawn sleigh to stay with some landed magnet. I can not remember where this was, but I developed the idea that it must be Russia simply from the sound of the place names. As you know I speak Polish and I knew that she was not speaking of anywhere that I knew of, however The terminal ‘o’ usage in Russian place names is one shared by Croatian in a lot of cases and of course until 1918 Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. We are of course entirely in the realms of conjecture here, but Bosiljevo Castle and the surrounding lands remained in Nugent hands until after 1900. We do know that Graf Nugent von Westmeath had sons and for all I know grandsons, so there is room for both speculation and research. 

We come now to Philips education. I know that he attended Epsom college and then Haylebury the latter having a strong army tradition dating probably from its amalgamation with the United Services College at Westward Ho near Bideford. (Kipling went there and used it for Stalky and Co).I think he also spent some time in a school in Germany. I mention these because none of them were cheap and though Freddy as a retired Hoogley River Pilot received a good pension, I rather doubt that it would have stretched to expensive public school fees. In other words; who was paying for his education? It gets even more strange when one realises that rather than an English University He went to a German one. I used to think that it was Heidelberg but have since found that it was Freiberg. I have no idea if he graduated but again we come to the question of who paid the far from inconsiderable expenses involved and in any case why a German university.

In the final analysis I think we may have been the victims of some sort of elaborate conjuring trick our attention directed to a place that would seem to be 180 degrees in the wrong direction. I do not know if any of this is fact, or what bearing that it may or may not have on Philips legitimacy or otherwise,
but the quite startling family resemblance that we have to the Austrian branch of the family would be hard to ignore. In closing, You seem to have failed to notice your own (when I last saw you) resemblance to Graf Nugent von Westmeath.

In my next Email I will tell you about some stuff that has turned up that serves confirm that while ostensibly working for the Foreign Office Philip was in fact working for what used to be called MI6.

I will also try to give you everything that I have on my mother and where she and the old man met, also copies of marriage certificates etc.

The six children of Laval Nugent, Graf von Westmeath

Laval's six children with his wife Giovanna Riario Sforza were as follows:

Giovanna was also known as Jane or Johanna. Leontine's daughter, Giovanna Mathilde became, naturally enough, Comtesse d'Orsay. She was born on March 14th, 1846, Saint Mathilde's Day (also the day I stopped smoking, but who cares, eh?), and died on New Year's Eve, 1936, a truly grand old age for the time. It also makes her the Fingernails' great-great aunt if my maths are correct.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

You know…

…I spoil you. Not only do I give you pictures of luscious women's tits but I let you in on this aristocratic family search. Honestly, talk about going that extra mile. I need to celebrate that with a good picture or two:

Now that's more like it. None of this cheap nonsense, eh?

The plot thickens…

Mu putative grandfather's parents were Albert Eugene Laval Graf Nugent, born on September 25th, 1816 in Naples (where he also died) and Therese Bachmann, born in Kirchberg in 1833 and dying in Krumpendorf in 1916, a decent innings for the time. His father was, of course, Laval Nugent von Westmeath; his mother Giovanna Riario Sforza, descended from Beatrice Gräfin von der Lausitz and Raffaele Riario Sforza. Most of Albert's siblings married into Italian nobility - Strozzi Sacrati and Pallavicini Fibbia, for example, presumably as Laval had spent a long time in Italy fighting Napoleon. My half brother has a lot of information on this period of Laval's life; I must ask him to put it in writing.

This is exciting. Well, it is for me.

Anyone seen my grandfather?

Stop me if I've mentioned this before, but I - along with my half-brother in Australia - have been trying for some time to locate earlier generations of my/our family. We'd always been served up the story that our father was born in New York City but that doesn't hold water for a variety of reasons, the main one of which is the fact that the New York State Archives in Albany, NY have absolutely no record of him. So that's that, then.

