Three Pictures from Delft

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Sleep is a many splendoured thing.  And I haven’t had my usual quotient since arriving in Holland. I am too vain to show you my mozzie bites, but I can confirm that the Dutch mozzie is no amateur. Because of this we’ve had a bit of a theme to our outings – yesterday we tried to get a citronelle thingy like the one I have at home, to no avail. Got a blue light thing which I think distracts flies, but it has zero impact on mozzies. Today’s outing secured us a net, so although I probably have about 20 bites to keep me awake the buzzing noise shouldn’t be quite so close to my face (where I have about 4 bites round my eye) and I shouldn’t be collecting any more.

nap time

Delft is, of course, canal rich. But living where I do it’s more just ‘nice’ than ‘oh wow’. I do like the way that the buildings and roads run alongside the canals though, in a way that we don’t have on the Tottenham Riviera with our towpath. More urban, but also very picturesque.

This morning I was pretty dozy after my second night of the mozzy, and Roland wasn’t all about rushing to get our busy on, so we had brunch out, which was a cunningly created pancake – big and thin in the European style, but with bacon and apple embedded in it and maple syrup and butter to pour and spread, so not insubstantial. A good middle ground between the crepe and the American stack.

nom time

When I first arrived there was a custom painted bike outside my brother’s flat, done in the Delft pottery style. I am SORRY I failed to take a picture, I can only claim deathly tiredness from my long ass journey. Today we went to the edge of town to get me a mosquito net, and on the way I saw a scooter called la souris (French for mouse) and I told Roland how I’d ‘prepared’ for my Paris trip by watching Eddie Izzard, and how Terri didn’t believe me when I kept overhearing people talking about mice. On the way back from the place we got the mosquito net from we went via the Delft pottery. I bought a couple of tiny things for the parental units and a tiny owl which I have hidden for R’s girlfriend, Lisa. I was wanting SOMETHING for MYSELF. Nothing really spoke to me, since I pretty actively don’t collect anything and don’t have knick knacks or ornaments or even jewellery. However, I spotted this and exclaimed “LA SOURIS!” We discussed it and decided it was a cheese board. The lady at the check out said it was a mouse mat, but what does she know?

cheese time

I’m going to get this published and be damned, now, because I am too tired not to. Roland is making a pasta, we will hang the net, and I will doubtless drop dead of exhaustion.

See you in the afterlife. I’ll be the one covered in red lumps and worrying pustules.

Paris is a Trip

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I am back from la France. It was brilliant. There was cake and cheese and shoes and bees. We met la Messy Nessy Chic and we gained muscle mass on the hills. Everything with ‘Mont’ in the name? That’s going to be a hill, it turns out. And hills go up as well as down. It’s good though, because it made me feel like I was burning off the cake, and also it helps with getting your bearings.

i forgot to mention – i have spidey skills

Before we went, Terri said “How do you feel about Montmartre?” How could I feel anything about it since I had no idea what it was going to be like? Well, it turns out to be very pretty, pretty central, and she got it for a deal, which was good, because although it’s not the MOST expensive neighbourhood it would have been no deal at full price, probably.

I knew about the trip in plenty of time to brush up on a few words, so I had some books beside my bed which lay unopened while I watched Eddie Izzard instead. His advice, to take a monkey, a mouse, a cat, and a chair with you so that you can work them into the conversation at the hotel was spot on, I simply can’t fault him.

One of the language moments I had was when Terri was reading out the rules of the hotel for me – and I mistook drink for fish. I had a fairly surreal moment wondering why anyone would need hot fish bringing to their room, and thinking well, if they are going to all that trouble offering hot fish, perhaps it would be rude not to order some? before realizing it was boisson not poisson she was talking about. Easy mistake to make.

warning – bees. bees, that is, with swords.

I’d been delegated to make the Eurostar bookings but there were questions and time passed and there was an air strike… as I watched the cheaper seats disappear I had to make le decision executive and make an effing booking already. So, by this time we could have stupid early or quite late, and I went for stupid early. I was quite worried about it because if they didn’t let us in our room early we were going to be knackered and snappy and hanging around, but happily the room was ready so we had a little lie down and then a sort of bonus walkabout in Montmartre. Imagine if there was a pretty hillside with a fancy building on top next to Kings X? It would not only be nice, but also handy for orientation.

tezzer dans l’atelier

The reason I could afford to go, and indeed Terri herself, was that she’d got a grant from her University to put together a proposal for a kind of cool hunting image pool for her students. We went to la Goutte D’Or and she took some shots which I can’t show you yet, but there was one of a woman in a knock off Burberry jumpsuit which was horrible and fabulous at the same time. Because this is a kind of rough neighbourhood it was tricky to get shots even with a phone, so I didn’t take any with my camera, but as we were leaving the area we found this street which had been given over to designer/makers and we went off on a totally other tangent, also useful for her college purposes. We found these people reviving the art of bespoke shoe making in l’atelier Maurice Arnoult – which was a cool story because it had apparently been quite a macho trade, and the last surviving practitioners decided they wanted to revive the trade and teach women, so that’s what they did. The oldest of them is over 100 years old and is now seeing the dream come into fruition. The only near equivalent we have in the UK is Cordwainers which was taken over by London College of Fashion in 2000. At Cordwainers you can learn how to design and make – but here in Paris you do it from scratch for the individual client. A cost price only, without labour, pair of shoes from the college starts from 800 euros.

