City of light(s)

Paris was originally nicknamed The City of Light because it was the European epicentre of enlightenment in the 18th century. Later on, from 1828, Paris began lighting the Champs-Elysées with gas lamps. It was the first city in Europe to do so, and so earned more broadly the nickname "La Ville-Lumière" or The City of Light.

This stop-motion video is a great showcase of that later definition with a scenic tour of the French capital by night and through the lens of its day and night glows... Enjoy!



Massive destruction cheeses

I recently wrote about the different perspective of the US and France on the military through the prism of children toys, but we could talk at length about the ambiguous relationship to weapons of that martial nation. The recent Oregon shootings, combined to the subsequent debate on the validity of the contemporary US Constitution second amendment interpretation highlights that at least/at last there is a realisation that something is not right... Such a debate is healthy and so are the interesting partisan campaign for the different parties. Loved that one, wonder why!


Continent hoping

Around the globe.

I have shared already the adventures around the globe of Seattle-originated jigger Matt. He seems to have a converted some followers to the why-travel-like-everyone-with-a-cheap-camera-around-your-neck-when-you-can-do-more-stupid-things philosophy. Let me indeed introduce you to another fantasist traveller, Sam, who has decided to go continent hoping... Literally.

Around me, myself and I.

During a 107-day summer tour, he was able to backpack and backflip around the world. That body-spinning arguably led him to reflect about himself, as if going around the world, around his own centre of gravity allowed him to give a new spin to his life...

After all, French poet Joachim du Bellay (1522-1560) had it nailed down in the 16th century when he came up with the prose: "Happy the man who, like Ulysses, has made a fine voyage, or has won the Golden Fleece, and then returns, experienced and knowledgeable, to spend the rest of his life among his family!".

So what to think about Sam? Arguably one need a goal in life, whatever it is. He found his path, a gimmick, and turned it into a video. It is nicely edited, exotic at times, and it makes your own head spin, not only because of the somersaults but also because of the tons of memories his wanderings recall in the mind of other travellers (like me for instance). Yet, as eluded to in the introduction this is just another variation of what was a brilliant idea by Matt Harding and his Where the hell is Matt? franchise. So nice, but just nice.

To read further:


The Saturday Shot #28: at my finger tips

Tick, tock, tick, tock... Captain Hook may be scared of that repetitive sound, but I am personally delighted. Each iteration is another second that gets us closer to my annual highlight. Although a couple years back I could have cursed that frozen water which stranded me twice in twelve months in France and the US, the white powder has since regained its place in my heart. I was in Seattle last week for what was the second anniversary of my crazy flight back home, my heart skipped a beat when I heard of snowfalls in Europe. An ambiguous mixture of anxiety and anticipation. But since the UK was spared for now, the earlier gave easily way to the positivity.

However Some say that positivism is always a tiny step away from lunacy. I think that this video speak for it. Best watch in full screen mode...

So let's conclude this weekly post with a philosophical touch. As a way to reassure myself that my fixation on snow flakes is nothing but enlightenment:

"The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself." Lao Tzu (6th Century BC)



It is now blatantly obvious that the regularity of my posts have reduced. There are many reasons to that situation, amongst which the delightful arrival of a little one, three years ago, who has since been playing a growing part in my daily workload. But that is not all.

Walking in the valley.

In fact, I started that blog with the conviction that as a foreigner in an alien country I would find tons of topics to talk about. That I would be able to endlessly dissert on the cultural disparities between my referential scheme and the civilisation I was now living in. And it has indeed been for years a great source of inspiration.

But I reckon that nowadays I am less and less surprised by the Brits. It is maybe what people call assimilation: I have blended in, with my British-born son playing the mixologist role by naturally seeding insights on an on-going basis. It feels that I am no longer looking at this society from the outside, or from up there as I say in the above description... I am now in the valley, amongst the passer-by's down here. For god sake, I had to roast some beef on Sunday last week, that sums it all!

But don't get me wrong though, I am still not citizen of her royal majesty and have no intention to become one at this point of time. There are still many of these French/British paradoxes that remain true to who I am. I am still puzzled by some idioms and in turn my French sometimes catch my friends off-guard.