Then my half-brother discovered a branch of the family that left Ireland in the eighteenth century and went to serve in the Austro-Hungarian army, as Irish nobility was wont to do in those days. Laval, Graf Nugent von Westmeath is the spitting image of my father so I decided to trace along his lines, finding a potential grandfather in Graf Wilhelm Llewellyn von Westmeath, born in Siena, Tuscany in 1870, died in Vienna, Austria in 1940. This would make sense as our father was fluent in German at a very early age, as he was in French, where his family apparently owned vineyards. I wrote to the Magistrat in Vienna, asking if they had Llewellyn's death certificate. Yes, they said. And would I like a copy for the mere bagatelle of €23.60? Oh yes, indeedy. So I whipped out their IBAN/BIC and sent them the money. The death certificate turned up about ten days ago. What happened next is as I described it in a mail to a friend shortly after:

Remember our first trip to Vienna (How could you forget, eh?)? We stayed at Pension Suzanne, Walfischgasse 4. I always remember the house opposite, with the plaque on the façade, stating that the poet WH Auden died there in 1973. I remember that as he's my favourite poet. The house must be number 3. In those days it was the Hotel Altenburger Hof. Now wait till you read this: Graf Llewellyn Wilhelm Nugent von Westmeath died in Walfischgasse 3. Maybe I was looking at the house where my grandfather died every time we went off to the Raimund Theater…

Now I just have to find out if and when he had children, as nothing is noted in his personal details. It states he was unmarried, a Catholic and his parents were 'unbekannt'; unknown. He was found dead.

People didn't seem to worry about all this stuff before. It's only now that genealogy - and, more significantly,  psychogenealogy - are capturing the collective imagination.  It's quite an adventure.

These are all pictures of Laval Graf Nugent von Westmeath (Ballynacor, Ireland, 1777 - Bosiljevo, Croatia, 1862), who, I believe, was my great-great grandfather. That last picture could be of my father. The search continues.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Bucolic Bayreuth

 Just got back from a two-and-a-half hour walk in the forest and surrounding villages here in Bayreuth. After an overcast morning and early afternoon the weather turned gorgeous around 4pm, so I got shod and headed off. I had no real game plan, deciding instead to go where my feet took me. My priority was to compose a nasty letter to a concert promoter who had ripped off a colleague of mine just the other week, so the only thing I needed was enough distance in front of me to find the right turn of phrase and not invoke a law suit.

Before I set off I took a couple of pictures of the view from my bedroom window:

…just in case anyone was wondering why I like it so much, here. And here's one of the little lane where I live:

I wandered through the forest just behind the house for about an hour, eventually coming out on a country road which led to a horse club. Some of the denizens were out in the field:

So I wandered on, passing through a village called Cottenbach where I got into conversation with a lady standing at her gate. Not much can happen in that village as she seemed reluctant to let me go. There was a wonderful group of renovated farm buildings which a number of families appeared to have bought up and renovated in the style of the period it was built. A large part of the garden was an enormous playground for the children with slides, paddling pools, wendy houses and tree houses, swings and sand pits. It looked wonderful. Centrepiece of the ensemble was a large dovecote which also featured on the sign they'd painted, announcing their Bauernhof. It looked like a little piece of paradise. Add the weather to that and you don't get much closer to nirvana without breaking the law.

After about mile I reached the outskirts of Bayreuth and was greeted by Gasthaus Kolb, an institution among the public houses and inns of the town. Armed with my book I decided to sit down for a few minutes for a well-earned libation:

That's a glass of dunkles Hefeweizen, in case you were wondering, and is the closest you'll get to nirvana etc etc.

Back at the house I found an e-mail from Mrs. Fingers, informing me we're going to have to get the council to defumigate the communal areas of our building as the loony woman's cats, rabbits, dogs and birds have basically turned our living space into a seething agar plate of potential disease. And that on the day that newly-elected Emperor Flanby of France appears to have got the absolute majority he needs to turn the country into the socialist pigsty he and his Parisian intelligentsia, aided and abetted by the press, want to inflict on the people. There's fun in store, I tell yer…

Pity I just had that one beer.

Northern Bavaria. Garden of Earthly Delights.

Yes, I'm still here. Just arrived this afternoon after a remarkably simple journey: everything on time from Toulouse to Munich, no wait of any import for the rental car, an easy trip north to Bayreuth and everything subsequently open enabling me to food shop and get my mobile phone and internet connections up and running. Germany c. 2012 bears no relation to Germany c. 1987 when I first moved here as a horny music graduate, aiming to bestride Fräuleins and Faust in that order. Shops closed - literally - religiously at 5pm and Saturday was Merthyr Tydfil on a Sunday after 12 noon. Germany has become a little more cosmopolitan since then but the essential values remain, and they need to be applauded. I saw something wonderful this afternoon: in need of a pee, I stopped at a service station just north of Nuremberg. I parked next to a car with the registration H-UR xxxx. Seeing as number plates in Germany can be customised for no more than €10, I found it strange that someone should have accepted a computer-generated plate that almost described him/her as a whore. Unless…Beside the car was a very good-looking young lady in a scanty dress who was, in anyone's book, lasciviously eating a banana and looking in my direction. OK, I'm really not bad-looking, but I'm no spring chicken and it certainly wasn't my rental Opel Corsa that had turned her head, so…maybe I missed my chance. And…that's another thing that happens to you at this age.

