Thursday, July 31, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Napoleonic cavalryman on moped

This week, the latest series of moped movies starring François Skyvington has been showing on the Arte channel. Sensing that they’ve created an exemplary TV style, with a finely-dosed blend of form and content, the production team has respected scrupulously the approach developed throughout their two previous seasons, which gave rise to a total of 40 half-hour documentaries (which are being aired by Arte on the same afternoons as the new series). The general idea is that François—wearing a yellow helmet and an orange scarf—continues to take advantage of his archaic orange moped to crawl around picturesque byways, where he meets up with all sorts of friendly and interesting individuals, generally in most spectacular places.

To fit half-a-dozen such encounters into a 30-minute documentary, and to maintain the smooth rhythm of each road show, the production people are obliged to condense events and to take constant shortcuts. Viewers are expected to accept the principle that François simply “runs into” all these fascinating people, places and situations. There is no time in the documentaries for didacticism or dreary explanations, which would of course be fatal for the harmony and entertainment value. Ordinary viewers are not likely to examine these moped documentaries with a view to planning their forthcoming family vacations. On the other hand, each programme comes across as an inducement to travel and an element of touristic motivation in the sense that TV viewers are brought in contact immediately with the essence of such-and-such a site and its people. François and his primitive old two-wheeled vehicle take us directly to the heart of the subject and put viewers in immediate contact with the spirit of place.

Click to enlarge

The 5 programmes aired this week dealt with Corsica. Not surprisingly, the man on his moped soon met up with the world of Napoléon Bonaparte in Ajaccio. Down in the street in front of the house where the future emperor was born, François was received by an honor guard.

Images on the screen were then metamorphosed magically, as TV viewers stepped inside the splendid Salon napoléonien in the city hall of Ajaccio. The emperor's marble gaze did not appear to be unduly disturbed by the arrival of one of his cavalry officers on a moped.

As for the awestruck expression on the face of the cavalryman, it suggested that his mechanical steed rarely brought him into such prestigious settings.

He wondered whether it was appropriate that a humble moped man such as himself should be attired in such a fine outfit, and surrounded by vestiges of Corsican imperial splendour.

Why not? He would have time enough, later on, to get back to his faithful vehicle and his yellow helmet and orange scarf on the rural roads of France. For the moment, he could savour calmly this exceptional situation.

Besides, there was no time for dreaming. Much was happening out on the battlefields, and the cavalry officer was obliged to adopt a firm tone of persuasion when discussing certain life-and-death military matters with his senior commander.

It wasn’t long before François left this imperial setting, and the yellow helmet reappeared on the macadam of the rugged roads of Corsica.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dangers of the didgeridoo

Our gloriously narcissistic Rolf Harris—an almost Australian of the year—has finally been caught out and condemned heavily for ancient sexual offences involving underage females. What this means is that a hugely popular Aussie guy such as our Rolf might have a right to tie his kangaroo down, but he mustn’t allow the beast to raise its ugly tail and go groping around in the undies of young girls.

Jeez, there are things I don’t understand. Rolf wasn’t even a serious musician/entertainer, let alone an ordained priest! In cases like this, I can’t help wondering whether the innocent young victims, before running up and sitting down naively in Rolf’s enticing lap, had been wisely and sufficiently instructed by their parents about the terrible and ever-present dangers of the didgeridoo. Click here to start learning.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Detained for questioning

This morning, about an hour ago, the French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy was detained for questioning over alleged influence peddling.

These days, whenever we see photos of the former French president, he seems to have stopped shaving for several days.