happy birthday to me …

It has been one year (to the day) since my first posting, and another candle has found its way to my already crowded birthday cake. What started off as an exhaust vent for the random rantings of an irascible man has followed the natural evolutionary path for blogs worldwide: after an enthusiastic birth, some blogs die young (primarily from neglect), while a few rise to prominence but the majority (and this blog is no exception) settle for a quiet place on the dusty shelf in blogosphere, to be taken down for a quick polish whenever an occasion rises that warrants such effort – because let’s face it, time is so precious these days. In fact I am seriously contemplating ditching my PDA and returning to a calendar free existence – you know, that carefree, stress-neutral, bygone era when you could go to the bathroom without the need to make an appointment But I digress …

These days, I know not to write about what I ate for breakfast, or the mating rituals of my pet goldfish instead limiting my written thoughts and observations to events and experiences that somehow bring meaning to the science of life, and the art of living. In life, we continue to go on holidays to cool places to be reminded of the beauty of Mother Earth, and from time to time, we are humbled by her forces (Aceh, Katrina and now Rita). The art of living, however, is a more complex and rewarding endeavour altogether: sure, we like our food and drink but the way we choose to live is more poignant for the simple reason that our hobbies, musical tastes and other passtimes are totally within our control to shape and mould as we please … except for when they are not e.g. when suicide bombers attempt to inflict terror, when politicians win despite exercising one’s democratic right or generally, when shit happens.

So, this has been an enlightening year for me and my blog, and now I would like to mark its anniversary by asking fellow bloggers out there for whom do you write your blogs? Personally, I thought I started this blog for *me* … but now I am sure it is for my kids.

History is the best teacher not only for the present but also for the future …

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escaping work …

In the middle of bid mayhem, we managed to steal a week-end away in Paris, chez David. On Saturday, he hosted a wine tasting of French rose wines at his apartment, attended by like-minded friends and colleagues – and surprisingly, the Chinon by Charles Joguet clipped the Tavel (a Guigal – Chateau d’Ampuis) for pole position.

For lunch, we ventured as far as the Charonne market before settling down at Melac – a bar a vin, located at the corner of rue Leon Frot and Emile Lepeu in the 11e. Jacques is a great guy with a defining moustache that hides a very witty tongue. We ordered two of his wines from Corbieres to accompany our lunch of Tripous d’Aveyron – a Domaine des Trois Filles (Laura) named after his three daughters and a Domaine des Trois Chieusses (bitches) named after his ex-wives! We had just missed the fete de vendanges which took place last week-end – a blessing I suppose because I would have been tempted to take the week off work to celebrate – instead we visited Monoprix who were hosting the annual Foires aux Vins, and we returned to England with a boot full of nice wine.

water, water everywhere …

Our house, that we’ve lived in and cared for over 8 years, is upset. I think it knows that we have been house hunting in Portishead and as a big f*** you, has decided that it would empty the contents of the water tank in the loft, creating substantial water damage on 2 floors. The restoration company called in yesterday and placed fans, blowers and de-humidifiers at strategic locations … I’m sure the National Grid noticed a blip on their monitors when the equipment was switched on. So, we’re sleeping on the floor … and will be for at least a fortnight. Thanks a lot!

The only positive news is that we’re booked into the Carlton , Venice for our wedding anniversary in October. Can’t wait …

suffering katrina …

Once again I’m struck dumb when I try to make sense of man’s actions in times of utter desperation and the almighty’s lack of compassion and mercy to allow such suffering to fall on humankind.

Natural disasters bring out the worst attributes of both mortals and immortals: the former for his reversion to survival instincts of the most cruel and horrible kind rather than rely on rational behaviour, and the latter faces the collective wrath of his believers who cannot come to terms with how he, the almighty, could have allowed such atrocities to happen. The cynical among you may have also spotted the cruel irony of this situation: man throws god’s gift of human rationality – that which is supposed to set man apart from animals – back in the face of god, in whose image man was created. And for the atheist, this is great god-ammo: if man is capable of such horror and was created in the image of god, does that mean that god is not infallible and so why should we believe in the existence of an almighty, but if it is man’s free will to piss on god’s gift of rationality, then one needs to question whether natural disasters are the actions of a merciful god, or the actions of an omnipotent chess player using humans for his amusement, or perhaps in the final analysis, there is no god … and shit happens.

I guess I’m coming to the irresistible conclusion that man is his own worst enemy, and we don’t need examples like Katrina or the Aceh tsunami, or Hotel Rwanda, Apocalypse Now or Schindler’s List to remind us of how fucked up humans can be if we exercise free will. And perhaps, that is why we all need something to pray to – to give us that glimmer of hope, no matter how small, that we may one day rise above this mess that we call Life.