Archive for May, 2011

To have a look of hell


Another in my occasional series about the use of language following the first about the mistranslation of stuck-up cow. This time it is from a poster in a window of a shop in the centre of Strasbourg, between Place Homme De Fer and Place Kleber, being refitted. Or, as the sign says “Your shop is closed for a relooking”. My dictionary defines look as look, and goes on to define ‘avoir un look d’enfer’ as to look great or wicked. So the shop is getting a new look so much nicer than being refitted.

In previous jobs I worked in offices and sometimes had to meet members of the public or attend public meetings. So it was required to wear a suit and tie. I have around 40 ties but until now I never had anywhere to keep them. So they ended up with about half of them on a tie holder that came when I bought one of them and the rest on a hanger in the wardrobe. It was not good for the ties and took up more room in the wardrobe than needed.  After looking at a number of websites I decided I needed a tie rack to tidy them up. I decided the bes place to put it would be on the door of the wardrobe. There were some good ones on the Amazon website but it would cost almost the same in postage to get them to France as it would to buy them and make them very expensive. I found one on a website in France after googling the google translation of tie rack in French, support à cravates. I also tried to find one in Germany but all it came up with was the shop tie rack and website with contacts for manufacturers in China if you wanted to order loads of them. I was worried the with the Rapture last weekend being the that I would miss out on the delivery of the tie rack and leave my ties in a mess so it was a bonus that it is now put-off to October. Well it arrived this week but it was too big for the door of the wardrobe! Oh no what to do? I managed to fit it under the rail that shirts and suits hang on and 32 of my ties now hang up nicely in order.

Mr Mojo Risin reprise

In this post I wrote about converting my vinyl to MP3 tracks. Having worked my way through some, but less than half, my UK 80’s and 90’s vinyl I discover I have already converted more than 40 albums. This means my original estimate of 100 to do is way low and, considering I have more in the 70’s and 60’s and earlier racks there must be over 300 to convert. I’m now prepared to consider that it might be the end of the year before I am able to complete the task, especially as I will be working in the UK in July and August and plan to be in Australia in Novevember. The good news today was that I awoke to be told by JTO to look at my emails. On doing so I saw that she had ordered an iPod Touch from the online store of FNAC. I was immediately jealous but this changed upon being told it was a present for me to listen to all the tracks I had been converting. How cool is that? Perhaps the way to a man’s heart is through his ears?

Anyway the music to end this piece could only be one track, one from among the many I have converted:

Sports report


As I said here I missed the last match of Le Racing Club de Strasbourg’s season on Friday. They won 2-0 and stay in third place in the National. As has been the case for the previous three seasons their future waits upon the last day of the season. Contrary to the wishes of the President of the Club, and representative of the London-based owner of it, the doors were open and fans present. There were quite amazing scenes at the end of the last match with the players joining the Ultra Boys in their ‘tribune’ in the stands. See the video here.

When I moved to Strasbourg in 2007 they had just been promoted back to the First Division. It was great watching the best teams in France for 5 Euros. Lyon, Girondins de Bordeaux, l’Olympic de Marseille, Paris St Germain etc. I didn’t know at the time but the manager who had taken them back into the top flight, Jean-Pierre Papin, was replaced by Jean-Marc Furlan and the season started well with le Racing in the top half of the table. A poor second half of the season and they were left needing a win in their last match to stay up. They lost.

The following season, despite the departure of many of the players, they started the season well and led the division at the winter pause. A less than good second half of the season left the team requiring a win on the last day of the season and another team to not win for the boys of Jean-Marc Furlan to return to the top flight. It didn’t happen. Jean-Marc Furlan was sacked and in the following season there were five different owners in six months. Fewer but a number of different managers, and the team required a win on the last day of the season to stay in the Second Division. It didn’t happen and they were relegated to the National a semi-pro league. Le Racing were allowed to stay professional for their first season and, with the departure of all bar one of the previous first team, started the season very badly and were in the relegation positions in the first month of the season and spent the first half of the season in the bottom half of the table. A strong improvement in the second half of the season, despite a ham-fisted attempt to replace the manager, after it had become clear there was a chance they could make the promotion places after all, left the team requiring a win to be promoted. They won. Le Racing also need Guingamp to lose their match next week to keep hold of the third place.

Blue Moon

I can’t let the events of the past week go without saying how thrilled I was for Manchester City to win their first trophy since 1976 and the win the FA Cup for the first time since 1969. Like I had for every game I had my 1969 replica shirt on for the match and watched the second half of the match in the Dubliners in Strasbourg. I am now looking forward to the match this afternoon and the chance of finishing third and qualifying automatically for the Champions League. I am wearing my replica third shird and I hope it brings as much luck today as the replica of the ’69 Cup Final winning shirt did for the cup run. Whilst talking about football I will just say how pleased I was about the victory on Tuesday night for my former home-town team Reading, earning them a match at Wembley in the play-offs for the Premier League. I will be cheering them on against Swansea later this month.

I don’t like cricket..

