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Imagine no religion

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:31+00:00 November 17th, 2015|Uncategorized|

When I was about 13 years old our high-school English teacher asked us to write about something that we thought needed changing. As inspiration he gave us an example: Should First Division football clubs be allowed to replace the grass pitches with plastic/synthetic ones? The objective of the exercise was to express an opinion while understanding both sides of the argument. He was a little surprised therefore to read my essay entitled "Should the world ban religion?" The choice of subject matter was worrying, apparently, and I was asked to stay behind after class to explain myself. He was surprised to learn that, unlike many of my classmates, I did not spend my free time following a football team - but rather The News. I had been struck by the events in Northern Ireland, as seemingly a day didn't go by without another tit-for-tat killing in the province, and had come to the conclusion that the root cause of the problem was religion. The simplistic view of a teenager, yet, on reflection, not entirely inaccurate. I of course had [...]

The Secret Throne

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:31+00:00 March 21st, 2014|Uncategorized|

Instead of a rambling post about the layout of the University Arts faculty I thought you might appreciate my musings presented in a more creative manner, today.  There follows my March offering to the Strasbourg English Writers Group - a true story - enjoy! ****************** With his belly still luxuriating in its recently added contents Barney sauntered back across the campus to the arts faculty where he had an increasingly urgent appointment on the second floor. Why it was on the second floor, and not the third or the first, was a mystery. It probably had something to do with its location relative to other equally well furnished facilities in the faculty, of which there weren’t many of course. Barney was worried however that his little, secret, corner of the University could soon be destroyed in the same way so many others had been before. Indeed, evidence suggested that it had recently been discovered by those less stable members of society who revelled in the destruction and defacement of public property. At his last visit he had noticed that [...]

Make it happen

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:32+00:00 August 27th, 2013|Uncategorized|

It's not often that the manufacturers slogan on a shopping trolley is worth a second look, in fact it's never worth a second look unless you happen to be a buyer for a chain of supermarkets, however a recent visit to one UK chain store had me sniggering to myself ... During my short time as Corporate Brand Guardian for Invensys plc I was invited to attend a presentation at London blue-chip agency J. Walter Thompson (JWT), where they intended to present the 'solution' to our advertising problems.  The problems we had were many as our company totally lacked any sort of coherence as to what it actually did; "Widgets" we used to tell people. The slick presentation by the suits at the very new and plush HQ in Knightsbridge was almost convincing.  However, as our own Director of Communications rightly pointed out, sticking 'MAKE IT HAPPEN' under our logo wouldn't really help to explain that we made food processing equipment and railway signals. We rejected the idea and left. Happily for JWT the next big client who sat [...]

I’m Cookie Dingler

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:32+00:00 January 14th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Antonia with THE Cookie Dingler It was Australia Day 1998, when I happily found myself being driven along the Great Ocean Road by a local Aussie lass - to see the Twelve Apostles (12 great hunks of eroded cliff-face separated from the coastline by a few meters of open water) just west of Melbourne, Australia.  There, as we cruised along the highway, which has to be said didn't really live up to it's title, we listened and hummed-along to Triple J's rundown of classic tracks from the recent past. Suddenly, Janey yelled (for that was her name - and probably still is) "Ah do you remember this one?" and cranked up the volume. "No" I replied after some reflection. She looked confused. How could I not know (insert name of band/track)?  Everyone knew (insert name of band/track)!  I mean you'd have to have been living on Mars to not know (insert name of band/track)! That is unless (insert name of band/track) was only successful in Australia..? Ah ha! Exactly. It was an Aussie band singing a track [...]

U2

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:32+00:00 October 27th, 2012|Uncategorized|

Firstly I should apologise to 'organic' surfers who have hit this page in search of the latest gossip about Bono et al. - because this post has nothing to do with ageing Irish Rock Bands.  Well, almost nothing. Actually, I have to confess, my fondness for U2 (yes, the band) has been on the wane since arriving in Strasbourg. Perhaps if Top Music, RFM, Virgin and just about every other 'pop' radio station didn't play their tracks incessantly - then I might not feel this way. One supposes that their popularity relates partly to Bono's crisp elocution.  After all, if you can sing along (albeit in a foreign language) then it adds a certain je ne sais quoi.  This would also explain the equal saturation of Phil Collins and Supertramp on the airwaves. I digress. U2 also happens to be the name given to the University of Strasbourg's Humanities Library ("U2-U3" to give it it's full title).  Why it was named suchly I cannot fathom, but it certainly paints the building as an enigma. The U2 sits unassumingly at [...]

