Tag Archives: France

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 87. On Languages, Foreign or Otherwise.

Coming back from my recent trip to Nice, France, I am still concerned about the need to have another language under your belt. Yes, it’s true that most countries we visit will speak English as a second language, including (although cynics will say otherwise) France.

I think it’s a matter of common courtesy to address those who host our annual visits in as much of their native tongue as we can manage. The next time I travel abroad, I intend to learn as much of the language as I can. Even those who visit us know our language. We should return the favour.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 71. On Nice.

Wish You Were Here?

One of my least favourite sayings currently doing the rounds, especially in the bar trade, is “It’s nice to be nice.” Really…is it? Sometimes it’s nicer not to be nice. Sometimes you can get a hell of a lot of satisfaction just by being rude to people who deserve it. Of course, you can turn the other cheek – but why leave yourself open to another assault. It doesn’t make sense.

There is another nice – Nice, in the South of France. If you’re looking for me in the coming week, that’s where you’ll find me, lying on a beach, having fun.

 

 

Preparations.

I’m off on holidays this week. A friend and I are heading to Nice in the south of France for seven days. When I return, I am then taking a weekend break in London by myself. I’m looking forward to both trips immensely. But as everyone knows, when it comes to taking time off certain preparations must be made.

1. Cleaning: vacuum each room (hello carpet, long time no see), dust shelves, degrease counter top and cooker, clean out toilet and shower area. Replace old towels with new ones. Febreze the shit out of fabrics.

2. Organise: throw old newspapers and magazines away, sort out post, place bills in drawer (or burn them, whichever works), tell neighbour what day the bins go out (seeing that it’s you that always puts them out), make sure they know that the bins don’t come back in by themselves, renew library books online (for the sixth time) to save you bringing them back.

3. Bedroom: change bed linen (nothing worse than coming back from a holiday only to sleep in the same sheets you’ve slept in all year*), tidy floor, remove and hide pornographic material**, put books back in bookcase, check drawer for condoms and replace if out of date ***, check for batteries (why, I don’t know).

4. TV and DVR: from recent magazines, find out which of your favourite programmes are on what days and at what times, then set your DVR to record them while you’re away. Set aside three hours for this because you will check, double-check, then triple-check everything. Series Record on Sky is a must in these instances. Whatever else happens, don’t miss the series finale of Doctor Who.

5. Repeat Step 4.

6. Tell landlord that you’ll see him when you get back – but don’t tell him when you’ll be back. Make mental note to bring him back a stick of rock. This will act as a sweetener when you don’t have his rent.

7. Repeat Step 4.

8. Passport: check that all official documents are valid for time of travel. (Phew!) Cringe at photograph taken eight years ago. (Note: update travel insurance if you feel the need to. If not, you only have yourself to blame if a shark bites off your leg.)

9. Security: ask your neighbour to keep an eye on the place while you’re away. Say you’ll bring him back a carton of smokes for his troubles. Make a mental note to conveniently forget while in Duty Free.

10. Money: make sure you have some, otherwise it’s bread and water for a week.

11. Reading material: bring a couple of books for the beach/pool/balcony/police cell. I recommend a few thrillers to pass the time, but if you want to chat up the local talent, something intellectual will act as a conversation starter. And no, pornographic material doesn’t count.

12. Repeat Step 4.

I will update my blog as and when I can. Stay safe and keep warm.

 

* only joking

** really, I’m only joking.

***¬†they always are ūüė¶

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 49. On Montaigne.

Michel de Montaigne (1533 – 1592) was a French philosopher – but don’t hold that against him. He lived through turbulent times and survived long enough to gift the world his Essays. Rather than writing material so dry it made the Sahara seem like Hawaii, his engaging personality and writing style endeared him to readers past and present.

He asks us to look at the world through another’s eye. He got this idea from his cat. He wondered, “When I am playing with my cat, how do I know she is not playing with me?”

