31 Jul 2011

Rosé is real

Here in Europe it is summer at last, after a spring that made summer look very precocious and a month of July that depressed many by its cold and rain. This is traditionally the time when rosé wines are drunk in increased quantities. Well, it used to be true that this type of wine was a highly seasonal drink, but this seems to be less and less the case, which is shown by the fact that here in France (at least), the sales of rosé wines have gone past those of white wines, and now account for 25% of all wine sales in the country. Elsewhere the fashion for rosés is also gaining ground, although to a lesser extent.

For some time recently many wine snobs considered that rosé wine was not "real" wine. This is just as ridiculous as any other form of prejudice, but it also shows considerable ignorance of the history of wine, since the first wines to be made were in all probability pale red or pink in colour.

photo David Cobbold

I have to say that I really like the graduation in tones of rosé wines, although I am not a great fan of the very pale ones that seem to dominate the biggest producing region in France for this type of wine, which is Provence. Some 90% of all wines now coming out of this part of south-eastern France are rosés, which seems a bit dangerous for the future of the region, which also make some excellent reds and the occasionally interesting white. It is as if the whole image of wine from Provence has been swallowed up by that of the wishy-washy pinks that it churns out to please fashion and the tourist market.

For me, a rosé become interesting when it is significantly different both from a white and a red wine. Otherwise, what is the point of it?  The above photograph shows some of the rosés that I will be drinking this summer. One comes from Beaujolais (gamay grape), two are from the Loire (cabernet franc, one of them being sparkling), one is from Corbières (cinsault, carignan and grenache, probably), and two are from the South-West (a Bordeaux clairet and a Côtes de Brulhois). All of them have plenty of character and are dry, which is what I happen to like.

As to the stupid debate that has riveted part of the French press as to whether rosé wines should be made just from red grapes or from a mixture of white and red grapes, I would like to refer those who have proclaimed, high and mighty and infering that there is some kind of world-wide conspiration afoot to "debase" true French rosé wines (which, according to these ignorant chauvinists, is only made with red grapes) to the simple fact that most of the main decrees for the production of rosé wines in France authorise both colours of grapes in the production of their rosé wines (Champagne, Provence, Côteaux d'Aix, Tavel etc). I cannot really understand what all the fuss is about. If the wine is good, what on earth does it matter how it is produced? Protectionism hides itself under many-coloured banners, some of which are pink.

Drink on, in all colours 

28 Jul 2011

England 1 : India 0

Yes, I know that I have not been posting a lot recently, but, after all, these are supposed to be holidays and it is pretty hard to write blogs when you are off on a bike ride and it is raining much of the time. More of that later, as well as the current clutch and other minor woes of my Ducati, which otherwise enjoyed most of the 3 days riding in some cold and wet central French landscapes as much as I did. 

The sports news over recent days, at least as far as I am concerned, have been mainly cricket oriented, with a fascinating first test between England and India that finished at Lords on Monday with a convincing victory for England.

I had predicted that this series would not be easy for England to win, and especially not at all easy for them to go 2 up in the series. But then one of India's star batsmen, the spectacular opener Virendar Sehwag, is unable to play at all, and India's best fast bowler, Zaheer Khan, suffered a hamstring injury during this test match.  This makes things much harder for India, currently the world number one team, and the odds have been evened, and possibly more than just that. Things can change quite fast in top sports competitions.

The English team played well to win this Lord's test, with its two most criticised players, the batsman Kevin Pieterson and the bowler/all-rounder Stuart Broad, both delivering the goods when it most counted. The bowling of James Anderson was also a key factor, as was the clear determination of the English team and the astute captaincy of Andrew Strauss. Strauss has now become the best and most successful English captain for a long time.

James Anderson clinched the English victory with a convincing 5 wickets in the second innings

But the next test, which begins on Friday, will be another story and England should not cry victory too soon. I think they know it too.

The big disappointment on the Indian side will be the failure of the great Tendulkar to score another major innings, although the captain Dhoni did his stuff brilliantly. But this does not detract from Tendulkar's already acquired greatness.The lack of bowling regularity of the Indian team could be a more considerable handicap in this series.

We shall know more in a week's time!