I remember in Koblenz in 1987 that there was a famous lady of doubtful virtue in the town whose number plate was KO-DM 400. KO was the Koblenz prefix (still is) and DM, for those born after 2002, stood for Deutschmark. Actually, if you were born after 2002 you really shouldn't be reading this blog, but still. She basically drove about in her own advertising hoarding. She was nicknamed Dolly Parton, presumably for her singing ability. And her ability to stand by her man. Right.

Incredible as it may sound, but traffic to this site has increased since I started posting pictures of porn stars, of which the posts' titles contain keywords easily identified and located on any sub-human council estate. It's turned into a bit of fun: how many people can you tempt to your domain with a facile turn of phrase? It's remarkable, but the current crop really seems to have struck a chord in Indonesia, that pious archipelago where someone threatened me back in 1992 for smoking during Ramadan. Forgive me if I don't return any time soon.

Back to Germany. The most abiding memory I will ever retain of this country is the fact that, if you keep your nose clean, the country will see you right. I can't put it any better than that. The German Pension Insurance spends half its working life making sure I know how much I'm due should I decide to stop work tomorrow, tracking me down wherever I may be hiding before exhorting me to produce more documentation which may increase my financial entitlement. I've linked these suitors up with my French employers who should now, if there is any justice in this world, decide to accord me a Fred Goodwin-sized monthly income coupled with a weekly threesome with Deauxma and Jemma Jameson. As long as it's not with François Hollande and Angela Merkel I'll be happy. My most recent trip to the Toulouse tax office only reinforced my convinction that the French tax body is one of the most fantastic organisations in the world: I have never, repeat: never had a bad experience with these people. It really seems to be a question of 'Do as you would be done by'; treat them with respect, flirt with those attractive, well-preserved forty-somethings and you will leave the building with a glow of satisfaction. That's another good thing about France: the forty-somethings still look fucking good, so make sure they know you appreciate the effort they've made; they'll love you for it. Life's a game, and it's still a lot of fun, even at my age. Possibly the only one left at my age.

I've waffled on for so long I've forgotten what kind of picture I should put at the bottom of this post. What the hell, it'll probably feature tits in some form. Let's see: Germany, Tax, Happiness, Car Park Tricks. I'll see what Google comes up with…

This second picture is not of a car park meter, but of a prostitutes' tax meter in Bonn. They have to pay €6 a night for using public streets. Worth a look on the internet. Made by Siemens by the way , you know…

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Bayreuth 2012

It's that time of year, again. The time when I sit in a departure lounge in Toulouse Blagnac Airport, waiting for a flight to Munich before jumping in a hire car to drive to Bayreuth, where I'll be spending the whole summer. Wall-to-wall Wagner is never a bad thing; the quality of the music never palls and spending ten weeks of the year in a pastoral environment where nothing wakes you at night is a joy. In Toulouse, meanwhile, we've discovered an epidemic of fleas; the loony woman upstairs with her zoo has basically infested the whole building. She admitted it was her animals but offered nothing in the way of an apology, just suggesting that we try drowning them. Yes, they truly walk among us.

Anyhow, we'll be boarding soon and I've only got 15 minutes of free wi-fi, so I'll use the rest of it trying to find a suitable picture.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Do we not like that?

Reading Le Figaro online the other day I was struck by the fact that every article is open for comments. This is a far cry from the British press which seems to cherry pick access to expression on its more inflammatory articles, presumably fearing that many of those opposed to uncontrolled, third world immigration and the ever-ambient terrorist threat might actually be able to vent their spleen from time to time. No such problem in France, but they keep dissenters under control differently…

One of the more intriguing details on internet comments threads is seeing how many recommendations each comment gets. This is useful for taking the temperature of a particular subject. On French newspaper websites you'll never find this function; I'm sure they think it smacks of populism. Bearing in mind how recent talk radio and phone-ins are, here, and how resistant to giving the people a voice the broadcasters were (It's worth reading the autobiography of eminent French phone-in radio host, Jean-Jacques Bourdin) it's maybe no surprise that the country's august dailies draw the line at a sort of online street protest, looking down their nose, as they do, on any form of demagogy. Before voting in François 'Flanby' Hollande, one of the most demagogical presidents of all time, but that's another story.

