Sunday, 31 August 2014


English below...

Ce billet est en fait plus une note: cela fait sept ans aujourd'hui que je suis marié. Je le soulignais plus souvent au début du blogue, j'ai pensé le souligner à nouveau aujourd'hui. Voilà, c'est tout, mine de rien, sans tambours ni trompettes, ça fait sept ans que je suis marié. Comme l'a dit un ami sur Facebook: "elle a de la patience."


This is more a quick note than a post: it has been seven years today that I am married. I used to mention the wedding day and this anniversary more often in the early years of this blog. I thought I would mention it today. So that's it, I have been married for seven years today (and no seven year itch joke). Like a friend said on Facebook: "she sure is patient."

The Autumn collection of David's Tea

This is a quick post to announce for the lucky ones among you living where they have their shops and did not know already: David's Tea has already released their Autumn collection 2014. I know, I know, they call it the Fall collection, but I always thought Fall was a lame name for Autumn. Anyway, I love tea, I love David's Tea in any season, but especially in autumn when I discovered them and when it is so perfect a time to drink tea. I shamelessly took a picture from their Facebook page. With its pumpkins and fiery colours, it of course reminds me of Halloween as well. They know how to get me. And I would love to visit one of their shops right now.

Ni Dieu Ni Maître

C'est une amie qui a pris cette photo, à la gare de Sète. Elle l'a publiée sur Facebook. La photo m'a fait une si forte impression que je l'ai reprise après lui avoir demandé la permission de la partager. C'est une devise anarchiste, tirée du titre d'un journal fondé et dirigé par Auguste Blanqui. Mais dans tous les cas, c'est une devise à laquelle je souscris entièrement, bien que je ne sois pas anarchiste. Et j'aime bien la voir ainsi arborée fièrement dans l'espace public. Ca change des messages pieux que l'on voit trop souvent. Genre celui-là. Il faut bien le dire, l'impiété française née du républicanisme, elle devrait être exportée partout dans le monde.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Brutus Stone

Here are more pictures of my holidays to Devon, again this was taken in Totnes. Totnes is a small town, but it has many attractions and makes for some great sightseeing, great pictures and also a very educational holiday. One of them is Brutus Stone, pictured above and on the left. According to the Historia Regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Totnes is where Brutus of Troy first came ashore to found what is now Britain.

Now, all this might seem anecdotal to most of you, a bit of local folklore that is sometimes mentioned as a passing reference elsewhere. I am sure many tourists and locals pass this stone every day without even noticing it. However, for a medievalist like myself, especially since I am specialized in the Matter of Britain, it means that Totnes is the cradle of the legends King Arthur, Brutus being his first ancestor. I did not remember this bit in the Historia, but remembering it the stone became suddenly very significant. So, falling into the cliché, I had to take a picture of my feet stepping on it.

Des chauves-souris dans le logis

Enfin, pas dans le logis, et pas dans le mien, mais presque. Cette photo a été prise par mon beau-père, d'une chauve-souris accrochée sous le toit du portique de leur demeure en Bretagne. Mes beaux-parents sont assez accueillants lorsqu'il s'agit de la vie sauvage: ils n'ont jamais pu se résoudre à tuer la taupe qui massacrait le gazon de leur arrière-cour et ils laissaient même une souris se régaler de leurs pommes. Les chauves-souris à longues oreilles sont assez rares me suis-je laissé dire et peut-être même en danger. Alors c'est un signe heureux de les voir. Bien entendu, dans le folklore elles sont associées au surnaturel et aux vampires, ce qui me les rend encore plus sympathiques. En regardant ces photos, ça me rappelle que l'Halloween se rapproche.

Friday, 29 August 2014

A cultural great unknown line (and the word of the day)

This line from my brother PJ, who got back (is getting back?) from a trip to Vienna (among other places he visited). He shared it on Facebook and I thought it was so good I needed to share it here. A little bit of context: his ex-wife is Chinese. So here is the great unknown line:

"I'm not that much of a gweizai, don't offer me Western utensils, Chinese waitress at a Japanese-Korean restaurant. (I couldn't have another Austrian or Italian meal)."

A gweizai, or gwaylo, or gweilo, is from what I understood a Westerner, in Cantonese slang a white ghost. It is the word of the day (I started this theme in my French posts and it never picked up, let's see if it does in English). I loved the amount of cultural references in a single line (almost a single line) and the use of the Cantonese word. Oh and on a side note, as I cannot use chopsticks, I am very much a gweilo.

