Friday, April 28, 2006

In The Dogg House ...

US rapper Snoop Dogg (Calvin Broadus as far as his passport is concerned) has been released from police custody following a fracas at London's Heathrow Airport.

The ‘star’ and five others were arrested on suspicion of affray and violent disorder and held overnight in custody.

Snoop left Heathrow police station after being bailed to return to a West London police station in May. Police said 30 people were involved in a disturbance in a business lounge at Terminal 1 on Wednesday. Seven police officers were left with minor injuries after the incident, which is alleged to have ensued after members of the rapper's entourage objected to being turned away from the facility.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "At 6pm last night. officers were called to reports of a disturbance involving 30 people in a business lounge at Terminal 1. The party was told that they would not be permitted to board their flight and officers then attempted to direct the group to baggage reclaim. It was at this point that a number of the group became abusive and pushed officers. Evenin' all …"

The six men, all US citizens, were taken into custody at two west London police stations. A British Airways spokeswoman said:
"Given the nature of the disturbance they have been banned from travelling with BA for the foreseeable future."

In 2004, Dogg released an album called "R & G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece". One particular verse rings true, it’s called "Let’s Get Blown" and it just happens to go like this:

“Now you can fly the friendly skies
With the S-N double O-P D-O double G-Y
Now don't ask why, just keep looking good in the hood
Damn girl, you so fly! We could do what you want to …”

Mmmm … fascinating what fate delivers, eh Dogg?

Snoop’s own website has been inundated with comments berating the rapper's behaviour. Wayneeday posted “Hey butt nugget! Good job at Heathrow, ya throwback …”. There have been numerous other posts in the same vein but an overworked webmaster is deleting them faster than they can be published.

No doubt Dogg will have his say once back on US soil and I can't wait to read that little beauty ...


Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Rag Trade …

Yesterday, I was booked by a well-known television broadcaster to work on a documentary entitled ‘Haute Couture’. It follows the course set by a number of fashion houses and their designers from the 1930‘s until today.

We were to interview Hubert de Givenchy, the man himself, and John Galliano, currently top designer at Dior. The day had only just begun when one of Galliano’s minions rang to say that “John has cancelled his diary for today and would be not available for interview”. There followed much swearing by the producer who had come in from London especially for it.

As we were soon to learn, this is not the first time that ‘Dear John’ has done this. In fact, this is the 4th time that both he and his bosses at Doir had agreed to the interview and the 4th time he had cancelled on the day.

Still, we had one interview to conduct - Hubert de Givenchy.

De Givenchy was born into a wealthy family, in the northern French town of Beauvais in 1927. Impressed by the 1937 World's Fair in the French capital, the young de Givenchy decided he wanted to work "somewhere in fashion design". After studying at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, he went on to work for some of the big names of the time.

In 1952, Givenchy opened his own design house at the Plaine Monceau in Paris. At 25, he was the youngest designer of the progressive Paris fashion scene. His first collections were characterized by the use of rather more cheap fabrics for financial reasons, but they always piqued curiosity through their design.

A year later, he was introduced to Audrey Hepburn, he went on to design her wardrobe for the film 'Sabrina', 'Funny Face', 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' and many more. De Givenchy also developed his first perfume collection for her named ‘Interdit’, which is still available today. His other famous clients included Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy.

He finally retreated from fashion design in 1995.

The interview was superb and we were all captivated by his stories. As those who know me will confirm, I do not suffer fools easily and anything to do the fashion industry normally brings me out in a rash, but this chap was a real Gentleman - in the true sense of the word. He smiled, laughed and was terribly modest. A fascinating life-story, straight from the horse’s mouth ... and he drove himself to and from the interview in an old Mercedes.

As for Galliano who doesn’t ‘do’ anything before 1pm … temperamentally unavailable.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sortez Vos Nénés Pour Les Mecs ...

After berating the use of TV screens in cafés and bars (see below: Changing The Guard), I'm a fraud, a charlatan, a double-dealer, a fake, a phony and more importantly, a horse trader.

