On Amplifie Également Le Malheur Et Le Bonheur, Nous Ne Sommes Jamais Ni Si Malheureux, Ni Si Heureux Qu’on Le Dit

Balzac

“He’s reading Balzac, knocking back Prozac, it’s a helping hand that makes you feel wonderfully bland”

The first I’d ever heard of Balzac was in the above song lyrics from the Britpop classic ‘Country House’ by Blur. I loved that song when it came out, but then I loved all things Britpop back in the mid-nineties. ‘Country House’ was the single that beat Oasis’ ‘Roll With It’ to the number one slot, back when people cared about the singles chart. It was the beginning of a faux rivalry between the two that would result in both bands going on to sell lots of records. As a fan of both groups at the time, I loved the whole affair, but it was clearly absolute nonsense. This stuff was in the actual news for goodness sake, and not just the tabloid press, it was the number one story on the BBC news.

I wonder what Balzac would have made of it all. Probably not much. He was French and unlikely to have been overly interested in Britpop. Particularly because it all took place 145 years after his death.

I later came across Balzac when I was studying for my degree in French Studies. There was a significant literary component to my course, so studying Balzac was inevitable. Unfortunately, as I was struggling to master French literacy at the time, reading literature in the language was a little beyond me. I couldn’t find an English translation of the Balzac novel we were supposed to read (Le Colonel Chabert) so I chose to study the other authors on the reading list instead – namely Stendhal and Flaubert, for whom the chosen texts were readily available in English. By the end of the course my French was good enough to have a go at the original texts, but by that stage I’d chosen to specialise in other areas – more of the aforementioned Stendhal (on the basis that I’d already read his stuff) and quite a lot of French theatre, (on the basis that plays are quicker and easier to read than novels).

So I never got around to reading any Balzac. I’m not sure if I missed out too much. Mrs Proclaims has read quite a bit, indeed that is predominantly what she spends most of her time doing these days. We met on our degree course. She was the one who came top of all the classes we were in, whereas I was the one who rolled into the lectures bleary-eyed and hungover most of the time.  She seems to not hate Balzac, but I’m not sure she loves his work, so much as she enjoys the act of studying. We’re very different to each other in that regard.

Maybe one day I’ll read some Balzac. Although, if I’m honest, the Prozac does sound more appealing.

Pochi Vedono Come Siamo, Ma Tutti Vedono Quello Che Fingiamo Di Essere

Makivelli

It’s Friday, so hang up your scruples and enjoy a few vices.

But don’t do anything too Machiavellian.

Unless you want to of course.

I have gone with a Machievellian theme for this week’s ‘Artist’s Corner’

Because this week I present my fairly rubbish drawing of none other than Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, a man as underhand and duplicitous as they came.

I imagine.

I don’t know, I haven’t done even the most basic research for this.

Maybe he just wrote stuff with duplicitous character in and he was actually a nice chap.

Although, if my artistic rendition is to be believed (and in the end what other evidence do we have?) he probably was a little bit naughty.

Nowhere So Busy A Man As He Than He, And Yet He Seemed Busier Than He Was

Chaucer

Ah, tis Friday, the day that cometh at the end of the week and doth mark the weekend.

And, after something of a European tour of literary greats, I return to these shores for one of our own. And if Shakespeare is very much the scourge of the GCSE English student, then Chaucer must surely be the equivalent for the English A-level student.

Not that I have an English A-level, nor have I read any Chaucer. I think there’s a copy of The Canterbury Tales on my bookshelf but I can’t say it’s ever been opened.

I have been to Canterbury though, which must count for something.

Mit Dem Wissen Wächst Der Zweifel

Goethe

This week’s literary great, captured in my inimitable artistic style, is one Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was a German writer of not inconsiderable repute.

As with so many of the literary figures I’ve featured, I’ve never read anything he’s written, but I hear he was pretty good. Maybe I’ll learn German. There’s a whole load of Goethe Institutes dotted around the world where I could do that if I had the money and the time to do so.

Alas I have neither at the moment. I could always read a translation of his works, but where’s the fun in that?

La Senda De La Virtud Es Muy Estrecha Y El Camino Del Vicio, Ancho Y Espacioso

cervantes

Another Friday, another doodle and, as per the last two weeks here is yet another depiction of a great literary figure. And it’s none other than the great Spanish writer and one of the world’s first novelists, Miguel de Cervantes.

He’s probably best known for writing Don Quixote, which to be honest I’ve never read. I don’t even know what it’s about. But more educated people seem to think it’s quite good.

For ages I thought it was called Donkey Hotay and wondered why one of the first novels ever written would be about a donkey called Hotay. I realise the stupidity of that particular thought process, not least the fact that if it was actually written about a donkey, the title would have the Spanish word for donkey and it would’ve been called El Burro Hotay.

I might one day write a book called Donkey Hotay and, with any luck, it’ll be just as seminal as Cervantes’ novel. And then I won’t seem so stupid after all.

Free As A Bird

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Another Monday and another ‘Artists Corner’.

Except that I’m supposed to do these on a Friday according to my 2017 blogging schedule.

Monday is ‘long post day’.

But, after another week of stress in the world of work, I continue to be a little out of synch with the blogosphere.

In the greater scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. There are bigger things in this world to worry about.

Like the fact that tomorrow is my birthday and I have to go to work. I hate working on my birthday.

Anyway, I’ll probably post something tomorrow about that. And I’ll expect my comments section to be full of birthday wishes.

Back to today though and I’m belatedly posting my weekly contribution to Haylee’s Moodle Army.

This week she gave us free rein to do what we want.

