Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Derek Raymond aka Robin Cook

Robert William Arthur Cook (1931 –1994), better known since the 1980s by his pen name Derek Raymond, was an English crime writer, credited with being a founder of British noir.
The eldest son of a textile magnate, Cook spent his early years at the family’s London house, off Baker Street, tormenting a series of nannies. In 1937, in anticipation of the Second World War, the family retreated to the countryside, to a house near their Kentish castle. In 1944 Cook went to Eton, which he later characterized as a “hotbed of buggery” and “an excellent preparation for vice of any kind”. 
He dropped out at the age of 17. During his National Service, Cook attained the rank of corporal (latrines). After a brief stint working for the family business, selling lingerie in a department store in Neath, Wales, he spent most of the 1950s abroad. He lived in the Beat Hotel in Paris, rubbing shoulders with his neighbours William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, and danced at fashionable left bank boîtes with the likes of Juliette Greco. 
In New York he resided on the Lower East Side and was married to an heiress from New England for all of sixty-five days. He claimed that he was sick of the dead-on-its-feet upper crust he was born into, that he didn’t believe in and didn’t want, whose values were meaningless. 
He was seeking to carve his way out — “Crime was the only chisel I could find.” Cook smuggled oil paintings to Amsterdam, drove fast cars into Spain from Gibraltar, and consummated his downward mobility by spending time in a Spanish jail for sounding off about Francisco Franco in his local bar.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Plateaus #2

Following my earlier post today, here are some more samples of plateaus. All these berets are (obviously) in Bordeaux (or 'maroon', 'Burgundy', whatever name your prefer).The first three photographs depict berets made by Boneteria Auloronesa, from the top down: a 10p (28cm), 11p (31cm) and the Tarte Alpin 12p (33.6cm). 

To show that even when plateaus are similar, the berets can look quite different, you'll see from the top down:
 Boinas Elosegui Super Lujo 30cm
 Boinas Elosegui Txapeldun 35cm
 Italian Grande Piatto 33cm
 Argentinian boina Tolosa Tupida 30cm
UČA  29cm 


The most difficult question when buying a beret over the internet is "how does it look on ME?" and that's a question without an easy answer.
Identical berets can look completely different on one person from the next. Head size, shape, baldness, short or long hair, body shape, etc., etc.
On the web site I often use pictures of myself to give some impression of what a specific beret  looks like, or I use a neutral mannequin.
Still, it is not easy to compare the varieties if you don't see them next to each other.
What I did here, is photograph a variety of berets made by Boneteria Auloronesa - all are well broken into and of the same colour. Pictured from top  down are a 10 pouces, a 10.5 pouces, an 11 pouces and the 12 pouces Tarte Alpin. Mind: the mannequin has a very small (56) head size, which of course influences the overall look. 

I hope this helps. more comparisons to follow soon.

Astrophysicist Hubert Reeves

Hubert Reeves, CC OQ (1932) is a French Canadian astrophysicist and populariser of science.
I found this interesting anecdote about Reeves, in a Swiss train:
Hubert Reeves looked out the window. The Alps, magnificent and snowcapped, caught his eye as the train rounded a curve on its way from Geneva to Berne, Switzerland. It was October 1970. Beneath the mountains, an autumn patchwork of gold and vermilion framed a winding brook. Reeves briefly wondered if its source was melting snow, and then it came to him, the answer to the puzzle. The stream triggered a memory, a scene from a movie about mountains and cold water: La Bataille de l'eau lourde (The Battle for Heavy Water). The 1947 French film by Jean Dréville tells the true story of how, near the end of World War II, Allied commandos destroyed a top-secret heavy-water plant in the mountains of Norway. The Nazi invaders were going to use the heavy water to make an atom bomb.
Heavy water, heavy hydrogen ... Reeves’ mind flashed: You extract heavy water from ordinary water at super-cold temperatures and it takes a long time ... That was it! He now felt he could explain the huge discrepancy in recent experimental results about the nature of the solar wind, the huge flux of atomic particles blown into space by the burning sun.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Ever fancied wearing a beret-turned-turntable? If any situation called for a record-scratch sound effect, it’s this. The comical tableau, part of a short video by Spanish production house Bonaparte, offers a glimpse into a new line of espadrilles by Madrid’s peSeta and American designer Marc Jacobs. 
Although the limited-edition collection is the seventh collaboration between the two companies, it’s their first joint foray into footwear.
Clad in surplus fabrics from the Marc Jacobs archive, each espadrille is handmade in Arnedo in La Rioja, a region known for its fine wines and tradition of shoemaking. All five designs come with a shoe bag emblazoned with both brands’ logos. (Beret—sadly, tragically—not included.)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Domaine du Tucoulet

