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Tuesday, 18 November 2003
de mauvais gout

garden decorations

I took this photo of what I suppose to be garden decorations on Route de Bitche, Haguenau.  The scene is dominated by a naked woman, painted in a dull copper colour. She is holding a dove in one up stretched hand. At her feet are a dog and a rooster. She looms over a miniature windmill, on the other side of which is a lion.  This is all conveniently located at a traffic light, in good view of on-coming traffic which has to stop when the light is red. The owners of the house have thoughtfully removed some of the fencing in front of the property, which facilitates a better view for passing motorists (such as myself).  These items have appeared over time, starting about 18 months ago with the naked lady.  Evidently some thought is going into this decorative project. Clearly these objects mean something significant to the owner of the house. What can these symbols represent? 

The naked woman perhaps represents a state of innocence or purity.  The flower design on the base of her plinth suggests love and peace.  This message is affirmed by the bird (probably a dove) that she is holding aloft in her left hand. Doves generally denote a peaceful nature or condition. They can also represent love and inner tenderness, as well as a spiritual initiation.  In India, the dove is the symbol of the soul while in China it is a symbol of marital fidelity.  It can also be a sign of fertility.  Note that the woman�s right hand is held over her belly, suggestively. The rooster at her feet could suggest cheekiness and aggression. It is also the national bird of France. It is not the national bird of Alsace, which is the Stork. However, to follow on with the general theme suggested by the other symbols, another interpretation of the rooster could be that it denotes �awakening� (of ideas and spirituality). 

The dog, seated at the feet of the woman, surely represents friendship and love, as well as loyalty and fidelity.  Besides being a friend, a dog can also be a guide, protector or helper.  The final animal, some distance away is a male lion. Although it is resting here, a lion generally denotes an aggressive and emotionally erratic being.  It is significant that the lion is male, because male lions tend to also be lazy (whereas female lions, as the hunters of the pack, represent the strength and patience of a provider).  Male lions can also be seen as individualistic and selfish.  Lions are also symbols of fear and danger, and this comes to mind given the distance between the lion and the woman, even though the lion is disproportionately small next to the woman. 

Finally the windmill: The image of the wind itself is invoked by this symbol. The wind is a powerful symbol of energy and spirit. The windmill harnesses that energy, and is a symbol of industriousness and the historical accumulation of wealth. 

Of course all symbols are subjective and I have no way of knowing what these objects specifically represent to the owners of this house.  Either one chooses to see these statues as tacky (de mauvais go�t) or as having some meaning (emotional and symbolic) for the people who put them there.  For most of the past two years I have regarded these symbols as an indication of the homeowner�s bad taste. Today�s blog has been an attempt by me to look beyond my prejudices to find meaning in them.

P.S. Note the �ladder-like� snow-catcher on the roof of the house, which is common around here. They are to prevent injury when the snow melts and slides off the roof. They work, as long as the snow is not too deep. I seem to remember that in some places in Eastern Europe the snow fell 2 metres deep last winter.  Some people still died when the snow slid off their roof and onto them.

Posted by bigblue on 18/11/2003 at 12:05 AM
Filed under: France • (1) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Monday, 17 November 2003
Nature thumbs its nose


This photo, taken in Strasbourg’s Petite France district, shows a sapling growing half-way up the outside of a wall. Admittedly, it is inside a lock (ecluse), so that the bottom half of the wall is normally wet.

This week The Two Towers (4 disc extended DVD) is being released in the UK. It’s a good buy, because you get to see the bits of the film that were left out of the cinema version (plus commentaries, filmography, shorts, etc.).  I have pre-ordered my copy, and after reading these I am pleased that I didn�t� get that early-released, pirated, version from Asia.  Even if the subtitles are more creative.

Posted by bigblue on 17/11/2003 at 12:01 AM
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Saturday, 15 November 2003
Brigada Internacional

international brigade statue

Jubilee Gardens and Jubilee Walk on the South Bank of the Thames, London, were opened in 1977 to celebrate the 25th Jubilee of the British Monarch. In more recent times it has become home to the London Eye. One revolution of this giant ferris wheel takes half an hour, taking you one and a third times higher than New York’s Statue of Liberty, at a cost of 11 pounds.

Apparently there are plans to develop the South Bank, in which case the Gardens would make way for buildings.

The photo above is a memorial to the International Brigade who fought in the Spanish Civil War from 1936-39. It is one of several statues in Jubilee Gardens.  I quite like the photo of this statue by ArtoftheState here.

Are you a Matrix fan? You may enjoy The Meatrix, which is an activist site that makes use of the theme of the Matrix quite cleverly.

As I welcome my mother today as the newest member of this blog, I leave you to think about poor old Kevin Widmar.