And yet something has changed.

Euro pudding.

In fact, I watched this week one of my favourite movies, Cedric Klapisch's L'auberge Espagnole (i.e. Pot Luck or Euro Pudding). For anyone who has lived an Erasmus-like experience, the one-year adventures of a French economy graduate student in a Barcelonan multicultural flat-share will resonate.

But Cedric Klappish and I share more than a first name. Many of his lines in his filmography find a positive echo in my own life. I quoted him in my wedding ceremony for instance. And there was a sentence in L'Auberge Espagnole which really encapsulate how I probably feel today. Loosely translated that would sound like:
When you arrive in a city, you see streets in perspective. Lines of meaningless buildings. Everything is unknown, virgin territory. Here we are. And later we will have walked these streets. We will have reached the vanishing point. We will have gotten to know the buildings. We will have lived stories with people. When we will have lived in that city, walked this street ten, twenty, a thousand times... At that point of time the city will be yours, because we will have lived it.
L’auberge espagnole, Xavier.


The Saturday Shot #27: let it fall.

Autumnal chair
It is this time of the year yet again! If autumn is usually synonymous of doom, gloom, spleen... For me it is an Ideal. Autumn first of all is a brilliant subject for photography. I loved walking the Japanese back-country a few years ago to capture its reddening. I like clicking around the parks in Paris or elsewhere to snap as the ground blends with the remainder of the canopy. More recently I have started enjoying sharing with my little one the exhilarating feeling to kick dead leaves around (a shared pleasure I can testify).

But one more reason for enjoying fall as our friends from the other side of the Atlantic refer to it... is that it precedes Winter! This year, more than ever, I have been looking forward to the first snow flake. Dreams of deep snow-covered slopes have been haunting me. Ski magazines have materialised on my bed-side table. Internet session history have logged more and more time on sites like this one or this one... I have always been impatient. This year will not be an exception.

And to conclude with another appropriate quote from my home country:

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower".  Albert Camus (1913-1960)


The Saturday shot #26: an American Bear

This week, I wanted to share a picture shot during my recent holidays in the US, whilst visiting a Build-a-Bear outlet. I was indeed surprised by the cultural insight that this child shop could give on the American culture. After all, myths and beliefs are fostered in our early age, some say even before. So what struck me was that if, in swinging London your little ones can choose to dress up their cuddly toys in mini Mel C or a furry Sid Vicious, in the US the choice offered gravitated around Marines, Troopers and GIs gears. No wonder the belliquous mindset of the nation may be in, if childhood models are defined by military forces... Don't get me wrong I am not challenging that soldiers can be heroes, but I would always think of armed intervention as a necessary evil rather than a good thing. This beliefs again may come from my own culture and referential scheme. This reminds me indeed of this speech by former French Prime minister Dominique de Villepin back in February 2003 when addressing the UN security council on France's position with regards to initiating a war in Iraq:
This message comes to you today from an old country, France, from a continent like mine, Europe, that has known wars, occupation and barbarity. A country that does not forget and knows everything it owes to the freedom-fighters who came from America and elsewhere. And yet has never ceased to stand upright in the face of history and before mankind. Faithful to its values, it wishes resolutely to act with all the members of the international community. It believes in our ability to build together a better world.


Paris vs. New York by Tony Miotto

When the Big Apple is compared to the City of Lights, that can be enlightening... And this animation by graphic designer Tony Miotto, is clearly a nice source of light. Nice execution on the cultural differences and references of two of most famous cities in the world.

And if you like that split-screen graphic approach, you may enjoy a similar stance on Franco-American relationships with this video (shot with a Nokia phone), and which describes a transatlantic love story.


A mountain dweller in the Washington valleys

A couple years back I had the opportunity to discover Seattle on business, and have since returned quite few times in that city. But I knew there was more to the North-Western region than the SeaTac airport and taxis commuting between my hotel and the company's offices. So this summer, I decided to dwell a little longer than usual in the Washington state, and to discover the Ocean surrounding the liberal harbour of Seattle. If I had been amused by some traits of the Space Needle's home (the passion for salmon, the doubtful kindness, the SUV contradictions, etc.), the Evergreen State brought its lot of interesting cultural encounters...

