Thursday, March 16, 2006

Je t‘aime! Oh! dites-le avec des pavés!

It's hard to stay indoors while the weather is improving so rapidly. After lunch, we trawled through Saint-Germain's gallery precinct. A lady at the Taschen book store was so taken with Bondi that she gave me a fat hardback copy of A Thousand Hounds: The Presence of the Dog in the History of Photography 1839 to Today. The staff at Album were also very pleased to see him back: taking turns at the registers so that they could play with him while he lolled between the bookshelves and I went off hunting for some more Valerian.

We also stopped in at Pixi & Cie, one of a number of shops I've seen around Paris specializing in miniature figurines. This store was notable for having detailed models and dioramas of various scenes from Asterix, Tintin, Lucky Luke, Babar etc.

Busloads of police were gathering near the Luxembourg Gardens in preparation for possible confrontations with students demonstrating near the Sorbonne. Four thousand students marched from the south of the city to the Sorbonne University, protesting a new work contract allowing employers to fire young workers at any time during their first two years. Stone throwing was countered with tear gas. When we passed through Blvd Saint Michel late afternoon, there was definitely some tension in the air but no signs of violence. A number of streets in the area were free of traffic as students and police faced off.

This issue may have a big impact on the future face of France, as Chirac's protégé Dominique de Villepin - a candidate for the presidency - is refusing to bend on terms for the first employment contract. The unrest harks back to the student riots of May 1968 which destabilised de Gaulle's government and forever changed French society. Curiously my planned inkwork is closely connected to these events.

Back at school, it turned out that the students revolted against a continuation of the screening of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, and many people left just after I did. They might have changed their minds if they knew that an axe-murder was imminent. ( Perhaps this element - with Legrand's jazzy score - was as incongruous then as psychokinetic rage and Michael Gore's music were in the Broadway stage musical Carrie. By sheer luck I happened to be in New York during its disastrously short run before it skidded into the history books as one of Broadway's greatest flops. )

As a sidebar to one of our lessons using the pronoun "en", we learnt the idiomatic expression "un fond", which means "cover the bottom [of your glass/cup]" and which you would use to indicate you only want your drink refilled just a tad. A few moments later, an overenthusiastic classmate suggested that "Est-ce que Solange et Christian ont des amis a Paris?" might generate the response "Oui, ils en ont un fond". Poor Celine corpsed it then - and when I suggested that it might be true of Hannibal Lecter - she indicated the fridge, saying "Oh yes I have a few friends in here." Not sure if the other class members didn't get the joke, or were just too horrified to say anything.

On DVD, I watched another (very) short film: "Le batteur du Boléro" (1992), directed by Patrice Leconte, and starring the late, great Jacques Villeret (who I share a birthday with). It's a very simple presentation, showing what's going on in the mind of the drummer as he taps out the rhythmic refrain of Ravel's Bolero, purely by facial expression and posture. Villeret is probably best known for his role in Le Dîner de cons / The Dinner Game (1998).
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