Posted by bigblue on 15/11/2003 at 10:27 PM
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Strange Church Sign

Church sign

I see that we have fallen out of favour with the local Baptist Church. Oh well, I for one am flattered by their attention.

Had a terrible flight from Strasbourg back to the UK this afternoon. Left work at 3:30 pm, but when I got to Strasbourg airport I discovered that my direct flight to Gatwick had been cancelled due to “technical problems”. I remembered a few years ago when I was doing this flight regularly I got the distinct impression that they (Air France) cancelled the flights if there was a low turnout. Later on we heard that the “technical problems” were that it was too windy for the small aircraft to land at Gatwick.  (Is that too windy, or just the wrong type of wind?)

So I had to take a plane to Paris, then fly on to Heathrow. Air France then laid on taxis to Gatwick. There were a few martians in the same situation as me, including Domonique who (while unhappy with the delay of 4 hours) was happier ending up at Heathrow than Gatwick.  In fact only 6 passengers made use of the taxis from Heathrow to Gatwick. Of course those going on by train into London wouldn’t have needed to transfer to Gatwick to do so… and those who had missed connecting flights to Edinburgh, the far East, etc. had to delay their departures by a day.

Posted by bigblue on 15/11/2003 at 12:32 AM
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Thursday, 13 November 2003
le rugby

Telerama Rugby

Somebody sent me the above, which is an exerpt from a French TV guide (supposedly). I suspect that it goes back to the Six Nations, but I thought it was appropriate given the match on Sunday morning. It contains a lot of slang, which I won’t pretend to understand, but I get the general gist that French national pride is on the line. Of course English national pride is at stake too. However I suspect that if England lose, there will be a lot of brow beating and angst, but that if the French lose this will be accompanied by a Gallic shrug (meaning life has moved on ).

This week feels very short - of course it must be the public holiday we had on Tuesday.  No badminton this week, as a few people are away. We went to Charlies un pub anglais in Haguenau.  Ashley’s friend the red-haired waitress no longer works there (we discovered).  A previous time we were there, Stuart (who is English) argued that the pub doesn’t look English at all. However the rest of us - a German, a Spaniard, an Australian and myself - all feel that it has the decor of an English pub.  If you follow the link above, you can see some still clips of the inside and outside of the place.

Posted by bigblue on 13/11/2003 at 12:21 AM
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Wednesday, 12 November 2003
Master Park in the Mist

Master Park, Oxted

I took this photo on 11 November 2003, at the same time of day as the picture that I took last month. You can compare it here

Please note that I have added an About Us and Privacy statement here.

Posted by bigblue on 12/11/2003 at 11:22 PM
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Tuesday, 11 November 2003
Did they beat the drums slowly, did they play the pipes lowly?

poppy field

The sun now it shines on the Green Fields of France,
As a warm summer breeze makes the red poppies dance.
And look how the sun shines from under the clouds,
There’s no gas, no barbed wire, there’s no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard, it’s still no-mans land,
The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand.
To mans blind indifference to his fellow man,
To a whole generation that was butchered and damned.

Now young Willie McBride, I can�t help wonder why
Do all those who lie here know why did they die.
And did they believe when they answered the call
Did they really believe that this war would end wars.
Well the sorrow, the suffering, the glory the pain,
The killing, the dying they were all done in vain
For young Willie McBride it all happened again
And again and again and again and again.

(from Green Fields of France by Eric Bogle)

And this is a good day to reflect on Le Monument au Mort de la Place de la Republique, in Strasbourg.  The monument shows an Alsacian mother cradling her two dead sons, one a German soldier and the other a French soldier.  It was created by the artist Drivier in 1936, was inspired by the First World War and was supposed to symbolise the end of the tragic conflicts of this region over the previous centuries. Of course, being 1936, this was only the beginning of the end.  The monument was inaugurated in the Place de la Republique by the Grand Rabbi of France, Isa�e SCHWARTZ in 1951.  See picture of this here.

Last week mewn took a photo of this statue, and dedicated it to me (!) see here.

Posted by bigblue on 11/11/2003 at 12:00 PM
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Monday, 10 November 2003
feu d’artifice


Here’s another picture from the fireworks in Edenbridge the other night.

I had a bit of a lazy day today - watched The Office Series 2, which is brilliant btw if you haven’t seen it. I haven’t cringed so much in a long time. Pity about Dawn and Tim though.  Other than that I did a small amount of work from home.

This morning, at breakfast, bluemeanie and I enjoyed a discussion about the joys and merits of cheese.  It was interesting to watch the expressions on pinkie’s face as she worked out what we were referring to.

Posted by bigblue on 10/11/2003 at 09:56 PM
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