Friday, 30 March 2007

Condom testers required

Durex has launched its first UK recruitment drive for thousands of condom testers.
The condom maker wants a panel of 5,000 people who are single, married, or in couples to report their experiences of using its condoms and lubricants.

Men and women of all ages, ethnic groups or sexual orientation have been asked to apply on its website.

Durex was inundated with 14,000 applicants on the first day it started a similar scheme in France.

"The idea is to create a massive panel of testers who can try Durex condoms, have sex and then give us feedback about their experiences - in strictest confidence, of course," a Durex spokeswoman said.

"It isn't some crazy kind of '60s love-in," she added.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Paris: Le parc de Montholon

Quatre jolies parisiennes dans le parc de Montholon.
The inscription on the base of this statue reads 'La Sainte Catherine - à l'ouvrière Parisienne' (to the Parisian working woman) and is signed by J. Lorieux.
L'oeuvre évoque la tradition qui consiste, pour les jeunes filles célibataires de plus de 25 ans, à porter un chapeau le jour de la sainte Catherine.
I hope my translation is correct here: The work represents the tradition for young unmarried women of over 25 years to wear a hat on St. Catherine's day.
All I have been able to find is the artist's name Julien Lorieux (French, 1876-1915) and the only other piece of work I can find attributed to him is Délassement - if anybody has any further information I would be pleased to hear from them.
I haven't given up - I have found details of another Sculpture (but no image) "BOY WITH GOAT" which was a French work of bronze art from the 1900's This significantly large Bronze sculpture of a semi-nude adolescent boy wearing an animal skin loincloth and leaning against a rock formation is holding in one outstretched hand a plate with a miniature seated goat, while the other hand holds a knife. His face, hands, torso and feet are well defined and proportioned. Very rich dark and light brown patina. Casting done just prior to LORIEUX' untimely death at the age of 39.
LORIEUX (1876 -1915) Paris, France A student of Falguière and of Merciè at the Beaux-Arts, Julien Lorieux won two grand prizes in Rome (one for Metal Engraving and another for Sculpture) before his premature death at the time of the First World War. In addition to a selection of bronze busts and medals, in 1913 he exhibited his master work at the Salon, a group in marble entitled La Sainte-Catherine. The Museum of the Petit Palais in Paris possesses a number of Lorieux bronzes. Much of Lorieux' work, both in bronze and marble are in museums and private collections in Europe and seldom seem to come to auction in the United States.
Thanks to listpic
Saint Catherine's Day is known as la fête des vielles filles (old maids), for ladies over 25 and still unmarried. Apparently, there was a girl by the name of Catherine who was executed around the year 307 because she refused to marry a Roman emperor. That began a tradition where girls who hadn't found a husband by the age of 25 were called Catherines
On St. Catherine's Day, it is customary for unmarried women to pray for husbands, and to honour women who've reached 25 years of age but haven't married -- called "Catherinettes" in France. Catherinettes send postcards to each other, and friends of the Catherinettes make hats for them -- traditionally using the colors yellow (faith) and green (wisdom), often outrageous -- and crown them for the day. Pilgrimage is made to St. Catherine's statue, and she is asked to intercede in finding husbands for the unmarried lest they "don St. Catherine's bonnet" and become spinsters. The Catherinettes are supposed to wear the hat all day long, and they are usually feted with a meal among friends. Because of this hat-wearing custom, French milliners have big parades to show off their wares on this day.
The French say that before a girl reaches 25, she prays: "Donnez-moi, Seigneur, un mari de bon lieu! Qu'il soit doux, opulent, libéral et agréable!" (Lord, give me a well-situated husband. Let him be gentle, rich, generous, and pleasant!") After 25, she prays: "Seigneur, un qui soit supportable, ou qui, parmi le monde, au moins puisse passer!" (Lord, one who's bearable, or who can at least pass as bearable in the world!") And when she's pushing 30: "Un tel qu'il te plaira Seigneur, je m'en contente!" ("Send whatever you want, Lord; I'll take it!").
An English version goes,
St Catherine, St Catherine, O lend me thine aid
And grant that I never may die an old maid.
And there is this, a fervent French prayer:
Sainte Catherine, soyez bonne
Nous n'avons plus d'espoir qu'en vous
Vous êtes notre patronne
Ayez pitié de nous
Nous vous implorons à genoux
Aidez-nous à nous marier
Pitié, donnez-nous un époux
Car nous brûlons d'aimer
Daignez écouter la prière
De nos cœurs fortement épris
Oh, vous qui êtes notre mère
Donnez-nous un mari

Saint Catherine be good
We have no hope but you
You are our protector
Have pity on us
We implore you on our knees
Help us to get married
For pity's sake, give us a husband
For we're burning with love
Deign to hear the prayer
Which comes from our overburdened hearts
Oh you who are our mother
Give us a husband

... which is summed up more quickly in this, an English prayer:
A husband, St. Catherine
A handsome one, St. Catherine
A rich one, St. Catherine
A nice one, St. Catherine
And soon, St. Catherine

Paris: Shopping Arcades

Shopping arcades were very fashionable at the beginning of the 19th century, until the advent of electricity and walkways. There are still about 20 of them in Paris, 2 of which can be found on Boulevard Montmartre.

Passage Jouffroy has secondhand bookshops, toy stores and access to Hotel Chopin.
Just across the street is Passage des Panoramas - named after the landscapes painted by the American artist Fulton, which gave visitors the illusion of being in London or Athens (apparently).
The arcade still houses the engraver, Stern and the Arbre à Cannelle tea rooms, with their Napoleon III decor.
The arcades have the air of an oriental bazaar and can still serve as a refuge from bad weather.

Galeries Lafayette - up on the roof.

While on the subject of Galeries Lafayette, this is the view of the Eiffel Tower from the roof of the Galeries with telescope in the foreground.

Paris: Galeries Lafayette

If you visit Paris a visit to Galeries Lafayette is a must - even if you don't buy anything go to see the magnificent central cupola which has a beautiful glass and steel dome, and Art Nouveau staircase built in 1912 by the architect Cahnautin. The store - all 10 stories of it - is classified as an historic monument. Don't forget to pick up your map at the information counter, you'll need it to find where anything is - don't think of browsing, not unless you have a fortnight to spare, it's HUGE! Looks more like a theatre or an opera house.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Paris Metro Station Art.

Assemblée Nationale


Saint Germain des Prés


Cluny la Sorbonne

Stations are often named after a square or a street, which, in turn, is named for something (or someone) else. A number of stations, such as Avron or Vaugirard, are named after Paris neighborhoods (though not necessarily located in them), whose names, in turn, usually go back to former villages or hamlets that have long since been incorporated into the city of Paris.

The use of double names, such as Reuilly - Diderot or Strasbourg — Saint-Denis, often goes back to two (or more) stations on separate lines that were originally named independently and became associated as interchange stations. For example, the station Marcadet - Poissoniers is an interchange station consisting of the original Marcadet on Line 4 and the original Poissonniers on Line 12. In many instances, however, the practice of double naming was extended to other stations, usually because these stations are located at the intersection of streets carrying these names. Examples include Alma - Marceau and Faidherbe - Chaligny.

Many stations have been renamed during the last century. There have been periods of history during which a significant number of stations were renamed. For example, once Germany declared war on France in 1914, it was decided to rename Berlin as Liège and Allemagne (French for "Germany") as Jaurès. The period during which the most stations were renamed was undoubtedly the post-World War II period. To name a few, Marboeuf at the center of the Champs-Elysées was renamed Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1946 and Aubervilliers-Villette was renamed Stalingrad the same year.

The RER-Métro hub at Châtelet - Les Halles is the largest underground subway station in the world.
Benjamin Sutherland
Newsweek International
March 19, 2007 issue - Even in a country that's long prided itself on its trains, the Paris Métro stands out. It's fast, easy to navigate, clean, inexpensive and, with 16 lines serving 297 stations, remarkably dense—leading many transport experts to consider it the world's premier metro. Since the first few lines entered service at the turn of the 20th century, the Métro has grown into a 218-kilometer network that carries 1.36 billion passengers a year. A train sweeps through the 25 stations of Ligne 1, the city's busiest, every 105 seconds. Paris's Métro authority, the RATP, is apparently not satisfied. Last summer it began an ambitious effort to slice 20 seconds off train headway time and increase rolling speed. It plans to do it by automating the entire line—eliminating drivers and replacing them with computers.
RATP officials are convinced that people will get used to the driverless systems. For one thing, they may be safer. Since automated trains always stop at the same spot, the RATP will be able to install high glass façades on platform edges to keep passengers from stumbling or being pushed onto the tracks. The façades will also keep fleeing thieves, graffiti artists and homeless people from entering tunnels, and is expected to reduce suicides: about 60 people throw themselves onto the tracks each year. That was a key point in persuading drivers and their union to accept the renovation project—and help keep Paris in the lead.

Musée de l'Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris.

The Musée de l’Orangerie, re-opened on May 17, 2006 after 6 years of reconstruction. Built originally in 1852 as an orange-tree greenhouse in a corner of the Tuileries garden, l’Orangerie was converted into a museum in 1927 to house Claude Monet’s giant panels “Water Lilies,”

While the Orangerie was being rebuilt Monet's water lily paintings, too large to move, had to remain in place in the oval rooms.

Construction was well under way when the discovery of a 17th-century limestone wall under the museum caused a delay so that new permits had to be obtained and plans altered.

The upper floor has now been removed to let in natural light, and the entry hall has been remodelled to allow direct access to the marquee art. A subterranean gallery was also created with air-conditioning installed to protect the collection, which also includes works by Renoir, Derain, Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso.

Probably one of Renoir's most famous paintings...