Size definitely matters.

Yes, let's start with the blatantly obvious. It is so overused a cliche to describe the US as the country of superlatives. Everything is the "world best...", "world #1...", etc. That is at times laughable but one thing you cannot deny is of course that everything is big. Feet, portions, roads, people, drinks, cars... The caravans are so huge that it is not uncommon to see one of these trailers actually pulling a 4x4. You read me right, Dutch reader of these lines, on the other side of the pond, mobile homes are towing the car, and not the smallest! That is probably the so-call American Dream for you, our European summer migrators who every summer cross the French territory, looking for a sunburn...

As said, everything is oversized. Even roadkills are! No flatten hedgehog or mouse on the tarmac of Washington roads. The smallest animal I have seen on the side of the road was a deer... A deer! I mean how can you even run over such a beast? Probably not with a Renault Twingo. But that is probably more understandable when you put yourself in the shoes, or behind the wheels I shall say, of one of the locals... Were you driving one of these giant pick-ups that dwarfs the most ostentatious SUV in Chelsea, it would be hard for you too to see what happens below 2 meters from the ground. They cannot do things small, I tell you... So beware when you cross the road!

Into the "wild".

During our trip, we spend some time touring the stunning Olympic Peninsula. After the great British summer we had in London, we had to extend the pleasure... However the name of this region is not connected to athletic performances, but to the presence of an eponymous Mount Olympus in the middle of its national park. That Park is the host of a rainforest, several Indian reserves, magnificent lakes and equally surprisingly deserted beaches. No wonder this region is inspiring authors of all styles.

Hurricane Ridge for instance is coming straight out of a Disney movie. After a good hour drive uphill amongst enormous trees on a beautiful road, you finally arrive at a pass from which start walks and other alpine wanderings... But rapidly you are welcome by the local "wildlife", with elks crossing your way, giant black grouse singing whilst chipmunks drum the beat... You think I overdo it? Not at all. It was so surreal that we were expecting any minute to see a props man jumping out of a bush and shouting "You've been pranked!".

On the other hand, when you walk along the wild beaches of the western side of the peninsula, you feel you have landed in another type of literature. An eery one. Snow White has bitten the apple and the evil witch is enjoying her supremacy by the sea. The rugged landscapes, bathed in creepy fog and cluttered by rotting log trees were not without reminding me Tolkien's Mordor. I was once pretty sure I saw the shaddow of a troll in the woods, unless that was a pupil walking back from school... That is also possible since, as I eluded to it earlier, the locals are not the smallest beings either. Anyway the eery views of that area inspired  Stephenie Meyer for her bloody trilogy.

Stretching to greatness?

This leads me to my third literature reference... The town where vampires and werewolves supposedly fall in love with girls a lot younger than them (a few centuries younger... Is that legal or should we report this idyll?), Forks proved that the principles outlined by Philip Kotler in his marketing bible have been well assimilated. "Brand stretching" is about using an established brand name in order to introduce unrelated products. Well, the following pictures speak for themselves (click for full screen view):
Arguably that is a bit too much, but had you lived in that same tiny little village before the books' release and seen an influx of +600% in tourists, you too would have probably jumped on the bandwagon and taken these novels as a blessing. Because frankly outside the blockbuster reference, Forks really epitomises the concept of "uninterestingness". The problem, however, is that once you embrace that gorry kitsch, you cannot avoid but seeing vampires everywhere, let alone in medical notifications or native artefact's (is that me or that totem has got pretty sharp teeth???):

Depressive back country?