Ten years ago, Sebastian Lopez became an independent winemaker when he took over from his grandfather Gilbert Clamens. The only Auch winemaker, now 31 years old, has his eyes shining with emotion and gratitude when he mentions that he accompanied him in the vineyard when he was just beginning to walk. Genetics? Maybe, but one can easily understand his love for this land, with a view of the high Pyrenees. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Grégoire M'Bida

Grégoire M'Bida (1952, Yaoundé) is a retired Cameroonian professional footballer. He competed for the Cameroon national football team at the 1982 FIFA World Cup. He played all minutes for Cameroon in the 1982 FIFA World Cup and also scored the only goal for Cameroon in the competition. The goal was scored 63 minutes into the match against Italy, only one minute after Francesco Graziani had scored for Italy. The game ended in a draw, 1 - 1.
He played for Canon Yaoundé, SC Bastia (1982–1984), Angers SCO (1984–1985), USL Dunkerque (1985–1986), Thonon-les-Bains (1986–1987) and last for CS Sedan Ardennes (1987–1989). 
His son is taking over his career. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pierre Eugène Drieu La Rochelle

Pierre Eugène Drieu La Rochelle (1893 – 1945) was a French writer of novels, short stories and political essays. He was born, lived and died in Paris. Drieu La Rochelle became a proponent of French fascism in the 1930s, and was a well-known collaborationist during the German occupation.
Drieu was born into a middle class, petit bourgeois family from Normandy, based in the 17th arrondissement of Paris. His father was a failed businessman and womanizer who married his mother for her dowry. Although a brilliant student, Pierre failed his final exam at the École Libre des Sciences Politiques. Wounded three times, his experience as a soldier during World War I had a deep influence on him and marked him for the rest of his life.
In 1917, Drieu married Colette Jéramec, the sister of a Jewish friend. The marriage failed and they divorced in 1921. Sympathetic to Dada and to the Surrealists and the Communists, and a close friend of Louis Aragon in the 1920s, he was also interested in the royalist Action Française, but refused to adhere to any one of these political currents. He wrote "Mesure de la France" ("Measure of France") in 1922, which gave him some small notoriety, and edited several novels. He later (beginning in the 1930s) embraced fascism and anti-Semitism.
Upon the liberation of Paris in 1944, Drieu had to go into hiding. Despite the protection of his friend André Malraux, and after a failed first attempt in July 1944, Drieu committed suicide on 15 March 1945. Suicide had been a constant temptation throughout his adult life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Reynaldo Hahn

Reynaldo Hahn ( 1874 –1947) was a Venezuelan, naturalised French, composer, conductor, music critic, diarist, theatre director, and salon singer. Best known as a composer of songs, he wrote in the French classical tradition of the mélodie.
Born in Caracas, Hahn became a French citizen in 1909. In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, he volunteered for service in the French Army. He was older than the official conscription age but was accepted and served, first as a private, finally reaching the rank of corporal. While at the front he composed a song cycle based on poems by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Forced to leave Paris in 1940 during the Nazi occupation, he returned at the end of the war in 1945 to fulfill his appointment as director of the Paris Opera. He died in 1947 of a brain tumor, without executing the reforms for which his supporters had hoped.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Illegal Portuguese Immigrants of the 1960s

Gérald Bloncourt (born 1926), also known as Gérard Bloncourt, is a Haitian painter and photographer resident in the suburbs of Paris, France. Born in the small city of Bainet, in Haiti's Southeast Department, Bloncourt is a founding member of the Centre d'Art. Besides painting watercolors and frescoes, he also does etchings and drawings.
The photographs shown here are all of Portuguese immigrants in, or on their way to, France. Illegal immigrants, trying to make a buck in often appalling conditions.
A European story; how many Spanish, Turks, Greek, Italians did the same? These days the immigrants come from Africa and Asia and, however poor and bad conditions may have been in the 1960s, none received the hostility these new immigrants face. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Les Patates

