Truth of the day

A woman can deliver a child in nine months, but I have never seen nine women deliver a child in a month.

Anonymous (but most certainly a project manager in a consultancy firm)


Child's plays do not mature well, do they?

Back to the playground.

There is a jubilating pleasure about being parents... It is called "regression", or this possibility to go back in time through the alibi of your child. When our son came to birth, my wife and I looked at kiddy stuff to decorate his room and that is when we had a double-revelation: we had grown up and we had in a different culture! Jubilancy goes hands in hands with frustration.

All our referential scheme was turned upside down. The heroes of our own childhoods have long retired and they have retired under the sun, not in wet England. Nobody in this country seems to have ever heard of Barbapapa the polymorphic, eco-friendly, pink blurb or of Casimir, the orange dinosaur and master of the Children Island. Simiarly, for me, George had never been Curious... He was one of the Beatles. Peter was not blue, he was eventually Pan.

And even when we thought sharing a common hero with host nation we got fooled.

One of the UK iconic child book is indeed Where is Wally?. This series of books was invented by illustrator Martin Handford who decided to hide his hero in crowded environments and to challenge his readers to find him... Finding Wally is hard but feasible in the UK, but it is simply impossible in France. Why? Because Wally is not Wally in France, he was renamed Charlie for some reason. And guess what, Charlie is also Waldo in America, Walter in Germany, Holger in Denmark, Willy in Norway, Valli in Iceland, and Effy in Israel... Man, this guy in the red shirt is more elusive than a SAS agent with all these passports at reach!


My son is not even 6-month old and he already teaches me things about cultural differences. The Wally/Charlie discrepency was one, but reminding me that animals do speak English too was a second lesson.

As a matter of fact, and despite his young age, we are already playing nursery rhymes and reading image books to our little one. Obviously, as grown-ups, we are alwas keen on exposing how bright we are. We of course know the name of that pink domestic quadruped that lays in the mud... But when we wanted to further boast our zoological expertise that we felt the backlash. The French animals do not speak the same language as their British counterparts and we failed page after page to speak the words of the creatures depicted in this book. Our pigs do not "oink-oink", they "gruik-gruik" ; ducks do not "quack-quack", they say "coin-coin" and our stalions do not "neigh-neigh"... no, they say "bonjour mademoiselle, voulez-vous coucher avec moi?".

So yes, you can learn at every age, and there are opportunities to expand your horizons in every single piece of culture you might be in touch with. And some may change your life for ever by the way. As mentioned before, one of the people who has had a major influence on my life to date is Shizuo Koizumi, a Japanese anime designer I never met but whose "Attacker Yu!" (Jeanne & Serge in French) made me discover volleyball as a young boy and live magnificent moments with great fellows until very recently.

And you, who are your childhood heroes, wherever they might be from? Drop me a line about them, I am dying to introduce them to my little one.

To read further:
  • Und-art my skin, an article based on an art performance who revealed the sources of inspiration of a painter
  • The bad education, or how the children tv programmes can prove to be very subversive