Young Girls at the Piano

André Derain's: Portrait de Madame Paul Guillaume au grand chapeau

Paul Guillaume (1891–1934) rose from humble beginnings, to become one of the leading cultural players and art dealer-collectors of Paris in the early twentieth century. Guillaume died at the age of forty-two, by which time he had amassed an outstanding private collection of works by leading modernists. Unlike many art collectors of the time, Guillaume did not come from a wealthy and cultivated background, nor was he only interested in simply supplying works of art for customer demand like other art dealers. He also actively promoted certain aspects of the artistic and cultural life of Paris, providing moral and material support to artists, and interpreting the art of his time for his contemporaries. This approach, while not uncommon today, was innovative at the time and had previously been attempted by only a few courageous dealer-collectors in Paris, such as Paul Durand-Ruel and Ambroise Vollard. Guillaume was celebrated by the artists whom he supported; for instance in Modigliani's portrait the words Novo Pilota, or ‘new helmsman’, identify the sitter as being at the forefront of modern art.

Guillaume's premature death prevented his dream – of transforming his private collection to a museum of modern art – from being realised.

After his death Domenica, his widow and heir, remarried and modified the existing collection, selling some of the more extreme avant-garde works (and later his collection of African art and modern sculpture) and acquiring works of a more conservative character. Domenica's concern to promote harmony among the works in the Guillaume collection made her edited version of the collection all the more typically a capsule of Parisian taste in the 1920s. Before he died, Paul Guillaume had resolved to give his collection to the Louvre. Domenica, a lover of Impressionist art (Monet's Argenteuil 1875 was one of her last acquisitions), sought to intertwine her late husband's philanthropic impulses with her own.

After much negotiation, the French state acquired the collection in two consignments in 1959 and 1963 and housed it in the refurbished Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, which was at the time attached to the Louvre for administrative purposes. The Orangerie now housed not only Monet's major Water Lilies cycle of paintings, but also the magnificent collection bearing the names of Domenica's two husbands, Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume. The collection has been on permanent display since 1984.

Pot tunnel makes road collapse

A cannabis factory was discovered after a nearby road collapsed when drug farmers tunnelled under it to tap into mains electricity, it was revealed on Tuesday.

The tunnel, which had a ventilation system, was used to divert the electricity supply to power the 1,000-plant pot factory in a house in the student area of Headingley, Leeds.

Insp Richard Coldwell, of West Yorkshire Police, said: 'We couldn't believe it – the road had actually begun to collapse as a result of the tunnel from the cellar.'

Bloody students!!

Don't let your blogs cost you a new job

Personal blogs and websites such as MySpace could cost people the job they always wanted.

A fifth of managers in a new survey have admitted "Googling" potential candidates to find out personal information about them.

Of the 600 employers questioned, 25 per cent who used the web search engine to research applicants rejected people because of their "dubious personal information".

As part of the research, one employer said a candidate was rejected because of his online personal revelations about "alcohol abuse and disrespect for his job".

Another was found to be on the local police wanted list.

Oh dear! there goes my job in the new assembly (c:=

Australia posters ruled offensive

Australia's official tourism body has been ordered to take down posters in the UK because they include swearing.
Adverts promoting Australia with the slogan "So where the bloody hell are you?" prompted 32 complaints.

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority ruled the posters were in breach of the industry code and should not be seen by children.

It has told Tourism Australia to take down the posters and not to use swear words in any future advertising.

A spokesman for the industry watchdog said: "We considered that parents were entitled to expect that poster advertising should not appear to endorse or encourage swearing."

Tourism Australia said it had not intended to cause offence over its posters.

A spokesman said the campaign adopted the "irreverent" Australian tone which was aimed at an older audience.

Meanwhile, the ASA has criticised Cadbury for using Caribbean stereotypes in its commercials for Trident chewing gum.

The authority, which received 519 complaints, said the adverts caused "deep offence" to a significant minority of viewers.
BBC News:

Swearing! that's not bloody swearing if they want swearing I can give them bloody swearing. Why don't the 32 freaking idiots who complained wise up and what the f*£k is a significant minority?

But isn't that typical of Blair's Britain though, it doesn't matter what the majority of people think (the majority of people didn't want the Iraq conflict) if a significant minority want something then that's what the rest of us have to accept and suffer the consequences.

More on that historic deal ...

Emergency legislation allowing Northern Ireland's historic power-sharing deal to go ahead has been rushed through Parliament with all-party backing.

NI Secretary Peter Hain hailed the "triumph of peace over conflict" as the deadline for devolution was effectively extended by six weeks.

It follows Monday's ground-breaking deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein to share power in a new Assembly on 8 May.

The NI St Andrews Agreement Act 2007 cleared all its stages without a vote.

It has received Royal Assent.
BBC News:

The DUP MEP Jim Allister has resigned from the party in protest over its decision to enter power-sharing with Sinn Fein.
He said he was leaving the party with immense sadness but that he felt Sinn Fein was "not fit for government".

It comes after a ground-breaking meeting between Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams at Stormont when they agreed to share power on 8 May.

Mr Allister said he would not be giving up his seat as an MEP.

