the brilliant Kate Tempest

Europe is lost, America lost, London lost
Still we are clamouring victory.
All that is meaningless rules
We have learned nuthin’ from history.

Hostile, worried, lonely,
We move in our packs and these are the rights we were born to …

Live porn streamed to your pre-teen’s bedrooms …

England! England! Patriotism!
And you wonder why kids want to die for religion?

Massacres, massacres, massacres, new shoes.
Kill what you find if it threatens you,
No trace of love in the hunt for the bigger buck
Here in the land where nobody gives a fuck.

English rapper and poetess, Tempest’s words perfectly capture the zeitgeist of our times. Nominated Best Female Solo Performer at the 2018 Brit Awards, she has received wide critical acclaim for her written and live work.

The video is harsh. But then, so are our times.

stop with the shame game!

If I hear or read the word “shame” one more time, I’ll scream. It’s everywhere, and it’s doing us no good at all. I speak for men and women alike.

STOP TELLING US THAT WE’RE SUPPOSED TO FEEL SHAME.

It’s Sunday morning here in Paris, I’m sitting on my chaise longue, mug of steaming café au lait in hand, and reading an article in The Washington Post entitled I was sexually assaulted. Here’s why I don’t remember many of the details. It’s written by Patti Davis, daughter of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

“Roughly 40 years ago,” the article begins, “I showed up at a prominent music executive’s office for an appointment that had been scheduled suspiciously late in the workday.” She goes on to write that the music exec snorted a few lines of coke and then raped her on the leather couch.

“He was against me, on top of me — so quickly — with his hands under my skirt and his mouth on mine, that I froze. I lay there as he pushed himself inside me. The leather couch stuck to my skin, made noises beneath me. I remember leaving afterward, driving home, the night around me glittered with streetlights and alive with people out at dinner or bars. I felt alone, ashamed and disgusted with myself. Why didn’t I get out of there? Why didn’t I push him off? Why did I freeze?”

Forty years ago was 1978. Back then, sexual harassment, assault and abuse was barely on the radar. It was rampant. I know because I was there. And why should Patti Davis, 25 at the time, feel ashamed and disgusted with herself? What did she do wrong? This is a classic abuse story that happens every single day in the lives of women all over the planet: an unaccompanied, unsuspecting woman innocently shows up at a man’s office for an appointment. She thinks she’s there for an interview. But she’s wrong because it’s a set-up. She was targeted in advance by a sexual predator. In truth, the young woman walked straight into an ambush.

Now why should she be the one who feels shame/shamed/ashamed?? And what about the rapist? What does he get to feel?

Notice the pattern? She blames herself, not the rapist. He gets off scot-free and, not quite believing his exoneration, is all too ready to do it again.

FEELINGS OF UNWORTHINESS

I partially blame the media, especially women’s magazines like ELLE and others, who propagate shame while devoting articles and attention-grabbing headlines to the subject. I believe that shame is the new hot topic being peddled today. Why? Because it sells. Oh, and have you noticed? Shame is inextricably linked to its cousin, guilt. SHAME and GUILT. Feelings of unworthiness. Exploiting the insecurities (real or imagined) of others has made many people (authors, “life coaches”, TED Talk  speakers) rich. They cash in on it. Shame on them.

FORGIVE YOURSELF, we’re told. For what? I’ve done nothing wrong. Or how about this quote from Dr. Brené Brown who has tapped deep into the shame game:

You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging. 

Dr. Brown, I will decide how flawed or imperfect I am, not you. As for telling me that I am worthy? How dare you assume that I ever believed otherwise.

Here’s a random excerpt lifted from a back issue of ELLE online. Notice the language (my markings in red) –

Why Do We Find It So Hard To Admit When We Feel Ashamed?

In 2017, women are supposed to feel self-assured and super-empowered, yet shame remains a pervasive and defining force in our internal lives, often governing everything from our relationships to our career choices. So why do we find it impossible to talk about?

How comfortable would you be to confess over brunch that you are so deeply impacted by a sense of existential worthlessness that, some days, you struggle to pick a work skirt? At a guess, not very. Although shame is a powerful, persistent emotion, it remains, in itself, shameful. And never more so in an age when young women are meant to feel universally empowered and self-assured. But at a deeper level, we remain as susceptible to the primal pull of shame as ever. Our bodies, our choices, our careers, our devices and, most of all, our interior lives are now the battleground of shame (they are???), where the call for “empowerment” is a more acceptable way, simply, of asking to feel less bad.