I love it. Especially after yesterday when Lancashire beat Yorkshire in the Roses match. I was following the game via the BBC and was afraid the match was going the same way as the Sussex match earlier in the season, when the game was drawn because we couldn’t get the last two batsmen out. This time we did get them out but had 15 overs to score 121, which we did with four balls to spare.

Lancashire are now leading the County Championship despite having played a game less than their closest teams. I wonder, will this be the year Lancashire win the County Championship for the first time since 1934? It would be ironic that the season when we are away from our Manchester headquarters, at Old Trafford, and playing in Liverpool would turn out to be our most successful in the County Championship. It would help confirm my view that we can not win the County Championship playing in Manchester because of the rain. I know from living in Liverpool that the clouds pass over there before heading inland to dump the rain on Manchester, before going over the Pennines. I’m sure there is a study to be done about the failure of fantastic Lancashire teams, like those of the 50’s, 70’s and 80’s to win a County Championship whilst winning nearly everything else going, and the number of matches drawn because of the weather.

Mr Mojo Risin


I have never counted them but I must have over 100 Long Players and about the same number of what we called singles. Through the beneficence of HM Revenues and Customs I have a Bang & Olufson Century music system.

To explain that last sentence when I was working in Parliament the Fees Office took too much tax off me through the PAYE system. I didn’t notice. Its not that I earnt too much to notice but who checks their payslip to see whether the amount of tax or other stoppages are correct? When I started having to complete an assessment every year this came to light and I got a rebate. It was a very effective way to save and shows that the Fees Office was not always seeking to let people fritter away taxpayers money, well not for staff anyway. At the time I had an old music system I had received when an uncle died. The father of a friend had a B & O system and I had admired the beauty of the system as well as the sound it made when visiting her house. The lump sum I received from the taxman allowed me to fulfill the desire to own such a beautiful music system – something I don’t think I’d have got around to if it wasn’t for the compulsory saving.

It’s a beautiful system with a cover that automatically moves aside if movement is detected near it and has a great CD player, cassette player (remember them?) and radio with great sound and its even better that it can be mounted on the wall. It has nothing for playing what I called records, but I see are now known as vinyl, though. I did connect the record player from my old system via a pre-amp to the B & O system but it’s not a satisfactory solution. So the vinyl has sat in a unit next to the TV without being played.

Before moving to France I bought an ion TTUSB turntable, which their website describes as a High-performance LP Conversion System, to make MP3 files out of vinyl records. In the almost four years it has been here in France I tried to use it once but was dissatisfied with the results, in particular the inability of the system to differentiate between tracks so that I had one, something like 44 minute, track when I tried to add Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds of Love’ to my MP3 collection. Recently I downloaded the software to convert tracks onto our newish iMac and discovered that there was now a button on the interface to press when a new track started. So, over the last week I have been converting my vinyl collection into digital tracks.

As the picture of my 20 year-old self in my room in a shared house in Birkenhead whilst a student at Liverpool University shows I was, like any late teen boy, in love with the doors. A beautiful poet who dies a mysterious death in Paris after years of substance consumption. It could have been invented by a scriptwriter as the perfect story to interest  late teen boys. For no reason other than I had to start somewhere the doors were amongst the first albums I converted to digital. What struck me was how great the whole ‘Morrison Hotel/Hard Rock Cafe’ album is.(The only time from me you’ll get great and Hard Rock Cafe in the same sentence.) Rocking and funky I enjoyed listening to it whilst converting it and will be listening to it again.  Lady’s and Gentlemen once again, the doors (And I know it’s not from the Morirson Hotel album but its a great song and a good video.):

En garde


This blog hasn’t lived up to its name for some time.  I’ve still been taking part in the Monday night fencing training at the Salle des Armes at Kibitzenau. The last two weeks we have been fighting with the fleuret. Normally we fight with the épée which is the weapon with which I first learnt to fence and the one I’ve used all the time until these last two weeks. The two main differences are that the whole body is the target for the épée and you gain a point for a hit only when you are attacking with the fleuret. I am normally more of a defensive fencer, letting the opponent come onto me. I feel I have developed with the weapon and mow when I fight people I was fighting when I started and was equal to, I beat them quite easily. People who used to beat me I now have a good match with and am their equal. The fleuret has required a change of tactics and I’ve not managed to get my head around the need to attack and have been beaten every time we’ve fought. Next week its back to the épée which is good for my self-regard but it would have been good to get my head around the fleuret and improve the attacking side on my fencing.

The pictures were taken the last time we were using the épée. The first is of an exercise where the fencer in the mask drops a glove in front of the padded target and the aim of the other fencer is to catch the glove on different spots drawn on the target. You might be able to see that the glove was missed and has fallen onto the floor. The next shows a sword that I broke whilst fighting with someone. In the second you can see the two parts of the blade are held only by the wire that makes the connection and identifies a hit. I’ve extra private training on Friday night. Stupid me I’ve agreed to do it at the same time as the last home game of le Racing of the season which the barmy President has said he wants to play behind closed doors – today the ticket office and the boutique were locked shut.

%d bloggers like this: