Saturday, June 30, 2007

Velib' ouch

I think I’m being a bit grumpy, but then I think it’s because I ride a bicycle like a pissed goldfish. The last time I went cycling was on Isla de Mujeres to a Turtle Sanctuary. Because I was on an island I thought there would be no traffic. There was a part of my brain that was blocking the fact that there was an airport on this island and outside of our hippyesque traveller enclave the 20th century had marched on. So, en bref, by the time we got to the Turtle Sanctuary I was terrified and had almost cycled into a moped.

On July 15th 2007 (on the day when Paris empties itself of its citizens like a haemorrhaging artery) the Velib’ scheme will begin. The idea is that you borrow a bike from one place, cycle off to another place and leave your bike there. The first 30 minutes are free and after that you pay 1€ for the first half hour, 3€ for the second and 4€ for the third and every half hour after that. The system is already in place in Lyon and seems to be working well. You do have to pay a membership to borrow the bikes, but it’s 1€ for a day, 5€ for a week and 29€ for a year.

Now apart from the fact that I ride a bicycle very badly these are why I think it’s a good reason:

· Bicycles get stolen all the time in Paris, so this is one way of avoiding having your bike stolen.

· As a cyclist you will not have to pay for the maintenance of the bike, or have to worry about where to store it.

· It’s environmentally friendly.

At this point I am struggling. You see every aspect of me is saying this is a great idea, but, it’s all well and good installing thousands of free bikes, but where are the bike lanes? I haven’t seen any extra ones being painted around the city recently. Every cyclist I know has had an accident at one point in time or another and frankly for me to get to work directly I could go round the Arc de Triomphe (if I was crazy) or I would have to ride parallel to the Peripherique (the Paris ring road).

Secondly my journey time would be longer, it would take me ten minutes to walk to my nearest post at this end and fifteen minutes at the other end. It takes me twenty five minutes to get to work at present. Nevertheless, when I was really considering this, before I realised that I would be seriously endangering my life, I did think that for the sake of not getting my metro line it would be worth it.

Which is when I realised who the people who are going to be renting these bikes are. It won’t be M. Blogue in his new range Twingo. Why would he battle the elements when he has a city efficient car with power steering and a car stereo? The amount of traffic is going to stay exactly the same. Some commuters might give up on the metro and cycle around and rush hour could turn into a scene straight from Beijing, but I mean that in the loosest sense.

Now looking into my crystal ball I look into the future and predict several things:

  1. I will be run over by a cyclist;
  2. A congestion charge will be imposed on Parisian drivers. I don’t know where the congestion zone would be, but perhaps instead of doing it by zone it will be done like the motorways and during red times you pay more than say green times.
  3. More cycle lanes will be created.

If number two and three happen, then I foresee that this scheme will be very successful. As for number one it’s just inevitable.

Oh by the way I am now on holiday 65 days of freedom. Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A letter of complaint

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you have vowed to change/shake up France, but I was just wondering whether you were planning on doing anything about Line 13. For four years I have lived on this nightmare line (well actually that’s not true, I have always lived on this line it’s just that I used to live on the other end of it, you know the nice bit).

People often ask me how do I keep my somewhat nice figure (I won’t go as far as saying skinny) and really I have to tell them: "Line 13." You see I have mastered the art of fitting into the tightest of spaces and frankly I think that this constant squishing and stress of knowing that if I was any bigger has contributed to my lack of putting on weight despite the constant crap I eat. I have come to the conclusion that I like ‘Flat Stanley’ am getting squashed into shape every morning. That and the fact that in the afternoon I travel by a different line and power walk for 13 minutes to reach the comfort of my home: small and perfectly formed where no one shoves my bag into my oesophagus.

Line 13 has also contributed to the fact that I have arrived late at work for 160 of my 180 working days. While this keeps my colleagues amused with my daily reports of how the ‘misery line’, ‘cattle truck’ and ‘people pate’ has prevented me from arriving on time, I fear my bosses are not so amused.

