Thursday, 29 November 2012

Night Ride Through Civilization

It’s rather convenient to have a palace courtyard in which to exercise at night. I don’t go to a gym. Usually I swim but the local Olympic sized pool is closed thanks to a hunk of concrete roof falling into the pool two months ago (see my blog “And then the Roof Fell In”). I have thus taken to riding Daisy Belle 2 around the Cour Napoleon and the Cour Carrée of the Louvre. Insulated from traffic sounds and sheltered from the worst of the wind and rain by the deep walls of this palace, I am doing my circuit training in the most extraordinary historic environment, far from modern banality.
Tonight was no exception. I powered through the Cour Napoleon, past the glittering glass Pyramid and up the slope that leads via a long arch into the Cour Carée. The Louvre itself dates back to the medieval times when Paris was confined largely to the Isle de la Cité. The stern towers and prison like walls of Philippe Auguste’s Louvre (meaning defensive fortress) situated to the West of the Cité were demolished in more enlightened times and replaced in stages by the glorious Renaissance edifice that is the Louvre today. The transformation from stark fortress to sumptuous palace dates back to Francois I whose own residence was a rather modest little mansion in what is now the south west corner of the Cour Carrée, one end of which overlooks the Seine. Marie Stuart played here as a child. Since her days, Henri IV, Louis VIII and Louis XIV added to that building to create the square called the Cour Carrée—meaning Square Courtyard—keeping to the Italian Renaissance style of the original François I palace.
This is where I speed around on Daisy Belle 2. Tonight a niggardly drizzle needles my face as we circle the central fountain and ride in a wider arc closer to the walls where the lighted windows of the ground floor reveal displays of antiquities. I pause to admire the eight black marble statues of the lion headed Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, who in her role as the destroyer goddess of ancient Egypt removed many an evil leader or exposed a corrupt practice.
As we circle over wet slabs (avoiding very bumpy cobbles) we are accompanied by the strains of a lone cellist whose classical repertoire enriches our ride. The lighted galleries around us (kept open for the cleaners) reveal painted ceilings where cherubs and buxom ladies drift against angelic turquoise skies. These Renaissance works of art are part of the building itself. But, inside and outside, the Louvre takes a lot of upkeep, which is why the North façade has been shrouded in scaffolding for almost a year.
Our views as we flash around the central space also includes glimpses through the arch that looks south towards the Seine, of the gold trimmed cupola of the Academy Français, poised on the Left Bank end of the Pont des Arts. Another, to the West, reveals the Pyramid, glittering with reflections from internal lights, and a third the delicate tower of St Germain d’Auxerrois whose carillon chimes the hour. Not now though because I am riding in the late evening. In a few minutes at 10pm the huge iron gates that open onto the Cour Carrée from the four arches will be closed.
Daisy Belle speeds me back to the Cour Napoleon, past the romantic cellist whose profound gaze and divine music follow us through the arch. We take a few turns around this vast wet space. The fountains are switched off as the hour of ten arrives but one can still hear the gurgle of the overflow via the artificial weirs that empty the black pools surrounding the Pyramid into who knows what Stygian reservoirs.
We pass under the small Arc de Triomphe going West towards the Tuileries, out onto the rue de Rivoli and past the gilded statue of Joan of Arc on her horse. In moments Daisy Belle is back her own stable in the Place Marche St Honoré and I walk the couple of blocks to my street. As during our ride through the palace courtyards, there’s hardly anyone around. A welcome glass of champagne awaits me after I pull off my damp clothes. A November night’s work out in the heart of civilization: it beats sweating it out in a stuffy gym.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Naughty Flanby and the London Scene

As you may know, ‘Flanby’ is one nickname of France’s Socialist President, based on a commercial crème caramel pudding thanks to his flacid photo images. Also nicknamed Noah, by me, thanks to the rainfall records accompanying his arrival at the Elysee, and continuing, you could also call him ‘Mr Tax anything that moves.’ He’s doing it and by now nothing is moving, other than backwards: but he’s still taxing. His pedigree as a Socialist includes the fact that he hates the rich and hates the Middle Classes, the ‘Bourgoisie’ as they call ’em ’ere.
Pay attention to what I’m going to tell you. I’m not new to breaking exclusives and if you want to be on top of French breaking exclusives, join this blog. I made my name as a scoop writer from South Africa in the 1970’s. No hacking.  I have my methods and I get to sources other people can’t reach.
The President of France proclaims that he owns no property. According to his biographical blagues (meaning lies or jests) he rents a modest apartment in the 15th (yuppie arrondissement) with his “First Umbrella Carrier,” Valerie Rottweiler. His former companion, Segolene Royal lives elsewhere and his four kids may or may not be renting apartments: we have no transparency about these arrangements. We know how its done here in France: the apartments will be owned through companies whose tax status will relieve the President of any direct connection or even fiscal deductions. It’s legal but invisible to the masses that vote for socialist representatives.
Here comes the real, exclusive, dope. Mr “Fatty Flanby, ‘hate the middle classes”, Hollande’ “owns apartments in two central London buildings. He has not declared them to the state for public scrutiny, which the rich are obliged to do. But the government does know that he owns them. It has not yet become public knowledge. Nor is it likely to do so since the activities of the “top” people are not usually reported in the media here who collude with the politicians (even to the point of bedding them and moving into the Elysee Palace) to conceal the hideous con trick being perpetrated on the average, heavily taxed individual.
Does that make him a crook?
Frankly, yes, but thanks to the French laws of privacy which I commented on today in a news item to Radio Wales, Cardiff, with reference to the Leveson Enquiry, the French media do not report matters of such seminal interest to the French public. Thanks to the political-media collusion, they remain silent about the financial and sexual aberrations of their political bosses. So, only insiders know the truth and it will stay that way in France because information about the secret activities of French politicians, sexual or financial, is suppressed and does not become visible in the media.
Books seem to be the way in which confidential information, i.e. scoops, become visible to public scrutiny. The media will report exclusive news that turns up in a newly published book. This may not go on. Who knows what new tricks the high up manipulators of public opinion will resort to next? It’s a pity that the more open media culture in the UK has not only condoned outright invasion of privacy for ordinary citizens or celebrities but has concealed historic sexual abuses now being uncovered.
In France, privacy laws that apparently allow photos of foreign celebrities (viz Kate Duchess of Cambridge) in private circumstances, to be published contrary to the law, (the publishers are fined modestly, but still make a world wide killing) and yet allow the secret financial manipulations or sexual aberrations and lies re top politicians (e.g. Dominic Strauss Khan’s sex life or Francois Hollande’s financial investments) to remain hidden, cannot be to the benefit of a democratic country.