Archive for June, 2009

Straight to Hull


 Again a lack of activity.  This time the fault being a holiday in Iceland where I didn’t have much access to ‘teh internetz’ and then a brief stay with family where, similarly, it has been difficult to post.

I’m now working in the UK on a short term contract and hope to have better acces to the intercyberweb thingy over the coming weeks so hopefull I’ll get back to regular posting.  The adaptation of the Clash song should give a clue as to where I’m working:

Acres of newsprint, miles of film and lots of other media have covered the death of Michael Jackson.  I first got into the music of the Jackson 5 via Graham Parker and the Rumour, not having experienced it really first time round.  He did a cover of the following song which then led me back to the original:

I can’t say that I was ever a big fan.  I thought some of the music was OK, especially to dance to.  I now understand more about its importance in marrying RnB with pop and rock and bringing ‘black’ music mainstream in America.  Obviously there are the issues around what happened with him in his childhood, the media and what he himself did in later years.  Anyway, here’s the great Graham Parker and the Rumour from Top of the Pops in 1975 with their version of the Trammps, ‘Hold Back the Night’:

Monsters of Love


On the way between lunch today chez Jacques (see below, the pork was just wonderful today.) and the record store where I P1030595had espied the Jacques Brel 30th anniversary of his death tin box 3 DVD set, ‘Comme Quand on Etait Beau‘ (7 hours 15 minutes of fantastic Jacques Brel filmic entertainment.)  I just happened upon this store front/side redesign taking P1030588place.(see below)  The ten days up to tomorrow has been the parcours du design in Strasbourg organised by one of my employers, CCI (Chambre de Commerce et d’Industie) which has seen design type events happening all over Strasbourg.

For today’s DDS I’ll feature another band that were on the legendary tape made for me by a then girlfriend.  The reason for featuring Momus, apart from being very good, is that he/they released an ep of Jacques Brel songs titled ‘Nicky’ and here he is singing Don’t go away, which as everyone knows is ‘Ne me quitte pas‘:

I got my next taste of Momus on a compilation LP for the record label el, 1986 which featured the same song, ‘Paper wraps rock’ which was the first time I had known of a reference to the game in popular culture.  I next came across them was when I bought the single of ‘Murderers the hope of women’:

I next bought the ‘Don’t stop the night’ album from which there isn’t a video available but the next album I bought was ‘Monsters of Love’ a compilation of their singles 1985-90 which included ‘The Hairstyle of the Devil which was almost a hit for him:

He now writes a blog to be found on his site.  To end, or as an ‘and finally,’ here’s something for the weekend for the Lay-deees:


Our house


On my way back from work into the centre of Strasbourg I stopped to cross P1030584the main road through the southern edge of Strasbourg which takes you into Germany and there were these wonderful, colourful blooming flowerbeds.  Whose heart could fail to be lifted on seeing such a riot of colour lining the road?  I also liked the juxtaposition of this with the poster for the ‘Quartier Fleuris’ competition.  So I was a bit surprised a bit further on to see some homelessP1030585 people campaigning for somewhere to live.  Something that I have noticed as a difference is the number of people homeless living in tents around Strasbourg.  There are people living rough in the UK but the answer has not been to give them tents as has happened here.  You can understand the thinking, that they help people gain somewhere to P1030586live but does it institutionalise the problem, people get used to living in tents and the pressure is removed from the authorities to do something to get people a roof over their heads.  As you see from the picture left this encampment is opposite the offices of the Communaute Urbaine Strasbourg.  When I first arrived there there were a lot more tents to be publicly seen around Strasbourg, under bridges, under big trees and in other public spaces.  In the last year a lot of these have disappeared.  I don’t know if that is because of the election of a Socialist Mayor and the provision of a lot more public housing or whether they have been moved on.  An organisation, Les enfants de Don Quichotte, (and wiki) has been using the visibility of tents in public spaces to campaign about the number of people homeless in France, including having a demonstration in Strasbourg in April which was broken by the forces of order.  Our landlord is thinking about selling our flat and has been talking with us about it so the thought about being homed is something that I’ve been thinking about.  Thankfully I’ve not the drug or other problem which most of the people sleeping around Strasbourg in their tents face.  As it’s the headline for the story, and the only possible one I think, here are Madness:

