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“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.”
- Ernest Hemingway
I am heading to Paris for a couple of days in August and I’m very excited to go back to my favourite city in the world. This will be my fourth trip and I have been lucky enough to see much of the city on previous trips.
I have visited Centre Georges Pompidou (three times), Musée d’Orsay, Musée du Louvre, Musée Picasso, Sacre-Coeur, Père Lachaise (twice), Shakespeare & Co., Parc Monceau, Jardins du Luxembourg, Jardins des Tuileries, École des Beaux-arts, Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe (Quick tip – DO NOT attempt to climb up the inside of the Arc de Triomphe in heels. I almost had to be hospitalised). This year the only museum I would have loved to visit is the Musée Piaf, a small museum dedicated to Edith Piaf, but unfortunately it is closed while we are there.
Instead of art and culture this year I feel slightly more low brow and I’d like to have some great recommendations for bars, cafes, restaurants, and music! I think I’ll have to have a coffee in either Les Deux Magots or Café De Flore this time. I was also recommended to go to the Duc des Lombards to listen to some jazz, but any other recommendations for jazz clubs would be great. I’m not really in Paris to shop (I won’t have le cash so instead I will be lecher-ing les vitrines) but I think I’ll at least have to look in Colette and maybe pick up a couple of magazines.
This time in Paris I’ll be looking at things with a more critical eye, as at the moment I’m doing a TEFL course and thinking seriously about heading away for a few months. I have always wanted to live in Paris and in Japan so perhaps my dreams may come true soon enough!
If anyone has any great tips I’d really appreciate it if you could leave them in the comments section or email me if you prefer. We’re staying in the Marais, but I love the Metro and have no fear, so I can travel anywhere!
I finally got around to watching Iris this week, nine years overdue! The film was released in 2001 and stars Judi Dench as Iris Murdoch, one of the most celebrated novelists of the last century. It also stars Kate Winslet as a young Iris and Jim Broadbent, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Iris’s husband John Bayley.
I found the film enormously moving and very sad, perhaps because I know a little about Iris and have read some of her work. Born in Ireland in 1919, her family moved to England when she was a small child. Iris showed a prodigious intelligence from a very young age, and after school she went on to read classics, ancient history, and philosophy at Oxford and philosophy as a postgraduate at Cambridge. In 1948, she became a fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford. Murdoch was a prolific writer, producing 26 novels in her lifetime, as well as philosophical works, poetry and plays. Once when asked whether she took a long break between writing novels, she answered “about half an hour”.
The film skips back and forth in time, showing the beginning of Iris and John’s relationship in Oxford in the early 1950s and then showing the breakdown in their relationship as Iris is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1995 and John becomes her carer. Winslet plays the young Iris with gusto, perfectly communicating Iris’s magnetic personality and sharp intellect. Hugh Bonneville plays the young John Bayley, a man out of his depth in Iris’s world of bohemian sexual freedom but helplessly drawn to her nonetheless.
Iris was known to have extramarital affairs (most notably with Nobel prize winning writer Elias Canetti) and this is hinted at in the film. John forgives these indiscretions and it seems that Iris is the dominant partner in the relationship, the one with all the power. This is horribly reversed when Iris falls ill with Alzheimers; suddenly she is dependent on John and the balance of power shifts. Broadbent sympathetically shows the frustration and anger that can overcome even the most dedicated and loving caretaker. Dench is marvellous as always and her bewilderment and fear at losing her mind is one of the most affecting things about the film.
It’s not all doom and gloom. There are many comic moments, such as when Iris is undergoing one of the early tests for Alzheimers and is asked who the Prime Minister is. She cannot remember but with her characteristic wit she reassures both her husband and the doctor by saying, “I’m sure someone will know”.
Iris is definitely one of the better movies I’ve watched in recent months and even if you’re not familiar with her work (I would recommend her debut novel Under The Net as a great place to start) I think the film is enjoyable on its own merits.
Terry Gilliam, noted director and member of Monty Python team, is set to direct an Arcade Fire webcast when the band play Madison Square Garden in New York on 5th August. Fans of the band can watch the concert live on the web and choose either Gilliam’s shots or alternate views of the stage. Check out the trailer for the gig below. It starts streaming on YouTube’s Vevo service at 10pm on August 5th in New York which is 3am on August 6th here in Ireland.
