What’s happening to the French?

Just been there and before I go on about them let me say that there’s something I like a lot about the French. In fact, there are many things that I like about the French. They tend never to apologize, we are always saying sorry. They tend to think that the response to something going wrong is, of course, your fault. It may well be, but in France, it is always the case. Even when it’s not.

Another thing I like about the French is the food and their attitude to it, but here something is going terribly wrong. The French are able to cook like almost no other nationality, and they have exported their skills. We’ve learned a lot of them, and put them into practice. We’ve learned from a lot of other people, as we had no one to learn from over here. Apart from Saint Delia and that geezer wot is saving our kid’s school dinners. Elisabeth David brought us olive oil, and a load of recipes from the Med, when the prevailing wisdom here was that olive oil should inserted in the ear for an earache. Now we actually use it on salad in place of salad cream which was not cream and was not pleasant. Our salads were n’t up to much either.

One could get a decent meal almost anywhere in France, and motorway service areas served food that was passable and coffee that was so strong it would enable the sleepiest of drivers to stay awake and alert for at least 400 miles per cup. And it was served in a white china cup. Not anymore. Service areas are awash with coffee machines and if you do go and get a ‘cup’ from the counter, it will more than likely be a paper one. Whereas over here our Service Stations are better than they have ever been. The one in Gloucester, where there is no branding of any kind is a beacon of good taste and a magnet for local people searching for good food items.Take a look or call in Gloucester Services and these days one does not have to go far to search for good food in the UK. It’s everywhere. Whereas in France they have taken backward steps.

It’s time for them to learn a few of their own lessons from us. To import what they exported to us: the love of food and coffee. I am naturally hoping that their new President will be reading this and will be taking steps to improve matters quickly before it’s too late.

I’m not expecting him to apologise. They never do. That’s one thing that will never change.


 

Another feature of my trip was a meeting with a French woman who was an English teacher. She spoke superb English without the slightest Fench accent. Yet we have Frenchmen over here who’ve lived here for years, like that chef Raymond Buerre Blanc or whatever he’s called, sounds like e as joost left le bateau een Porsmoof. Now there’s a word in English that the French can never pronounce: Portsmouth. It’s torture for them. They get their own back by naming a French south western seaside town : Royan.This is a word beyond the ability of an English person to pronounce properly. So we’re even.

Au revoir. Vive La France!

Meandrain

This is me in typical French holiday fashion gear, it was chucking it down.
As we say: We brought the English weather with us. Yes, I’d packed it with the
shorts I’m wearing now I’m back in England.

 

 

Drawing rain…

Pont watercoloursmallweb

A penchant for watercolour

One of a series about the British Character


 

I’ve been doing a lot of this lately, but then when one is drawing for an exhibition about the British it is to be expected. The fact we’ve had gallons of it dropping down on us in the last few days helps. I’ve done several versions of this idea and this might be the best so far, until tomorrow when I will no doubt ‘go off it’. It started out like the one below, and I’m not sure if I prefer the first drawing or this, or as agonising starts, neither.

watercolour

I’ve had a week of framing the originals for the exhibition in August, so it’s been good to get back to some drawing again, apart from a very welcome day off in Cheddar.

There’s more about this right here:

Pont: Graham Laidler, and the British Character

Damp Skoolboy

I like to get out for a walk, whatever the weather and the other day, it was whatever the weather. Rain coming down like stair rods and this called for full kit walking gear. Well “dubbined” boots, that is greased up to keep the wet out of my socks, weather proof coat with inner warm lining zipped up to the chin with hat to steer any drips away from the face area, and rain proof over trousers, which I generally refer to as ‘nipple trousers’ as the waist band reaches this area. I can go out in almost any amount of rain in this kit and the inner me stays as dry as a biscuit.

As I was tramping the streets on my way back to base camp in front of me was “damp skoolboy”. Dressed in his usual thin shirt, skool blazer and cheap grey blotting paper trousers he trudged ahead of me on his way home. He seemed completely impervious to the rain and did’nt even have a hat. Following on behind him I felt like Nanook of the North. I imagine that once he got home, his mother would have squeezed the moisture out of him like a sponge before parking him in front of the fire to fill the room with evaporating steam. He would then have probably shrunk to even smaller proportions.

blogskuleboy282

 

Who chucks the rain down?