So, the message is: Read, but Don't Touch. A bit like what you do when confronted by large breasts in a textualised tee-shirt.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Don't believe everything you read.

Am I alone in not wanting to read the papers, these days? If I do click on 'Telegraph' or 'Guardian' on my browser toolbar, I have an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach while the page loads that I'm about to read about the end of the world as we know it. The French press, which has done a passable impression of an ostrich at least since I'm lived here, is a little less depressing, but I don't need to read the papers to see what's going on in this country. It's fragile and it's worrying. Maybe that's why I've lost interest in everything outside of my blessed profession, which deals only in civilised art and beauty; it's a kind of self-protection. Sod this world and where it's going.

Saturday, 2 June 2012


I've just learned this word. And it's fabulous. It could describe Toulouse's culinary speciality, cassoulet. Look it up.


Just got a call from Mrs. F, stating the bleedin' obvious: that they were at the family's place and didn't know when they'd be home. This was only two hours after I'd have received a ritual castration for doing the same thing. Why the fuck does this bother me so much? She gets on well with her sister-in-law (as do I) and it's great that the Fingernails play so easily and well with their cousins, but it's this complete disregard for anyone else which every visit seems to engender. In the olden days days of truly disfunctional, underachieving co-dependance it was a true plague, slamming the brakes on any initiative and ambition Mrs. F and her siblings may have had. These days, the family vortex takes place under a more benign star in a different location, but the germ seems to remain. I think she'll only really be free when they're all gone. Mrs. F is the only one in the family to have had the nous to leave and pursue her own life and I still feel guilty for dragging her back to her home town, but work was work and the best gig was here.

I suppose I should see it differently; that she feels so relaxed and easy that she simply loses all concept of space and time when she's at her brother's place. Right, that's going to be my one-step plan to further understanding my wife. I just hope she's as understanding when I choose to stay out all night with that shapely lighting designer from work…

Unless I'm very…

…much mistaken I think I'm writing a carbon copy post of last week's rant about my divine spouse going into family vortex again. Dinner's been ready for an hour and there's neither sight nor sound of either her or the Fingernails. I honestly don't know why it upsets me so much. It's the lack of consideration I suppose: no call, no message, no note, just plain ol' absence and no explanation upon returning. If I did the same thing I'd be chastised or - which amounts to the same thing - given the silent treatment. I don't do silent, I think life's too short for that kind of pussying around. At the risk of repeating myself I'll stop right now (I can't be bothered to check what I wrote last time). Grrr.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Toulouse les Orgues

Taking a brief break from my principal profession as pornographer to frogblog visitors, this morning I accompanied Fingernail I's class to visit a church organ. It's located in a desanctified church which was bought by the private Catholic school to which it is physically attached and is now used for concerts and festivals. It's also in our street, so none of us burned too many calories getting there and back.

The presentation was done by a charity, Toulouse les Orgues, which also stages an organ festival every year. Toulouse is rich in instruments and the concerts attract organ lovers from all over the world. This particular instrument is a Cavaillé-Coll and you can read more about it here.

The visit was complementary to a musical project the children are all participating in called Le Clavier Fantastique, performed in collaboration with the Orchestre National du Capitole. They kept their concentration for a long time and asked some pretty intelligent questions. Our organist-presenter played a piece by Messiaen followed by Bach's ubiquitous Toccata and Fugue in D minor then took all the children up to spacious organ loft (see picture) to show them how the instrument worked. There's an unfunny joke in there, but I can't be bothered. Downstairs, they were able to get some hands-on experience with the help of a few fundamental models of bellows, keys and pipes. Needless to say, it got very loud, very quickly.

 In a country where you really need a toothcomb to find any musical education in state schools, our little local establishment is pretty good: they sing, they take part in cultural projects, they visit famous organs. It's reassuring.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Deauxma keeps 'em coming…(sp?)