Question existentielle (237)

En écrivant ce billet mercredi, il m'est venu une question existentielle:

-Quel est l'endroit idéal pour avoir sa chambre dans une maison, le sous-sol ou le grenier?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Happy Birthday Sheridan Le Fanu

Well, a timely Google Doodle reminded me of this (not that I would have had remembered, to be honest), but today would have been the 200th birthday of Sheridan Le Fanu. He is of course the author of the vampire story Carmilla, which later, like so many vampires, lived in the shadow of the Count, Le Fanu himself living in the shadow of fellow Irish writer Bram Stoker. Carmilla, which inspired the Doodle, was also reduced to a lesbian vampire story, and its subsequent adaptations were even more massacred than the ones of Dracula, pretty much all verging on the soft and not so soft porn. I have to confess, I do not feel the love for Le Fanu's creation that I feel for Stoker's, but all the same, the novella is deliciously creepy and has genuinely frightening scenes. It lacks the raw violence of Dracula, yet we are far from the vampiric romances that get published these days. I can also say, with a certain pride, that I have actually read other stories than Carmilla. And Le Fanu could write gothic horror. So in the upcoming months and weeks before Halloween, I intend to read him again and remember that his work should not be forgotten and stands on its own merit.

Un théâtre de marionnettes

J'ai pris cette photo lors de mes vacances d'octobre 2013 à Montréal. J'ai trouvé par hasard le sujet de la photo au Parc Lafontaine. C'est un Théâtre de Guignol qui était fermé. Je ne sais pas s'il est jamais ouvert de nos jours et quand il a donné un spectacle pour la dernière fois. C'est pour ça que depuis, ce théâtre m'obsède. Quelqu'un y a déjà vu un spectacle? Si oui, quand? Quand est-ce que vous avez vu un spectacle de marionnettes pour la dernière fois, en fait?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A place to blog

I post a blog post from time to time about blogging, a sort of mise en abyme. I blog in a flat set in the attic floor, where I live, mostly in the living room, although sometimes in the bedroom, like I am doing now. I know I shouldn't, but I find it quieter. When I am in my parents' home, I blog in the basement. I think overall I prefer attic rooms, I find them more inspiring, as if they were the thinking head of the building, gathering heat as much as thoughts. And you, where do you blog?

Toujours des bleuets

Je publie cette photo sans raison aucune, sauf que c'est toujours le temps de manger des bleuets. La récolte de bleuets est passée, enfin je crois, mais on en mange encore sous différentes formes. Et j'ai décidé de télécharger cette photo parce que je suis saguenéen et que bien entendu c'est notre fruit. Petit moment de fierté régionale sur ce blogue.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The "Back to School" melancholia

Remember when I mentioned, at the beginning of August, that I had not felt melancholic yet about it? Usually it strikes me in August, what I call the melancholia of August (or the August melancholy, whatever you prefer, the first is more poetic). That feeling which I associate with ending summer, before autumn starts. Well, it struck me this morning, in a strange way: as I was about to go to work, it smelled of school. It struck me by the nose, like when I was a child: the back to school feeling as I call it. Maybe because it was going to be my first day back at work, maybe because my friends all have children starting school, maybe because I have friends who teach and they also start school. But it was there present, irrepressible. A faint feeling melancholia that was just not painful enough. The air was full of the smell.

Well, that was it really. It did not make my day, nevertheless it started it. I could not embrace the feeling, but I let it last and at some point it left me. There is always a consolation: if summer ends, if if I have the back to school blues again, it means that autumn is coming.

Burger King mange Tim Hortons

Petite nouvelle économique et commerciale: Burger King achète Tim Hortons. D'où ma blague facile (et un nouveau calembour atroce en plein titre de billet, je n'en rate pas une ces temps-ci). Vous savez ce que je pense de Tim Hortons si vous avez lu ce billet. Tim Hortons, je trouve ça quétaine, je trouve ses beignes dégueus, je trouve ses annonces débiles et débilitantes et bref, je n'aime pas. Quant à Burger King, je suis neutre, pas d'animosité. Paraît que les deux commerces demeureront indépendants de franchises. Pour ce qui est de la différence entre un beigne de Tim Hortons et un burger... Mais enfin bref, Burker King a mangé Tim Hortons.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Railway through time

I wanted to do it for a long while, I had the chance to do it during my recent holidays in Devon: I traveled in an old steam train. it was like traveling through time. Twice, actually, or even three times if you count the return. This post and the pictures accompanying it are from the second trip, from Totnes to Buckfastleigh and back.

Well, what I can say first? I love train travels, I love, no I adore everything train related. It is for me the mean of transport that kick-started modernity and it is simply the greatest mean of transport. At its best, the train is comfortable, practical, fast enough to go from point A to B in a decent amount of time, slow enough to enjoy the journey. Even the most banal, plain train has character, even the most banal train station as well. I love the atmosphere of train stations, the oldest the better. I was served with this journey: the train stations were built and furbished as old ones, with old advertisement, red bricks and wood and so on. Except it does not look old, it looks very contemporary, just like the staff wearing clothes from the time period. And of course the locomotive was a steam engine. It was like stepping into another time in history, the moment we set foot on the station.

The illusion is only ever broken when you leave it, and even then, you are still haunted by the journey. I spent the trip looking half the time at the window when we were passing train stations or a signal box (more about it in a future post), half the time looking at the inside of the compartment. I imagined myself being the character of a crime story (no, not that one) or a ghost story set in that time period. Or just a traveler from yesterday. I wish train stations and trains had still the same cachet and elegance of these ones.