My son, who did philosophy at University, came out with this question when he was about 3 or so. When he’d only just learnt to talk and walk really, so the signs were there very early that he was going to be doing a lot of thinking. He certainly did not do much sleeping and I recall with a shudder the long nights of questioning. Including the one where he admonished me for going ‘off piste’ when reading Postman Pat, telling me that Mrs Goggins could not possibly be a bank robber, “it just did n’t add up”.

I recall this as I’ve been busy trying to draw rain. I’m in the middle of a series of drawing about the British and it has to feature rain in quite a few of them. It’s one of those dilemmas where you do the drawing. Get it to a certain acceptable stage, and then look at it and ask yourself. “How do I put the rain on here?” Not just a light shower, a continuous downpour. Just like we had here yesterday. Should I just scribble over the entire drawing in a moist sort of way, or add it with white flecks of paint and hope for the best, knowing of course that any mistake or unsuccessful attempt will render the drawing almost useless and will have to be done again.I’m working on it by just thinking about it.

Joe answered his own question with his own answer at the time, but looked at me for confirmation as I was looking so bemused “Perhaps it’s Boris Becker Dad”

Perhaps it was.

who-chucks

This is one of the drawings in question and it’s part of the series of drawing based on the British, this one is titled:
“The Optimism of the Camper”

I’ll be enhancing or ruining this drawing in the next few weeks, if it goes well I’ll publish the final.

It’s based on fact, that’s me hammering in the tent pegs on a windy and rain beaten slope somewhere in Devon, wondering why on earth anyone thought this might be a good idea. I’ve refused to go camping ever since.

There’s more to this story but best not to tell that here.

 

The view from the Victoria sponge

This blog covers a multitude of recent popular subjects. Baking being one of them. The drawing (it’s not a sketch for crying out loud ) is a first idea put down on paper very quickly and I just hope that I can get the same feeling onto the final as happened in this. It’s part of a series on the British which was somewhat interrupted by the Brexit shenanigans, and has caused me to think a little more about the project. We are not quite what I thought we were before the vote. Anyhow, politics aside, and that’s where they are best left for the time being, this is a drawing of a typical Summer fete day somewhere in the British Isles.

the-view-from-the-sponge205

 

The word fete is almost guaranteed a day of dark clouds and some teeming rain.Ladies of a certain age will have spent some time baking the obligatory Victoria Sponges for the teas which of course is the highlight of a local fete. The sweet peas will have been through the judging at the plant and produce table, and at least one of the gardeners entering the competition will grumble about the size of someone else’s onions.

Some of the ladies there will be wearing what we used to call pacamacs, which were basically plastic bags pretending to be coats, and will also have smaller plastic bags on their heads to prevent dampness getting to the ‘blue rinse’.

Dogs will be in evidence as will be the odd harrumphing retired colonel who, no doubt will be chewing on a pipe.Inevitably fetes happen only in villages, it’s rare to find them in towns ( they are then referred to as “street parties” and only happen when HRH reaches a significant milestone ). These days villages are mainly populated by incomers and people who can afford the massive prices for peasant cottages that are the norm these days.

So there you have it, Summer’s gone now and the village will be gathering large amounts of wood to burn an effigy on November the 5th to celebrate someone who tried to burn down the Houses of Parliament. Oh crikey! Back to politics.


 

 

Would you put your washing out on a day like this?

Yes, I was on holiday and walking a fell ( that’s a roundy type hill to those from outside the UK ) and it was wet, very wet. Walking through a boggy field littered with sheep and marsh orchids and dozens of other interesting, but to me, unknown wild flowers, we passed this hillside cottage farm.

It was not entirely unexpected, after all the Orkneys is not well known for unremitting sunshine and high temperatures, but a wonderful place to visit despite that.

It’s a joy to see washing out on a line in weather like this. First of all on a line, none of your fancy rotary clothes lines here. I suspect they would take off like a helicopter in the winds they get out there, secondly the hope inherent in the act of putting the washing on the line on a day like this.

It says “the weather will get better”, it did, now and again, and I’ll tell more later.