Ich bin ein Berliner

German Panzer have always been the best (think) tanks, haven't they?


Look at the neighbour in the window...

An open window to UK privacy.

One thing is really typical of the UK: the streets and their identical side-by-side houses. Boring redundancy or architectural perfection, I let you judge. But something puzzled me when I walked through the neighbourhoods on the search of my next flat: the large windows that let you peep into one's privacy.

My stereotype of British people was that they were very cautious about their public image, trying to hide away their feelings and intimate thoughts, and eventually release them in the very deepest secrecy of their cosy homes. However a glance at the drying panties and other tongues was enough to scramble any conviction. Where was the secrecy gone?

24/7 entertainment.

Without digging a peeping hole through the wall, you actually discover intimate information about your neighbours just by walking down the street. Everything is exposed in the lounge of these apparently harmless homes. The fine lingerie lover from house number 223. The Australian and his flagged bathing suits from house number 236. The couch potato from garden flat 68. The beer drinkers from houses 123, 124, 125, 127...

Not that I care. On the contrary, it is amusing to realise that the boring-looking clerk is not the one she pretends to be. I can even be quite funny to imagine what can be the existence of these people from which you capture a slice of life. Why this guy across the street lives 24/7 with his backpack on? Why the girl on the opposite building is posing in underwear in front of her laptop webcam every night, answering calls on her mobile every three minutes? Why this French Blog-writer keeps on looking at passers-by from his window?

Maybe it’s about time to get some curtains to my French-windows... And to go back to a "safer" Windows, one Mr. Gates sold me so expensively.


Swim the dump.

We are all potential Mountain Dwellers.

Last night I was heading up to my welcoming bed after a harassing 15 hour-work day when I stopped on my way home. I was standing on this bridge over the Thames and decided to glance down at the water turbulences. Yes, it is possible to leave in a Valley, and still to be able to look down to look at a different perspective...

I find it quite relaxing and it actually helps me clear my mind.

I was thus looking at the waves, the swans, the swirls, the foam, the wood pieces, the plastic bags, the floating tyre... Realising suddenly the value for money the people who pay a premium price to live with a Thames view are getting. I was suddenly picturing the flat adverts on the Foxtons' website: "stunning penthouse flat with view on London's floating litter".

The fool on the stream.

I smiled at this sudden burst of honesty from the Real Estate agents. And a second later I remembered that a few weeks from that I had seen someone actually swimming his way through the waters of the UK most famous river. A fool I thought at that time. A hero I should say now.

Father of three children, Andy Nation, 55, has swum an epic 13-day journey to cover the 236.5 km that separate the source of the Thames in Lechlade, Gloucestershire, from Teddington Lock in West London. Reporting his ups-and-downs, the HEN News mentioned:

A pleasure boat went past too quickly and Andy swallowed quite a bit of
water. He was very ill the next day and, in fact, he was so ill that we
thought at one point we might have to abandon the whole thing.

Surprising? You must admit that it would have been a pity. Andy was indeed hoping to raise £150,000 for the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Swimming Chirac.

Back in France we have our own Andy Nation. Nowadays he is even our President. At that time Mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac promised that, as a proof of his commitment against La Seine pollution, he would have swum in the river before the end of his term.

As far as I remember, the only time I have seen our President wearing a bathing suit was during his vacations in the West Indies... His current successor at the City Hall, Mr. Bertrand Delanoe, found a way around it with his now famous Paris Plage event (Paris Beach), he decided to host some swimming pools by the Seine. It thus gives you the impression to bath among the Bateaux Mouche, a few strokes from Notre Dame.

By the way, funny name they have these boats. "Bateaux Mouche" litteraly translates in "Fly Boats", as if the tourists were a swarm of flies trying to escape from drawning on a floating excrement... Suddenly Paris favourite cruises become less romantic, doesn't they?

Anyway, this comparison between the two sides of the Channel led me to wonder: would our politicians be less daring than the British? I am to say that it is very likely...

But on the other hand, if you remember this analogy from Johnny Clegg's song: "you have to swim with sharks in the sea, you have to live with the crooked politicians", do we really want to come across any politicians while fishing in your favourite river?