Monday, March 16, 2009

There is nothing wrong with half a cow in a jar

We went back to Oki-Eri and surprised Mr and Mrs Sato immensely but they were delighted to see us.

We are going again tonight and after this we expect them to invite us to go on holidays with them to Brest in the summer. Apparently we are entitled to this after eating three meals in their restaurant in the same week.

We trotted off to see a photographic exhibition by Marc Riboud and I was very impressed. It makes me ache to see photographs that good - although some of them could have been taken by me and he may have outsourced them to a small child standing nearby while he had a snifter in the nearest bar.

This child was short sighted and had St Vitus’ dance - or it could be art - what would I know. I love impressionist painting but it always seems to me that the artist has painted the scene while looking at it through a tea towel.

I like pictures that are like photos - give me a Constable every day.

But I am certainly not a Philistine. I like - for example - many forms of modern art and never walk past half a cow in a jar or a rat in aspic at the Tate Modern without looking in awe.

Anyway, on photography, suppressing the urge to drop my camera into the Seine I have decided to battle on and have some lessons.

When Henri comes to Vienna he will spend some time with me and in the meantime I will break all my own rules and read a book about photography.

The weather in Paris at the moment is delightful and it is clear that spring is coming. The beggars are blossoming all over the streets and there is at least one on every street corner. There may well be a regulation that requires every corner to have a beggar and if, they are short, one is provided by the Mayor.

In fact, this may be a way for the French to dig themselves out of the global financial crisis and I may write to Sarko.

The regulations in Vienna are that at least 50% of beggars must have a half crutch - which is much to small for them - so that they hunch over as they walk along. They don’t have this rule here and most of them are bone lazy - just sitting there with paper cups - Oh yes - very creative!

Dogs and cats are very popular props here and I wonder why this is not in fashion in Vienna? There are probably rules.

A young lady (the same one as a few days ago) tried the gold ring thing on me today but I dismissed her with a derisive ‘Vous voulez rire’ which (I think) is colloquial French for ‘you must be joking’.

She was very unhappy and left muttering at me so I am not so sure. I will check with Melissa. I might have called her toasted goat’s droppings or something like that. Anyway - it had the desired effect and the French people sitting next to me laughed loudly (which of course tends to favour the goat droppings theory).

Melissa and I had a wonderful time at Montmartre Cemetery. She acted as the beater and we took lots of photos of cemetery cats - many of whom were very obliging and posed for us.

We went back to the Cemetiere de St Vincent today but could only find one cat - who knows where they are today. They may be all being used as beggar’s props in Montmartre.

I have been disappointed - but not surprised - by the lack of ducks in Montmartre. This is a significant failing which is not compensated for the by surfeit of beggars, shysters, crooks, robbers, tarts, pickpockets, pimps, footpads, serfs, churls, villeins and touts.

Of course there is no water here - which would mitigate against an explosion of the duck population.


  1. Parisian beggars have crutches, Sydneysider ones seem to favour signs written on pieces of cardboard box. I had to laugh the other week when I overheard one beggar saying to another, "You need a better sign mate. It only took months for my divorce to come through, and you've been using that sign for years". The beggar in question had a ratty sign asking for cash to help fund his divorce proceedings. Sure enough, the following week the beggar had a new sign saying, "Homeless, need cash please"!

  2. Obviously no place for ducks. The cat, pictured, has its tongue hanging out with thirst!

    Grim tent cities are appearing in the USA - e.g. Sacramento. Hope this doesn't happen here in OZ, but times are tough and the jobless growing.

    But the sun's shining, which is good:)

  3. Sounds as if the beggars are relatives of the ones here - always carrying the short crutch, and wearing over-sized shoes so they can twist their feet accordingly. And the "hammy tremor" which is so overdone that one is tempted to give them a flyer for acting lessons.

    In Boulder, Colorado where I went to university, there was a beggar who would wear horrendous makeup and had a sign around his neck claiming he had been badly burned. he didn't seem to think anyone would clue in the the fact that a) the makeup simply looked incredibly silly b) after 15 years he would have healed by now c) almost everyone in town knew his name and were aware of his arrest record.

    Gotta wonder..

  4. My favourite beggar position is one that I've yet to see in Vienna, but have seen elsewhere in Europe. In this classic of the genre the supplicant lies prostrate on the ground, head to the floor, knees bent, with his arms outstretched in the cupped position. The implication is that the beggar is so weak, so desperate for sustenance, that he can't even sit or stand anymore.

  5. When we were in france and scammers approached us we would confuse them by telling them we liked to roller skate while pointing at the largest denomination note that we had...they got very confused and desperately tried to help us with our French...Vous Voulez rire is so unoriginal!

  6. Well K. When you come to Wien we will practice on them together!