Loutres cuidantes

J'écris un nouveau billet sur les loutres, billet qui est encore un prétexte facile pour créer un calembour atroce. Enfin bref, je mentionnais hier que les loutres sont timides à l'état sauvage. Cela dit, dans le sanctuaire des loutres à Buckfastleigh, elles sont sociables jusqu'à l'espièglerie et aiment beaucoup jouer sous le regard des visiteurs. D'où mon calembour atroce, lequel se marie fort bien malgré tout avec cette photo. Pour la définition d'outrecuidant, voyez l'article ici. Soit dit en passant, les loutres en vedette sont Pepper (celle qui est au dessus) et Mr Squeak.

The Detective Tales cover for August

Well, August is almost over, and I thought it was time for me to carry on the tradition of downloading a cover from Detective Tales and commenting on it. This one is from August 1939. You see the hero, dashing in his evening suit, very elegant, and his blonde, red wearing partner, trying to save a damsel in distress from being buried in coal. The villain, a massive, thuggish looking bald goon, is about to club the blonde with a wrench. So you have two damsels in distress for one cover, although only one may be aware of her status. But with her haggard gaze, I think she may have been drugged, or is in shock. In a classic pose, the hero is shooting at an unknown party out of the frame. I love this cover because the rough environment and the look of enemy is in sharp contrast with the elegance of both the hero and the heroine. So here it is anyway.

Une pensée pour Charlemagne

J'ai cru comprendre qu'au Québec, c'est pour bien du monde la rentrée des classes ce matin, ou en tout cas cette semaine, en tout cas pour les professeurs. En août, je trouve ça beaucoup trop tôt, alors je compatis. Et je ne veux pas retourner le fer dans la plaie, mais ici c'est un jour férié. Cela dit, il fait un temps exécrable, alors vous êtes vengés. À chaque rentrée scolaire, on nous sert cette chanson stupide de France Gall à la radio, que j'ai vite appris à détester. Mais ça veut dire qu'à chaque rentrée, j'ai une pensée pour Charlemagne. Qui pour moi, n'est pas tant celui de l'histoire que celui d'une autre chanson, celle de La Chanson de Roland. Je suis médiéviste de formation, spécialisé en littérature médiévale, voyez-vous. Ca m'attriste donc que sa mémoire soit gâchée par une chanson aussi merdique (celle de France Gall, pas la chanson de geste!), que je ne vous ferai pas subir sur ce blogue. Le Charlemagne de l'histoire, avec tous ses défauts (il était cruel et sanguinaire) ne méritait pas ça. Alors de chanson, lisez donc un peu de La Chanson de Roland aujourd'hui.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Hilly Totnes

This is the Totnes' Gate, maybe the most emblematic part of the town. We stayed in Totnes for a week (well, its outskirts really), it was our central pointto go around. A lovely little town, as you may have guessed in my recent posts. The first time we went to town, one thing struck me: it is very hilly.
I don't mind: I grew up in a city full of steep hills, not unlike this Devon town, at least when it comes to its geography. All the same, I was not used to walk up and down such hills anymore. I got back into it pretty quickly and I actually enjoyed it quite a lot, if only because it is good for health and helps to burn calories. So this is maybe completely trivial, but it was my first impression of Devon and Totnes.

Loutres passées

J'avoue que j'ai décidé d'écrire ce billet pour faire un bon jeu de mots.Enfin, peut-être un mauvais jeu de mots. Mais enfin bref, j'ai pensé à ce calembour car lors de nos vacances dans le Devon, nous sommes allés au sanctuaire de loutres à Buckfastleigh. Il y avait aussi des papillons et des tortues, mais nous étions venus pour voir les loutres. je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais j'aime bien les loutres. J'y ai appris qu'elles sont en danger d'extinction au Canada, à cause d'une chasse intempestive, ce qui m'a beaucoup attristé. Les loutres rencontrées lors de notre visite étaient très sociables, mais elles sont timides à l'état sauvage, alors il est difficile de les voir. Mais ce qui m'a étonné, c'est à quel point elles peuvent être rapides et alors on les perd rapidement de vue et elles deviennent difficiles d'être prises en photo. D'où le calembour qui m'est venu à l'esprit et la loutre de la photo de gauche.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The grilled cheese of Fat Lemons in Totnes

Well, as I am back from the holidays, I thought I would start plugging the food of one of the many restaurants, pubs and cafés I have been to during my stay in Devon. It is Saturday, after all, and plugging something from the menu of a place I loved is a weekend tradition on Vraie Fiction. It was not an easy choice to start with, because there were so many great places. But in the end, I decided to go for something from the menu of Fat Lemons, a vegetarian/vegan café that was maybe my gastronomical discovery. We went there twice, and twice it was nothing short of amazing. The first time, I ordered the simplest option one can order in a restaurant: a grilled cheese sandwich and a carrot soup. It was maybe the best grilled cheese sandwich I ever had: old, mature Devon cheddar and chutney for the filling, perfect grilled, not too melted but warm cheese and the soup just made it perfect. Perfectly simple, perfectly filling, perfectly delicious, perfect comfort food.