Mr Allister, who previously left the party after a disagreement in the 1980s, was opposed to the DUP executive resolution committing to power-sharing.
BBC News:


Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Matisse: La gerbe

Henri Matisse: gouache paper cut-out
The title of this piece (la gerbe) means the sheaf or the spray but I have found that it can also be translated as puke. Of course we have the slang 'technicolour yawn' for puke ... so which did you think Matisse had in mind (c:= I suppose you could call that a sick joke! groannn!

Coming Soon ... to an Orange Hall near you

I don't trust a doctor who can hardly speak English.
(Quote from The Godfather II)

Northern Ireland: a curious kind of peace

The First Post:
The women at today’s devolution press conference tell the real story,
says Ruth Dudley Edwards

Understanding what's going on in Northern Ireland requires attention to be paid to the small print and the bit players. When - at the press conference with Ian Paisley at which it was announced that devolution would take place on May 8 - Gerry Adams spoke of working for the good of the people of Ireland, he was reminding unionists that he is speaking of the whole island, which he hopes will soon be politically united.

When he throws in phrases in the Irish language, he seeks to annoy Paisley's supporters, who believe it to be nothing more than a cultural weapon.

Just as deliberately, Adams chose a southern politician to sit beside him. Mary Lou McDonald has nothing to do with Northern Ireland: a member of the European parliament for the Irish Republic, she hopes after the forthcoming general election to have a seat in the Dail, the national parliament.

For his part, when Ian Paisley promised to work for the good of all the people of Northern Ireland, he was pointing out to nationalists that after decades of violence, they remain under British rule and that a united Ireland is a pipe dream.

That he had Arlene Foster sitting just behind him was not just to show that his party too can field a young, attractive woman, but to make it clear to Sinn Fein that they will not be allowed to forget the violence of their past.

Foster, who was brought up in a part of County Fermanagh where local protestants were assassinated by the IRA with grim regularity, is eloquent, tough and unforgiving.

These two parties loathe each other and have no intention of working together constructively: they will however find a way of divvying up the spoils of office and entrenching their stranglehold over their respective tribes. It is a curious kind of


Fireman faces punishment for risking his life in rescue

A fireman is facing disciplinary action after plunging into a river to rescue a drowning woman.

Tam Brown, 42, is the subject of an internal investigation by Tayside Fire and Rescue because he breached safety rules during the rescue in the River Tay in Perth.

He spent eight minutes in the cold water and at one stage feared that he would be swept to his death. But after dragging the 20-year-old woman to safety he was told by his employer that he had acted improperly by risking his life.

Mr Brown said: “We had seconds to act. The girl was losing consciousness. We had one harness, so I put that on and went down 20ft on a safety line, grabbed her and held her out of the water. My colleagues tried to pull us towards steps, but the current was so bad and the rope was pulled so hard it snapped.

The brigade’s rules state: “Personnel should not enter the water.” The fire crew should instead have tried to haul the woman out using poles and ropes.

Stephen Hunter, chief fire officer of Tayside Fire and Rescue, admitted that fire engines in Perth were not equipped with the correct poles and ropes, but insisted that Mr Brown had broken the rules.

He said: “Firefighter safety is of paramount importance to us. Although our duties include rescues from flooding, there is no statutory obligation to carry out rescues from moving water.

“We know they broke procedure because we know he went into the water. We are investigating exactly what happened, and once that is concluded we will consider what action is necessary. That could include disciplinary action.”

Steve Hill, chairman of the Perth branch of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “Not one senior officer has congratulated Tam or the other officers who attended that night. They should be elated they saved a life but are traumatised that they face disiplinary action instead.”

He added: “Contradicting an order can lead to dismissal. If Tam hadn’t gone in, the public might have tried to save her and we could have ended up with several dead.”

Thank heavens there is somebody who can see sense and not stick to what the rule books say. In my opinion Stephen Hunter is the person who should be disciplined, especially since he did not ensure that fire engines were equipped with the correct poles and ropes. Here we have someone who did not do his job properly and is trying to shift blame on to someone else.

Simple pleasures in Paris.

Anybody wishing to sail a model yacht on the ornamental boating lake in the Tuileries can hire one by the half hour from this gentleman. The poles are provided to fetch them back. I am not sure when this pastime was first started but I believe that Parisian boys have been indulging in this simple pleasure for generations. Jardin du Luxembourg also offers the same service.

Parisian Mounties.

Apparently it is illegal to photograph policemen or police cars in France (even if they are just in the background) - in that case I am in deep doodoo! These three mounted gentlemen were in the Cour Carrée of the Louvre.

Paris Vouille, Bureau de Poste

Came across this Bureau de Poste near our hotel and I just love the way it has been done. Although it looks like a piece of modern art I think it is meant to represent one of those pre-paid boxes along with date stamp which shows the address of the post office including the arrondissement (district). I presume the date is when the office officially opened for business.

Ribena has 'almost no vitamin C'

It's advertised as the drink that gives you a healthy dose of Vitamin C.

But the makers of Ribena are reportedly facing a £1 million fine after two schoolgirls found it contained almost none.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is accused of misleading advertising in New Zealand after Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo, both 14, made the discovery.