When I sat down and wrote my last, containing the racing channel Equida, I had no idea of what I was saying. I had, quite wrongly, assumed that the PMUs of this country were full of last-chancers, an exclusive club of sad individuals, betting their hard-earned state-funded unemployment benefit on nothing but 3-legged limping tins of cat food. For writing such utter tosh, I solemnly give an unmitigated apology to all concerned because, as of this morning, I know exactly why the Equida channel is quite so popular.

And it has naff all to do with horses ... evil creatures.

The sun has yet to stretch a primary ray, and as a moth to a lightbulb, a collection of weather-beaten and badly-dressed Gaullists flood into theses betting cafés, ready to pour over the day's racing cards and pour down an early morning tipple. A little before 8 this morning, I found myself among them, hot strong caffeine in hand and listening to their colourful banter. It was at this self-same time that I happened upon the TV screen in the top corner. My pulse quickened, my brain drained of blood as a sudden rush of emotion overtook me - a sensation of fakery and false accusation. I had mislead readers to this blog and, more importantly, insulted thousands who crave escapism in PMUs across the whole country.

The reason these PMUs are so full of a morning is for 1 (possibly 2) reasons: Amanda McLane.

McLane is one of the presenters of Equida's early morning shows. When she appears, PMUs country-wide, fall silent. Betting cards are discarded and all bets are off as keen eyes are focused on two hot favourites.

Born in Germany and raised in New York, Ms McLane has become one of the most popular presenters among France's sporting community. Along with her husband and two children, she has been resident here since the early 90's. She started out as a singer/dancer in the theatre and, apparently, her rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (oh and in that nightie-type thing please!) has to be seen to be believed. It wasn't until she arrived in France did her television career take off.

The dribbling assembly in the PMU gaze up at the screen with total adoration. No-one speaks. No-one breathes. No-one can. The last time a German stunned the French into paying such attention was on May 10th 1940.

Well, I've had a quiet word with a chap who works at the stables. He says that you'd have to be blinkered to miss out on such a broodmare. The going's firm and today's daily double is under wraps - a joint favourite, slightly putting up overweight.

I'll have a tenner each-way ... thank you Amanda. I now understand the racing term 'Morning Glory'.


Note: If anyone feels that this post is in any way sexist, tough.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Changing The Guard ...

Firstly, to mark HM The Queen's 80th Birthday, comes this, my 80th edition of the 'ere rant. Happy Birthday Brenda.

So, to business ...

There a major change a-foot when it comes to city bars and cafe's. The old-style smoky run-down, spit and sawdust establishments are making way for hi-tech rebuilds, coated in brushed aluminum, polished off with beads of imported soft woods.

Looks great, on the whole, and I agree that 'old school' must, at some time, surrender to change and modernisation. But tell me, why do all these new places feel the need to install the latest (and loudest) German engineered sound systems and the funkiest Japanese flat screen TVs?

You go to a bar or a cafe to mingle, meet your friends, catch up with folk and relax. We now enter the realm of the 'new bar'. Firstly, it's nigh impossible to get a seat as they have already been registered as an official squat by groups of scruffy individuals nursing a half pint of lager. Having lost out on the seating stakes, you're forced to stand at the bar which, more often than not, is overcrowded and there's always some artistic type in a black polo neck, with letter-box style glasses, speaking far too loudly and waving a Gauloise within an inch of your face. After an hour, your legs begin to buckle and you're in desperate need of somewhere to 'take a load off'. The umbrella stand by the door has been giving me the 'come hither' look for the past 20 minutes and I've even been known to slip into the toilets for a 5-minute respite.

Next, along with the other 57 couples jostling at the bar, you begin a round of the 'hovering over the people who look like they're leaving but who are really only rearranging the furniture just to piss you off' game. When you eventually do find a pair of seats, they're invariably situated in a dark corner somewhere, next to a 'Smooth' type and his face-sucker girlfriend. The music is so loud that it is nigh on impossible to talk without raising your voice to the sufficient level to burst an artery somewhere. There is no break in this 'music'. One track just rolls right into another with bass drum thumping monotony. Smoothy and his chick are kissing. A lot. No, really - a LOT. Such is this couple's ability to conserve their oxygen, the pearl divers of the Philippines would be forced to doff their caps - if they had any.

