It is a hobby, a lifestyle, a hope, a vague souvenir, an achievement... "la Grasse Matinée". For once, this post initiates with a French expression. Literally this translates into "fat morning", and depicts the situation when you stay in bed, most likely on Sundays, for lengthy hours, with ceiling-staring for only occupation.
Waste of time? Life indulging? It is a matter of perspective. It is also a cultural difference. Latin people tend to appreciate those periods of inactivity more than others. Farniente, repos, siesta, grasse matinée, somme... These too many idioms for a simple nap testify.
Since I moved to London, I must confess I have left behind some of my French habits. For instance I sleep less. But I have started enjoying different pleasures. Like my daily walk through the leafy park around the corner, on my way to work. I am indeed lucky enough to walk to my office, and to avoid commuting in the lovely, packed public transportations.
As a matter of fact I do appreciate strolling across this nicely cut grass. Still wet from the night drizzle. Without a single flower to disrupt the perfection of the lawn. Just a pure, green surface. A natural pool table on which I roll from one gate to the other. This is my parenthesis between the hectic high times of my professional life. My pleasure of the day.
It is amazingly perfect. And so British too.
Instead of wasting their time under blankets on Sundays, the locals prefer to enjoy themselves in their gardens, refining the cut of their edge, the alignment of their rose trees, and the height of their grass. More than a hobby, it is a philosophy and even a national sport.
Talking about philosophy, Voltaire finishes "Candide" by an image: cultivate your own garden to find the route to happiness. Will do, just after my 2 o'clock nap.
A generation focus point.
This might well be linked to me working in client-servicing, but there is a buzz word, or buzz expression should I say, that keeps on being proclaimed around me: "buy some time!".
I like this expression. Not only because you cannot translate into my mother-tongue without being stared at. Not only because I do need to buy some time for my numerous projects... But because of all these generational values it conveys.
I have just turned 30, and I have realised that my relationship to Time has evolved over the years. I start looking backward with nostalgia, looking forward with interrogation... And I don't feel alone on this path. If money was the key in the 80s, I have the feeling that Time has replaced it today, becoming even more valuable for our generation, the Generation X.
Time is today's ultimate luxury.
We live in a fast-pace environment. Everything is instantaneous, or is expected to be. So why are we running after the time to the point that we are even ready to "buy" it? For a new kind of freedom maybe. The Generation X has challenged the ideals our parents were ready to fight for. We have blended their will for another consumption society into their own parent's "work for subsistence".
We now work for our "time subsistence": we work to consume our time as we want.
The consequence is that Time has become a good. And the vocabulary if full of commercial expressions to illustrate this situation: time can be wasted, offered... bought! Free time has a cost. It needs to be earned with painful efforts. However we are no longer ready to work an entire life to finally indulge ourselves in retirement. Remember we are a fast-pace generation. We want to benefit from it now.
In France with the 35 working-hour week, this trend is even more obvious. People cannot wait until the traditional summer holidays. They want to spend their well-deserved free time. No time-savings. And the vacations become more numerous, though shorter. The generation X life becomes a necklace of small precious free moments.
Time is Generation X best friend. Time is a diamond that nevertheless does not last forever.
When I came across these sweets on the shelves of my Mark&Spencer next door, I just found myself stunned with dropped jaws (and watering mouth). These might well be some great chocolate cakes, but the packaging rang another bell, a good meter above my empty stomach.
I was indeed certain that these treats would perform extremely well among the hordes of French pre-pubescent pupils who cross the Channel for school exchanges. Not that my fellow citizen have a sweeter tooth, but simply for the good laugh... As a matter of fact, in French, "Mini Bites" reads literally "Mini Dicks".
Stop F**king, tuck in.
Beyond the stupid teen joke, or brilliant marketing trick (after all sex does make sell), I wondered: if food keeps on infiltrating the sexual world, would gluttony soon outweighed lust for good? Would the capital sins be reduced to six?
In Dionysus' honour, Ancient Romans were already blending the best of two worlds into Bacchanalia. These orgies were at length depicted in Fellini’s controversial Satyricon. More recently, Mickey Rourke explored Kim Basinger's body while proceeding to a complete grocery check in her fridge... This now cult scene from "9 1/2 weeks" has even been ranked 6th in the recent Channel 4 survey on the 100 greatest sexy moments in cinema.
So yes, Sex and Food have always been an intimate couple. But what if they divorced? What if Food was allocated the house, the car, the children, the goldfish and all the savings from the Venice-based bank accounts? What if broken Sex was to finally disappear?
To be honest, Sex's fate seems to be sealed. Sex, a.k.a Love, tends already to be compensated by chocolate bites. Call them forerunner or trend makers, but Marketers have already started to bury physical amusements. Have a look at this really well-done micro-site from United Biscuits. It was developed to celebrate a new confection by Marcel Republique, a creative hot shop from the so-called "romantic city of Paris". Treason! But I must admit it is well-designed, interactive, entertaining… In a word, fun. Well, as fun as funerals could be.
Don't dream it, be it.
I assumed it is quite common to want to write, to leave a trail... Our society is full of frustrated novelists. It might well be the second best-shared frustration behind not being this over-paid football player unable to push a 30 cm ball in an empty goal. Remember hearing that "Gimme half his pay-check and I would score with my nose, both arms tighten in the back... Jane, another round!"
Now with blogs it has just amazing how easy it becomes. Everyone can (try to) challenge Mary Higgins Clark or Stendhal in two clicks. So yes, frustration is about to vanish. And yes it has become trendy to have a blog. But why not follow the trend for once. Enough with studying them, let's live them.
Set up. It is all set up.
So I have now my very own blog and I will be able to put down all these things which have kept on jamming my mind for years. My ambition is to write hopefully interesting articles about these little things that occur around me and just puzzle me. I am an alien in London, just as I was in Montreal, Berlin or Singapore. From these international experiences I have inherited an eye for these cultural disparities.
As said, when you are living high in the mountains, and that you peer downhill at what is going on in the valley, you tend to have a very different perspective. Enjoy these mountain dweller's views...