Friday, July 21, 2017

Tête de la Course

I must admit that the Tour tempts me to stretch metaphor to breaking point. The European Union also has twenty-eight teams facing huge challenges, some worthy of comparison with the painful climb to the Col du Galibier undertaken by twenty-two teams of cyclists.

The efforts of the racers were witnessed by Président Macron who was obviously pleased with the vantage point he enjoyed in the car of the race director, Christian Prudhomme, as the peloton pedaled to the summit. 

There he met other spectators, exchanging handshakes and small-talk and ensuring that La République en Marche will for the foreseeable future remain Tête de la Course!

Now with only three stages still to be contested we note that this year's victor will in all probability be Chris Froome, a Brit! In May during a training ride he was rammed off the road in a hit-and-run attack by an impatient driver, who may or may not have been a Brexiteer!

from The Guardian...
"Brussels officials have said British people living in the EU could lose the right to live in another member state after Brexit unless the UK makes a reciprocal offer for the 3 million EU citizens living in Britain that would allow them to move to another EU country and return to the UK."

So should Froome one day wish to relocate from Monaco to Germany he might be out of luck! 


Fair's fair

From the Quartz newsfeed…
It’s not easy to confront your boss over a contentious issue. And what’s more contentious than how much less you’re paid than your male colleagues? Now imagine having that debate live on national radio. That’s the situation BBC Radio 4 presenter Mishal Husain found herself in yesterday, when she interviewed her boss, BBC director Tony Hall, about the dramatic pay gap recently revealed at the British broadcaster.  Her colleague John Humphrys, for instance, was listed in the report, prepared by the BBC, as earning £400,000 more than her a year.  When Hall began talking about how difficult it was to manage the wage bill given funding was stagnant, Husain brought the conversation back to the question at hand, instead of getting frustrated. ‘I’m not sure what that means, in terms of managing the gender pay gap,’ she said. ‘Does that mean you’re going to be asking the men to take a pay cut?’

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Weekend sport

Garbiñe Muguruza has been crowned Wimbledon champion after beating the seven-time grand-slam winner Venus Williams 7-5, 6-0 on Centre Court.

Lewis Hamilton is on pole position for tomorrow's Formula One race at Silverstone.

But in the Tour de France there was a serious injury sustained by Manuele Mori riding for Team Emirates.

And all of this for the divertissement of those of us who laze in front of the television set.

Friday, July 14, 2017

C’est la Fête

I have always had a weakness for pomp and circumstance and military parades, although I have attended few such events in person. An exception was the 1994 farewell of Allied troops from Berlin, a moving occasion indeed. Another was twenty years later when I watched the parade to celebrate the 43rd UAE National Day from my office window overlooking the Corniche.

In 1979 the route of the parade on the Quatorze Juillet was from Place de La République to Place de la Bastille, and  I watched many of the military contingents disperse afterwards along the boulevard from the balcony of my flat. But mostly I followed the Bastille Day pageant on television.

To mark the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War, the 1979 parade started with a performance of classic French patriotic songs La Madelon and Chant du départ, sung a cappella by the French Army Chorus during the pre-parade segment. That was pretty memorable.

Year in, year out the slow march of the troops of the Foreign Legion is a highlight.

This year marked the centenary of the Americans entry into the Great War in 1917. It was the perfect pretext for an invitation to the new man in Washington, who appears to have behaved himself as well as can be expected. Closing the event the French military band broke from tradition, dropping martial music for a rendition of Get Lucky by French electro superstars Daft Punk.

Get Lucky, Macron, and stay lucky!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Delayed post

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Wake up call

"Gentlemen, wake up!"

So says the latest advertisement for Fritz Kola, posted on many hoardings in Hamburg where the somnolent men portrayed will be attending the G20 summit.

It is sound advice, for they would surely not wish to miss Theresa May's explanation...

MacGuffin found!

A MacGuffin denotes any justification for the external conflictual premise of a work of fiction. In my novel Chance of Reign the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin served this purpose to a large extent. Until yesterday I had no idea of what device might do the job for the sequel, outlined but not yet drafted. 

And then the inspiration! What the Olympics were for Chance of Reign, the Tour de France and the Deutschlandrundfahrt events of 1937 will be for the continuation of the story.

What team of racing cyclists will be using the twelve stages of the 1937 event for nefarious ends in the German cities visited? Will Matthew Wyatt, alias Matthias Veidt, get to the bottom of the conspiracy to the satisfaction of his handlers? And who will they be, British or German spymasters?

What fun!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Allez les gars!

"I have always loved watching the Tour de France because it is an annual exploration of the wonderful countryside of a nation that means so much for me.

The helicopter swooping over medieval fortifications, around sumptuous chateaux. The pillion-riding cameramen speeding through the narrow streets of the villages which give la France profonde its unmistakable character. The fans lining the slopes of this or the other formidable col..."

That I noted in this blog in 2010 and it still sums up my feelings with regard to le Grand Boucle.
"Each year, in the sweltering heat of July, millions of people take up positions on roadsides around France to cheer, shout and bellow cries of encouragement to a peleton of nearly 200 cyclists as they speed past in a stream of day-glo Lycra. Millions more watch on television – though few of them are cycling aficionados. Because the Tour de France is far more than a mere bike race. For the French, it’s a national institution; a symbol of unity; a chance, as the riders pit themselves against the toughest terrain the mighty héxagone can throw at them, to admire the scenic splendour of the country in all its summer glory, with the fields of the Garonne’s sun flowers in full bloom, the Côte d’Azur at its most sleek, and the craggy Alps basking under boundless blue skies."

Since 1997, when Jan Ullrich beat the favourites Pantani and Virenque to triumph in Paris, I have watched every edition of the Tour. His duels with Lance Armstrong in the years that followed were pure sporting theatre.

Twenty years later I find it amusing that there is a team carrying the flag of the Sandlands participating.

Monday, July 03, 2017

The Fourth...