Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A moment of inattention

Yesterday on the Place de la Victoire at 4.15 pm. The sky threatens more rain. A moment's hesitation: walk home or take the tram? Walk. A few seconds later a scream. A young woman's scream. I turn back. The tram is stopped. A man runs towards it. I gawp from a distance, knowing that something dreadful has happened. The contrast between that knowledge and the sight of passengers streaming from the now-open doors of the tram, swarming across the tracks, already finding alternative ways to their destinations. A few crouch down to look underneath the tram. I start out again for home, eavesdropping on a woman's telephone conversation. "J'ai juste vu ses jambes. Elle était coincée sous le tram." The sound of sirens coming from several directions.
The young woman was killed. How could it have been otherwise?
I'm writing this down here simply because I want to let go of the memory of it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

In Andalucia

I'm in Andalucia for a week with the kids and my mum (long story, don't ask). Mostly we've been eating olive oil with added ingredients. And drinking manzanilla. Here are some things I've seen so far.
Resolutely monolingual guides smoking in the foyer of an historic monument.
My children trying to flee a tiny, harmless dog on an enormous beach
A man with long, dirty white hair sing snatches of flamenco.
A waitress catch up with us ten minutes after we'd left her restaurant to tell us we hadn't paid. We had.
Several cartoon-like baby girls festooned in pale pink flounces.
The brown waves of the Guadalquivir.
Sheep with long, dirty white fleece being herded by a man on a horse-cum-donkey.
These oranges.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Basque escapade

Towards the end of the Christmas holiday, we spent a few days with friends in the Basque Country. The weather was mild and we managed a visit to the Musée Basque in Bayonne, a couple of hikes in the rolling hills around Biriatou and Espelette as well as a quick boat trip into Spain. It's just as lovely a part of the world in winter as in summer. Here's a quick slideshow of some of the pictures I took.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Back and Forward


On the first of January, I walked across the new bridge that spans the Garonne along with the children, their friend and 40 000 other Bordelais. The contrast between the ultra modern vertical lift bridge and the more central Napoleonic "pont de pierre" is striking — the new bridge is unfamiliar, sleek and shiny, the old bridge ancient and honey-coloured. Another nice contrast is provided between the bridge's official name, "le pont Chaban Delmas" for the long-time mayor of Bordeaux, and the name most people seem to be using "le pont Baba" from Bacalan-Bastide, the two quartiers that it links.
     I'm sure I could extract some significance from this ritual crossing: something along the lines of making new connections; the new link between left and right bank and their social make-ups; a city coming together to celebrate the river that runs through it, the passage from one year into the next, the old one so much water under the, er, bridge.  To be honest, however, people were subdued, there was no sense of symbolism or celebration and for most it was manifestly simply pleasurable to be out in the fresh air after such a short night. But then most of weren't actually going anywhere, we were crossing over just to come straight back again.


(This is one of those panorama photos from my iPhone, the bridge isn't really bent in the middle)

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year


Bye bye 2012. Fun was had.
I seem to have messed up that photo mosaic since the first two photographs are also the last two. Never mind. I also notice that my favourite photographs are mostly taken during the holidays and at weekends; not so surprising perhaps since the highlights of the year are rarely the humdrum moments spent at work, cooking dinner, folding laundry, catching the tram, looking for lost belongings, shopping. I wish you all a very happy new year of highlights thrown into perspective by lowlights.