Monday, July 26, 1999

26/07/99 Frenchmen caught choking on snails ...

Time to get up your noses again, I'm afraid.

The subject comes straight from Dave Barry, who admitted in his last column that French food was very good, apart from the snails, which even Frenchmen loathe. His theory is that French people sit in restaurants pretending to eat from empty snail shells and saying things like "Yummé" until American tourists are led to order them and are brought steaming platefuls of snailshells WITH SNAILS IN THEM at which point the Frenchpersons cited above subside under their table and laugh until - I quote - "red wine starts spewing out of their nostrils".

He may well be right. Personally I can eat six or so, at which point I begin to ask myself questions like "Why am I eating garlic butter off a slug when I can eat it on bread?". I have not yet had a good answer to this question, so these days I leave the slugs for the tourists, and I've had plastic tubing installed in my nasal passages for those moments when I just have to laugh.

Found a good bit of spleen the other day which I just thought I'd share with you: a theatre review of the sort they don't really make any more - Sheridan Morley, in the IHT, had this to say -

"There is something monumentally terrible about the acting of Charlton Heston, and of course there always has been; having brought us the tablets as Moses, having won the chariot race in Ben Hur, he now appears live on stage with all the brisk, charismatic energy of a man carved into Mount Rushmore. To the Theatre Royal he comes with his wife, Lydia Clare Heston, a lady also suffering from a tragic talent bypass, reading Gurney's "Love Letters"."

"Soon it will doubtless be performed under water, or in outer space, or preferably anywhere but in a real theatre, least of all the Haymarket, which even now deserves better than this disgraceful apology for an entertainment; so far from charging for tickets, the management should be at the doors paying out recompense to all audiences as they leave, which they would be wise to do after about 10 minutes."

"The most exciting thing you can watch here are the potted plants that have been neatly arranged, as at a funeral parlour, about the Hestons' feet. There is at least the chance that they might grow, or change colour, or start talking to us, or just wither and die in sympathy with this whole misbegotten shambles."

"Anything would be better than having to watch the Hestons still inefficiently reading, despite having trailed it around America and Britain for some years, a script of such terminal boredom that even they seemed to be having trouble staying awake through it on a hot night. Nothing happens in the first half, happens again in the second, and then Mrs Heston commits a graceful little suicide which she signals with a well-bred little whimper, as though she were trying to attract the attention of a Harrods salesperson on a busy afternoon."

"As for Heston, the most moving thing about him is still his hairpeice ... No director is credited, presumably because if named he or she would never work again. The Hestons alas probably will, but with luck not over here."

As for us, we've just been fiddling around as usual. The barbecue is up, so this weekend Margo started painting the balconies on the road front while I went down and terrified the lawn again, then levelled the courtyard to get it ready for the decking. Then down to the lake for a quick dip and a cold dinner before nailing brats into bed and getting ready for another week of a French summer.

We currently have Caroline, the littler Parisian cousin, as a house guest and it's going quite well. She's little enough for Malyon to boss around, and big enough not to let Jeremy do the same. (Two years older than Jeremy, in fact, but the same size.) Unfortunately she heads back on Wednesday, which means that from Thursday on any social interaction between the kids will end in tears after about half an hour - if we're lucky. Don't get me wrong - Jeremy does love his sister dearly, and vice-versa - but they simply canot play together for any length of time: not at the same game, anyway. That's probably why all the tears - it takes them all that time to realise that not only are they not playing the same game, but the rules are different, and neither of them will accept losing.

There's not an enormous amount of news from over here - none at all, really. I will have to pull finger and start working on some of the stuff that piled up while I was away - the Swiss are back (Wednesday I head off again - not for too long, I hope), there's a little microprocessor application to straighten out, then a big SQL Server database and associated front-end to set up for the end of September.

During this time my estimable friend and colleague Renaud is finsihing off his house - in fact I think they're supposed to be moving into it this weekend, or at least shifting the furniture and chattels (from the old French meaning "small cat"). I rather hope he won't need me to help, as I'd planned on getting some work done on the decking side of things.

That's about enough rubbish for one night, I think.

Trevor & Margo

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