June 15th, 2004


England Too

Such is how Paris Hilton is described on the front page of a magazine. I also spotted Benjamin Biolay and Chiara Mastroianni on the front cover of French Elle a few days back. I guess that makes them the Paul and Linda McCartney of the imagined Rive Gauche and may help to explain Daniel's evident disdain for them. I'll still pick up a copy of their Home album on the way home though. According to Libération, it's a sort a Francophone country-bluegrass, but with weak harmonies and facile rhyme structures. Oooh, la la... [Having listened to a few clips on that site, I do think they've got that non-singing singing style down pat]

Sitting on the train out of Quimper, heading to Paris Montparnasse and then back to dreary [albeit sunny] London. It's been a great few days here in Brittany. But the Great Wen calls, sucking many of us back into its familiar alleyways and behaviours. Dommage...

Well, part of it is spent eating lunch in the buffet car with Barney. Nothing fancy, but it does put our own Brit fare to shame for both price and quality. I've known B. for ten years on and off, like many of Andy's friends at the wedding. Some of whom I've only ever met in an tired and emotional state at one of his club nights. Lunch wasn't neither short or long, but long enough to encourage a short nap in a little while.

As for the wedding... Well, you could tell that Andy is a professional wedding organiser. I don't mean that critically. A great service at a village church in Beuzec Conq , Valerie and Andy transported in a London taxi that Tom had driven over from the UK with Liz and baby. Then to Chateau Keriolet for the sunshine, drinks, chat, play, arse, dinner, dancing and so forth. A beautiful and perfect day. I even won a breton shirt in the bingo game

There were a fair few friends and acquaintances there I've known for many years. It was a great weekend in Concarneau. All I can write is that sort of facile stuff. I won't pretend that I couldn't find a point of melancholy to it, but I didn't spend my time lingering. Andy Glass, I've known him since I was seven. Barry wore his hat. Err. How long until we all find ourselves thrown together for a few days. Weddings, christenings, weddings of children perhaps, funerals... That line of thinking didn't last particularly long amidst the sunshine and blue horizon.

The pleasures of speaking another language. I thought I was showing signs of settling back into talking in French; remembering sounds and words. As I relaxed this morning outside the café. I asked for an espresso and a glass of water. I got a jug of hot water. Look, even I know that I asked for a glass.

Here's a list of things I have bought over the weekend:
1. A lot of beer.
2. A fair amount of pastis.
3. Some fags and baccy.
4. One bag Breton flour (MMM), burst, now contained in shopping bag.
4. Some prunes, puy lentils, chicory, Fleur de Sel de Guerande flavoured with Tahitian vanilla, sea salt caramels, green tomato marmalade, chataigne jam...shut up.
5. A very expensive power supply unit for the Mac. If anyone is travelling anywhere in the world and needs to power any laptop computer, let me know. It may well work in adjacent solar systems as well. I left the regular one at home.
6. Two small plastic horses.
6. That's about it.

I've had the chance to be described as the perfect man over the weekend. In France, describing yourself as a historian works to your advantage. Who cares whether there's money in it, you're a bleeding intellectuel, mate. So I was succesful in charming a Korean French girl, Véronique, with my knowledge of the Three Kingdoms era, both Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (No relation. Well, except in the broader Korean family clan sense, see p. 175-89), and much else besides. It didn't go much further than that, I'm afraid, but that's the sort of flirting I'm comfortable with (so I should consider abandoning the UK really). You don't often get a chance to use your knowledge of Korean history and culture in this life after all. As I will continue to mention until physically sedated, Korea is the place to watch in East Asia. And you can trust me. After all, I'm a historian. I'm very good at looking forwards. And footnotes.

Back to Blighty. The least favourite of transits. I'm still in France geographically, but I've already passed through into the UK legally. Of the two stations, I'd say that the Waterloo one is the better. Not for its amenities, but for its sense of scale and adventure. Here, in Paris, the Eurostar section at the Gare du Nord seems a little underplanned. There have been some improvements in the last couple of yeats: Upper Crust (vendors of baguettes and hot drinks at railway stations) has been replaced by Paul and, err, they're selling a Belgium printed edition of the Daily Express. Grinning Kilroy-Silk photo optional, but certainly present today. Already I'm annoyed, hot from the metro and bag carrying, dreary Brit faces, couple watching their video footage of a visit to Paris with the volume up, I walk over and tell them to turn it off. Anyway, mustn't grumble, &c...

Mmm, seems the Photobucket account has vanished since I went away...