Saturday, 22 January 2011

Don't trust this blog

Or at least don't if you believe Ben Vautier.  He's an artist who creates a lot of his work using text to form paradoxical statements.  The one above means "you must not trust words".  As someone who is hoping to write for a living one day I was mildly offended at this stab at my potential future profession, but a more Machiavellian side of me spotted an opportunity to spin the irony of the message still further and write about it instead.

I actually took this photo on a wander around Belleville before Christmas but it's been languishing in my camera memory until today.  It's home to a large Chinese population, with lots of Asian restaurants and supermarkets around the Rue de Belleville, where this picture was taken.

On another amble around my quartier today I spotted a few more interesting examples of street art.  They'll be along soon.  A plus.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Progress Report

I feel it's time for an update on how the teaching is going.  I blog often about Paris life and what's going on here, but I spend around half the week away from Paris in Créteil at my lycée.  This blog hasn't said so much about my day-to-day life as I am but one cog in the larger machine that is the City of Light.  Still, it wouldn't hurt to bring you up to speed every now and then with what's been occurring in my life, so here goes.

I've settled in at my lycée fully now.  I spend a lot of time in the staff room chatting to the other teachers and I think I have a good rapport with a lot of them.  I've started to be invited to a few things here and there.  This is great as it's hard to meet French people in any other contexts.  I spend a lot of time at the school, and several teachers have remarked that meeting new people is difficult in Paris; everyone keeps to themselves.

I get a lot of freedom to discuss different subjects with my students.  The past week or so I've talked about gap years, London, Cockney rhyming slang (with my best class, and they hardly got it...) and a film made entirely of YouTube clips called Life in a Day.

The vast majority of the kids are all right, as they say.  They might not be the strongest at English in the world, but most them try hard and we normally get somewhere by the end of the lesson.

Incredibly, I only have two more weeks of teaching left before the bac blanc (mock exams) and then the holidays.  The Year Abroad flies by.  A plus.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Review of Andrée Putman in Paris Voice

Some of you may recall that I reviewed an exhibition in Paris Voice recently.

Well, the editor very kindly published another review I did for the online magazine about the exhibition currently on at the Hotel de Ville about Andrée Putman.

You can find it here.  You can also find all sorts of stuff on the magazine's website about Paris - film and book reviews, things to do etc.  Have a look.  A plus.

Monday, 17 January 2011

2011: what's new?

Parisians have been going to the sales

Well, a belated Happy New Year to you all!

Last time I blogged Paris was shivering in extremely cold December weather.  The snow had forced Eurostar to drop the "high-speed" from its high-speed rail, thus the journey from Paris to London was painfully slow.  Add to that "frozen doors" at the deserted Ebbsfleet International and I very nearly missed the last train back from London home.

I had spent nearly three months away from Blighty, easily a personal record.  It took a day or two for the habit of speaking French to wear off.  My sleeping patterns were happily disrupted by the Ashes.  Christmas and New Year were lovely and quiet and I also turned twenty-one. 

Before I knew it I was back on the Eurostar opposite a screaming toddler and two embarrassed parents on the way to Gare du Nord.  I knew I was back when I heard the annoying "dah, dah-dah dah daah" of the SNCF tannoy system.

So what's new, you may ask?

For a start, it's warmer.  We've been blessed with sunny and warm-ish weather these last few days, and Parisians have been taking advantage of this to browse the sales.

There have been changes on the political scene.  President Ben Ali of Tunisia resigned and fled the country he had ruled repressively for twenty-three years.  There have been demonstrations in Paris and around France in support of the uprisings in the North African country.

Jean-Marie Le Pen has also called it a day after decades of being at the heart of far-right politics in France.  He hands over control of the Front National to his telegenic daughter Marine.  The high point of Jean-Marie's career was shocking France in 2002 by bringing his unpleasant politics into the second round of the French presidential election.  Marine has her sights set on disappointed Sarkozy supporters in the 2012 presidential election, and Le Monde reported that one in five French people have a positive opinion of her.

Well, a reflective blog post to start 2011.  Apparently 'tis the season for introspection - today is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year.  I hope you cope all right.  A plus.