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  Fri 6th September 2013

"Quick!" said Trina. "It's time for us to go to Strasbourg, for your belated birthday treat."

The very first thing I saw as we pulled into the station were three policemen with yard-long guns strolling down the platform. On our way to our hotel, we passed a one of the city's many "Ici caniniste" yards, which are small gravelled areas where dogs can shit.

And that, all over in the first half hour, was the worst I saw of Strasbourg. Even the tramps are civic-minded: a sleeping man woke up to make room for us on a bench in Place Kléber, then brusquely told a fellow gentleman of leisure "There's a bin over there," when the latter was about to walk off leaving a polystyrene cup on the bench.

We wandered into the old town. On our way, we were approached by some students who were raising money for charity by asking us to splat them with custard pies.

We quickly found the best bar in town, L'Artichaut, with its mixture of well-dressed twentysomethings, elderly locals, wiggers, and a huge black dog which wandered around proprietorily. We asked the barmaid to recommend a dark beer; when it arrived, it looked exactly like two pints of Coca-Cola but was in fact a rich, honey-flavoured Belgian beer.

But the prices! Two 50cl beers came to €11. Fortunately, the local offy provideed much cheaper ways of opening the doors of perception.

We walked to Germany; it's less than four miles away. We stood together, I in France and Trina over the border, and asked a passing German to take our photo.

Behind us you can see evidence of a local custom in which lovers engrave their names onto padlocks and fasten them to the bridge over the Rhine. You can always come back with a hacksaw I suppose, if necessary.

We walked a little way into Germany. Despite my profound, lifelong respect for German culture, I can't help it that, to me, the German language sounds ridiculous. We read out the street names and notices in an authoritarian and dictatorial voice.

Back in France, we explored a profound enquiry: is there an equally good but cheaper bar? And lo! We found a barge on the river where they sold Edelweiss for €2,40 (albeit for a Euroskimp 25cl measure).

We said our reluctant goodbyes to the city, promising to return. Paris felt coarse. A sex shop advertised "cabines automatiques €1"; but a hotel, continuing the German-as-ridiculous motif, had an amusing name.

While we were in L'Artichaut, the jukebox started playing what started as an innocent sounding-piece of American swing music, but which turned into the most profane piece of music I've ever heard played in public. It's not safe for any but the most liberal workplaces.


Comment from: [Member] It’s half-witted Italian girls as usual. It was OK when they used to throw coins in ponds at tourist attractions because guards just used to take their shoes off at the end of the day and not declare the proceeds, but this is a complete pain in the harse.

Fri 6th September 2013 @ 08:03
Comment from: [Member]

Thanks, I didn’t realise they were such a widespread phenomenon. The one over the Rhine at Strasbourg-Kehl is quite sparse compared to some of those examples.

Fri 6th September 2013 @ 08:44
Comment from: Chef Files [Visitor]

Aye, and after the romance has worn off, the lovers no doubt come back and padlock their respective spouses to a good length of industrial chain and cast them over the side. Much more practical in fact.

Sun 8th September 2013 @ 11:51
Comment from: [Member]

He he… ah yes, the Kelvingrove Bridge version.

Sun 8th September 2013 @ 13:42
Comment from: [Member]

Strasbourg sounds like an interesting place to visit - i’ll be sure to bring my own flask of whisky, though. Airport-bar prices outside an airport? Unacceptable!

i love the German language – it’s so sexy when you get spit on while hearing “I love you".

Tue 10th September 2013 @ 04:19
Comment from: [Member]

Yes, you have to stay in to drink. Well, if you drink at the rate I do.

I like Austro-German lieder; I just don’t like it when it’s spoken.

Wed 11th September 2013 @ 01:57

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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person

M / 60 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.

There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
Sergei Korovin, quoted in Pavel Krusanov, The Blue Book of the Alcoholic

I am here to change my life. I am here to force myself to change my life.
Chinese man I met during Freshers Week at Lancaster University, 2008

The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
James Meek

Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

I hate the iPod; I hate the idea that music is such a personal thing that you can just stick some earplugs in your ears and have an experience with music. Music is a social phenomenon.
Jeremy Wagner

La vie poetique has its pleasures, and readings--ideally a long way from home--are one of them. I can pretend to be George Szirtes.
George Szirtes

Using words well is a social virtue. Use 'fortuitous' once more to mean 'fortunate' and you move an English word another step towards the dustbin. If your mistake took hold, no-one who valued clarity would be able to use the word again.
John Whale

One good thing about being a Marxist is that you don't have to pretend to like work.
Terry Eagleton, What Is A Novel?, Lancaster University, 1 Feb 2010

The working man is a fucking loser.
Mick, The Golden Lion, Lancaster, 21 Mar 2011

The Comfort of Strangers

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16.1.19: Further pruning

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