The pair tested the children's drink against advertising claims that 'the blackcurrants in Ribena have four times the vitamin C of oranges' in 2004.

Instead, the two found the syrup-based drink contained almost no trace of vitamin C, and one commercial orange juice brand contained almost four times more than Ribena.

'We thought we were doing it wrong, we thought we must have made a mistake,' said Devathasan, now aged 17.

Ribena, first made in the 1930s and distributed to British children during World War Two, is now sold in 22 countries.

GSK paid little attention to the claims of Devathasan and Suo until their complaints reached the Commerce Commission and have now ended up in court.

It now faces 15 charges related to misleading advertising in an Auckland court.

Photographs of Suzanne Held

You may remember me posting some photos of an open air photographic exhibition in Tours last August - well here is another but this one was held outside the St. Sulpice Church, Paris.

(... and no it is not a Rose Line and there is no such thing as the Priory of Sion)

Roof fall dancer tenant sues
A tenant is suing her landlords after falling through a skylight while dancing on the roof.

Anna Mayers was celebrating her 24th birthday party at the flat she rented with university friends when the near-fatal accident happened.

Although she has recovered from severe head injuries, she is seeking damages from Piyush and Naginbhai Patel, of Hendon, North-West London.

Mrs Mayers, now 29, used a window to get on to the roof of a garage attached to her flat in Islington in February 2002, the High Court in London heard.

She and friends had gone out to dance but she stepped backwards on to the glass skylight, falling through it.

The garage was not part of the property she was renting. The outcome of the hearing could affect the warnings landlords have to give their tenants about dangers in and around their properties.

SO .... apart from trespass there is also criminal damage and she has the nerve to sue the landlords.

Monday, 26 March 2007

She's a model #2

Some of you may remember my earlier post 'She's a model and she's looking good' well here is the Paris version. Standing in the window of one of the Chanel shops this mannequin, unlike her Belfast counterpart, has not lost her head. Strange really when you consider what Paris was once infamous for (c:

Not The Paris Daily Photo: Sacré-Coeur

Sacré-Coeur and the hill of Montmartre as seen from Musée d'Orsay
After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, it was proposed to construct a church to the Sacred Heart on the butte Montmartre. Although originally the fund raising was by public subscription, in 1873, the National Assembly declared its construction to be a state undertaking. Of the 78 entries in the competition for its design, the one chosen was by the architect named Abadie. He was already well known for his restoration of the St-Front Cathedral in Périgueux.

The plans for the new basilica called for an edifice of Romano-Byzantine style, and the first stone was laid in 1875. Abadie himself died in 1884 with only the foundation having been completed.
Completed in 1914, it was not consecrated until 1919 after World War I had ended. The final cost was 40 million francs.

The interior of the church contains one of the worlds largest mosaics, and depicts Christ with outstretched arms. The nearby bell tower contains the "Savoyarde''. Cast in Annecy in 1895, it is one of the worlds heaviest at 19 tons.

Paris Photos: a visit to Musée d'Orsay

Main Hall, Musée d'Orsay
(click for virtual visit)
The museum building was originally a railway station, Gare d'Orsay, constructed for the Chemin de Fer de Paris à Orléans and finished in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle to the design of three architects: Lucien Magne, Émile Bénard and Victor Laloux. It was the terminus for the railways of southwestern France until 1939.
By 1939 the station's short platforms had become unsuitable for the longer trains that had come to be used for mainline services. After 1939 it was used for suburban services and part of it became a mailing center during World War II. The station's hotel closed on 1 January 1973.
In 1977 the French Government decided to convert the station to a museum and it was opened by President François Mitterrand on 1 December 1986.

La Méditerranée: Aristide Maillol

L'ile de France: Aristide Maillol

Maillol was born in Banyuls-sur-Mer, Roussillon. He decided at an early age to become a painter, and moved to Paris in 1881 to study art. After several applications, his enrollment in the École des Beaux-Arts was accepted in 1885, and he studied there under Jean-Léon Gérôme and Alexandre Cabanel. His early paintings show the influence of his contemporaries Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Paul Gauguin.

The subject of nearly all of Maillol's mature work is the female body, treated with a classical emphasis on stable forms. The figurative style of his large bronzes is perceived as an important precursor to the greater simplifications of Henry Moore and Alberto Giacometti, and his serene classicism set a standard for European (and American) figure sculpture until the end of World War II.

This life-sized portrait is striking for its deliberate lack of depth. The young woman, her profile sharply cut out with a vigorous, supple line, is standing in front of a seascape. Her studied pose gives her a stiff look, despite the artificially floating ribbons of her dress. The disparity between the figure and the background clearly shows that the portrait was painted in the studio. It has been added to a simplified landscape, treated as bands of colour. Far from producing the outdoor sensations that the Impressionists strove for, Maillol has painted a motionless figure in a classical, decorative manner. The figure seen from the side against a flat background suggests a tapestry, an art in which Maillol also excelled.The pale, contrasting colours contribute to the sense of harmony that emanates from the picture. The symbolic nature of this large, still figure by the sea is nonetheless attenuated by the painstaking description of the face and the care taken over certain details of her clothing, such as the gloves, parasol and hat. Midway between an allegory and a faithful portrait, Woman with a Parasol is regarded as the masterpiece of Maillol's career as a painter.