22 Jul 2011

Taj Mahal, the singer

Henry Saint Clair Fredericks is the real name of the blues singer who uses the stage name of Taj Mahal. (nice shirt by the way)

I have loved this man's music since I listened to the first (?) record of his under his adopted name, maybe back in around 1969 or 1970. I once heard him playing live, in France, at the ever excellent Marciac Jazz Festival a few years ago, and was as impressed with his stage presence as I always have been by his considerable musical versatility, as he slides from blues to soul to reggae and other Carribean rythms, touching on African and Pacific music as well as pop/rock. The man is self-taught and yet embraces an admirable career of 50 years.

The choice of Taj Mahal the singer as today's subject came about simply because I was just listening again to one of his (to me) best records: Natch'l Blues. Yet I also realise that there is an obvious connection with the last article I produced here, about the current cricket series between India and England. Such are the brain's mysterious (or not so mysterious in this case) connections.

Of course, Tal Mahal, that fabulous temple to the love of a man for a woman, built in the 17th century. Was this why the blues singer chose his stage name? I don't know.

Listen in anyway...

This is Statesboro blues, which was on that early record if I remember rightly

and another one? (Senor blues, which is much more recent and a hommage to jazzman Horace Silver)

And one more for the road? (it just has to be the classic Walkin' blues in this live version). That's the man!

Keep on listening

20 Jul 2011

England vs India: the name of the game at cricket

A four match cricket test series is about to start (on Thursday at Lord's cricket ground, the spiritual home of the game, between England and India. A number of cricket trivia are at stake in this series. When I say "trivia", I quite realise that this term may shock many cricket followers who consider such symbols to be all-important. Such is sport: all encompassing for those who follow, and totally insignificant for those who do not.

This test happens to be the 100th cricket test played between the two countries. With such a symbol, it has unleashed a whole battery of other statistical analyses of many aspects of the game and the players involved. Here are the two captains, Dhoni for India (left), ans Strauss for England (right) presenting the trophy for which each team will be playing in the series. But of course there is far more at stake than a silver-plated cup (are they still silver-plated?), however much these stange trophy objects may adorn the shelves of successful sportsmen.

At the international team level, if England win this series of 5-day tests by a margin of at least 2 games (which seems quite unlikely to me), then they will gain the honorary place of the current world number one team in five-day test match cricket (the real game to many, compared with the lesser, but more spectacular, one-day variants). India is the current world number one and South Africa is number two in these particular stakes.

On an individual level, the symbolic wieght is perhaps even more considerable, since the great Indian batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, is on 99 hundreds in test cricket. If he makes his 100th set of 100 runs in an innings, he will certainly slot yet another symbolic feather into his already well garnished cap. Tendulkar is indeed, and without contest, one of the all-time cricket greats (see my article on him on this blog):


And to add some extra spice to this particular item, Tendulkar has never yet scored 100 at Lord's, despite playing many games on this ground. 

On the sporting side, the contest is likely to be even more interesting than this purely statistical vision would show. England has possible the best bowling combination in international cricket at the moment, and India certainly has the best batting side. The games being held in England,  and therefore under the English weather conditions that tend to give the advantage many times to the bowlers, it could just about even things up. In any event it should be a good test match series. Let's hope for that and may the best team win!

17 Jul 2011

Who cares a damn about Rupert Murdoch?

Many newspapers, especially English ones, have recently been full of the "woes" of a certain Rupert Murdoch, whose horribly trashy rag, frequently and suitably known as the "News of the Screws", has just been closed by his company on account of the unspeakable and illegal practices to which its "journalists" have been resorting for years in order to extort juicy titbits from the private lives of numerous celebrities.

The man (Murdoch) is a totally unscrupulous businessman, an extreme conservative, and is apparently deprived of the slightest moral principle. Is there any good reason to wish for anything else than the rapid demise of his business? Of course not. But will it happen? Probably not, as the man has many ressources, including a lot of contacts in high places, as is currently being revealed as the News of the World scandal unravels. 

The closing of any business is necessarily a sad  and regrettable affair for those employed by that company. But can all those concerned at the News of the World look themselves in the mirror and say that they have done an honest job as a journalist (at least for those who were the journalists on this paper)? I have to doubt this, unless the so-called "right to know" principle has replaced that of any elementary respect for the individual. And it clearly has with the rightly named "gutter press" in Great Britain, and with similar newspapars in the USA or elsewhere.  And Murdoch has a lot to do with this moral degradation  and sheer vulgarity that touches public life. He is not of course the only one.