Blame Alan Butler. I usually do. While in his art studio a couple of weeks ago he played me an album called Nippon Girls: Japanese Pop, Beat and Bossa Nova 1966-1970. The tunes are totally catchy and I have played it solidly for the last week. Of course because I don’t speak Japanese, it does sound rather comical when I try to sing along and I’m sure I would be a great source of ridicule and mirth if any Japanese speakers could hear me! The production is amazing on this album especially considering when it was recorded and the technology available at the time. Highly recommended.
(I’m aware that it’s weird to have a music post with no actual music to listen to but try as I might I couldn’t find any videos on YouTube or anywhere else to share with you. So you’re just going to have to take my word for it and buy the freakin’ album!)
DESIGNYARD in Dublin specialises in contemporary jewellery and art pieces from individual designers from all over Europe. I haven’t been in for a long time but wanted to check out some of their new stock. Of course I went immediately to the rings section on the website and found some stunning stuff.
The silver and resin ones are my favourite of the lot and I think I’ll have to go in and try those on.
Located in Dublin’s city centre, on Nassau Street, it’s well worth popping in to have a look at the full range of jewellery and art on offer.
Preen Line is the diffusion range from Preen designers Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi. It was launched in February 2008 and has been stocked on Net A Porter since then. I have seen a few pieces from the range that I have liked including a stunning pink silk dress from SS2010, but I hadn’t fallen in mad irrevocable love with any item from the label until I saw this angora jumper from the AW 2010 collection. At first glance it looks fairly ordinary but when turned around the amazing detailing is evident; a luxurious tactile satin back with cable knit details on the sleeves.
It’s so me, it seems almost designed with me in mind! Some things are lust haves but no matter how hard I scheme I doubt I’ll be able to fork out the €500 necessary for this stunning item of clothing. Sigh…
For a word nerd like me the above idea is amazing. Go to the Pilot Handwriting site and watch the tutorial video. Once you create your own font you can use it to send emails and on Facebook. Unfortunately it’s not downloadable yet but fingers crossed…
Sometimes it is not what a story is about but the way in which it is told that makes a book remarkable. The Rehearsal, the debut novel from Eleanor Catton, is one such book. Published when Catton was just 22 years old, The Rehearsal garnered numerous accolades, was shortlisted for The Guardian First Book Award and won The Betty Trask Award. It tells the story of a high school sex scandal between a student and her music teacher which then becomes the subject of a show by the local drama college.
Catton conceived of the idea while doing her Masters in Creative Writing at The Institute of Modern Letters and ended up writing the novel as her thesis. This sheds some light on the experimental nature of the book, which moves back and forth in time and which varies widely in tone. Catton obviously felt encouraged and free to give range to her impressive and original imagination.
The idea of acting, the roles people play and the performances people put on in their daily lives is the central theme running throughout the novel. Sometimes the prose is written in the manner of stage directions – lighting is described, props are imagined. The characters speak in monologues and soliloquies, verbose and articulate beyond normal everyday speech. There is a sense of unreality and theatricality for much of the novel, evoking the drama of teenage sexual awakening and wild hormonal mood swings.
The downside to this is that there is little in the way of emotional involvement for the reader. We are constantly being reminded that this is not real, that this is a story, that these characters are constructs. There is no opportunity to escape into the story, to feel the world fall away as it does with the very best books. Catton’s technical ability and imagination are certainly unique for a writer of her age, but perhaps she has focussed on these to the detriment of the emotional and narrative core of the novel. While The Rehearsal is an admirable and thought provoking piece of literature, I ended up reading it as a writer and not as a reader. I think I’ll enjoy Catton’s books more as she matures into the amazing writer she’ll surely become, when she learns to combine her inventiveness with her emotions.
Marc Jacobs new scent for men is to be released on July 30th in the US. It’s called Bang. No, I’m not joking. I can’t wait for it to go on sale here as it will have a whole other meaning in Ireland. Choose your favourite Dublinese tagline:
a) Jaysus the bang off of that is only massive.
b) There’s a lovely bang off of yer man.
c) The fuckin’ bang off you, ya posh bastard.
Check out dental patient Andy as he starts to come around after his surgery. Why didn’t I get whatever he’s on when I had my wisdom teeth out?!