Saturday, September 29, 2007

Equinoxial joy

It is post number 201 – there's a harvest moon and it's a time to make some new-century resolutions. I will try to be more positive. Henceforth I will not get annoyed when my book’s release date is postponed yet again – this time to November 1. (After all, some people do buy Xmas presents in January.) Even when my expensive anti-itch cream – please don’t ask – lists among its side-effects ‘may cause itching’, I shall not rant.
Neither will I complain that today’s Times, (printed on toilet paper in Marseilles), and costing three times more than the London one for a shadow of the original, does not contain a word about England’s spectacular win last night against Tonga in the Rugby World Cup, thus proving not only that it is extortionately over-priced and abridged, but out of date.
I will look on the bright side: there is some good news. Manchester United lost 2-0 to lowly Coventry; a kind Mr. Song of Hong Kong (reminds me that I once had a friend called Morris Boris Dorris) has promised to send me $7 million and all I have to do is send him my bank details. Like Candide, I will believe that this is the best of all possible worlds. Last night I called into the boulangerie for a slice of a tasty Provençal delicacy called pissaladière – a kind of onion tart. Nothing unusual there – it goes very well with Jack Daniel’s and would be a knock-out in Kentucky. Not quite hearing what the salesperson said, (she was very busy at the time, telling her colleague about the previous night’s date), I glanced at the cash register. It read ‘Piss: 2 Euros’.
That’s what you get for being optimistic - no more Pollyanna – curmudgeondom calls.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bicentennial Blues

It’s great to be back (pic by the Mairie). Funny how, after only a few weeks away, you forget how much smaller things are in France. How, when you make coffee for two average-size Brits, you have to fill the machine up to the “6 cups” mark or you get short measure. And garages: how pleased we were when the car rental company gave us a free upgrade to an Espace, only to find that once it’s squeezed into the garage, you can’t get out of the car. Still, makes for an early start next morning.
This was to be the post of posts: the climax, the masterpiece – for this is Post No. 200. But I'm not making a fuss because what was to be the pride of posts was almost the post mortem. Not blogger’s block – I just got too busy, and the blog found itself at the back of the queue. But I've been stung into action by the DG posting...
Never think that once you’ve written a book you can re-sharpen your pencils – 2B or not 2B – and get on with the next. Hemingway did, John Grisham does, because publishers are waiting eagerly to grab their drafts and to set the vast marketing machine in motion. But like 97% of writers, I do my own PR, ads, promo etc. What Emerson said about “If a man write a better book…” and the world beating a path to his door, “tho’ he build his house in the woods”, is crap. The to-do list just gets longer, that's all. (Or maybe it isn't a "better book").
But for today, it has been turned upside down. Today’s priority list goes: 1. lunch on the terrace at Chez Michel, our favoritest restaurant in Villefranche – or anywhere - probably on Dorade Royale, (grilled sea bream); 2. Sunday Times – a Marseilles reprint that’s a shadow of the UK version at three times the price but still addictive; 3. a post-prandial nap; and 4. the post. It’s a little reward for 200 posts and 94,000 words. Coming, Michel.
Tomorrow it’s back to the to-do list and things like setting up a wireless router (called a “livebox” here because they don’t like “English”? words – “My computer” is Poste de travail) using a French instruction book. A great start for the 3rd century.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

HTML Blues

I thought it was about time I updated my web site. In a flush of independence, I thought I could do it without troubling my good friend Mike, who built it and has done all the previous updates. I must confess that I never managed to come to terms with ms/dos, and am far from comfortable with WORD, (how do you get rid of that stupid paper clip?), so to kid myself that I would be able to master web design was straining my nerd-dom beyond its limits. Still, ever the optimist, I bought Microsoft’s FrontPage because, according to the sales literature, a five-year-old with learning difficulties would get the hang of it in ten minutes. The name Microsoft should have been a warning. The job security of the Seattle billionaires depends on their ability to write instructional material using a vocabulary that the purchaser cannot possibly understand. (Yes, even if he/she hits the Help button, since it is equally incomprehensible. What I need is a Help button to the Help button.) So I bought a book called FrontPage 2003 for Absolute Beginners, but it might have been in Swahili for all the use it was. So then I bought FrontPage 2003 for Dummies - with the same result. A Dummie, it seems, is a hirsute, leather-elbowed goon with a PhD in Comp Sci. What I’m waiting for now is the one titled FrontPage 2003 for Dyslexic Gorillas who are Absolute Dummies. Meanwhile, the web site stays as it is.

Q: Who led the Pedants' Revolt?* The question is prompted by the fact that the Times said someone's body "was laying on the ground". The pedants are revolting.

Talking about Seattle, I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights and the eyes are barely functioning. (Whatever its claims, Photoshop does not remove red-eye.) Blame Nice-but-Tim Henman. Having heard him say, after his great performance in beating Tersunov in the US Open, that if he played as well as he did in the first round, he would have no trouble against Tsonga in the second, we decided it would be worth staying up to watch. Well, he didn’t and it wasn’t, but by the time we knew that – New York being five hours behind - it was 1.30am. To be fair, Tim's opponent was irresistible. His second serve was faster than Tim’s first – not that we saw it very often: because at one stage Tsonga was getting 90% of his first serves in.
Watching Tim’s departure took me back to the time about ten years ago at the French Open, when we went to some remote back court to watch a skinny English kid get thrashed. And about five tears later, a bodyguard of the by then famous Tim pushed me roughly aside at the Monaco Open so that Mr Adidas could sail through the crowd unsullied by contact with the public who had paid to see him.
The only crumb of comfort is that this was Tim’s last Grand Slam, so no more red-eye.

Good news – Everton are second in the Premiership table.
Bad news – Liverpool are top.

* A: Which Tyler.