Feel less bad?? Don’t listen to this toxic stuff. Believe it for what it is: self-serving propaganda that betrays women by making them feel bad about themselves.

So what if you don’t feel shame?

I’ve never felt it, because I have nothing to be ashamed about. Oh, alright, when I was a kid I stole a box of Rowntree’s Black Magic chocolates from under the Christmas tree. I ate them all, stashed the empty box in my sock drawer, then told my parents that it was the cleaning lady who did it. What can I say? I was a chocolate junkie from the age of 5. My father telephoned our cleaning lady (it took me two decades to realize that in fact he pretended to telephone her), said that she denied it, and eventually found the empty chocolate box in my drawer. Now that’s shame.

Have a beautiful, shame-free Sunday.

Miró and Michael Jackson at the Grand Palais

miro one

Playful, whimsical, experimentalist Miró is showing at the Grand Palais from October 3, 2018 to February 4, 2019. I’ve just purchased my ticket online. The Grand Palais is closed on Tuesdays. A few evenings a week, it’s open until 10 p.m.

From November 23rd to February 14, 2019. To pay tribute to the tenth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death (wow, has it been ten years already?), the Grand Palais is planning a major exhibit entitled “Michael Jackson: On the Wall,”. The extensive showcase explores the creative arts side of the King of Pop, putting on a display of diverse artworks from the past 30 years loaned by leading artists, collectors, and gallerists.

par-Jackson-grand-palais-2

Joan Miró i Ferrà (20 April 1893 – 25 December 1983) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona. Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride. In numerous interviews dating from the 1930s onwards, Miró expressed contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeois society. (Wikipedia)

Born into the family of a goldsmith and a watchmaker, Miró grew up in the Barri Gòtic neighborhood of Barcelona. The Miró name indicates Jewish roots (the terms marrano or converso describe Iberian Jews who converted to Christianity.) His father was Miquel Miró Adzerias and his mother was Dolors Ferrà. He began drawing classes at the age of seven at a private school. In 1907 he enrolled at the fine art academy at La Llotja, to the dismay of his father. He studied at the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc and he had his first solo show in 1918 at the Galeries Dalmau, where his work was ridiculed and defaced. Inspired by Fauve and Cubist exhibitions in Barcelona and abroad, Miró was drawn towards the arts community that was gathering in Montparnasse. In 1920 moved to Paris. (Wikipedia)

Take a look at the excellent website of the Grand Palais here:

https://www.grandpalais.fr/en

beautiful food

I have an immense admiration for food bloggers. Why? Because eating, preparing, imagining and just plain drooling over beautiful food is a favorite pastime of mine. And did I mention the photography? The artwork on some of these blogs is exquisite. Truly inspirational.

easter carrot cake

7 pm on a coolish Sunday evening. I’m sitting here drinking a glass of leftover champagne and listening to Miles Davis (Ascenseur pour l’échafaud) on the stereo. Back to work tomorrow. One thing’s for sure: weekends are too damn short! Luckily, Thursday November 1st is a national holiday here (All Saints’ Day, it’s a Catholic thing; a day to visit cemeteries and place flowers on the graves of deceased family members). So I have a 4-day weekend coming up because everyone will take off the Friday as well.

Maybe I’ll make this cake on that weekend; I think I’m invited to a gathering on the 3rd. It’s called Killer Cake.

Killer-Chocolate-Cake-09-1280x854

choc cake two

killer cake with knife

Gosh, that knife looks ominous. Maybe this is a cake to die for … literally!

Here’s the blog, filled with beautiful recipes (and photos).

http://vegdept.com/category/recipes/all-recipes/

Here’s a list of best food and nutrition blogs –

https://greatist.com/eat/best-food-blogs-2016

And saving the best for last. I make these raw food energy balls often. I take them to work (they replace a pain au chocolat or a croissant). Eat with strong espresso in the morning. Yum!

https://greatist.com/eat/energy-bites-recipes-for-on-the-go-snacking

the Brexit nightmare for British nationals living in Europe … including yours truly

brexit

For close to three decades I’ve been swanning around Europe (living, working, travelling) and enjoying all the privileges of being a European citizen. So imagine this scenario: you wake up one morning to learn that you will no longer be European. All those privileges you previously enjoyed? Soon to be snatched away, cherished no longer.