"Les patates" from Claude Autant-Lara is a curious little movie, blending comedy and drama in a historical context.
The story takes place during World War 2, in Occupied France. Clovis (Pierre Perret, a very famous French comedic singer in his convincing screen debut) is trying desperately to cultivate potatoes, despite the restrictions decided by the Nazis, and the jealousy of his neighborhood. Soon, his little garden becomes an obsession, which leads to marital crisis, and beyond...
The film is clearly not as moving and ambitious as Autant-Lara previous work (such as his masterpiece, "La traversée de Paris") but there are many funny parts, and good performances all along.
Overall, a decent satire of Occupied France, with a good balance between comedy and drama.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cigarette Cards, with Beret

Cigarette cards are trade cards issued by tobacco manufacturers to stiffen cigarette packaging and advertise cigarette brands.
From a time nobody thought twice about tobacco advertising. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Boris in Trondheim

Please meet my Dutch friend Boris, from CycloMedia, a high-tech company from the Netherlands. Boris is presently filming all the streets of Trondheim (Norway).
CycloMedia offers solutions for collecting, processing, and hosting street-level panoramas allowing professionals to leverage the intelligence of updated geo-referenced imagery. Technical language that will make complete sense when watching this video clip
Boris proudly dons a boina Tolosa Tupida

Coffee in Wellington

I can't help but feeling proud of my city, Wellington, when reading this article. 
Being a coffee snob myself, I totally recognize what this is about. Coffee, the drug that I'd find difficult living without, is worshiped and treated with the utmost respect here.
And it is only on a holiday to Queensland (AU) or a trip to Europe, that I realize that the situation is very different in other places around the world (that's putting it very mildly!). 
Numerous cafe's in the Netherlands unashamedly have their latte's and cappuccino's made by pushing 2 buttons on a machine (a combination of Nescafe and some sort of instant formula milk) and in Germany the 'flat white ' I ordered came out as a weak coffee with whipped cream on top. It's tough. 
In Wellington we are blessed with many small boutique coffee roasters; Havana (my preference) has a beautiful organic bean of Vanuatu, while Peoples Coffee do a great runner up in the form of their Mexican Chiapas. 
Of course, you can't underestimate the influence of a barista on the quality of what you actually drink, but so is the vessel that holds your coffee of utmost importance. When on the go, this is the absolute best you can get! Remember your ABC: Attitude, Beret, Coffee. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Maquisard Roland Degueurce

On October 1, 1944 Roland Degueurce from Montceau was awarded the Croix de Guerre with bronze star under Résistance. The decoration was well deserved ... especially as the recipient was only 13 years old.
The resistance in Montceau les Mines was well organized. Roland acted as intermediary and carried various documents and memorized messages to members of the Résistance.
He was usually accompanied by his dog Diamond. During an attack by Germans or Italians in the Alps, it was Diamond who made the soldiers stop shooting and rush for their vehicles.
He wore an admirably large Tarte Alpin too.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Antoine Blondin aka Tenorio

Antoine Blondin (1922 – 1991) was a French writer who belonged to the literary group called the Hussards. He was also a sports columnist in L'Équipe and wrote under the name Tenorio.
Blondin was a bon-vivant known for generous drinking in the Parisian district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, playing at bull-fighting with passing cars and collecting numerous arrests for drunkenness. He chronicled this life in his autobiographical romance, Monsieur Jadis ou L'École du Soir. He was frequently pursued for unpaid tax.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Bash Street Kids

The Bash Street Kids is an ongoing comic strip featuring in the British comic The Beano. 
The strip was created by Leo Baxendale under the title When the Bell Rings, and first appeared in The Beano in issue 604, dated 13 February 1954. 
It became The Bash Street Kids in 1956 and since then, it has become a regular in the comic, featuring in every issue. 
Since 1961 David Sutherland has drawn the strip, and has drawn roughly 2,100 strips.