I know that living in a city means that you have to be slightly desensitised to certain things, but frankly as I and the hundred or so other passengers who battle for that one salubrious spot at the back of the carriage (you know where there is a little niche by the back door), rugby tackling pregnant women and war veterans out of the way, I fear we are actually becoming dehumanised. To make this journey more palatable I need to be plugged into music so that I cannot hear the announcements of yet another passenger passing away because of lack of oxygen. There have been moments when I have been slightly peeved that these people have not been able to regulate their breathing to one gulp every ten minutes instead of the average of eighteen per minute.

So I suppose what I am saying is can you sort this line out. I know that vague promises have been made about 2012, but I’m not sure that I can wait that long; you see that would make me very late for work.

Kindest regards,

Miss Verilion (who now has a champagne bottle shaped dent in her left breast).

Monday, June 25, 2007

A wee announcement or so

Hey all, I've cut and pasted this from The Shameless Lions Writing Circle:

The judging of the lions and poems/prose pieces commences this Wednesday, June 27.

There are Jury AND Writers' Choice Awards, so YOUR vote is needed!

A jury of five independent people chosen by Seamus will pick their favourites and award the following Jury Prizes on Friday, July 13:

Best poems/prose pieces: (winners receive book vouchers and special prize badges to place on their blogs).

Jury Prize 1st Place: Amazon gift voucher worth €20.
Jury Prize 2nd Place: Amazon gift voucher worth €15.
Jury prize 3rd Place: Amazon gift voucher worth €10.
Jury Prize 4th Place: Amazon gift voucher worth €5.
Jury Prize 5th Place: Amazon gift voucher worth €5.

Best looking lions: (winners will have their lions highlighted in a sidebar on this blog and they will be provided with special prize badges to display on their own blogs).

Jury Prize 1st Place: Badge for winning blog.
Jury Prize 2nd Place: Badge for winning blog.
Jury Prize 3rd Place: Badge for winning blog.
Jury Prize 4th Place: Badge for winning blog.
Jury Prize 5th Place: Badge for winning blog.

There will also be Members' Choice Awards announced on July 13.

Best poems/prose pieces: (winners receive an Amazon book voucher and special prize badges for their blogs).

Members' Choice Award 1st Place: Amazon gift voucher worth €10.
Members' Choice Award 2nd Place: Amazon gift voucher worth €5.
Members' Choice Award 3rd Place: Amazon gift voucher worth €5

Best looking lions: (winners will have their lions highlighted in a sidebar on this blog and they will be provided with special prize badges to display on their own blogs).

Members' Choice Award 1st Place: Badge for winning blog.
Members' Choice Award 2nd Place: Badge for winning blog.
Members' Choice Award 3rd Place: Badge for winning blog.


1. Members can cast their votes in the Members' Choice categories between June 27 and July 11 . Please choose your top TEN favourite pieces/lions (excluding your own and mine - Seamus at Shameless Words!) and rank them in order of preference, with the first line of your list (first choice) being your top choice. Please do not vote for your own pieces/lions! Also, please do not vote for my (Seamus Kearney) lion or poem!

Please write voting papers like this, not forgetting to Seamus who you are:

First poem/prose choice: name of blog (ie top choice, overall favourite)
Second poem/prose choice: name of blog
Third poem/prose choice: name of blog
Tenth poem/prose choice: name of blog (ie 10th on list of favourites)

First lion choice: name of blog (ie top choice, overall favourite)
Second lion choice: name of blog

2. Votes must be sent only by email to AFTER June 27 and BEFORE July 11.

3. The same member can win in one or more categories. A member who gets a jury prize may also win a members' choice award.

4. Please only consider the short poem/piece of prose (48 words or under) that appears in each member's individual listing. Do not take into account any longer pieces that have been added to the listings.

5. Book vouchers will be ordered on the Amazon site of the country you live in. Where there is no Amazon site, cash may be sent in the post. The vouchers will be organised in the week starting July 23. You will be sent the voucher via email with a code to use on Amazon.