What can be done? Apart from shouting one's indignation at such appalling behaviour and the debasing levels of interest in the world that underscores them, the only thing to do is to go out and buy decent newspapers where articles are properly researched, well written and of some length, and deal with matters of due (and varied) interest, and definitely not with what other people, usually insignificant people at that, wear, say or do with their sexual partners. We care not a jot about all that crap! May all of the gutter press go where it belongs: down the gutter.

Read on (the good stuff only)  

14 Jul 2011

Branimir Scepanovic

I do not expect that many of you will have heard of this author, who writes in serbo-croat. Some of his works have been translated, and I read one of them recently in French. Its title is "La bouche pleine de terre", which I suppose one could translate into English as "A mouth filled with earth", or again as "A mouthful of earth": yet these two versions do not have the same implications, and the ambiguity of this reflects quite well the more fundamental ambiguity of this remarkable text. Translation can be tricky and will often change the slant of things!

The author clearly does not like being photographed, since practically no pictures of him are available on the net. And it is equally difficult to find any information about him, at least in English or French.

But this short book (under 100 pages) is one of the most impressive things that I have read in the past 6 months. It takes the form of a sort of double narration, with the central character described in the third person and the other characters being decribed in the first person plural. This has the strange effect of distancing the reader from both parties whilst allowing him to see that he could possible be identified with either. And, reading it, one finds oneself oscillationg between the two sides, naturally sympathising with the "victim", but still seeing how the others can be caught in their own trap. In other words, the story told has a universal application. In this instance the result is scary as it shows all the ambiguous horror that can develop from misunderstandings.  

I will not tell the story, of course. Although it could take place anywhere, it bears dark echos of the recent history of former Yugoslavia. And the story is quite terrifying simply because its development seems so inexorable. It concerns victimisation, and how that can develop out of misunderstanding and a lack of real contact between people.

Other books of Scepanovic have been translated both in English and in French. And he has also written film scenarios.

As a footnote, I should add that I heard of this book thanks to the owner of one of Paris' many independant bookshops. It is one of the joys of contemporary France that independant bookshops have survived and even flourished in this country, unlike what has happened in England over the past 20 years or so. This is clearly due to a law (made by the the former socialist Minister for Culture, Jack Lang) which prevents anybody from discounting books by more that 5% of their retail price. This has stopped large supermarkets and other mass distributors from cutting out the small shops who could not afford such dumping pratices. In this instance, the results have been to allow more choice and diversity in the printed world, available to many and in more places. Intelligent forms of government that control the stultifying excesses of mass distribution are a blessing.

Read on...

13 Jul 2011

Clarkson is funny

Jeremy Clarkson makes me laugh, and that is a considerable quality. I know that he annoys a lot of righteous-thinking people as well, and that is another positive point to notch up on his behalf. Rather like A.A.Gill or, a bit earlier, Auberon Waugh, about both of whom I have already written on this blog. Although with different backgrounds, all are/were journalists and have a strong streak of that British form of irreverance and satire that has also, in slightly different fields, produced both Private Eye and Monty Python.

Here is a quote from the fairly complete Wikipedia entry on Clarkson:

"Clarkson's views are often showcased on television shows. In 1995 Clarkson appeared on the light hearted comedy show Room 101, in which a guest nominates things they hate in life to be consigned to nothingness. Clarkson despatched caravans, houseflies, the sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, the mentality within golf clubs, and vegetarians."

Not living in England, I do not know about Last of the Summer Wine, and I do not mind houseflies too much (in any case I can usually do something about them, unlike the other pests mentioned). But I fully I agree with him on the rest, although I think that we probably eat a bit too much meat for our own good. And he has obviously forgotten camping cars, that modern avatar of the caravan, and even uglier at that.

I have just been reading a collection of Clarkson gems on what he considers to be the greatest pieces of machinery ever made. Clarkson is big on machines, and not just cars, the testing of which gained him his reputation as a no-punches-pulled machine head who could simultaneously annoy motorcar manufacturers and ecologists: no men feat! The book is entitled "I know you got soul" and, for once, the Daily Telegraph is dead right when it says (don't worry, I didn't buy the rag to find out: the quote is on the book's cover) "Extremely funny".

Just to give you some idea of this man"s talent, how about this excerpt about the Rolls Royce?

