Posts from the “Uncategorized” Category

Emmanuel Macron

Posted on September 8th, 2017

Emmanuel Macron is sinking in the polls. His approval rating has fallen to 30%, down from 36% last month and 43% in late June. President Trump is more popular among Americans at 37%. Macron was elected because many French were tired of polarised right and left politics. The right-wing Les Republicains are mired in corruption and very dependent on the old trope “we manage the economy better than the left”, code for making the rich richer and the poor poorer. On the left, Le Parti socialiste was delivering inertia on a grand scale under President Hollande who mistook power for leadership. And so Macron became the saviour of France on a promise of bringing the country together. But France remains stubbornly divided and Macron is becoming the…

A bridge in Paris

Posted on August 27th, 2017

It was 1961 and tensions were running high in Paris. Over the previous four decades France had welcomed Algerian workers to replace Frenchmen killed in the First World War, a process repeated after WWII. By the time the Algerian War of Independence began in 1954, more than 200,000 Algerians had already arrived, with many settling in Marseille and the 18th Arrondissement of Paris. In 1961 the violence of the war spread to the French mainland where several police were murdered and a Strasbourg to Paris express train was blown up killing 28. As the situation became increasingly volatile many French decided these immigrants were no longer welcome. Maurice Papon was the tough and uncompromising Police Prefect for Paris, who had served in Algeria and…

Marriage equality

Posted on August 26th, 2017

In France, same sex marriage has been legal since May 2013.  There have been 40,000 gay marriages and despite religious prophesy, the sky hasn’t fallen. More than twenty civilised countries now have marriage equality, so it’s sad to watch the equivocation of Australia’s right-wing government. First they refused to allow a conscience vote in parliament, knowing that some government members would vote yes. Under pressure from Christian hard-liners, their next ploy was to promise a plebiscite, to delay and possibly postpone a decision indefinitely. In the uproar that followed, the government shifted to a non-binding postal survey costing over $150 million. This latest ruse has begun to backfire badly. Younger voters typically vote left and favour marriage equality. To be eligible to join the…

Plagiarism in Aix

Posted on August 26th, 2017

The Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence has an excellent and varied collection of busts, cubist art, sculpture and paintings by Cézanne, Monet, van Gogh and Picasso. Among the collection are two almost identical works juxtaposed for comparison. On the left above is Le Baiser de la Muse, painted by Félix Frillié in 1857 while on the right is Le Baiser de la Muse, painted by Paul Cézanne three years later. It is the Cézanne version that receives all the publicity. More pictures of the exhibits can be seen: HERE    

Hunting again

Posted on August 25th, 2017

The hunting season has begun again, just for sanglier (wild boar) at the moment, but it will gradually open for other species soon. It is relatively quiet today but this is August, when all of France is on holiday. We expect the woods and fields to become hazardous from early September. Last season 143 hunting accidents were reported across France, including eighteen deaths. Three of those deaths occurred while hunting small game, mainly rabbits, pheasants, partridge, hare, thrush and other small birds. The highest number of deaths, fifteen last season, was during large game hunting for deer and sanglier, of which there are plenty near us. Local sanglier hunters employ chasse d’attente, where several guns lie in wait for sanglier to be driven towards them by large hunting dogs.…

Twins

Posted on August 23rd, 2017

In a small corner of the Marais in Paris there is a memorial to the Zajdner Family. Fifteen year-old twins Bernard and Simon Zajdner were deported to Auschwitz in May 1944, along with their father, mother, brother and sister Micheline. The twins were victims of the experiments of Josef Mengele. Only Micheline and her mother survived. “My name is Simon Zajdner. I am fifteen. I am five foot six inches tall.” That’s what I had to write, as soon as I came to the zoo. Currently I am lying on the bed of my bunk, shared with two other Jewish children. One of them is my twin, Bernard. I came here with him, on the trains. I was being held closely by my mother-…

Cannonball

Posted on August 23rd, 2017

The Hotel de Sens in the 4eme arrondissement is one Paris’ few remaining medieval civil buildings. It was built by the Archbishop of Sens, Tristan de Salazar, between 1475 and 1519. The archbishops departed the building in 1622, after which it was rented out until the revolution, when it was seized as a national asset and sold privately. The Hotel was finally repurchased in 1911 by the City of Paris, which commenced restoration lasting 32 years. It is now a library of decorative arts. The building has one remarkable feature. In July 1830 there was a three day citizens insurrection against King Charles X. The revolutionaries surrounded the Hotel de Ville district, building barricades and firing cannons into the old city. One of those…

Like father, like son?

Posted on June 12th, 2017

On 22nd August 1962, on a road outside Paris, twelve OAS paramilitaries attempted to assassinate President de Gaulle. The Citroen DS19 carrying the president and his wife was hit by twenty bullets, but both occupants escaped. The attackers were disgruntled French-Algerian partisans seeking to prevent Algerian independence. De Gaulle became their target after he condemned and halted a generals coup in Algiers in April 1961. The would-be assassins were led by Lieutenant Colonel Bastien-Thiry and his second in command, Lieutenant Alain de La Tocnaye. Bastien-Thiry was subsequently found guilty and became the last person in France to be shot by firing squad. De La Tocnaye was also sentenced to death but released after only five years in prison, dying in Cavaillon in January 2009.…

Left, right, left, right, onwards!

Posted on May 8th, 2017

Emmanuel Macron was victorious in the French Presidentielles last night by a margin of 2:1 over far right candidate Marine Le Pen. My department of the Vaucluse voted 53.5% for Macron, but he won 71.4% of the votes in our commune of Lacoste. It was welcome news in the face of gains by the extreme right represented elsewhere by Donald Trump, Theresa May, Malcolm Turnbull and the appalling Binyamin Netanyahu. If you don’t think they are extremists then take a closer look at their policies on refugees, healthcare, privatisation, the environment and taxation. And pay special attention to who supports them, who benefits, where the money comes from and the influence of the religious right. It has been fun reading the right-wing British Brexit…