Judging by the amount of hits my Deauxma page gets it would be fair to say I no longer have readers, I have viewers. And all because I thought she was just a glamorous housewife. Silly me…

Sunday, 27 May 2012


I'm sitting here boiling eggs, watching eight toasties cooling off on the draining board and waiting for Mrs. Fingers and the Fingernails to come home and wondering if there's anything else I should be getting ready for tomorrow's picnic outing to St. Bertrand de Comminges. Inexpensive red wine may play a part in this sentence, but I'm wondering just how more perfect a husband and father can be. OK, it's not my first glass, but give me a break.

The family is round at the cousins'/brother's/family place. Being of Spanish/guilt-ridden Catholic stock, Mrs. F's sense of time and proportion take an extended holiday whenever she is with the others. That's no bad thing in itself, but it's not as she even enjoys being there with them. No-one exists outside this particular world she is currently suffering from, but tonight did have a first: Fingernail I actually phoned me nearly an hour after I'd finished preparing tonight's dinner to tell me that Mummy was asking if I could prepare tomorrow's picnic lunch. I didn't bother asking what time they thought they'd be coming back; I'd tried that on previous occasions. I suggested they eat before they came back, otherwise I knew they'd pitch up at 10pm with empty stomachs. I know this doesn't sound like any big deal, but you have no idea how unhealthily dishonest this contact is. Mrs. F becomes like an irresponsible ten-year-old, forgets her otherwise Himmleresque-maintained children's mealtimes and seems to feign ignorance when challenged. And for what? It's not like she even has a good time.

There's nothing like a dysfunctional family vortex. Oh, they're home. Three hours late.

Thursday, 24 May 2012


You can wait for years for a big, red bus to come along and take your professional life to the next level, then two come along at the same time. After eight years of time contracts here in France, I've been offered my position permanently. It's a great job and allows me to travel to pursue other interests (South America, Germany etc) so having tenure would allow me to plan the future even more effectively. Just before the offer came through I found an opening in Vienna which was made-to-measure. I applied and received an invitation to meet them and conduct the orchestra. I don't conduct in France (at least not in my day job) and the idea of going back to being paid to stand in front of an orchestra is very attractive. It would mean us moving to Vienna on a time contract, the family learning German (I speak it fluently) and all that at a period when my employer here is prepared to may me until I retire (which I'll never do). Vienna is sending me some music to prepare, so I'll see how much I like the look of what they're performing at the moment. In any case, I'd like to meet up with these people again; maybe there'd be the possibility of a one-off gig later if I decide to stay here.

Some would say "Stay!"; some would say "Go!" The children would benefit both her and there (there's a French school in Vienna which follows the national curriculum) so the questions to be answered wold be more existential. I've got time before I have to reply.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Sergeant Bilko, France's new president

Just watched François Hollande's first press conference with Angela Merkel. Apparently, Emperor Flanby's plane was struck by lightening four minutes after take off, but still he persisted. He reached Berlin eventually, but it doesn't really auger well, does it? Anyhow, I found this picture of him and Dominique Strauss-Kahn in happier, sepia-tinted days, when maybe the country did resemble the fairy-tale la-la land he described during his election campaign:

Unless Frau Merkel manages to get her way (and I REALLY hope she does) it's only just started to go tits up, let me tell yer…

Monday, 14 May 2012

If this is road safety, I'm taking the train.

I accompanied Fingernail I's class to a road safety drill this afternoon, run by the police. They've got a nice little facility, tucked into a spot of no-man's land in the middle of a motorbike race track next door to Francazal military aerodrome. It's actually nicer than it sounds, believe it or not. The children all started with a fifteen-minute test on the Highway Code, then split up into groups to variously cycle, then walk around the circuit, comprised of traffic lights, zebra crossings, left and right turns etc. Just like a mini urban landscape, in fact, providing your idea of a town is one that includes no buildings. They appeared to have little or no guidance beyond 'Walk round the circuit clockwise in pairs and obey the lights'. Then it was all change: pedestrians became cyclists and vice versa. This went on for about an hour but its structure seemed to owe more to free jazz than to disciplined instruction. When that was all over, everyone trooped off to the clubhouse to get their marks - or so we thought - and have a summing up from the police. None of it. 'Congratulations, you all passed the test!' declared a comely lady police officer. Well, what about correcting the mistakes, ironing out misunderstandings? No way, José! This version of the Green Cross Code was more like a Labour Party Political Broadcast: "You're all brilliant, you're all winners! Now it's time to hand out your prizes and have some cake!". Coming hard on the heels of François Hollande's bogus election campagne this whole Road Safety Light episode made me feel distinctly queasy. Each child was awarded a 'Pedestrian Licence' (sponsored by the MAIF, who had a salesman RIGHT there, dontchaknow), a wraparound bicycle clip and a flourescent jacket. Everyone cheered as each child was called out, a crescendo resulting in sugar-fuelled euphoria after sixty-two presentations and the obligatory orange juice and biscuits afterwards. The din in the coaches going back to the centre was deafening and didn't abate until all the children had safely dispersed into the bowels of the school; They looked like a swarm of genetically-modified, glow-in-the-dark wasps and our delicate, adult heads were pounding by the time we were relieved of our duties.