6. The jury's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into about the list of winners.

7. Please do spread the word on your blogs about the contest, to get people visiting and commenting on all of the individual poems/prose pieces.

Do you think I've spread the word?

As well as commenting on the poems/prose pieces over at the circle, I've added a button called 'Endelyn's Mates'. If you click on that you will be taken at random to the blog of one of the other 47 members of the circle.

And while we are talking about Circles and writing and what not, pop over to Minx's. She's got a great idea and wants to know what we think about it.

Right, now I have to go and force out a bunch of words. I'm being paid to do it, but boy I don't want to...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Displacing Time

I've found another one of those Writing Prompt thingies. I think I found it through the Lions Writing Circle, or maybe I found it through Clockwork Chris, who I stumbled upon through Poetry Thursday. Anyway, while I was at Chris's I found a bunch more: 10 on Tuesday, 3 Word Wednesday, Friday's Feast, Sunday Scribblings. So far it's just Monday that's missing, seeing as Bonnie over at Words from a Wordsmith has set up Weekend Wordsmith, that can be Saturday's offering.

Anyway, I keep thinking that I need to do more with The Pimple Continued, so I decided that if I post to these prompty dooberies that I would link to that site rather than the mother site (that being here.)

I've been considering changing the template over there as well and found a nice one on failed painter's site, I particularly liked the navitabs. Having organised all the poetry on The Pimple into different themes, I thought the reader could click on the tab and see all the poems rather like a little anthology; except it looked awful. I somehow managed to hack bits out of the template though, I don't know how I did it, and I got the navitabs onto a test site. I'll play around with it some more and see how I get on.

In case you haven't guessed all this displacement activity is due to the dreaded reports. I haven't started. I tried yesterday, OK I didn't try at all, I woke up at half eleven, went to the gym, came home, had lunch and fell asleep on the sofa again. Is there a link between reports writing and sleeping sickness? I haven't slept this much all year... which is probably why I am now.

Anyway, this is my little offering to Sunday Scribblings. The prompt this week was: I have a secret.

Unshackle that Body

The secret struggles to escape,
held down by the immeasurable weight of fear,

constricted by empty lungs,

silenced between the bars of chords,

knocking on the immobile tongue,
pleading for release behind wide open eyes.

Prise open those lips,

loosen that tongue,
sing harmony through the chords,
breathe trust into those lungs,

provide a clear path,
fill openly with the lightness of sharing.

©copyright, 2007. Verilion.

And 14 links in one post! That was another little displacement activity.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


When Seamus announced this Lion thing a few weeks back I didn’t hesitate about whether I was going to join or not. Work was dragging me under but I held a certain fondness for those lions and having seen some of them in the flesh (so to speak) I felt certain connection to them. The Shameless Lions Writing Circle has really taken off and I don’t know what it will become, but there is a really good feel about it. Some of the Lions have even branched off and created their own blogs or are off on travels who knows where. The original posts back at the circle have become a little more in-depth including the inspiration behind the names and Seamus has found the creator of each lion.

As I browsed Ahtzic Silis’s website on Monday there seemed a certain synchronicity in having chosen Endelyn, or maybe Endelyn chose me. Silis is an El Salvadorian artist and designer whose work is influenced by Mayan mythology. Although my trip into Mayan territory was at the end of my stay in Mexico, it was Latin American culture that awoke my senses after what felt like a period of being asleep. It seems so right that Endelyn’s inspiration comes from that land.

And then Endelyn’s name. Without a doubt if I ever went back to England it would be somewhere in the South West. I spent four years there and I remember that every time the coach joined the A38 it would be like I was coming home, whereas going over the Hammersmith overpass filled me with dread. So again it just seems so right that her name is Cornish.

So now a little word from my muse.

From Hurucan

When Hurucan sparked into existence
did you know that one day I would be with you?
When you first looked into my golden eyes
did you question how I came to be?
As your hands caressed my very force,
did you feel the crackle of unity
skip along your every fibre?

We are connected now, you and I.
We were connected then, you and I
though we did not know it.
A filament so fine joined us
through time and history
drawing us closer together,
though embroiled in other tragic stories.

Travelling closer than further apart,
until the cord between us uncoiled.
Lost in a swirl of confusion
we reached out, caught hold, drew in.
You explore me with your eyes
boring into what is beneath the skin,
the landscape of my very existence.

What did you feel standing before me?
Your soul engulfed in emptiness.
Regret that you were not aware
of my closeness.
Indifferent coincidence brought us together,
the union of senses and being
now holds us in our place.

©Copyright, 2007. Verilion

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Books wot I read

Claire often pushes books my way and on the whole I tend to trust her judgement, apart from when she tries to push huge Robert Fisk tomes my way. Sometimes she pushes so many my way I have to tell her to “STOP!” But these are the trials of having a librarian as a friend.

A few weeks ago I wandered into Breakfast Club and lurched about looking for a spoon (you’d be surprised how difficult that can be) and tried to make a cup of tea and found Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes pushed my way. I’m not my best in the morning so I was a bit grumpy about having a book with a white mouse on the cover next to my breakfast, but the general opinion of the Breakfast Club was that it was very good, so I shoved it into my bag with the rest of my breakfast, grabbed my tea and staggered up the stairs and deposited it on my desk before going to get on with my job. Later that same day I collapsed onto my sofa and pulled out the book. When I heard my electricity metre click onto heures creuse I knew it was time to go to bed but I couldn’t put the book down. Just one more journal entry, I thought.

You see the book is about Charlie Gordon. He is a thirty something retardate (as the book calls him) who has been selected to take part in a new experiment. So far the experiment has only been tried on animals and Algernon is their star patient. By the time I went to bed Charlie had already been operated on, could finally beat Algernon at the ‘amazed’ test and was achieving levels of intelligence that you and I can only dream of.

I was two thirds of the way through the book when I read the journal entries that made me gasp and swallow back tears. I was on the metro at the time.

Claire later told me that the book was recommended to her by someone who said it changed them; I can see why. At first you read the book and like the other characters you laugh at Charlie’s misspellings and his way of viewing the world. As he changes you begin to question your view of the world just as Charlie does.

I won’t tell you more, just read it, if you haven’t already. The book has been kicking around since 1966 and even today it has resonance.

The next book I’ve read recently is ‘How to be Good’ by Nick Hornby. I wasn’t expecting to get through much of it, but I had forgotten that my fellow colleagues were all pukers so they needed to sit at the front of the bus and the law says that responsible adults have to sit by the emergency exits, so there I sat. I looked across and told my fellow travellers that I was going to read. They pointed out to me that we were stopping for lunch soon, so I flicked through my Private Eye first and after lunch got started on the book and was only distracted by their gasps of how gorgeous the scenery outside the window was.

How to be Good starts off as a laugh a minute ride, seriously I was laughing out loud, even though it starts off with Katie (the narrator) telling her husband that she wants out of their marriage. About halfway through it stopped being funny. Hornby’s books are anything but easy really, when I think back to the other ones I’ve read: attempted suicide, bullying, relationship breakdowns, being a sad bastard, it’s just this one seemed harder and bleaker. And then again maybe it was the subject matter, the utter breakdown of a marriage, being together but hating each other. Being so miserable, but not knowing what else to do. If anything this book is so excruciatingly accurate that it ends up being painful to read. I’d recommend it, but only if you are in a stable, happy relationship!

This post was inspired by this. He he.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Wash it Away

When you go away on a trip there is always a certain level of expectation. On this trip the only thing I expected was to hate camping and when we arrived and it was raining nothing changed there. When I woke up freezing in the middle of the night I continued to hate camping and when breakfast was crap I still hated camping.

But something changed in the middle of the week and even though my face is excruciatingly sunburnt, I lost count at fifteen bruises and one of my finger joints looks gross, I have had a great time. I feel like this year more than any other year I have achieved something.

Without fully being aware of this I travelled into the heart of the ‘montagne’ region of the Tour de France. It’s my favourite bit of the Tour de France, where there is the most spectacular scenery and the crashes and I was there. It’s as fabulous as it looks on the telly and I would recommend that everyone go there.