With a final ear-drenching squelch, 'Smoothy' and his bride release from each other's lippy embrace and surface for a lung-full of O2. Their attention now turns to the requisite flat screen TV which is tuned to a 'rap' cable channel. It is interesting to note that the music from the speakers bears no resemblance to the pulsating images of near naked white women and aggressive black men, posing and gesticulating on the wall-mounted flat screen. 'Smoothy' and limpet-girl have not spoken since we arrived. It's too bloody noisy to talk so people-watching is the only solution. It's not on the drinks menu and it's free but maybe their kiss-a-thon isn't such a bad idea after all.

TVs in bars should be outlawed. The sooner the better. Lower jaws hang open like executioners trapdoors - the expressionless faces of the viewers proving that corpses can actually watch TV. Conversation has been axed. The talker begins to speak and the hand goes up ... switch to 'shadda-fak-upp' mode while his or her companion falls trance-like towards whatever passes for entertainment on a screen the size of a car's windscreen.

"I wanted to tell you how gorgeous I think you look tonight darling ..."

"Ummm? Sorry? I'm just watching this guy on MTV have a staple gun pressed against his scrotum ... what was it you were saying?"

However, if you crave this sort of night out, then there are many different styles of bars for equally different tastes: for betting on the gee-gees, pop into a PMU. They've got screens for betting on hourly lotteries and 'Equida', the horse racing channel - watch as knackered equines are put out of their misery by qualified vets, live, from every racecourse across the land! There are bars which show travel channels ... get away from it all whilst sipping on an overpriced cocktail! There are fashion bars where you can sit in the dark with your sunglasses on and watch habitual 'up-chuckers' strut their stuff on catwalks from around the globe! Magic stuff! Just pick a theme* and you'll be assured a seat - spotty youths permitting - a whisker away from the latest hi-tech moving picture show (*conversation not included).

Think I'll stay at home tonight, open a can of Leffe, turn up the stereo, mute the TV and shout myself towards a box of Strepsils.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Easter Egg Hunt Ends Here ...

Just prior to leaving the city for Easter, I watched this prick park his excuse of a car. He got out, surveyed his handiwork and then calmly walked off as if everything was perfectly normal.

My question is what did he see that I didn't?

Coming next: his number plate ...


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Having A Krappy Day ...

The CPE is all done and dusted. A back-down by all concerned. The new law is defunct. France's parliament has just passed a bill to replace the previous version of the youth employment contract, even so, some students were still protesting on Tuesday knowing the CPE had been defeated and that they had won.

Stupid twats.

However, one interesting titbit came my way earlier on. If a man in Thailand wanted to say 'bonjour' he'd say the following; "Swawsdee krap".


So, wishing all students the 'krappiest' of days ...


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

French Strikes Help The Consumer …

To all those striking student types, the rail workers, heavy goods drivers, teachers, Air Traffic Control and the hooligans who are smashing up the capital … I say:

MAC you very much!

Keep it up as this is what I want next (€1365,00):

I love you all ...


Is That A Brioche In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Pleased To See Me …?

Tell me this: why do Parisien boulangeries staff their businesses with fat girls who exude abject misery?

A new day arrives as the sun slips free of the horizon, my heart fills with hope and positive energy pumps through the system. I pop into my local bakers to buy a 'sablé rasin' or 'croissant au beurre', only to be met by a forlorn-looking dollop with a face like a slapped arse.

At 8.30 of a morning, the shelves are already loaded up with delicious tarts, cakes and breads. Chocolate covered, fruit encrusted, hand crafted edible works of art. And just who have they employed to tempt you into buying their wares? I swear I didn't see any flinching in the facial muscle department - no lip movement, no smile, just a muffled well-practised ventriloquist delivery emanating from within: "mmm-jour".