It was fun, but it wasn't instructive. OK, the afternoon should have been enjoyable but the whole point of these exercises is ultimately to educate and, hopefully, save lives; not just entertain. I do not understand why the monitors didn't go over the right answers. After all, most children would have just applied the multiple guess principle to the questions. They're generally bright kids, but that's no reason not to make sure they really understand it. I won't be letting the Fingernails cross any major roads on their own, yet…

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Lo Stivale Restaurant, Toulouse

Went to this little gem this lunchtime for the first time with a few friends. It's tucked away off the beaten track behind Toulouse's fashionable Carmes neighbourhood. The address is 10, rue des Moulins and you can get them on the blower if you dial 05 62 26 28 19. The voluptuous waitress, worthy of her own post à la Deauxma in this august journal, will bring you excellent antipasti and a more than acceptable bottle of Montepulciano which, even if not cheap, is a rich and fruity delight. The boss and chef, Albano, does a great job and his efforts should be rewarded. Just behind us was a table of eight trainee catholic priests, who sung grace in harmony just before their salads arrived, which caused everyone else to look up, if only briefly, from their caciocavallo and mortadella. Two courses, wine and (superb) coffee put us back €20 each (the bottle was €25 divided by four, but you don't need to spend that much). Here's more info:

Buon appetito…

EELV: Presumptuous idiots.

This is absolutely staggering: the French political party Europe Ecologie/Les Verts - or EELV to all those who don't give a damn about them - under the leadership of Eva Joly, polled 2.3% of the vote in the first round of the French election on April 22nd. Barely has Flanby Hollande scraped in and this collection of ragtag and bobtail opportunists has held a straw poll among their membership and found that an extraordinarily high percentage would like to be part of the new government. With 2.3% of the vote! The Green Party leader Cécile Duflot was on the radio yesterday, explaining to a bemused audience just why they should be up there having their say (as opposed to the UMP candidate Nicolas Sarkozy with 27% and  the Front National's Marine le Pen with 18% in the first round) but failed to convince the listenership, who voted 75% that she should stay exactly where her party's legitimacy lies: in the wilderness. It was incredibly crass and not a little ill-judged, but that just sums up the bunch of disconnected hippies that represent that worthy cause. Significant ecological measures are already in place and are endorsed by all political parties, but no doubt these left-wing energy fascists are keener to have a chauffeur-driven Velsatis and free luxury flat in Paris than we think, whilst upping energy costs for everyone else by abandoning nuclear-generated electricity. Get stuffed, the lot of you.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

If you're bored with European news, try PRAVDA.

Yes, the iconic, Soviet-era journal of truth lives on, post-Yeltsin, in a sanitised, western form and is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary. It's still absolutely barking mad, though, and provides the average Joe with a much more entertaining canon of news pieces than our predictable dailies who mention nothing beyond French and Greek irresponsibility, over-budget Olympic games and Pakistani vice-rings. Here's a selection of this evening's headlines:

Marilyn Monroe was cooperating with KGB as 'Masha'

Naked taxi driver sentenced to coercive medical treatment

Armenia punished for boycotting Eurovision

Woman shoots her partner dead while dancing

Man lives in haystack for one month eating snow 

AND (my favourite):

Moldova cancelled.
All these are actual news items available as we speak on I suggest you give this website a go. Apart from anything else, the journalists actually nail their colours to the mast, which makes a change from their French counterparts' tiresome habit of avoiding any question which could see them kicked off the gravy train they so gleefully ride at the expense of actually doing their job. will also offer you some risqué links to other sites, should you be so inclined, so what's not to love. All aboard the train to Moscow!