Once again, maybe cats know more than we do.

 

 

 

On This Day…1 October

Friday, 1 October 2010

I welcome you to today’s installment of On This Day, the first one in the merry month of October. I know it should be the “merry, merry month of May,” but we do things differently in Ireland. Like bailing out banks to the tune of 29 billion euro. Yes, Anglo Irish Bank, I’m looking at you!

*Fumes*

Anyway, before I have a total canary, I’ll go straight to events on this day in…

959 ‚ÄstEdgar the Peaceable becomes king of all¬†England. He succeeded Gerald the Bloodthirsty Warmonger.

1795 ‚ÄstBelgium is conquered by¬†France, despite going 1-0 in the first half.

University of Capetown

1811 ‚Äď The first¬†steamboat to sail the¬†Mississippi River arrives in¬†New Orl√©ans, Louisiana.

1829 ‚ÄstSouth African College is founded in¬†Cape Town,¬†South Africa; it will later separate into the¬†University of Cape Town and the¬†South African College Schools.

1880 ‚Äď First electric lamp factory opened by¬†Thomas Edison. What a bright spark he was!

The George Washington Bridge. (Image: paulscharffphotography.com)

1903 ‚ÄstBaseball: The¬†Boston Americans play the¬†Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of the modern¬†World Series.

1931 ‚Äď The¬†George Washington Bridge linking¬†New Jersey and¬†New York opens.

1946 ‚ÄstMensa International is founded in the¬†United Kingdom. I’m still waiting to see if they’ve accepted my membership.

1957 ‚Äď First appearance of “In God We Trust” on U.S. paper currency. Just as well God isn’t a banker!

1971 ‚ÄstWalt Disney World opens near¬†Orlando, Florida,¬†United States.

1975 ‚ÄstThrilla in Manila:¬†Muhammad Ali defeats¬†Joe Frazier in a¬†boxing match in¬†Manila,¬†Philippines.

1989 ‚ÄstDenmark: World’s first legal modern same-sex¬†civil union called “registered partnership.”

Birthday wishes go to:

Jimmy Carter, former American president and world-famous peanut farmer, is a dry roasted 86-years-old today.

Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music star Julie Andrews is 75.

Randy Quaid is 60.

And Irish pop singer and actor Keith (Boyzone) Duffy is 26.

On This Day…25 September

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Good morning, good day, good evening, and welcome to Saturday’s installment of On This Day. I hope you’re well and that you enjoy your weekend. To set you off on the right path, here’s your daily trip down memory lane. Way down memory lane. So way down in fact, we’re starting with what happened on this day in…

303 ‚Äď On a voyage preaching the¬†gospel,¬†Saint Fermin of¬†Pamplona is¬†beheaded in¬†Amiens,¬†France. A bit of a wasted journey if you ask me. The French are not for turning.

1066 ‚Äď The¬†Battle of Stamford Bridge marks the end of the Viking invasions of¬†England. Chelsea FC play their home games there now. I thought John Terry looked like a Norse, all right.

1690 ‚ÄstPublick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick, the first¬†newspaper to appear in the¬†Americas, is published for the first and only time. No one bought obviously.

The Bill of Rights

1789 ‚Äď The¬†U.S. Congress passes twelve amendments to the¬†United States Constitution: the¬†Congressional Apportionment Amendment (which was never ratified), the¬†Congressional Compensation Amendment, and the ten that are known as the¬†Bill of Rights.

1906 ‚Äď In the presence of the king and before a great crowd,¬†Leonardo Torres Quevedo successfully demonstrates the¬†invention of the¬†Telekino in the port of¬†Bilbao, guiding a boat from the shore, in what is considered the birth of the¬†remote control.

1944 ‚Äď World War II: Surviving elements of the British¬†1st Airborne Division withdraw from Arnhem in the¬†Netherlands, thus ending the¬†Battle of Arnhem and¬†Operation Market Garden. It was A Bridge Too Far.