Ernest Barrias: Nature Unveiling Herself to Science.

The statue was commissioned in 1889 to decorate the new medical school in Bordeaux. A young woman, the allegory of nature, is slowly lifting the veils she is wrapped in. When he had finished the first version in white marble for the school, Barrias designed a second statue in polychrome, for the ceremonial staircase of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, in Paris. He used marble and onyx from the newly reopened quarries in Algeria.

Carefully carved to enhance the decorative qualities of the materials, the various parts of the statue play on the veins in the ribboned onyx for the veil, the mottled effect of the red marble for the robe, the preciousness of lapis lazuli for the eyes and malachite for the scarab and coral for the mouth and lips. The overall effect is surprisingly rich.

The work belongs to a major revival of polychrome sculpture launched by archaeological discoveries and illustrated fifty years earlier by Cordier. The statue was very popular and many copies were made.

Schoolchildren learning about Paul Signac's Women at the Well.

In 1892, Signac decided to leave Paris for Saint-Tropez where he was to spend six months a year until 1913. After making several small-format paintings of the harbour in Saint-Tropez during the summer 1892, Signac, the following year, set about a large composition, Le Temps d'Harmonie, an allegory of the ideal society and an illustration of happy life. In one of his first sketches for this painting, one can see two women busy drawing water from a well. Signac decided to isolate these two characters and to devote a painting to them. All the elements of the landscape in which he set the scene really exist in Saint-Tropez : the hill with the citadel at the top, the sea and the jetty of the harbour, the Maures hill and the Estérel foothills, but the painter synthesised them at his will, creating a new landscape on the canvas after several drawings and preparatory studies.

For me the Musée d'Orsay is the museum to visit in Paris (forget the Louvre) followed closely by Musée Maillol. The d'Orsay has paintings by many of my favourite impressionist painters along with a fantastic collection of Sculpture, Decorative arts, Photography, Graphic arts and Architecture. If you haven't visited the museum then follow the link above to the official web site, where you can see many of the items on show along with background information.

Naked woman in Jardin du Luxembourg

A statue in Jardin du Luxembourg commemorating Auguste Scheurer-Kestner.
July 21st 2006 saw the 100th anniversary of the end of one of the more astounding legal episodes in modern history, the Dreyfus Affair. French President Jacques Chirac marked the occasion on July 12 by giving a speech honoring Alfred Dreyfus, a French artillery captain convicted of treason in 1894. July 12, 1906, was the date on which the Supreme Court of Appeal reversed Dreyfus's conviction and finally proclaimed him innocent; on July 21, in recognition of all he had been through, Dreyfus was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in a ceremony held at the Ecole Militaire. In response to cheers of "Vive Dreyfus!", Dreyfus famously responded, "No, gentlemen, I beg of you. Vive la France!"

The Dreyfus Affair is a story about an egregious abuse of the legal system, driven primarily by a powerful current of French antisemitism and by a desire to shield the French military from its own mistakes. It involves procedurally flawed court-martials, secret evidence, conspiracies, theft of government secrets, deportation to a brutal island prison, leaks to the press, leak prosecutions, riots by antisemitic mobs, and a cover-up and whitewash perpetrated at the highest levels of the French military.

The affair began when French intelligence officers intercepted an unsigned letter to a German military attaché giving away military secrets. Based on unfounded suspicions, his Jewish ancestry, and a ludicrously lax handwriting comparison, Dreyfus was court-martialed for treason. The court-martial was closed to the public and the evidence used against Dreyfus was classified. To firm up the weak case against Dreyfus, the judges were presented with a secret document the existence of which was not even revealed to Dreyfus's defense counsel. On the basis of the secret evidence, Dreyfus was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment at the penal colony at Devil's Island in French Guiana. He was first forced to undergo public humiliation in the courtyard of the Ecole Militaire by having his insignia stripped from his uniform in a "degradation" ceremony. An antisemitic crowd of around 20,000, whose antagonism had been whipped up by the press, was there to jeer at him.