"There is also a sense of imperiousness, a sense that you are really driving around in Queen Victoria. Its the effortless power and the sense of empire. Yes, the leather may come from Bavarian cows, and all the components may arrive at the undergound factory having already been assembled in Germany, but for all we know Elgar's quill was bought in Munich. It didn't stop his music from being as English as the Malvern Hills. I loved my time with the Rolls as much as everyone else hated it, and me, for having one."

Or this, about aircraft carriers and a visit to the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower:

"From the air it doesn't look mighty at all. In that vast grey ocean under a featureless grey sky it looks like a playing card. I know runways. I spend my life tearing up and down them in fast cars. So I know how long they have to be, and the one on top of the Eisenhower wasn't long enough. Not by a long way.
Here's what was going to happen. We'd land, fail to stop, fall off the front and then the huge ship would run over the plane, turning it over and over until it, me and everyone else on board was minced by one of the three nuclear-powered, five-bladed propellors, each of which is 21 feet in diameter."

And there is much more of this ilk in the book. The man has a talent akin to that of the late, great Hunter S.Thompson (yes, he of Fear and Loathing fame). And he probably uses less illicit substances to do it as well. Remember, he and Gill had the balls (not quite sure that this is the apporopriate term here) to put themselves in the window of an Amsterdam whore street. And, according to Gill, Clarkson had the most propositions, probably on account of his fame as the presenter of Top Gear.

Read on...

12 Jul 2011

Why I prefer cats to dogs

A friend of mine sent me this, which I really enjoy. It so happens that we both have cats (and not dogs) which could just explain our appreciation of this vision of how lives on four legs can differ. Cats just seem to be, well, let's say more complex than dogs.

The photos (found on the net), plus a few added bits, are my own contribution to this piece by an anonymous but talented author.


8:00 am - Dog food! My favourite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favourite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favourite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favourite thing!
12:00 PM - Lunch! My favourite thing!
1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favourite thing!
3:00 PM - Wagged my tail! My favourite thing!
5:00 PM - Milk bones! My favourite thing!
7:00 PM - Got to play ball! My favourite thing!
8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favourite thing!
11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favourite thing!



Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

In an attempt to disgust my captors, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped that this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies". I must learn what this means - and how to use it to my advantage. I am sure that I could seriously damage a captor by this means.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow - but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are all flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously seriously retarded. And his constant slobbering around what he fawningly calls his “masters “ simply revolts me. Dogs are not worth consideration.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe.
For now...

10 Jul 2011

The Norton Commando project nears its goal

Here is the first picture of the almost finished bike. All is now in place, and she is running, according to Frank Chatokhine (who should know), just fine. She just needs a little polishing and I will be able to collect her. The picture is courtesy of Frank, who kindly took it in the yard in front of his workshop and sent it to me. I will do some more detailed and, ah, more artistic ones soon, once I get my hands on the thing. 

According to Frank the new front brake makes the forks twist a bit when used in anger, so we are probably looking at a fork brace in the near future. Vincent has urged me to fit a single carburettor, for improved flexibility and, I imagine, to avoid having to balance the Amals all the time. We shall see. For the moment, my finances will need to recuperate!

The man who did the paintwork looks to have done a very good job. All the striping and lettering are under paint and varnish, with no stick-on stuff involved. The Corbin seat from the US looks good and far more comfortable than the original. It necessitated the fitting of the smaller Roadster tank in place of the Interstate one that I had fitted in the previous rebuild. This will mean less mileage between fuel stops when on the road, but then taking a break can be good too! The rear light comes from a Triumph and looks much neater than the bulky Norton original. This bike never had indicators fitted, although it has the switches for them. I like it like that, although Luc will think I am crazy to ride it down to Agen from Chartres that way. I promise I won't be riding in the dark much.

Tell you more after the ride, and with some pics to go.

9 Jul 2011


I have now been a few times to the Danish capital for short stays and every time its charm works on me.

There is always something about cities that have water as a major and integral component of their layout that adds not only light, gentle movement and beauty to them, but also induces a sense of peace and calm, at least locally, that is always welcome in a crowded place. I realise that the above image is fairly trite and picture postcard-like but I did not have a camera with me and was there mainly on business and so with no time to get involved with taking pictures. Hence my heavy reliance on images found on the net to illustrate this article, plus a couple taken with my telephone. But I will spare you a picture of the mermaid sitting on a rock: that sculpture which seems to have come to symbolise Copenhagen, and which I find totally uninteresting.