The worst ad on TV?

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:33+00:00 June 5th, 2012|Uncategorized|

The arrival of the amiable Jo-Wilfred Tsonga on our screens, as Roland Garros graces us once more with two weeks of top-notch tennis, is a welcome sight ... for once. While his boyish charm and and sporting prowess make JW one of France's best-loved sportsmen, his role in a seemingly never-ending TV campaign for Kinder Bueno make his face a less-then-welcome sight for the rest of the year. The creatives in adland have decided that Beuno is great for sharing - because it is formed of two sickly-sweet  bars of chocolate. So, each ad features Mr Tsonga sharing his Beuno with an attractive girl. OK, so the idea is not bad on paper. However the scenario is excruciatingly contrived, the production values are lamentable and the acting is about what you'd expect from an Australian soap opera. To cap it all the choice of music that accompanies the outro is Lilly Allen's "22" - with the wildly (in)appropriate lyrics "It's sad but it's true how society says, Her life is already over" - implying that the girl who is forced [...]

I picked the Grand National Winner!

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:33+00:00 April 15th, 2012|Uncategorized|

... shame I didn't place a bet. Or rather, was unable to place a bet. I spent some forty minutes or so before the 'off' trying, in vain, to get access to my Ladbrokes account in order to stick four pounds each way on Neptune Collonges. However, my efforts proved fruitless. So it was with heavy heart that I watched my nag cross the line at Aintree in first place.  Mince! Before you techie people punt in with a comment about 'proxy' services - a way you can trick websites into thinking you're in a different country - I tried that too - but also without success. A little digging as to why Grand Frère did not want me to place a bet using a foreign betting service reveals that that old French trait 'protectionism' has a lot to do with it.  If, for example, I had tried to bet using the government's own betting service PMU.fr - I would have met with no resistance (but I have 15 GBP sitting in my Ladbrokes account!). The French, of course, [...]

Bunch of poo-heads

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:33+00:00 March 30th, 2012|Uncategorized|

It's around this time of year, every year since our arrival in France in fact, that Les Enfoirés make their appearance on our TV screens. Each year these fifty or so celebrities tour the nation with a show to raise money for the national soup-kitchen charity Restos du Cœur (Restaurants of the heart). All very admirable. [...]

Anglo-entertainment

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:33+00:00 February 22nd, 2012|Uncategorized|

Well isn't this delightful? I am finally able to present to you, ladies and gentlemen, a whole season of anglophone entertainment, or entertainment for anglophones if you prefer, in our dear city of Strasbourg.  Come one, come all, come numerously... and quit whining that there's nothing to do around here! Inédit Théâtre present "Impro in English" | 9 March 2012;  CAMMIONNEUR, rue Wodli, 67000 Strasbourg The English Theatre Group present "An evening of non-sense!" | 16-18 and 23-25 March 2012; MUNSTERHOF, 9 rue des juifs, Strasbourg 67000 Tagora presents "Oh, What a Lovely War!" | 12-15 April 2012; CUBE N0IR, CREPS Campus, Koenigshoffen Inédit Théâtre present "Impro in English" | 11 May 2012;  CAMMIONNEUR, rue Wodli, 67000 Strasbourg

Eat my crudeness

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:33+00:00 February 14th, 2012|Uncategorized|

Far from being an exact science, the act of translating from language to another can be full of pitfalls, which is why it is considered such an art-form.  As I have already highlighted here in a number of posts, the precise meaning or sentiment of a phrase can often go awry due in part to the limitations of the target or source language and so, only an experienced translator should be relied upon for an accurate translation. If you've ever tried using an online translation app such as Babel Fish, World Lingo or Google translate, you will probably already be aware that automated results are often far from perfect; and you would be forgiven for thinking that a reliable old bilingual dictionary might be a tad more dependable, however, I'm afraid to say that that's not always the case. On a recent excursion to a pleasant little auberge (hostel) in the Vosges for lunch a rather amusing translation became evident after a quick scan of the menu - upon which the waiting staff had helpfully provided both English and [...]