Saturday, 31 January 2009

Strikes in France + '60s video

Until I left home and went to college I'd never lived in a house with a television. Therefore I listened a lot to the radio. And therefore, I suppose, I remember feeling quite well informed and very much interested in the huge strikes and "unrest" of students in 1968, even though I was only 11-12 years old at the time.

Forty years later I find myself still interested in the industrial and political activities of the French, so much so that it seems to me that all is closer to being well in the world, if (most of), the French are en grève.

My sister speaks French better than many natives, has lived in France on and off for a good long while and is there now. I asked her how it seemed to be.

'"Word on the street", as far as I can gather from the people I’ve spoken to, is that many on the Left (e.g. organic farmers) loathe Sarkozy and compare him with Berlusconi, saying he's a complete idiot who's totally unfit to hold power. Apparently, he says tactless things and upsets people (notoriously referring to inhabitants of Paris housing projects as racaille, or scum); he’s also criticized for being much more interested in showing off on the foreign scene than concentrating on internal affairs.

The Centre and Right tend to say that he's a sound bloke and that the Left should appreciate the fact that he's worked his way up through the ranks rather than being born to privilege like many other French presidents. They also say that the people who have been demonstrating have life incredibly easy since the majority of them are civil servants, many of whom do a 30-hour-week, have massive job security and some of the most generous benefits of any EU countries, then never stop moaning.

The minimum wage is France is €8.71 p/hour, i.e. £7.80 (UK, £5.73). Many civil servants receive the treizième mois – an end-of-year bonus equivalent to a month’s salary - and two years’ work for the State entitles employees to two years’ unemployment benefit at, I was told, 80% of their final salary; (similarly 6 months’ work will give them 6 months’ benefits). Needless to say, the civil servants don’t see their position in such a rosy light (see: ).

You've no doubt seen the protests at the oil refinery in Lincs (and elsewhere now) where they're kicking up a stink because the place has taken on Italian and Portuguese workers. People get nastily nationalistic when the going gets tough, don't they? I expect we'll see more of it, an’ all ...'

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

I was shut down.

For eight days this site was shut down by Google and I don't know why. All "they" said was that the site looked like a "spam site", adding that it obviously wasn't, because I was able to communicate with "them" on the one occasion they allowed.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Nicks on, Nixon

Charlie: Jeez, Blonde on Blonde. Yes. That was another one I played until it literally buzzed. I even started liking the buzz after a while. There's such subtleties in it. Little bits of Texas Swing style picked guitar in the background, honky tonk piano, unashamed shit kicking rock and roll. And it's bloody funny. I remember playing Brand New Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat to the boys when they were little. My goodness that made them laugh - especially when they eventually figured out what was going on in the Garage.

SD: Yeah, smutty. Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet? That line bloody kills me with respect, followed by

We sit here stranded though we're all doin our best to deny it And Louise holds a handful of rain, tempting you to defy it. Lights flicker from the opposite loft, In this room the heat pipes just cough, The country music station plays soft, But there's nothing really nothing to turn off.....

A man could die happy if he'd written even half of those four lines, don't you think?

Charlie: Yes, but what about Hendrix too. Inspired! I knew there was something I was craving.
I remember a line that went something like "Pass me that bottle and I'll sing you a real song". What was that from?

SD: It's called "My Friend". Will Newman used to cover it very well, but he'd forget some of the lyrics, of course. Will's blues band, Lumber Puncture, did a gig last night in Leeds - I'd've invited you down, but I was stopping over in Leeds, then took the dude to Preston where he's best-manning on a stag do for his longtime schoolfriend.

Charlie: If regurgiture is not yet a word then it's only a matter of time. I read recently that the Oxford Dictionary is removing 7 words this year to make room for 7 new ones. I wonder if there's a place where they keep alll the old words that nobody ever uses anymore. Or are they shredded and then incinerated just in case they fall into the wrong hands? I think we should be told.

SD: It's a conspiracy, dude, a secret plan to achieve an evil or illegal end: cabal, collusion, connivance, intrigue, machination,,,,,,,

I've just purposely bought today's Independent because it's got the Frost v Nixon real interviews in it. Do you remember Peter Evans, the art teacher who did a swap with an American teacher who sheepishly told us of the slogan "Nicks on, Nixon"?

I think I should put all this straight into the blog. If folks don't understand it, they can do the research, or just bog off!!!