This map shows something of the water that is so much a part of this city, which is actually not so big (just over 1 millions inhabitants I believe, for a total 5.5 millions inhabitants in Denmark)) but which seems quite a lot smaller because it is so spread out over several bits of land often surrounded by water. Copenhagen is neither Venice not Amsterdam however, and the solid parts are clearly in a majority and contain fairly extensive parks. The motor vehicle is there, but well under control. Pedestrians rule some streets but the real ruler is the bicycle. In fact you are probably more likely to get hit by a bicycle when crossing a street than by a car. They are everywhere and some travel fast. They also come in all shapes and sizes, some with added parts to contain children. What also strikes me is the apparent confidence that the owners of Copenhagen's bicycles have in their fellow citizens. They are not systematically tied up with locks when parked! Although the newer and smarter ones do get stolen I am told.

Copenhagen is also now linked to Sweden, and the town of Malmo, by this impressive bridge, and you can go over it by train, even directly from the Copenhagen airport. This airport is a joy when coming from the relatively shabby and badly signed and served (by which I am referring to the appallingly slow, complicated and inefficient links to city centres) airports of Paris or London for instance. In Copenhagen, as in Hong Kong, you walk almost straight from plane to train and then into the city centre in 15 minutes. Just compare with London or Paris! The Copenhagen airport is a bit of a shopping mall, but at least the food is good in places, with an excellent sea-food bar. And, when you basically hate shopping and usually flee shops at all times, it can be a useful place to buy a few clothes as you may have nothing else to do, apart from reading a book that is.

Café and restaurant life is pretty good in Copenhagen. No shortage of good places and excellent design to go with them. It even boasts a restaurant that has been named the world's best. But I hate booking restaurants more than a day ahead so I will give this one a miss (even if I could afford it) as I think one has to book months ahead here. There is a relaxed but cared for style about this city that somehow appeals to me. Maybe I have Danish ancestors or something? And the colours on the buildings are often bright, which works in the winter to cheer one up and also matches the sun (when it is there). Maybe I would find the Baltic weather a bit drab if I lived there, but I have been very lucky on each of my visits, whether in winter, summer or spring.

The wine bar scene is pretty good too, but more of that in another article. One can also wathch rugby games in several pubs, and there is a very good custom motorbike producer, called the Wrenchmonkees. The musuems are excellent, both the exceptional collection at the Carlsberg foundation and the Copenhagen Museum of modern art where you can admire lots of that wonderful Danish painter Hammershoi, about whom I have already written here:

Go to Copenhagen: its a very civilised, beautiful and lively town. 

7 Jul 2011

Paul Auster and Sunset Park

This is not in fact the cover of the edition that I have just read of this novel by Paul Auster, but that doesn't matter a lot.

Auster is a writer whose work I have for some years much enjoyed reading, and this book can be added to the list of my recent good to excellent reads. Although I usually find Auster very easy to read, with the stories he tells (because he is a very good storyteller, as well as often being profound) somehow gripping depite (or on account of) the sometimes strange atmospheres that can add a kind of edge to them, this book is one of the easiest and fastest reads that I have met so far in his work. Perhaps this is because I had two 2 hour plane jouneys in one day to fill out this week, and reading is just the thing for me whilst sitting in a plane and in those endless queues to get to the thing that seem to take up almost as much time as the flight itself these days. 

I won't tell you anything about the story of the book in case you decide to read it yourself. Suffice it to say that it is, at least partly, about redemption and finding your own way in life, and also about the complexity of relationhips between members of the same, albeit "molecular" (ie often separated and/or recomposed) families.

I enjoy and admire the style of Auster's writing. It seems to have become increasingly pared down over the years, seemingly matter-of-fact but always elegant and to the point. His art of mingling a story well told with acute observations of people and their behaviour is remarkable. Nothing is ever "weighty" or pretentious, despite the subjects dealt with. Auster is a true craftsman, respecting words but not letting them get in the way of his purpose. Words are tools, but not the finality of a book. The result is a successful fusion between form and substance.

Auster also manages to look at people's behaviour and, sometimes, their motivations as well whilst removing himself from any judgment. Behaviour is sometimes explicable, when it suits the story, but sometimes not. So the part of mystery  and irrationality that can shroud so much human activity remains, hanging on like a veil of remnant fog. And tragedies are usually around the corner, either in the past or imminent, without being over-dramatised. I suppose this balance between psychology and plot is akin to that which he achieves in his writing style.