yeah, that receipt is for a video not for anything remotely going towards having a shoe made

shoe lasts

The next day we went off to meet Nessy. She’d arranged to meet us in a Cafe in a fancy part of town, and because of Metro connections and probable walking distances we set off early and went to a further away stop, which involved fewer changes, and walked. This was the horror part of the trip. The area around the Champs-Élysées is like, say you were walking down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace and then times the whole thing by a kaleidoscope. It was blastingly hot, with little shade, and although there is some green space it’s mainly all massive colonial buildings with statues covered in gold leaf reflecting off the sun and burning your retinas. In Paris people drive pretty fast, and there are also a lot of motor bikes and I saw something which made my otherwise happy heart shrink like a raisin. Among the traffic on what was, and I am not exaggerating, a six lane highway, was a horse pulling a trap. It’s not an uncommon tourist thing but it was super shocking to see this poor horse in the middle of all this really hideous fast noisy traffic. Terri tells me that even the Central Park are being wound down.

GOOD.

Anyway, after we had escaped the cruelty and statuary, we hit the Seine and found the cafe. We went via Avenue Montaigne which is where all the full size stores for Prada and the like are lined up. If you have ever been to Bond Street forget it, because those are ‘fun sized’ stores by comparison to these monsters. We were still hungry and a bit worried about how much it was going to cost us to eat in this neighbourhood, and when we got to the Savy I was totally afraid to buy food there, but happily there was a cheap and quite good place next door, so we could stuff our faces before we went to sip coffee and be urbane. On consideration I wished I’d left room for cake, though, because once I had got over my fears I started to like the Savy a lot, and I suspect they do good deserts.

bloody glum lion

I saw this lion just after I had seen the sad horse. I felt his pain.

It was so bloody hot out there, and then, naturally, just as we left Vanessa to head for the Metro it utterly pissed down. As I entered the Metro totally soaked to an audience of dry Parisians waiting for the hell to stop a man asked me “Il pleut?” Which was very bloody funny of him. (It was, quite).

cake

Here are some cakes, they come earlier in the story, but I wanted to put them beside the picture of cheese.

cheese and meat

Terri asked Vanessa where she would eat on her last night in Paris, and rather than guide us towards some insanely posh place, or even somewhere French, she told us to go to a little (tiny) Italian on rue Lamarck which was conveniently located on the street we were actually staying on (and anyone who knows my sleeping hours will realize this was what meant it could actually happen) called Babalou. This was the entree we shared before eating so much that I could not manage a desert, not even a tiny one.

kitteh

Enfin although I have more photos, here is a little kitty eyeing me from across the way from our room. I also saw a very fit half naked man a few times, but refrained from photographing him. All the windows in Paris seem to be FRENCH WINDOWS which is a kind of window I approve of wholeheartedly and wish I had throughout my flat. We had ours wide open throughout our stay and were treated to many noises. But they were French noises, so that’s okay.

As well as being stuffed with kitties, there are also LOTS of dogs in Paris, and most of them walk off leash. This is now illegal in the UK, but it has been a long time since most dogs even knew how.

Now that I am back from the France since one day, I am minded to share with you this Armstrong and Miller sketch.

And even more enfin I seem to have put my hand up to be in the third Have a Word in Brighton in August.

nic collins’ lovely graphic for ‘Have a Word”

Illumination, Amusement and a Connection between Depression and the Immune System

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The British Library Digital Catalogue Of Illuminated Manuscripts is now open for business. Interface is a little stark, so here’s their human friendly introduction to the archive.

just ripping the heads off devils, with you in a mo

And if that’s not enough excitement for you for one day I’ve found you another video ou un person anglais parler en francais;

Oui. C’est Eddie Izzard.

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Et bien, What else is new? Well, I went to see our friend Giles yesterday.

yep, still brainy

He handily untangled the bullshit from the truth about what was likely to happen at the NHS headache clinic for me, and he says that the neuro I had seen was wrong to say I’d have to come off preventative pain killers. He also said it was far better to abuse triptans than codeine from the point of view of botox treatment, because triptan overusers responded really well to the botox while the codeine users responded markedly less so.

AND! mes amis! he offered to give me my next go round for free if I would go to a training thing and talk to the docs who are learning how to give the botox. Possibly even docs who might subsequently treat me… He also said something quite interesting which was that in the deregulation of health services being offered treatment in eight months time was outwith the legal time frame, and that I might be able to get my own doc to commission him to treat me instead of the headache clinic at the neuro hospital. This would be advantageous for a couple of reasons; 1 – organ grinder rather than monkey, 2 – he goes ‘off piste’ with the botox and will also do areas other than those mapped out, so if you get referred pain from a particular part of your head, neck or even shoulders he will inject in extra places, 3 – after initially being intimidated by him I now really like him and also think he is FUNNY.

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This morning I read an article called Thoughts About Depression From Under the Sheets by one @scicurious.
It’s worth clicking through to if you are interested in links between the immune system and depression. If this research gets some air time it could really revolutionize the way that depression is treated. It would be seen as an illness and not a condition, and people like me who get pain won’t be told that it is ‘psychosomatic’.