So I was going to do something depicting a lion who had escaped from his cage (so ‘free’, but also ‘reign’ because the lion is the king of all the animals.), but upon his escape he was going to have set up a business selling spring water and he’d be selling the bottles as a ‘3 for 2’ offer (so ‘sort-of-free’ rain).

In the end that seemed like quite an ambitious proposal for someone with my artistic skills so I drew this pigeon instead.

pigeon

 

Outside The Comfort Zone

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It finally happened, after nearly three months of following a fairly consistent blogging schedule (longer posts on Monday, approximations of poetry on Wednesdays and a slightly rubbish doodle on Fridays) I’ve managed to fall behind.

I’m not worried, I regularly disappeared for weeks on end in 2016 and, nearly three full months in, 2017 is already looking like a significantly better blogging year. Not necessarily a better year in any other respect, although 2016 is oft much maligned as the ‘worst year ever’ and certainly Brexit and Trump made it a pretty bad year politically and lots of celebrities dying made it bad year for people who like celebrities, and I wouldn’t say 2016 was a vintage year for me personally because it wasn’t, but I’d be hard-pressed to say that it was manifestly worse than 2015 in that respect. So far 2017, while seemingly better on the ‘celebrities dying’ front (as far as I’m aware), is still suffering from the ridiculousness of Donald over there and the imminent triggering of Article 50 over here. On a personal level, there is much to be optimistic about but little in the way of the ‘realisation’ of any of that, so, while 2017 has not been significantly worse than 2015 or 2016, I’m not sure I could claim it’s been much better. But it’s early days and there’s the potential for some personal growth in the next few months.

But the last few weeks have been arduous and I’ve been maintaining a blogging schedule that is reasonably consistent against the backdrop of a job that is, at times, more than a little challenging. I like a challenge, I don’t want to be bored at work, but ‘challenging’ can be synonymous with ‘time-consuming’.

So missing a couple of scheduled blog posts is not the end of the world. Continue reading Outside The Comfort Zone

Super Moodles

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Just as the working week was getting a bit too much to handle, Friday has swooped in to save us.

Friday is my favourite day for many reasons.

Well one reason mainly.

Which is obviously the weekend, and all the ‘not-having-to-go-to-work’ that that entails.

But I also like Friday because that is the day I’ve chosen for my regular foray into the visual arts.

And this week, like for the last seven weeks, I’m participating in Haylee’s (off of Aloada Bobbins) regular Moodle Army challenge.

This week’s challenge was to BECOME THE HERO OF OUR OWN STORY!

I think this could be interpreted in so many ways. Maybe I could have drawn something that represents my greatest strengths. Or a moment when I was truly the hero of the hour. It has happened. And not just metaphorically.

Well mostly metaphorically.

However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to draw myself as my favourite superhero.

But who to pick?

Superman was always one of my favourites as a small child. I used to have a Superman costume and I loved the Christopher Reeves films.

Well the first two anyway.

Then again, Spider-Man was also great. I didn’t have the costume but I really wanted the costume. And if my love of Superman waned a little as I got older, I still thought Spider-Man was pretty cool well into my teens.

These days, though, it’s hard to get past Batman. I think I’d make a brilliant Batman. If I was a billionaire. And good at fighting . And had led a significantly more tragic life.

So which hero to portray myself as for the Moodle Army Challenge?

In the end I couldn’t pick so I chose all three.

So here is a picture of SuperSpiderBatJames. Evildoers beware!

Superbatspiderman

 

Heralding Another Moodle

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Another Friday, another ‘Artist’s Corner’. Once again the inspiration for this week’s masterpiece comes from the marvellous Moodle Army Challenge from Haylee’s Aloada Bobbins.

This week the challenge was to ‘Blow your own trumpet’.

I don’t have a musical bone in my body. I own a five-stringed electric guitar. I’ve modified it from the usual six-stringed instrument through a dedicated lack of maintenance and care, which has taken me several years to perfect.

I sometimes still like to strum it but aside from muscle memory enabling me to remember how to play the first few chords of Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’, a perennial favourite from my teenage years, I can’t remember how to play very much at all.

I sometimes think I would like to learn to play again, but to what end I’m not sure. I’m unlikely to be headlining Glastonbury anytime soon.

Or ever.

And if I can’t play the guitar, I certainly can’t play the trumpet.

But I can blow my own ‘metaphorical’ trumpet rather well.

I know what I’m good at.

Which is no small amount of things.

For example I can differentiate between the various remote controls which form part of my TV viewing experience these days.

I can usually put together flat-pack furniture on my own, even when the instructions advise that two people should be involved.

I can cook a mean boil-in-the-bag rice.

However, one of the things in this world that I’m less good at is drawing.

But I’d never let something like a total lack of talent and ability stop me from doing anything.

And so here is a picture of me blowing my own trumpet:

trumpet

And here is Green Day with the aforementioned ‘Basket Case’:

 

 

So Sally Can Wait

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Welcome to another ‘Artist’s Corner’. Yet again the inspiration for this week’s oeuvre comes courtesy of the Moodle Army Challenge from Haylee’s Aloada Bobbins.

This weeks challenge was to ‘Look Back’.

I’ve been feeling quite nostalgic lately, not least because of the recent ‘Stuff I used to do but don’t do any more’ series of posts that I’ve been writing. Clearly the blogosphere enjoys a bit of nostalgia too because parts 1 and 2 are currently the most popular posts I’ve ever written for this blog.

Anyway, enough self-congratulating, (although clearly part 3 has a lot to live up to…) the point is that I have been ‘looking back’ quite a lot recently. Continue reading So Sally Can Wait