I seem to be a bit harsh with Forks, but do not let that anomaly derail my overall take on that beautiful region well-managed by the Quileult tribe. We loved hanging around at La Push and watch the sun set on the sacred rocks. That was even a poetic conclusion to that part of our trip, because we then headed South to Oregon and had to drove through less enthusiastic neighbourhoods. If the wild beaches were eluding to a literary devastation, further down it is a lot more literal. Aberdeen in front of all. Besides a river and the "Highland Golf Club" at its outskirt, that town has little to compare with its charming Scottish cousin. The rest is indeed pretty much despair, ruins, closed-down shops... This was home for Kurt Cobain, and frankly you may assume that it was in itself a source of inspiration for the grunge movement!
Love at first sight
The logging industry which pulled the regional economy for decades is slowing down nowadays. Smaller towns are drained out in favour of Seattle or Portland, the two urban poles in that part of the country. Although often compared as eternal enemies, the two cities have got a lot in common. As I was saying in introduction, they are liberal harbours in the middle of what is often depicted as the western redneck America. If Canadian proudly sew their flag on their backpack, Seattleites and Portlanders state their beliefs directly on their skin. I am impressed by the amount of ink people carry on their skin around there. Could that be to ensure that people do not see the original colour of their neck?

Anyway... I really enjoyed discovering that region which surprised me in many ways. I was promised rainfall and greeneries. If we indeed saw as much emeralds as last year, not a single drop of rain came to refresh the scenery, which clearly contrasts with our drenched Irish holidays. I liked the possibility to sneak away from the urban jungle and to dive into the rainforest. In light of my origins, I also loved hikking in Mount Rainier, its reflective lakes and its blossoming meadows. I am pretty sure at this stage that with such a description of these alpine surroundings you are expecting blonde Maria coming out of the evergreen woods and complement my list of highlights with a "...Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens; Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens; Brown paper packages tied up with strings; These are a few of my favorite things...", but I don't care. No matter how unlikely Seattle may sound as a summer holiday destination, it is now in my list of recommendations... As long as you can walk around on 2-meter stilt, of course!

To read further:
And some more pictures of that trip:


The Saturday Shot #25: carrying on, and on, and on...

London 2012 - Keep calm and carry on
For this week Saturday Shot, I had to go back one more time to these unique scenes caught during the London 2012 Olympics. After all, the games were the reasons why I have been unable to fulfil my weekly social contributions.

I had brilliant times about which I wrote on this other blog (in French). And frankly speaking I wished that fortnight would carry on for a bit longer. Not only for the sporting performances, as with the Euro, Wimbledon, Le Tour de France, we have been blessed this summer... No, I simply think that during these two weeks, London and the rest of the world has been smilling a bit more than usual.

Since I always accompany my saturday pictures with a quote, I had to refer to the genitor of the modern Olympics:

"May joy and good fellowship reign, and in this manner, may the Olympic Torch pursue its way through ages, increasing friendly understanding among nations, for the good of a humanity always more enthusiastic, more courageous and more pure." Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937)




This summer marked my sixth year on the British soil. An anniversary which also means that I have now lived longer in the British capital than in Paris for instance. During that time I got accustomed to the local rhythm, the indigenous habits, the cultural disparities... I have blended in. This is quite an ambivalent feeling as Brits and French are traditionally referred to as what one could call frenemies, i.e. the worst friends and the best enemies. I wrote quite a few articles about this Entente Cordiale that unites both nations, but being right in the middle of it is an awkward situation.

Although I am not British, I feel sometimes so and this city is like home. So no wonder that during the Olympics I waved and cheered at team GB, that I carried a Union Jack in my backpack... I got lucky and could attend quite a few events in the end. The lottery granted us only some tickets for a men volleyball semi-final, but perseverance and tenacity (let alone networking and generous friends) opened a few more doors. At these events, we were there as French nationals, as Londoners, as sport supporters.

Moment of truth.

But at a time when nations drop their weapons and random quarrels to support their Olympian troops, you are supposed to choose sides. I felt like a child in the middle of a divorce case. I love both mummy and daddy. I value Churchill and De Gaulle. I want the goldfish and its bowl. I want weekdays and weekends... I wanted to support blue, white and red, no mater whether these colours are laid out in crosses or in tiers.