Dreyfus's family urged his innocence at every opportunity, but they were stymied. In 1896, a second letter was intercepted, this one specifically naming Infantry Major Ferdinand Walsin-Esterhazy as the spy. The new chief intelligence officer, Lt. Col. Georges Picquart, immediately re-examined the Dreyfus file and became convinced Dreyfus was wrongly convicted and that Esterhazy was guilty. His attempts to get the General Staff to reopen the case, however, were met with resistance. Instead, the existence of the secret file against Dreyfus was leaked to the press in an effort to cinch Dreyfus's guilt, and a newly forged document specifically naming Dreyfus as the guilty party was also leaked. Picquart was soon transferred to Tunisia, but while on leave engaged in leaks of his own: he confided the information about Esterhazy to a civilian friend, who in turn provided it in confidence to Vice-President of the Senate Auguste Scheurer-Kestner. But Scheurer-Kestner was unable to make any headway in uncovering further evidence.
The civilian friend Leblois, who had met Scheurer-Kestner at dinner one evening, conceived the idea of having recourse to him as the medium by which to save Dreyfus and, through Dreyfus, Picquart. Going to Scheurer-Kestner's house, Leblois told all he knew, and showed him Gonse's letters. Scheurer-Kestner was finally convinced, and swore to devote himself to the defense of the innocent (July 13, 1897). But he was much puzzled as to what course to pursue. Leblois had forbidden him to mention Picquart's name, and Picquart had forbidden that the Dreyfus family should be told. In this perplexity, born of the initial mistake of Picquart, Scheurer-Kestner pursued the most unlucky tactics imaginable; instead of quietly gathering together all his documents and uniting his forces with those of Matthew Dreyfus, he allowed the rumor of his convictions to be spread abroad, and thus put the Staff Office on the alert, giving them time to prepare themselves, and allowed the hostile press to bring discredit upon him and to weaken beforehand by premature and mutilated revelations the force of his arguments. Wikipedia:

At a meeting, General Billot, the Minister of War, General Gonse, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Major Joseph-Hubert Henry, the forger of the new evidence against Dreyfus, and Dreyfus's biased prosecutor, Commandant Armand du Paty de Clam, decided to warn Esterhazy, the spy, of the suspicions against him so that he could act more discreetly in the future. Indeed, after Esterhazy met with his German handler one more time, he met with du Paty de Clam, who promised him protection. Not long after, however, Esterhazy's banker recognized his handwriting on a copy of the original 1894 letter to the German attaché, which Dreyfus's family had circulated. Scheurer-Kestner publicly declared Dreyfus innocent, and Dreyfus's brother filed suit against Esterhazy. Responding to the charge, the military conducted a hasty court-martial against Esterhazy, again in closed session, and he was promptly acquitted. Instead, Lt. Col. Picquart was arrested and jailed for passing secret military information to civilians. More:

Paris Photo Day 2

Here's a poster I saw in Paris and couldn't resist photographing - for those of you who haven't spotted it straight away, think of a very famous album cover. Clever, n'est ce pas?

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Who needs Paris Daily Photo?

As my very good friend, MLL, correctly guessed - I have just spent a week savouring the sights and delights of Paris. The photo above was taken on the way from Jardin du Luxembourg to Notre Dame and as you can see the weather was so good that some people were putting the parapets of the steps to one of the Quais to good use.

... and this was the scene earlier in Jardin du Luxembourg as Parisians took advantage of the spring sunshine and took some time out to relax. I just love the fact that you can find seats in the parks in Paris - no sitting about on damp grass.

Destination: Notre Dame - well .... after browsing through the book and art stalls along the Quai. I found a new, unwrapped DVD of Edith Piaf (see below) at a bargain price with 18 of her classic songs (including l'Accordéoniste, la Vie en Rose, Hymne á l'Amour, Non, Je ne regrette rien) - superb stuff --- worth every penny!!! I can't wait to see the new film of her life but don't understand why we have to wait until June??? C'est la vie! I must say I am really pleased about this photo, because of the light: as you can see the stalls are dark (because of the shadow of the nearby buildings) while Notre Dame is light coloured because it is receiving the full glare of the sunshine (really like to rub that bit in about the sunshine because I know the weather back here in N.I. wasn't so hot).

Paris Daily Who?

Of course we had to stop by the Louvre (if only for a pic) - you know, I still haven't set foot inside that museum. oc:=
... and then back to a small bar near our hotel in Montparnasse for a pre-dinner aperitif.

Police email boob


Police chiefs in Australia are investigating after a photograph of a policewoman's breasts was circulated by email.

Why do women keep doing this? .. and why do they not cc: to me? perhaps I should publish my email address? ( will reach me - all contributions gratefully received) (c:=

"The ethical standards department has been notified.

"They are aware of the incident, which involved the circulation of a photograph, and they are examining it to see if an offence has been committed."

I bet they are !!!!! Can't you just see the scenario ....

1st Police Officer: G’day Bruce. Cop a look at this mate.
2nd Police Officer: ‘S truth Bruce, what have you got there?
1st Police Officer: Dunno, Bruce. Looks like it might be a picture of some Sheila’s bloody tits.
2nd Police Officer: Bloody tits? Do you think she was bloody stabbed?
1st Police Officer: Naw, Bruce – I mean it might be a picture of some bloody Sheila’s tits.
2nd Police Officer: So you don’t think there has been a bloody crime?
1st Police Officer: I didn’t bloody say that – we shall have to bloody investigate.
2nd Police Officer: Good bloody idea, Bruce. Why don’t you print it off on that bloody high res printer so we can have a bloody good gawp.

