Wednesday 29 August 2007

Antonio Puerta Dies

Boys will be boys
Originally uploaded by malias.

Sometimes something happens to make you question your very existence.

Yesterday Spain and Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta died after collapsing during a Spanish league match on Saturday. He was just 22 at the peak of fitness and with a wife expecting their first child.

I reflected that if it could happen to Antonio Puerta then it could happen to anyone. It's best to remember that life is fragile and it could end at any time.

It's at moments like these when it's good to take a pause from our hectic schedules, forget our troubles and go out and just enjoy the day.

With this in mind I tried to do that very thing this morning. I switched of my mobile phone (important) and went for a walk in one of my favourite parts of Paris around the 5th Arrondissement in the streets connecting the Pantheon. Then I went to a smart cafe, drank a glass of Bordeaux and read my book.

Doesn't sound much but I enjoyed it.

Cheers Antonio!

Saturday 25 August 2007

How To Ride A Velib

I finally succumbed to all the hype and picked up my first Velib the other day in Paris. I was trying to get from Bercy Village to Bastille and the friend I was with assured me that it would be much quicker than taking the Metro. As we wizzed through the streets of the 12th arrondissement I thought it was great, fast and efficient.

We zoomed past Gare de Lyon and arrived in Bastille in no time at all. Then we hit a snag. You have to deposit your Velib at a Velib station and furthermore if you're on the Velib for more than half an hour you have to pay. We rolled up and down the street looking for the parking spot finally we found one but it was full. We carried on riding but couldn't find another one eventually after about 20 minutes we managed to park our bikes.

So in the end due to parking problems it took far longer than the Paris Metro and I had to pay a fee for passing the half our mark (admittedly only 1 Euro) and I got wet because it was raining.

On the plus side it was fun and I didn't have to take the smelly Metro which, believe me, is a definite plus.

Wednesday 15 August 2007

Fancy Food

Originally uploaded by malias.

At a Paris bakey recently a friend of mine was tempted to try the interesting sounding feuillete saucisse when I asked him what it was like he said that it was really noting but a sausage roll with a French name.

It's funny how English speakers like their food to have a foreign name. It somehow makes it sound more exotic and exciting. So a posh London restaurant will serve creme anglaise but never custard. At lunchtime we rush out to buy panini rather than toasted sandwiches. At the cafe we speak faux Italian when ordering an espresso, macchiato or a caffe latte to give ourselves a little continental sophistication.

Once at a Spanish restaurant in London I saw written in large letters on a blackboard situated in front of a full size cardboard cutout of a flamenco dancer that the special of the day was Huevos fritos con patatas fritas Olé Sounds delicous until I thought, hold on, doesn't that mean egg and chips?

Monday 13 August 2007

Professeur d'anglais Paris

Telephone Box Shaftesbury Avenue
Originally uploaded by malias.

There are two rules that I apply when teaching English in Paris. 1. The class must be interesting. 2. The students must learn something. If you apply this code to your classes then I guarantee you that most of the students will return.

I have spent a lot of time going to French classes after arriving in Paris what I found was that most of the classes I went to were unbelivably bad and mind numbingly boring.

I took lessons because I wanted to learn how to speak French but what I found was that in many cases the teacher came in and gave exercise after exercise for 2 hours or however long the class was with no opportunity to have a conversation. It was so frustrating, the only time I ever got to speak French was with the students before or after the class. There were a few good teachers who took a more imaginative approach but most of the time it was like this.

So when I started giving English classes in Paris (Professeur d'anglais Paris) I made it my mission to let the students speak. I'll correct and explain grammar in the context of the conversation but I try to give as much emphasis as possible on free expression. It seems to be working well.

My ideas may not be revolutionary but I do hope they will be adopted more widely.

Saturday 11 August 2007

Football Season Begins

Originally uploaded by malias.

French Philosopher and avid football fan Jaques Derrida once said that "Beyond the touchline there is nothing".

The existenial writer and thinker Albert Camus (and incidentally, goalkeeper for Algeria) opined that "All that I know most surely about morality and obligations I owe to football".

J.B. Priestley writing in the 1930s claimed that "For a shilling United offered you conflict and art."

It seems that great men have been inspired and entertained by soccer.

On Saturday the new season begins in England and as the Premier League is a world game now It's just as easy to follow it here in Paris. I'll be popping down to the pub on Sunday to catch a match.

If you want to own part of a football team you might want to try this site.

However, there is one question all the most brilliant minds in the world can't answer; Why is my team (Leeds United) so rubbish?

Sunday 5 August 2007

Paris Free Museum Day

Watching the People watching the Pictures
Originally uploaded by malias.

Every regular visitor to Paris knows that all the national museums are free on the first Sunday of each month. So this includes all the major galleries such as Musee d' Orsay, the Orangerie, Musee Picasso and the Louvre amongst others.

Unfortunately, this means that that the places get clogged up with art deprived tourists and frugal locals. I know that it would be so much easier just to pay the 7 or 10 Euros entry fee and enjoy a more pleasent, stress free visit but sometimes you just get caught up in the momentum. So you ended up straining your neck and standing on tiptoes to peer over a crowd on the off-chance of getting a glimpse of the arse of one of Rodin's statues.

However there is a principle at stake too. In London all the major museums are free. It is believed that the great works of art should accessible to everybody rich and poor and not jut the culture loving middle classes.

Furthermore, much of the work in the Louvre was. shall we say, acquired under dubious circumstances. It seems odd that a Greek or an Egyptian should have to pay to gain acces to view works of antiquity taken from their own countries.

Sarkozy has stated that he would like to make the national museums free in France. I hope he does this before I do myself an injury.

Thursday 2 August 2007

Trying to be interesting

Originally uploaded by malias.

I'm not much of a writer but I do like to put pen to paper (or is it fingers to keyboard) whenever I have a free moment.

I've always had an interest in history and with this in mind I've added a new section the website I'm involved in. I was looking for a theme and in I decided on two things. Firstly, there must be a connection (no matter how vague) to Paris, France or the French language (as it's a Paris based website) and secondly it must be interesting.

So far I've compiled 5 tales plus one page about franglais.

So if you want to see the first film ever made and learn about its filmaker, Louis Le Prince and how he mysteriously disappeared.

Or, how the British poisoned Napoleon

Or how it was the English who invented Champagne

Or how a Bohemian con man sold the Eiffel tower.

Or find out about the history of absinthe and how it got banned around the world

Then follow this link. Interesting, very interesting