And I thought so. I thought that almost like a bi-national I had today both nations ingrained in my soul on parity. But it was not the case... It took me a minute to realise it. Well, two half-times of 30 minutes each and 1 minute to raise a flag an that was it. Goose bump, spinal shivers, a tear in the eye... But who would not when hearing this:

France retains its Olympic title by beating Sweden in handball final

La Marseillaise

France national anthem, La Marseillaise, was written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792. The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic's anthem in 1795. The name of the song is due to first being sung on the streets by volunteers from Marseille but was soon adopted by the revolutionary armies which put an end to the French monarchy and dropped the seed of the Republic.
This song is a war song, a march that galvanise soldiers and unite them behind a cause... During the 1992 winter Olympic games in Albertville, a young, pure, white-dressed girl sung a capella this anthem in front of millions during the opening ceremony, and many only then realised how violent the lyrics could sound...
La Marseillaise (most commonly sung extract. Source: Wikipedia)

French lyricsEnglish translation
Allons enfants de la Patrie,Arise, children of the Fatherland,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !The day of glory has arrived!
Contre nous de la tyrannie,Against us tyranny
L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)Raises its bloody banner (repeat)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnesDo you hear, in the countryside,
Mugir ces féroces soldats ?The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos brasThey're coming right into your arms
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes !To cut the throats of your sons and women!
Aux armes, citoyens,To arms, citizens,
Formez vos bataillons,Form your battalions,
Marchons, marchons !Let's march, let's march!
Qu'un sang impurLet an impure blood
Abreuve nos sillons !Water our furrows!

This anthem sung in the handball arena, the box that rocks as the British journalists nicknamed it, swept any doubt that no matter happens and how long I will stay away from my homeland, at core I will remain French. An interesting realisation amidst athletic performances which contrasts a lot with some conversations I have had with US immigrants who had decided to embrace the US Constitution and rejected their origins by doing so. Unfathomable for me. Now.

Enjoy a selection of pictures from my Olympics:


The tax prayer

A necessary evil

Tax is exactly that: it is a necessary evil. Don't get me wrong, I am not getting into the neo-liberal debate of whether or not we are paying too much tax. In fact, I am rather fine with the concept of paying a tax, as long as it is used properly and without wastage. No my main concern about tax is the fact that it is also a tax on your time.

The French case epitomise what I am complaining about. In the Hexagon the fiscal system works a posteriori when it comes to income tax. This means that the tax payer needs to complete a fiscal year which, alleluia, is also the calendar year, and then declare the amount of revenue that was earned during the twelve months. And as usual when it comes to administrative tasks in France, you can be sure that there is at least a dozen forms to fill, in three different leaflets... Fortunately with the digital era this paperwork becomes binary work, but that does not prevent us from having those lovely nerve-breaking nights where you cover your sitting room in folders, receipts, letters from so or so, in order to fill the right box with the right amount, and to document obviously any entry.

I have not lived in the US (yet), so I cannot testify if that is better or worse there, although my colleagues from across the pond would be rolling their eyes in despair in light of my doubt. The one thing that I can comment on is that the British system is a lot easier, and less cumbersome... Well so I thought.

Bright side of life

The income tax in the UK is a lot more straight forward for employees. As a matter of fact you are paying your toll straight from your salary, immediately before it lands on your bank account. Your accounting department is in charge of paying Her Majesty Revenue & Customs. This means that the money you receive is net, and really represents the money you can play with... Unlike in France where you theoretically need to save to be able pay your due once the fiscal year has closed. I say theoretically as how many of us had the sudden epiphany in April to realise: "sh#t, I need to pay my tax... but also my May holidays. Too bad, but I really need some sun. Come and get me, I am in sunny Spain, you grey suit!" (OK, the runaway never last long, but always worth the try, no?).

But back to the UK. When I was briefly explained how tax was working here 6 years ago, I welcome the time-tax relief and started to enjoy the paperwork-free world of tax paying in my host nation. After all, no declaration, no paperwork, no last minute rambling, no worries... Except, that like any rules there are exceptions, and of course you tend not to pay attention to these footnotes. You prefer to look at the bright side of life, tadam tadam tadamtadamtadam...