4 Hours later:
2nd Police Officer: You know Bruce, I think you might be bloody right.

Lie group E8

Solved after 120 years!
A team of maths experts has cracked a 120-year puzzle - even though many boffins do not even understand what it's all about.

I don't understand why they bothered!
If they don't understand what it's all about - how do they know they have solved it? perhaps there is a clue in the title of the project??

Dumb criminals (cont.)

An Austrian handbag snatcher was shocked to find himself being chased by 27 police patrol cars and police using sniffer dogs.

The 17-year-old had grabbed a pensioner's bag outside a field where local police were staging a road safety day.


Hysterical laughter !!!!

Saturday, 24 March 2007


Robert Doisneau: L'Accordéoniste, rue Mouffetard 1951

Edith Piaf, L'accordéoniste
Paroles et Musique: Michel Emer
© 1942 Editions SEMI

La fille de joie est belle
Au coin de la rue Labas
Elle a une clientèle
Qui lui remplit son bas
Quand son boulot s'achève
Elle s'en va à son tour
Chercher un peu de rêve
Dans un bal du faubourg
Son homme est un artiste
C'est un drôle de petit gars
Un accordéoniste
Qui sait jouer la java

Elle écoute la java
Mais elle ne la danse pas
Elle ne regarde même pas la piste
Et ses yeux amoureux
Suivent le jeu nerveux
Et les doigts secs et longs de l'artiste
Ça lui rentre dans la peau
Par le bas, par le haut
Elle a envie de chanter
C'est physique
Tout son être est tendu
Son souffle est suspendu
C'est une vraie tordue de la musique

La fille de joie est triste
Au coin de la rue Labas
Son accordéoniste
Il est parti soldat
Quand y reviendra de la guerre
Ils prendront une maison
Elle sera la caissière
Et lui, sera le patron
Que la vie sera belle
Ils seront de vrais pachas
Et tous les soirs pour elle
Il jouera la java

Elle écoute la java
Qu'elle fredonne tout bas
Elle revoit son accordéoniste
Et ses yeux amoureux
Suivent le jeu nerveux
Et les doigts secs et longs de l'artiste
Ça lui rentre dans la peau
Par le bas, par le haut
Elle a envie de chanter
C'est physique
Tout son être est tendu
Son souffle est suspendu
C'est une vraie tordue de la musique

La fille de joie est seule
Au coin de la rue Labas
Les filles qui font la gueule
Les hommes n'en veulent pas
Et tant pis si elle crève
Son homme ne reviendra plus
Adieux tous les beaux rêves
Sa vie, elle est foutue
Pourtant ses jambes tristes
L'emmènent au boui-boui
Où y a un autre artiste
Qui joue toute la nuit

Elle écoute la java
...... elle entend la java
... elle a fermé les yeux
... et les doigts secs et nerveux
...Ça lui rentre dans la peau
Par le bas, par le haut
Elle a envie de gueuler
C'est physique
Alors pour oublier
Elle s'est mise à danser, à tourner
Au son de la musique...

Arrêtez la musique ! ...

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Dumb criminals.

A quick-thinking French tourist outwitted a Dutch thief after the thief tried to take the man's bag, according to police in Amsterdam, yesterday.
The 27-year-old tourist snatched his sports bag out of the hands of the thief and ran into a nearby police station, with the thief frantically chasing behind.
Police spokeswoman Wilma Verheij said the thief 'realised too late that he had run straight into the long arm of the law'.
Once the 28-year-old thief realised where he was, he tried to run away from the police station, but the man, who hasn't been named, was quickly captured and arrested.


A dim-witted German burglar tried to pry a lock using a credit card, which subsequently snapped in two, leaving half the card that featured his name and account details, for police to recover.
The 29-year-old man tried to open the door to his neighbour's flat in Moenchengladbach, western Germany, police revealed.
A police spokesman said: 'He tried to copy what he'd seen them do on television, but the flat owner woke up and the criminal ran away. The victim called up and read us the details off the card.' He continued: 'When we got round to the burglar's house, the other half of his credit card was sitting on his kitchen table.'

A man gave police a false name, not realising that the name he provided belonged to a wanted criminal.
Vincent Lloyd Massey was in the passenger seat of a car that was pulled over by police in Annapolis, Maryland.
The officers discovered that the driver had a suspended licence. He was taken into custody by the police, which left Mr Massey, 48, to drive the car away.
However, when the officers asked to see his licence, Mr Massey said that he'd left his details at home, but offered his name, address and date of birth.
The police checked the details and moments later were told that they had a man with several criminal warrants, including some from the US Marshall's Service.
Realising that they had a wanted criminal on their hands, who had charges involving drugs and counterfeiting, the officers called for immediate back-up, obtained a warrant and arrested Mr Massey.
Once he was in custody, Mr Massey revealed that he'd lied about his identity and showed officers some identification. Police later confirmed that Mr Massey wasn't the wanted criminal.
However, he didn't get away with just a caution; he ended up being charged with giving a false statement to police.

Pic of the day

... don't you just love the young lad at bottom left (c:

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