The far from lost weekend part II


After the match finished the rain started to fall seriously and we piled into P1030466cars and drove the 20 minutes or so to our accommodation for the evening.  It was a farm which had been converted into two houses and managed to put up nine people.  After welcome warm showers we gathered to enjoy a BBQ which, because of the weather, had to be cooked under the grill instead, a few drinks and a pleasant chat involving the Strollers and members of the Montbard team.  P1030478It was our leader’s birthday and he got a birthday cake to celebrate.  People started leaving at 23:00 but I was with a hard core who stayed up to 01:00.  After a cold night and another welcome warm shower we had breakfast before heading off, as seen on the right.  There had been much discussion the night before about whether the motorway P1030487or the scenic route were better for getting home.  It was agreed that the time was pretty much the same for either route so it would be better to go the scenic route.  I was in the two seter sports car on the left of the top photo and a lack of rain meant it wasn’t long before we had the top down.  The above picture was taken from above P1030506the windscreen and it looks like the cloud above is following the road.  Fortunately we managed to stay in front of it before it decided to drop any of the rain it was carrying.  I said in yesterdays post that my lift had spent the previous day Geocaching and the journey back offered me a chance to find out about this pastime.  About midday we came up to P1030495Chaumont and the viaduct shown above.  We turned off and at the bottom of one of the spans was found the box, pictured left, which also had a log-book which the provider of my lift completed.  We looked around the viaduct a bit then drove into the town and found something to eat.  We stopped at the restaurant opposite the P1030543station called L’Affiche.  It was named after the ‘Festival international de l’affiche et du graphisme de Chaumont’ which was taking place at that very time, for the 20th year. After brochette de dinde and a nice tarte almonde we were refueled for the rest of the journey home.  I got a chance to drive and above is a picture of me P1030552taken when the car was being refueled.  We passed through Champagne and then returned to Alsace.  On the way we looked for a cache in a 10th or 11th century (According to which sign you believe) castle and had success at a château.  I got home with just over an hour left to vote which I then did.(The above picture taken on the return to Strasbourg shows how much the Cathedral stands out.  It had been visible almost as soon as we came down from the Vosges.  Almost as tall behind it are the hills/mountains of the Black Forrest.)

The far from lost weekend part I


On Friday we departed Strasbourg in the early afternoon and the sun and travelled by TGV through the Vosges and then the industrial North-East of France before coming to Luxembourg and then Luxembourg city.  P1030417After an early dinner we discovered it was a twenty minute train ride to Belval where the concert was being held.  Belval seemed like a huge office/shopping/flat complex in the process of being built on the site of a former steelworks, as seen in the picture above.  The Rockahl was part of the new buildings.  It was not the largest venue and you can read reviews and see the setlist for Morrisseys fabulous performance here.   The great Luxembourg public transport meant we got P1030422back to the hotel in time for some sleep before I had to get up at 04:30 to get the 05:02 train from Luxembourg to Metz before changing for the train for Nice which was to take me to Dijon.  I had some time to kill and walked into Dijon, spent some time in a cafe and got my phone charged before catching the TGV to Montbard, which was half an P1030436hour away on the main line to Paris.  Again with time to kill before my lift arrived I left the station, pictured left, and walked into Montbard and got something to eat, with the impending physical exercise and having been up for some time I dcided some pasta was in order and ate at the Restaurant Le CalypsoP1030442.  Just as I was finishing my lift called and I met Nick at the station, having bought him a sandwich near the station.  He had spent the previous day GPS cache hunting and walking in the sparsely populated central France.  We went to the Mon Bar (Geddit) where we met the other players in the Strasbourg Strollers Cricket Club team and Francois from our opponents who guided us to the cricket pitch between the TGV line and the River Seine.  We batted first and to help the other team provided them with a couple of P1030446fielders whilst the rest of their team arrived and the umpires.  I was one of the umpires.  You get much better pictures as an umpire, like the one on the left of our first-wicket down pair hitting the first of many boundaries.  A couple of times we went off for rain and the match was reduced from thirty P1030450to twenty-five overs, although as this happened before the second innings there was no need to apply the Duckworth-Lewis.  The picture on the right shows us sheltering from the rain in the ‘pavilion.’  I batted for the last couple of overs and scored a season best* of 2 not out out of a score of 204 for 6.(*It was the first game of the season.)  After tea Montbard batted and they started well.  After six or seven overs I bowled and took two wickets in my four overs, including P1030465removing the opposition captain and major threat.  I then took a catch off the bowling of our captain.  We bowled Montbard out for 94 runs with three overs left.  On the right is a picture  of both teams after the game, together with the large bat which is the emblem of Montbard Cricket Culb. (To be continued…)

