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Sunday, 29 September 2013


I watched this film yesterday. It is on the Lovefilm list as "Untouchable". I loved it. I laughed out loud with this film.

Francois Cluzet is very impressive. I first saw him on film with a great performance, alongside Dexter Gordon (hero) in "Round Midnight" in 1986. He has impressed me ever since.

Omar Sy, I don't recall seeing him before, but I will remember him from now on. Man..he was brilliant, funny yet troubled.

I checked some of the film's reviews. One critic said the Untouchable referred to their social position, one disabled untouchable, one socially untouchable. I can see that. Yeah.

If you like French film, I believe you will like this.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Tiger - Georges Clemenceau - 172 today

Today, 28th September, is the 172nd birthday of Georges Clemenceau, "The Tiger", "Pere la Victoire".

He was born on 28th September 1841 at Mouilleron-en-Pareds in the Vendée.

 In 1876 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for 18th arrondisment in Paris. A leader of the Radical Party, he became Prime Minister of France in 1906 to 1909 and again in 1917 to 1920, seeing France to victory in World War One. He led the French delegation at the Paris Peace Conference that resulted in the Treaty of Versailles. He was wounded in an assassination attempt in 1919, the bullet was not removed.

He died on 24th November 1929.

Friday, 27 September 2013

A Week in Marrakesh

My partner and I have spent a fabulous week in Marrakesh, returning home yesterday morning. We think this was our sixth trip to Marrakesh, it continues to delight and intrigue us. We stayed at the very upmarket Hotel Des Jardins de la Koutoubia and we loved it. This was our only holiday this year so we thought we would splash out and stay in the centre of the city at one of its best hotels.

Making our way through Manchester International Airport I saw there was a Lonely Planet shop from which I bought a new pocket guide. A very good spur of the moment purchase with excellent reviews.

It is compulsory for all Guardian readers to visit the museums and places of culture when on holiday so we discharged our obligation by visiting (actually revisiting) first the Bahia Palace. Built in the mid-19th century, its' best features are the woodwork, the ceilings.

A few days later we visited the Musée de Marrakesh; interesting but not stunning. The central court has been covered over and this gives a strange yellow light.

My partner and I, we like our food. Our favourite restaurant is Al-Fassia at Aguedal for dinner. A taxi ride from the city centre, very good quality Moroccan food, not cheap, but worth it. We finished our holiday we a last dinner here, with a large shoulder of lamb, beautifully falling off the bone, far too much for two people. Three courses, with wine, under £100.

Using the new guidebook, we found two new places to eat. Both are reasonably priced.
Un Dejeuner a Marrakesh

Terrasse des Épices

Un Dejeuner a Marrakesh : go to the top floor terrace, good food and drinks. Great veggie tarts.Rue Kennaria in the Riad Zitoun area.

Terrasse des Épices : again third floor for good food and drinks. The chocolate pastilla was amazing. Souq Cherifia, off Rue Dar el-Bacha in the Moussaine area.

And finally, me, in the gardens of the Hotel Mamounia, the best hotel in Marrakesh, I was awed by the opulence.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Lancs CCC return - In the House/Dans la Maison

With two matches still to play, Lancashire County Cricket Club have won Division Two and next season return to Division One. (HOORAY)

Yesterday, England won the fourth ODI, well done lads, to level the series at 1 - 1.

Pocklington, East Yorkshire.

With the cricket season nearing its end, I am turning to autumnal pursuits of walking, film watching, figure painting and reading, not necessarily in that order. On Wednesday I caught the bus from York to Pocklington, about 45 minutes away, for a 6 mile walk out from the town centre. The outward walk was very nice, from Market Place, past this very well preserved/restored Austin Cambridge pickup, down to Canal Head, for two miles along the Pocklington Canal. The canal fell into disuse in the 1930s and is now overgrown. The Pocklington Canal Amenity Society have been working on the canal for some years and they have restored some parts of the canal as you can see in the photos. Unfortunately the return walk was not good, I followed what I thought would be quiet country lanes but was nearly flattened by fast moving HGVs and agricultural vehicles; tractors have got very large and very fast and many of the young men that drive them seem to look down their noses and despise walkers, or may be that's just fear talking...

Film of the week - the poster above. "Dans La Maison" or "In The House", a French film directed with great aplomb and humour by Francois Ozon. It stars Fabrice Luchini as a 50 year old literature teacher and Kristen  Scott Thomas as his wife who works in a gallery. Both are disillusioned with their lot and their colleagues, until one of Luchini's pupils submits a very good essay about his friend's house, the house of the title. Luchini was very good and this was the best performance from Scott Thomas that I have seen for some time. Philip French in "The Observer" very aptly called the film a teasing comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed it and whilst I did not laugh aloud I was very engrossed. One of the best French films I have seen for some time. If you are a fan of modern French film, I recommend this to you.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

BBC TV "Wipers Times"

Ben Chaplin in Wipers Times, I pinched this photo from the Daily Telegraph.

Last night we watched a drama called "Wipers Times". Very, very good. If you can you should see it.

During WW1, on the Western Front, Wipers was the Tommies' way of pronouncing Ypres. A small group of officers and men from the Sherwood Forresters wrote a satirical newspaper with a printing press they had "borrowed" from a Belgian factory. The newspaper was the Wipers Times. Archived copies show the humour and brave face the men had to use to cope with the horror of trench warfare.

This BBC drama was extremely well produced. The lead actor was Ben Chaplin, a very talented actor I have not seen for some time. He was very well supported by Julian Rhind-Tutt, Steve Coram and others.

As I said, I recommend you see if you can.

Friday, 6 September 2013

It's raining, cricket abandoned, so "The Four Feathers"

The first One Day International between England and Australia cricket teams should have been played today, but it has rained all morning so the match was abandoned at 13:30.

So, a little figure painting then I decided to watch a film, the 1939 version of "The Four Feathers".

Magnificent. I had forgotten just how good it is. Much of the film was shot in Sudan with thousands of locals as extras. Huge scenes, full colour, sweeping battle scenes and the acting reflects my perceptions (or prejudices) of Victorian upper-class officers. The main actors are John Clements as the young officer who goes native to prove his bravery, Joan Duprez as his fiancee who turns her back on him, Ralph Richardson as his captain and C. Aubrey Smith as her father and a retired officer who fought in the Crimean War. 

Although thousands of locals were used as extras, the actors chosen to play the local leaders were all British. My favourite is John Laurie as the Khalifi.

The story has been filmed seven times, some of the later versions actually reuse scenes from the 1939 version. None of the other versions anywhere near as good as this version.

This is my copy

Thursday, 5 September 2013

French Involvement in Syria - Le Figaro cartoon


"OK - who is for crashing the barrier, who is for parking up and waiting for the rest of the gang?"

This cartoon really made me laugh. It is drawn by Olivier Ménégol and was posted by Le Figaro on their Facebook page. The translation is mine. Thank you to both Olivier and Le Figaro.

I am not saying that I agree with the sentiments of the cartoon but it is humorous and satirical, it has a good dig at M. Hollande's government. As an Englishmen, I love the representation of La France as a 2Cv, the kind of image we would choose.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Fort Ticonderoga 18th century Reenactors

The Facebook page of Fort Ticonderoga has been showing some terrific photos of reenactors of 18th century French army Languedoc Regiment which I thought I would share.