So when you receive a first letter from the HM R&C, you think this is a mistake after all I have already paid my tax. Tadam tadam tadamtadamtadam... When you receive the second letter from HM R&C, you start to think that you should advise them to improve their database management. Tadam tadam tadamtadamtadam...  And then twelve month later, when it is time to start to close the following fiscal year, the postman drops you another type of letter. This ones does not make you shrug, it makes you shiver... What the fuck? According to the paper in front of you, you learn that since you have not declared your revenue a year before, you are now liable to a fine and a daily penalty until you proceed. Suddenly, the music in your head changes. You start hearing the noise of the cash register. Tching,  tching, tching...

A hint of French touch after all.

OK, that must be a mistake. A quick call to the help line reveals that I should have read the footnote on the 2345 pages of the HM R&C website. Employees do not have to declare individually their income, unless... unless you are also self-employed. Nope. Unless you are a director... Still nope. Unless you earn more than a certain amount of money. Surely I am nowhere that salary. Money is not my driver in life. As long as I have enough not to think about it too much, I am happy, so I am really not on top of these things. But as far as I remembered the last time I checked I was nowhere near that threshold.

After a few days of investigation - tching, tching, tching -, I realise that due to some strange star alignments in the cosmos, including apparently my lucky star, I have received some exceptional bonuses and benefits that just brought me over that threshold. But literally just over, by a dozen pounds... OK, let's follow the instructions then and let's get the record straight.

According to the website and the person from the call centre, the best practise is to pay your fine first, and then challenge it if you feel it is not relevant, and more importantly to declare your revenue as soon as possible. Tching, tching, tching. The "fastest" way is to do it online. If there is one thing I love about the web nowadays, it is its immediacy, but I suddenly realised that French engineers may have helped set up the web process as, in a nutshell, here are the steps I went through.

Since I never had to engage directly with HM R&C I needed to create my online account. After filling a online form, I was informed that a unique identifier would be sent to me, by post, to complete the profile creation... Tching, tching, tching. A week and half later (yes, Royal Mail is not the fastest), I received a cryptic code which was supposed to help me get closer to resolution. Yes! It worked: I had an online profile. What next? Where can I tell you how much I earned, happily pay my due, and stop that "tching, tching, tching..." from freaking me out. The answer: I needed to apply for the service. And guess what? It required another unique identifier, which also could only be delivered by post. Tching, tching, tching. I really thought at that point of time that I was in an official scam: the British government, to fill its bank accounts, was putting as many hurdles in front of me to ensure that my check to their services was the largest possible... Machiavellian, evilly thought through, but without a doubt efficient. No wonder the finance minister is named the Chancellor of the Exchequer!

A Swiss influence?

I finally got that code, rushed to my computer, validated my service request, entered the various information in the relevant boxes, press submit... And collected my jaw which had dropped on the table. On the screen in front of me the website announced me that I was not owing anything to the Queen, but that on the contrary HM R&C was to send me a check as I would have paid too much... Calling that an anticlimax! In essence I had to be fined and charged to receive some money back... British humour I supposed.

I certainly could not close that case here. So I decided to assert my French origins, and pulled out one of my administrative claim letter templates. We receive them at birth in France, as they prove so helpful... Just need to input the name of the administration you have grievance towards, and here you go! Anyway, having explained my case, my diligent treatment of the situation and how despite the traps and tricks of the system, I managed to get as fast as I could to the end of the fiscal maze... I got heard. The fine was reimbursed, and no daily charge was billed to me. Katching! After all, maybe the Monthy Python were right, there is a silver lining in every cloud.
Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...
Tadam tadam tadamtadamtadam...


The Saturday Shot #24: common sense

Conflicting messages
This is picture I took as I was wandering another valley on the other side of the pond. It struck me and made me smile. I thought it was an interesting political statement made by the architect: in a time of presidential elections, the "pensee unique", this concept whereby mainstream conformism is the only way out, may just be good to go to the drain, irrespective of the circumvallated nonsense that you want to lose your audience in. 