‘I’ve got your number…


…written on the back of my hand,’ by the Jags (and wiki) was their one hit in 1979.  But I’m really writing about the numbers found on plates on the P1030567front and rear of cars.  Historically car number plates in France look like the one on the left.  The last two numbers are the number of the departement so that it is possible to tell from looking at a car where it is from.  The one on the left is from Strasbourg which is the capital of Bas-Rhin (Lower Rhine) departement.  There has beenP1030566 a lot of consternation in France over the Europe-wide move to a standard number plate.  As a result of the change the use of the two number identifier for the departement has to stop and the number plate as on the right is being introduced.  When this was proposed it was the end of civilisation for some people.  As you can see a compromise allows the number of the departement, and now the coat of arms of the departement, to be included.  Civilisation carries on.  I bought the single, “I’ve got your number, written on the back of my hand” when it came out although a move or a party have resulted in me no longer having it.  For a piece about number plates I thought it was appropriate to have a musical reference to the Jags, although as the were a one-hit-wonder definately not two-Jags.  Anyway, here they are on Top of the Pops:

I wanna be elected


After a weekend spent seeing the fabulous Morrissey in Luxembourg and then playing cricket in Burgundy before driving back across Strasbourg to vote in the last hour of yesterday’s European election I’m still recovering from the weekend, but will write further on it later.  To finish the posts about the election here I will first post below some pictures from voting yesterday and then give the results from the Alsacian and French juries.

P1030565Candidates posters outside the ‘Bureau de vote’ (above) and the lists for each party and the envelopes to put them in on the table (below):


The polling booths (above) and the Parti Socialist list with my envelope (below).

P1030561P1030562The polling station staff checking my ID to make sure that I am who my polling card says I am. (above) Votez.(below)


P1030563The election results at my polling station seemed to go pretty much as the rest of Strasbourg although the abstentions were a bit higher and the vote for the Greens was noticeably higher than in the rest of the departement.  Across France the 72 MEPs elected by party are shown here whereas in the Est (East) region we elected:

  • PS- Liem Hoang-Ngoc & Catherine Trautmann
  • Green – Sandrine Bélier
  • MODEM – Jean-François Kahn (Who was at the head of their list but stood down in favour of the person second on the list and previously their MEP) Nathalie Griesbeck
  • UMP – Arnaud Danjean, Joseph Daul, Véronique Mathieu & Michèle Striffler
  • FN – Bruno Gollnisch (Est)

With the votes for the various parties here.  The story of the election locally and nationally in France was one of a record abstention, just more than 40% of the people voted.  The second story of the night were the poor performance of the Parti Socialiste (PS) and the excellent performance of the Greens.  Pundits were saying there is some link between the poor performance of the PS and the good performance of the Greens and the abstention.  It was the PS voters who stayed at home.

