Sunday, 24 April 2011

Samuel Beckett....Born Easter 1906

And the poor old lousy earth, my earth and my father's and my mother's and my father's father's and my mother's mother's and my father's mother's and my mother's father's and my father's mother's father's and my mother's father's mother's and my father's mother's mother's and my mother's father's father's and my father's father's mother's and my mother's mother's father's and my father's father's father's and my mother's mother's mother's and other people's fathers' and mothers' and fathers' fathers' and mothers' mothers' and fathers' mothers' and mothers' fathers' and fathers' mothers' fathers' and mothers' fathers' mothers' and fathers' mothers' mothers' and mothers' fathers' fathers' and fathers' fathers' fathers' and mothers' mothers' mothers'.
[Watt p45]

Easter 2011

Friday, 22 April 2011

Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Negresco Hotel, Promenade des Anglais, Nice

It sweeps along the majestic curve (I’m no enemy of the well worn cliché) of the Baie des Anges, past modern and Belle Époque palaces, past casinos and hotels, of which the most famous the Negresco, and past super-plush apartment blocks for those wealthy Russian emigrés, the new nouveaux riches of the Côte d’Azur.

Each year it plays host to a carnival and flower procession in which jolly protagonists throw mimosas, gerberas and lilies at one another in a meticulously rehearsed gesture of joy and bonhomie.

It is the natural habitat of joggers, skateboarders, roller bladers, buskers and other urban predators, as well as bucket loads of tourists and retired gentlemen strollers.

Busker with his own piano on Promenade des Anglais, Nice

On its route from the airport to the maritime port it passes the Parc Phoenix, allegedly Europe's largest botanical garden with a giant greenhouse enclosing seven tropical climates, and with an aviary, an aquarium, a lake, a terrarium, an orchid garden, fountains, and two and a half thousand species of plants. And just for good measure there's an Asian Arts Museum thrown in, too. And all for just two paltry euros!

Parc Phoenix, 405 Promenade des Anglais, Nice

There are bathers, too, on the shingle beaches that follow the avenue, or that the avenue follows, whichever you prefer, along the aforementioned majestic curve of the bay. And there are people just relaxing in the famous chaises bleues, the blue chairs that adorn the route. 

Bathers in search of that Mediterranean tan

So if you're a busker, a bather, a biker, a roller skater or a skateboarder, then La Prom is the place for you. But if you're intolerant to pollen (I almost typed intolerant to Polly) avoid the flower carnival, which takes place in winter (Feb/March). Otherwise Vogue la galère ! Just go for it!

For more on the beautiful city of Nice see Cours Saleya and Colline du Chateau.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Dinosaurs, Dali & the art of being smug

Salvidor Dali (left) goes head to head with a rhinoceros (right) 

“So it wasn't a f***ing meteor, after all!" 
Thus spoke a smug, inebriate slob of an acquaintance apropos of the news that the giant meteorite that had apparently wiped out the dinosaurs may have occurred 300,000 years after they'd disappeared.

"Let's face it", continued Mr Slobby, "they'll never know what happened, so why don't they just admit it".
"I know what happened", said I, as smugly as I could, hoping to prove that it was a commodity in which no one had a monopoly.
"Oh yeah?" said he challengingly, "so what happened, then?"

“Well”, continued I, “together with other mammals and mammal-like lizards and reptiles, such as tritylodonts and sphenodonts, not to mention primordial crusacea, heterokonts, autotrophs and protozoa, they were transmuted into a liquefied, organic substance which we call oil. This is refined from the crude state into a volatile and highly flammable product called petroleum, the fuel used to power the internal combustion engine, such as that used in automobiles, though not the very first one, which ran on alcohol, in the same way that you do. So where did the dinosaurs go? They're in your tank every time you fill up at the pump. So now you know, fatso”.

He said nothing, just 'looked at me, silent', in parody perhaps of Shakespeare’s famous stage direction from Coriolanus: ‘Holds her by the hand, silent’. Not that El Slobbo would know anything about that.

It's good to be smug from time to time, a humorous distraction. But, as we all know, amusing diversions, like vain regrets, won't get the baby washed, so I really shouldn't be indulging in idle anecdotes when I have important stuff to relate about a visit a few years ago to Salvador Dali's hometown of Figueres in Catalonia, Spain.  

Courtyard of Dali Theatre & Museum in Figueres

I can't say that I'm a huge admirer of Dali, but I was in the vicinity, and the tour guides all recommended it, so who was I to argue with that? 

The main attraction of Figueres, and the reason for my visit, is the Dali Theatre and Museum. It was opened in 1974 and is a grand looking building with a glass dome and a fine courtyard.  

The museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Dali’s works including many from the artist himself. In addition to paintings, we find collages, sculptures, mechanical creations, and a room of furniture arranged in such a way as to resemble Mae West’s face. There is a piece entitled L'espectre del sex-appeal, and a definitely not-to-be-missed exhibit in the crypt of the museum, namely the artist's final resting place, his tomb.

Mae West Room, Dali Museum

Dali has become a huge success in the corporate museum sector with branches in London, Paris, Berlin, Florida and Costa Brava, and the man has every justification to be proud of his achievement, and even - why not? - a little smug.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Vive la mort at the Salon of Death

Watching the TV news the other night, that pot pourri of unconnected events from around the world, edited into manageable, sanitised bites, and engineered to fit the attention span of a gerbil with learning difficulties, there was an item about an exhibition in Paris with the amusing title The Salon of Death.

Visitors to the salon can climb into a state-of-the-art biodegradable coffin, or if incineration is your exit of choice, examine the luxury urns on display. There is a publisher's stand with the wittily titled Reflections on the Guillotine by Albert Camus, who apparently once said that the only meaningful relationship was that between the murderer and his victim, and a photographer to snap you holding a skull for that indispensable addition to the family photo album.

Following that well known mechanism of association as described by Sigmund Freud (death is the perfect subject for name dropping) I was reminded of Arthur Miller's comment when asked why he wasn't attending Marilyn Monroe's funeral. "Why?" he replied. "Will she be there?"

As for me, I'm planning on immortality. It's my cunning plan to win the Lottery.