I finally dealt with capsizing which I have managed to avoid every year for the last five years. Although after the third time, my idea of dealing with this was finally to swim away very fast (in my ever so slow way) and get out the lake and vow never to capsize again.

My legs were not shaking uncontrollably when I went to abseil off the edge of the cliff. Maybe it was because we soaked up the mountains and watched the gliders taking off and riding the currents. Maybe it was because the tiniest thing on earth who had sobbed her homesick heart out on the first night advised me to not look down and not be scared.

I was right at the front of the raft when we went into the rapids. After my fabulous show of ‘scardey catness’ the day before I was challenged: “You won’t go to the front when the instructor tells you Miss V.” I was there before anyone else!

I explained very laboriously why a protest is not something you do for the benefit of someone else; you do it because you believe in it.

I didn’t have very many showers and someone told me that my hair was curly. I had never considered that this was something that I hid until Siobhan asked me if I had actually seen my hair. The mirror in the tent was tiny and one second you could see something and the next the wind blew and you could no longer see the bruises on your bum to put the arnica on, so no I hadn’t seen the fact that my hair was growing outwards with each minute of the day. But what it symbolised was that for five days I got Paris out of my system.

Sometimes it’s good to do something completely different, to let that sail fall on top of you again and again and again and not care; to laugh out loud. To let that icy snow flow wash over you, breathe in the pine air. Swing back on your plastic chair and look at the stars. Watch the mountains appear from the mountain mist in the morning as you stagger down for your morning pee. Let that rain wash it all away.

And now it’s time for a bath, a take out and a nice glass of wine.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


The other day I received an e mail from the folks from Brittany with some photos that depicted the progress on the house they are building. They have added an extension to the back but have kept all the stone and are slowly rebuilding the outer stone casing of the house. They seem to have moved along so much since I saw it over three weeks ago. Or was it a month? Never mind, the point is that as I closed the photos I wished that writing a book was like that house, so that I would know when it was finished. It was one of those analogies that I instantly began to see lots of faults in. A book is not like a house, you don’t lay the last word and say: “Right, now it’s finished.”

But today as I came back laden with Private Eye and The Word for the train and when I’m too tired to read ‘How to be Good’, and a dress and t-shirt that somehow asked me to buy them (when I was actually on my way to the tabac), I looked into a flat that was being remodelled and I wondered if the analogy didn’t work after all.

See maybe the foundations are the ideas and whispers in your ear that draw you to pick up your pen or your keyboard. Then the walls and the rooms and windows are the storyline, the characters, what makes the story flow. And then decorating is like an edit to make things just so. Adding your furniture and things is like the final tweaking. But every now and again, maybe you just have to redecorate because it just wasn’t right in the first place.

And then the wreck of the house that that couple have rebuilt. Well, maybe that’s something that has lain dormant for a long time, and the bones and some of the words are there, but it’s refusing to die. It’s just waiting for the right words to come along to build it whole again.

I’ll go and ponder on this some more next week, but meanwhile if you have reached this bit, I’m off (deep sigh of discontent) camping. Apparently it’s going to rain most of the week (bliss, cos I do so love camping). There are some other aspects that make this trip less than ideal, but the up side is the sailing, white water rafting, kayaking, climbing (maybe I’ll skip the wind surfing). So please could you feed Tibo if you get here. He’s at the bottom of the side bar. He doesn’t do much apart from purr and hop about a bit and he’s very partial to raw steak. He’s here to keep Endelyn company, but ...uh hum, it seems that Endelyn prefers the calm of the words that surround her up here, she likes to let it all soak in so that she can growl it back to me later on. So until Tibo is a bit better trained he’s staying down there with the music and flowers.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The weeks from Hell