Driving away from home


For two of the four years I lived in Liverpool I lived over the water in the woolyback land of Birkenhead.  The relevance of this will become clear later.  Today’s DDS band, It’s Immaterial, (also here and here and facebook) also hail from Liverpool and their biggest hit, Driving Away From Home talks about the leaving of Liverpool, through rather than as an emigrant, off to the brave new World, it’s in a car down the M62 to Manchester, or off further:

The next track, as a comment I’ve seen before on it, is one of the best songs to play when you’re getting ready, it was also on a shit-hot compilation tape given to me by a previous girlfriend.(Which I lost in a move.)  It was only recently that I realised it was the same group who recorded both tracks, ‘Ed’s Funky Diner’:

Both the previous tracks were on their first album, ‘Life’s Hard and then you Die‘.  Finally a track from their second album, ‘Song‘, about New Brighton, the end of the Liverpool tube line which took me under the Mersey for the two years I lived there and somewhere I only visited late on in the two years over the water from Liverpool:

[hat-tip WAS for pointing me to the new release of the ‘Girls at Our Best‘ (more) Album which led me to find, and order, Song.]

Throwing my arms around Luxembourg


P1030407The first time I voted in France was in a student election.  I was given the various lists of candidates and an envelope and then told to go behind the curtain into the voting area and vote.  But none of the lists had a box on them.  Where was I to put my cross?  How did I show I wanted particular candidates?  It was only after I put one of P1030406the lists into the envelope, having randomly crossed off some names, of people I knew nothing more about than the others I did not cross off, that I was able to put it in the box and cast my vote.  I later found out that the way you vote in France is by putting the list into the envelope and then putting that in the box.  I don’t know what people scrutinising the vote would have thought when my vote came out with people crossed off.  I hope the people concerned did not see it as they could take it personally when it was a mistake by someone who didn’t know what they were doing.  Anyway.  The photo at the top is of my Carte Electorale which has to be shown to the polling officer to get your envelope and the one below is of the lists of candidate.  One of these is put into the envelope and you then have to sign before your name in the electoral register, the hole in the box is openned and you drop your vote in.

Anyway, enough of elections.  I’m off to Luxembourg to see Morrissey and then I am catching a train at 5 in the morning to play cricket in Burgundy.  I will vote on my return.  To mark the visit to the master and go some way to explain the title of this post here he is:

Votez Lionel Jospin


No, he’s not a candidate in the European elections, it’s just something a P1030387number of us said to each other during the 1995 French Presidential elections but we didn’t help him at all as he narrowly lost to Jacques Chirac.  In 2002 we didn’t say it and he was humiliatingly ejected in the first round, beaten for second place andP1030388 therefore the run-off by the far right wing Front National, leaving many on the left to vote for Chirac to keep out the far right.

Above is a picture of the boards put out by the council at election time for the Parties to post up their election posters.  Each party gets a square and can fill it as they like, as you can see from the close-up P1030389above.  The poster boards above are outside a school and the ones to the left are next to a bend in the road just a bit father on.  I don’t know why they’re in these particular sites, there’s another just across the river, because on my journeys around Strasbourg I’ve not seen any others.  Apart from the site pictured in a previousP1030394 post I’ve not seen any fly-posting of election posters, or any bilboards with paid for advertising by political parties.  On the right space provided by the council for posters that is usually covered in posters advertising concerts taken over by the Front Gauche, whose posting seems to have slipped onto the recycling bin next to the poster P1030391site.  The only other evidence of the election, apart from the Council’s posters advertising the election highlighted earlier the only other evidence of there being an election on at all is the shopfront taken for the Parti Socialiste shown in the picture left and in close up below.  I had the wider picture to show the building next to the one with the PS shop in it as it is one of my favourite buildings in Strasbourg.


Which as everyone knows is French for opinion polls.  P1030392The ones from yesterdays DNA show the projected election share in France as:

  • UMP       26%
  • PS    21.5%
  • MODEM   11%
  • Europe Ecologie   11%
  • Front National   8.5%
  • NPA   6.5%
  • Front de gauche 6%

Here in l’Est the share of votes is:

  • UMP                                   24%
  • PS                                        20%
  • Front National                 15%
  • MODEM                            10%
  • Europe Ecologie                9%
  • NPA                                      7%
  • Front de Gauche               6%
  • Libertas                               5%

I have no idea how these reflect the patterns of voting previously but I hope to have more information after voting on Sunday.

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