This is the reality of BREXIT. At least, as it stands today. It could worsen, it could improve; no-one knows for sure how this dastardly done deal will turn out. The nightmare we are living is the uncertainty.

brzxit protest march

This is how Brexit affects me personally: I have dual citizenship – Canadian, because I was born and raised in that country, and British because my parents were English. Prescient that I would travel and live abroad when I was older, I applied for a British passport before my 18th birthday. It is this passport (not my Canadian one) that grants me European status and allows me to live and work anywhere in the European Union.

But next year the United Kingdom will no longer be part of Europe. In June 2016 a referendum – based on deeply flawed, disingenuous and misguided premises – was presented to British citizens living in the U.K.

British nationals living outside of the U.K. were denied the vote. This hardly seems fair (or democratic) considering it is us who will be far more affected.

taxi flag

THERE ARE ONE MILLION BRITISH NATIONALS LIVING and WORKING in the 27 EU member states. And here’s the thing: we liked being Europeans. We resent having that status taken away from us. 

Yesterday, I nearly choked on my ham sandwich while reading The Guardian on-line during my lunch hour. Here’s what I read:

In the case of a “hard Brexit”, British citizens living in France could become third-country nationals which would prevent them from holding jobs restricted to EU nationals and limit their access to healthcare and welfare.

This Saturday October 20, a protest march is planned in London. In the hopes of reversing Brexit, they are calling for a second referendum. Sadly, this reminds me of the massive anti-Iraq war demonstration that occurred in that same city on February 15, 2003. One million protestors gathered in Hyde Park. In vain. The war went ahead, based on lies, and the British people never forgave Tony Blair for his perfidy. To this day he remains the most reviled man in Great Britain.

Below is a Financial Times documentary explaining former prime minister Cameron’s utterly failed and disastrous Brexit gamble. He essentially played Russian roulette with the United Kingdom. And lost.

Which begs the question, where is David Cameron now? According to reports, hiding in a shed at the foot of his garden writing his memoirs.

Dated today, Saturday October 20, here’s the viewpoint from The Observer, sister publication of The Guardian, on the need for a second Brexit vote:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/20/second-referendum-hard-brexit-peoples-vote-way-forward

http://www.stopbrexitmarch.com/

Sawday’s travel guides: the perfect place to stay (and off the beaten track)

piscina1

Fancy a vacation on the Sicilian island of Pantelleria? Or perhaps Panarea located between the Lipari and Stromboli islands? Or maybe a Bed and Breakfast in a huge country house located in Cornwall, England?

cornish housefireplace

Fellow travellers, look no further. Take a gander at the offerings in Sawday’s travel guides. Here’s how they describe themselves: Incurably curious, we seek out quirky, independent and authentic places to stay across Europe.

Bon voyage ! (I found my dream house in southern Italy, see bottom link)

https://www.sawdays.co.uk/

http://journal.sawdays.co.uk/

Gorgeous house in Puglia, located in the heel of Italy:

https://www.sawdays.co.uk/italy/puglia/brindisi/la-vigna/?guests%5Badults%5D=1&term=Puglia

truly extraordinary film images of Paris

I was blown away by the integrity of this film footage dated around 1897. What struck me first were the sounds: the clip-clop of horses’ hooves, the clatter of carriages and wagons – common sounds of yesteryear that we no longer hear. And yet, other sounds endure: the clang of Notre-Dame’s bells, a dog’s bark, the tinkle of a bicycle bell, and laughter and murmur in the streets. Those magnificent horses were everywhere (think of the manure piles to be removed daily; the stink and the flies in hot weather!) 

Other observations: how hazardous those streets were. Tight constricted clothing, but nevertheless very elegant. Street theater – so much going on! I know every one of those landmarks: how strange to see the same buildings and same locations populated by people 120 years ago! Exactly one month ago I was at the Round Pond in the Tuileries Gardens. In this film you see the same pond, but instead of casually-dressed men and women lounging in chairs, you see boys in caps and sailor suits prodding their sailboats with long sticks. Extraordinary. As one commenter noted – It looks like a French impressionist painting come to life.

And that moving sidewalk? Talk about avant-garde! It was in fact an experiment for the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900. See for yourself. Further below is another view of Paris nearly thirty years later.

Here’s some more footage taken in 1927: less horses, more motorized vehicles. In exactly twelve years’ time war would break out. Occupied Paris would be besieged by German Nazis. That’s the other extraordinary thing about watching historical films: you know what’s going to happen next, and they – blissfully unaware – do not. I’m amazed by the hordes of people in the streets. Central Paris was packed! It seems more crowded then than it is today. Notice the men, how pompous and self-important they were.