The week from hell turned into yet another exhausting week followed by the ULTIMATE week from hell. The crappy thing is that these weeks from hell are all caused by work. I know that there are a great deal of things that I can’t complain about when it comes to my job (16 weeks holiday a year for a start), but jeez the bags around my eyes are becoming a burden to carry. I’m not even going to waste more time moaning about it, I’m just going to look for the silver linings. The good things about hanging around in one place for this long is at the end of this year I am eligible for a sabbatical I realised. So when I have some energy I’m going to give that some good long thought. In the meantime I’m going to try and conserve what little I have left for next week, the week after that and the one after that. 21 days and counting folks. Meanwhile, here’s a poem:

A way of Being

Through waves of exhaustion
eyes are drawn to bright shiny things.
Tales of full moon aggressions wane.
Saints and sinners blend into one.
Passion requires an energy that cannot be sparked.
Put life on hold till the bags can fade away
and summer’s rich glow replenishes wasted stock.

Copyright, 2007. Verilion

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Send Away the Tigers and Bring on the Manics

Every now and then I have the urge to get some new music, but today was different. I wasn’t content to buy yet another indie band’s catalogue of pop songs or rock folk ballads and after getting through the whole ‘Just for you’ selection I was still unsatisfied. I wanted something special, something that I could rave about and just because I knew I hadn’t done this for a while I typed in ‘Manic Street Preachers’.

I could have apologised then to my neighbours for the jumping up and down, but maybe I’ll save that for tomorrow when I’ve listened to Send Away the Tigers about ten times. I’m on my second play through now! And well, it sounds ... exactly like the Manic Street Preachers!

They are a band who have always been on my radar from the days that Richey James appeared on the front cover of the NME with the words ‘4 Real’ carved into his arm, but it was with the release of Everything must Go that I really began to pay attention. It was the first album without James and confirmed Nicky Wire as the real strength of this group. Design for life got to number 2 and the CD was rarely off my player.

A couple of years later I found myself in Madrid where the live music scene was dire (OK it was dire if you wanted anything other than Latino music) and then all of a sudden in the space of two weeks Massive Attack and the Manics were playing. I get this feeling that Massive played first. It was a great venue near Retiro Park where pretty much everywhere you stood you could see; always good for a bit of a short arse like me. I was well into Massive at the time. We had a shitty cassette of Mezzanine that we listened to in the car and then one day we finally splashed out and bought the CD and from then on you could regularly hear me waking up the neighbourhood on a Saturday morning blasting out the beginning of Angel. I had this whole image in my head of doing an installation that would have ‘Angel’ as a soundtrack with this massive mechanical Angel that would be gradually lowered and then all you would see were constellations and then as the lights went up the thing would unfold its wings and be blindingly bright. So what I’m getting at is that although I really liked the Manics I wasn’t as excited by This is my Truth Tell me Yours, I had no expectations for this gig other than I would enjoy it because live music is my drug of choice; that was until the lights went up and they started playing. Compared to the earlier albums, Everything must Go and This is my Truth were slick and well produced. But when they began playing all that was stripped away and what you were left with was an energetic guitar rock band. The crowd erupted and that tingle went up my spine to the tips of my toes that kept my head bopping and my shoulders grooving and my feet shuffling for the whole hour and a half. The crowd went nuts when they played Motorcycle Emptiness and La Tristessa Durera, but real ecstasy was achieved when the first chords of Motown Junk filled the club.

When Know Your Enemy was released in 2001, I was now in Paris. What the Manics achieved in that club in Madrid they achieved on this album. It was back to pure guitar rock and Wire’s ability to blend good tunes with politicized lyrics was extraordinary. I was sure they would play Paris, I looked all the time, I looked, I waited, they didn’t.

In 2002 Forever Delayed was released with that classic cover of Suicide is Painless, but it was a Greatest Hits album after all and there were no gigs.

So today I’ve already checked the ticket site and the official website. They are almost at the end of their UK tour and I don’t see a European one. And if they do come I think they should play the Bataclan, because it’s gritty and fairly small and they will bring the house down. And most definitely not La Cigale, because I don’t know what it is with that club, it’s jinxed, bands always cancel there. Well, actually they can play anywhere, just... please... come.


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