Looking Glass Language

a word bird reflects on life & language

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

Chickens, chambres d’hôtes and UFOs


pauloMy Brazilian friend Paulo & his boyfriend Didier had been talking for years about leaving Tooting and spending a year or two in Didier’s home region of Burgundy, but once I’d moved to Céret in the Pyrenees-Orientale they decided that the sunny south of France was rather more appealing.

Paulo’s practical skills and artist’s eye were vital in refurbishing the dilapidated townhouse they bought in Quillan and transforming it into a quirky and welcoming chambres d’hôtes. (Thinking about running a B&B? Paulo’s advice is only do it if you like ironing…)

Nidelice (‘delightful nest’) is popular with cyclists, walkers and white water rafters, and with Dan Brown-readers and conspiracy theorists drawn by Rennes-le-Château, for its claimed links to the Knights Templar, and also by the Cathar castles of the Languedoc; the last bastions of the Cathar ‘heretics’, whose fascinating religion saw men and women as equals, had people rise to become ‘Perfects’ by forgoing meat and sex, and deemed the Catholic Church to be the ‘Church of Satan’. Read more…

‘No toking’: kids write the funniest things

T is for tights

T is for tights

Spotted these funny notes in the Huffington Post this morning, and thought I’d share them with you… The one about the tits / tights reminded me of something: about 20 years ago my elder sister decided that instead of shaving or waxing her legs she’d try bleaching them. On holiday that summer my then-boyfriend, with no hint of irony, complimented her on her expensive angora tights. That in turn reminded me of a compliment paid to our Sunday school teacher by a friend of mine: ‘Oh Mrs Grant, how your moustache glistens in the sun!’

No talking

No talking

My dad is the best cook ever...My dad is the best cook ever…

bullshit, horse-shit, testosterone & pee

Bull running in Céret

Céretferia

Céret is famous for three things: its Musée d’Art Moderne1; its cherries; and its feria.

Running over Bastille weekend, the Céret feria, which finished yesterday, is a 3-day festival of bullshit, horse-shit, testosterone and pee. It is famous for its bull-running and bullfights, and for being an orgy of drunkenness that attracts thousands of revellers to the town (both the bullfights and the drunks leading to a fair share of controversy). 

The feria temporarily transforms Céret from a picturesque, tranquil, civilised ville to a loutish, shouty party-vile, where the rosé is warm, the beer is cheap and the streets run with rivers of pee. Like bulls spotting the crimson swirl of a torreador’s cape, the pissed, pumped-up rugby players thronging Céret’s streets snort, bellow and paw the ground at the sight of red-lipped girls wearing shorts, crop tops and red & yellow USAP socks.  Read more…

Is that book alive?

river My partner is careless with books, cracking their spines so they stay open more easily; folding down corners so that he can find his place; using them as extemporised coffe mats to protect the arm of the sofa. Books which go to him pristine, their pages crackly with promise, are likely to come back ringed with coffee stains, their covers cracked, stitching loosened, pages turned down. (Disclosure: I’m by no means perfect when it comes to looking after books and have even been known to read them in the bath, leaving them swollen and wrinkled.)

The book he’s reading at the moment, however, is a signed, first edition: Piers Paul Read’s true story about the survivors of a plane crash who resort to cannibalism to survive (for some reason Nick thought this would make hilarious reading for our plane journey across the Pyrenees with the kids). He sits up to read this, holding it in two hands, never opening it beyond 120° and using a proper bookmark. He has also given the kids strict instructions not to tickle or splash him when he’s reading it down by the pool during our holidays. (Just realised that I have written ‘holidays’, rather than ‘holiday’: it must be from spending too much time in France, where it’s always plural – les vacances.) Read more…

“Beanie in aisle 5”

If you’re ever in the supermarket in Cirencester and hear “Beanie in aisle 5” announced over the tannoy, keep your eyes open for teenage shop assistants hurrying to the cheese aisle. Why? Because beanie is a code word for a fit chick, invented by my nephew Seb when he and his friends did shift work there as a way of alerting each other to the presence and location of an attractive girl. And even though Seb has moved on to bigger and better things, the beanie code is apparently still regularly announced over the tannoy system. Read more…

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