It's a bit like having Victor Meldrew show you round Santa's Grotto ...


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Slap Ma Bitch Up Good …

There’s a young black kid, Alex, who drives the till in one of my local convenience stores - all items at least € 1.50 more than the supermarkets, that kind of thing. He's in his mid-twenties, speaks a spattering of English and dresses himself, more often than not, like a gun-toting downtown drug dealer. He's actually very sweet and enjoys practising his English whenever a tourist pops into to buy that essential item.

I've known him for about 6 years and have chatted to him at length about most things in life. His number one passion is music. Not Vivaldi or The Stones, nor is it Barclay James Harvest or Johnny Halliday. It’s rap - in yer face American 'Nigga' rap. His total disregard for the English-speaking tourist is beautifully illustrated when his shop is full of Americans, Brits or Aussies etc. It’s at this point that he decides to crank up the volume. Red-faced and shocked, there follows an accelerated exodus of clientele when "I wanna f**k you up the a**!" comes wafting across the breakfast cereals and potted preserves, at brain-melting volume.

Alex stands behind his cash register, oblivious to the meaning of these words. He closes his eyes, taps his foot and nods his head in approval - drifting away into a world of his own. "One day" he dreams "I'll be a serious rapper and I'll be famous!"

His other favourite is:

"I'm a Big Tymer nigga, yeah
Pulling trigger, yeah
A player hater to flip with, yeah
Gon' head and fill it, yeah
I be slanging wood, yeah
Out the hood, yeah
Let it be understood, yeah
It's all good, yeah
Got a nigga screaming large, yeah
On the hard, yeah
A smooth ghetto broad, yeah
I want the broad, yeah
A nigga do a trick, yeah
On the dick, yeah"


Alex is a bit like a child who learns a new swear word and doesn’t know what it means but uses it liberally all the same. I've suggested that he spends a bit of time translating these lyrics into French and then, maybe, tones down his in-shop entertainment. "I don't care. I like it", he grins.

You can't argue with that.

Call me a 'dub-ass cracker' but from where I sit, I've noticed how rap music has done nothing but alienate the black population from the whites. The song lyrics, along with the 'acts', are packed with aggression, overflowing with violence and more than a tad misogynistic. Gun crime, drugs and the wanton degradation of the fairer sex seems to fuel their every desire ... and we haven’t even broached the subject of how rich such rap stars are. Mind you, they are doing their best to kill each other in full view of the 'meed-ja'.

Take for example, The Notorious B.I.G.

Notorious? For what? I’d never heard of him until his murder was announced over the wires like he was a fully paid-up member of the world’s social elite. Notorious aka Biggie Smalls aka Christopher G. Wallace was a father of 2 children and only 24 when he was gunned-down. One can only assume that this was a gang-related drive-by, which is often the motive surrounding rap murders. His posthumous album, 'Life After Death', went diamond, selling more than 10 million copies. A fat lot of good that does him.

According to the records, there had been a falling-out a year or so earlier with another rapper, Tupac Shakur. It revolved around a $40,000 jewellery hold-up and five shots being sunk into Tupac. Mr Shakur survived and went on to say that Notorious knew about the plan to gun him down and failed to warn him. This sparked the East Coast West Coast war. The entire US became divided into two groups, the west side vs the east side.

Let battle commence.

Tupac Shakur was later murdered.

Followed by 28-stone Mr B.I.G.

The rap wars continue.

Guns and drugs reign.

Women are addressed as 'bitches' and 'hos'.

And from a small pumping epicerie in Paris, absorbed in his music, young Alex continues to naively regurgitate each and every phrase - as though he was reciting passages of the Bible to an approving Granny. The tourist shoppers come and go, their appreciation of music is broadened in an instant but at least they'll have something to write about on their postcards.

So don’t forget kids, anal sex is not for the faint-hearted … or for anyone suffering from dysentery …