1983 ‚ÄstMaze Prison escape: 38 republican prisoners, armed with 6 handguns, hijack a prison meals lorry and smash their way out of¬†the Maze prison. It is the largest prison escape since WWII and in British history.

1996 ‚Äď The last of the¬†Magdalene Asylums closes in¬†Ireland; just one of the many scandals Ireland has endured under the institution of the Catholic Church.

Celebrity birthdays today include:

Mr & Mrs Zeta-Jones Douglas (Image: babble.com)

Catherine Zeta Jones and her husband, Michael Douglas, share their birthdays today. She is 41, he is 66. We wish Michael well as he recovers from throat cancer.

Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, is 59 and still strong with the Force.

Maria Doyle Kennedy, Irish singer, actress and star of The Commitments, is 46.

Hollywood actor Will Smith is 42.

An Aardvark in South Africa: The Attack of the Vuvuzelas – Part Two

So many matches, so little time.

The “necessary documentation” I got from Acquisitions allowed me to teleport directly to Johannesburg for the opening ceremony. Us Higher Beings are not allowed to play willy-nilly with the laws of time and physics; Universal Travel Displacement Visas are required by all who wish to journey between dimensions. If this all sounds too Sapphire and Steel for you people, let me just say one thing: we took over from those clowns after the Thames Waterloo debacle. What was that? I hear you ask. Just one of those momentary lapses of reason that had to be sorted out. Trust me, you never ever want to see Napoleon Bonaparte dressed as a drag queen in Westminster Abbey. Your eyes would water. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I was in South Africa.

The opening ceremony and the first game: the hosts, the mighty Bafana Bafana against Mexico, the country that decided it was a good idea to put a worm at the bottom of a bottle of Tequila. As opening ceremonies go, the South Africans matched that of the Olympiad of Ancient Greece. (I was around at the first one. I offered to give the poor marathon runners a ride on my Honda 50, but I was told that was against the spirit of the games. I was chased out of Athens by men in skirts, wielding spears and such.) There was colour, there was music, there was the sense of international camaraderie, of how sport would transcend politics, and there were vuvuzelas.

Love them or hate them, but you can't ignore themThere were lots and lots of vuvuzelas. During the ceremony I sent Jimbo a text. It’s mad here. All these horns going off. I can hardly hear myself think.

He replied back. They sound like mosquitoes. I’ve turned the sound down. By the way, what have you done with my Facebook account?

Nothing that I can’t undo when I come back, I texted back.

Bring me back a stick of rock, he replied.

Everyone in the stadium was full of the joy of life; but there was sadness there, too. The country’s patriarch, Nelson Mandela, was due to attend the ceremony but his great-granddaughter was tragically killed in a car accident days previously. South Africa mourned with him, as did I. It was hoped he would be around for the closing ceremony. But onto the match itself. The host nation wanted desperately to put on a good show for their many supporters and when Siphiwe Tshabalala buried the ball in the 55th minute, I could feel a continent uproot itself with cheering. The vuvuzelas made their presence felt. Unfortunately, a win was beyond the South Africans because Rafael Marquez equalised with ten minutes to go. A shame, really, but football is like that. It’s a funny old game; a game of two halves; a game were 22 men chase after a ball and if they don’t get it, they cry like babies. Sorry, that’s the French who do that.

I called HOH after the game, making sure he still wanted me to put that bet on. “Oh indeed,” he replied. “The word in the England camp is that Stevie Gerrard is chomping at the bit and Lampard is raring to have a go at the Yanks.”

“Fine,” I said. “It’s your gronag.”

The next match on the list was France against Uruguay. I decided to give that one a miss. My toenails needed a make-over. Besides, my own contacts said that the French didn’t give a merde.

Back in Ireland, the lads of Apres Match got together and petitioned FIFA to include the Republic’s soccer team in this year’s tournament. This is what they came up with.