Sunset Park is a fine, unpretentious and surprisingly profound novel.

so read on...

5 Jul 2011

Norton Commando rebuild, work in progress

At the beginning of this year I entered this post, entitled a New Year's bike resolution.


Well, this resolution is getting pretty close to being realised, so I made a trip to the Chatokhine workshop near Chartres last weekend to see the work in progress.

The first stage to rebuilding is stripping things down:

Here Frank Chatokhine (left) explains to me (centre) and his father Roland what is going on. In the background is the new front wheel freshly respoked on an Akront alloy rim and with a modern disc brake on it. The great thing about true crafstmen like the Chatokhines is that they discuss every stage with you in detail. They not only love motorcycles, they also treat their customers as if they were themselves.

Here is a close-up of the new front caliper and mount from Norvin. This, combined with a Grimeca master cylinder, should improve things up front a bit. It has also necessitated a modified mudguard, as the original stays will not go around a caliper set behind the forks.

Stopping the bike is fine and quite essential, but you have to get it going in the first place. So electronic ignition has been fitted, well under the tank and away from water ingress. This shot also shows the new Norvil production racing head steady, to keep the engine a little bit tighter in the frame than the original softer one.

A possibly more simply aesthetic change has been the fitting of these twin K and N air-filters to the Amals, as I dislike the big boxy air-filter that is standard on the Commando. You purists should rest assured though as I have kept all the original parts and the whole thing can be put back as it was. Frank is very careful not to cut or weld on the frame or its attachments. He makes fittings that can be removed. 

The filter box removal has necessitated moving the contact switch to below the battery box, which Frank has achieved neatly by making up a bracket which bolts onto the battery pan, so avoiding welding or cutting. It has been painted to match the frame, which is a non-standard grey that I had done at the last rebuild.

Work in progress on the right hand side. Still to come are the rearsets, which are also Norvil production racing items (see below). On the left is the bracket that used to hold the ignition coils (now removed in favour of the electronic system).

Roland Chatokhine, Frank's father, and one of his rides (12 years old, the ride, and looks like new). Roland held the Ducati concession in Chartres, way back when Ducatis were only singles. He was also the French importer for Norton and Velocette even further back.

Frank and Roland investigate my Ducati Multistrada. Frank owned one too and says it is one of the bikes that he regrets. He had just become a father for the second time that morning. Welcome to the young lady.

Above is the place to go if you want fine craftmanship and a true love of motorcycles.
Below is another place nearby (Chartres Cathedral) where one can go to see other aspects of craftsmanship

all photos by AK

Soon be on the road with this project I hope. Will get you the pictures and a road test then.

3 Jul 2011

Jim Morrison, 40 years on

I'm not a great one for anniversaires, especially not death anniversaries, but I did hear that Jim Morrison killed himself 40 years ago. So I stupidly thought that this track of the Doors was appropriate. I'm surely not the only one. Some may find this a bit long, but what's ten minutes out of 40 years?


2 Jul 2011

Marc Desgrandchamps 2

I wrote recently on this blog about the paintings of Marc Desgrandchamps (post on 26/06). Here are a few more pictures of some of the most recent work in this exhibition. I sneaked these photos with a telephone camera (you are not allowed to take photographs of contemporary works in exhibitions, even if you buy the catalogue, which seems quite silly to me), so please excuse the quality and the framing, which is rarely straight. The other annoying thing is that I no longer seem able to enlarge more than one photo on this blog. This didn't used to be the case. I will try to find a solution as it makes it harder to appreciate some images, especially when they are on a large scale in real life, like these paintings.

The first one shows how nicely this show is hung (notice that I refrain from using the expression "well hung" to avoid Luc's sarcasm, though this will probably fail).

Untitled 2008

Untitled 2008

Untitled 2010/2011

1 Jul 2011

strange encounter in a hotel bedroom

No, this has nothing to do with recent events, real or alleged, in New York, about which we have heard about enough I think. This piece of artwork was what I discovered in my hotel bedroom in Romania on a recent trip there to discover the wines of this country.

I promise you that I didn't arrange this myself.

The colour scheme is pretty dreadful, but the person in charge of cleaning and preparing the room obviously has a future as an abstract land artist. Any gallery people out there? If so I will give you the address of the hotel, which is a otherwise a contemporary version of 1970's communist countries bad taste (you should have seen the dining room!).

Art is often hidden in strange places!