Anyway, since we are talking nonsense and striking power, who better than the philosopher of the rings, Mike Tyson, could illustrate this week picture with a smart quote? After all he had his very own style to make a lasting impression...

"I don't try to intimidate anybody before a fight. That's nonsense. I intimidate people by hitting them.
Mike Tyson (1966-)


The Saturday Shot #23: bon future...

Bon Future?
Sometimes as you walk around the streets of life, you are prompted some very interesting, metaphysical questions... This picture was taken on London south bank, and I thought it captured an interesting question. Forty years after Sid Vicious and the rest of the punk movement declared there was no future, are we more positive nowadays?

We are certainly four decades later, so there was some sort of a future, at least a short term one. But the news is currently all about doom and gloom. Collapsing economy, serial killers on the run, global warming, and even the serious threat of a comeback album by Cliff Richards. We are indeed not so far of the late 70s. The petrol may not be the cause of the current turmoil, but finances have taken over... And in this context the British public is adopting a very distant stance towards those who amplified the social and economical tensions on the altar of profit.

I am interested in the fact that the once most rebellious country in Europe, home of the Sex Pistols, is now taking a step back and not joining more actively movements like the Anonymous. It is all the more surprising that London, as one of the leading banking capital in the world, is at the epicenter of the current situation. It is probably easier to rebel yourself against the remote and unknown than against your cousin or next door neighbours. This may explain the success of the resurrected poster "Keep calm and carry on" that is selling fast.

Personally, I am rather of a positive nature. So I think that we have a bon future ahead of us assuming some serious changes in our behaviours, whether social, cultural or consumptions. But unlike the advertising said, if the future is bright, the future is probably not orange:

“A man is not an orange. You can't eat the fruit and throw the peel away” Arthur Miller (1915-2005)


The Saturday Shot #22: blossoming memories

Such a sight can only bring a new layer of poetry to the English capital. It carries you, the dreamer, away. These days, the streets of London look indeed like a back alley in Kyoto or a Carioca avenue after the carnival. Tones of cherry blossoms are paving the streets like a myriad of pink snowflakes blown away by the wind. Close your eyes. Let the sun rays go through the layers of clouds, pierce your pallid skin and warm your heart of this spring feeling...

Right, the BBQ is ready and the football match is about to start, so let's stop the fluffy non-sense and go back to basics: we have finally past the vernal equinox and it starts to show. So enjoy!


Cultural difference from the tap.

A pint of cultural difference. A shooter of good taste.
When it comes to cultural disparities, you often find yourself on the creative super highways... But also on the verge to lose some of your international audience by communicating on too local an insight, or even get into dangerous ethical considerations.

This commercial for Molson Canadian beer actually managed to capitalise on collective memories, habits, customs... without falling in the dangerous path of nationalism and racism.
So Bottom up. And hats down.


The Saturday Shot #21: the gender gap

Door # 13, 14
For this weekend contribution, I was inspired by the first French actor to win an Academy Award, Jean Dujardin... The reference will be lost for most non-French folks reading these lines, but before become a worldwide reference for his talent as a silent actor, Mr. Dujardin has been a daily companion to most  French households.

Jean Dujardin has indeed been co-staring a daily short TV programme called "Un gars, une fille" (A boy, a girl) which relates the daily intimacy of an average French couple. Hold on dirty minds! When I say "intimacy" and "French", I can already see sparks in your eyes. However, there is no "menage a trois" in this series. This is not a rip off of Sex and the City. The intimacy I was referring to is more about the snoring wife, the hair left in the sink, the old boy friend picture... All dealt with great apathy and humour. It was so relevant to all the couples that it was an almost immediate hit. To the point that the heroes' nicknames have become almost an ubiquitous terminology to describe happy couples. Chouchous and Loulous are to be seen at every corners snugging in the streets of Paris, Lyon, Marseille... It was so personal and intimate that the two actors pretending to be husband and wife on screen... Happened to fall in love for real and have since got married.

Because, life is like that... Unexpected. And this leads me to my concluding quote by Jim Morrisson 1943-1971):

“There are things known, and there are things unknown, And in between are doors”