Honfleur and Erik Satie

We discovered that Honfleur was the birthplace of composer Erik Satie.

It was his 150th anniversary so the house had been bedecked accordingly:-

aOld Building 8

Birthplace plaque:-

Honfleur, Erik Satie's Birthplace Plaque

The local music school is named in his honour though I see from the lettering above the central windows that it was (once) a Nursery School:-

Honfleur, Municipal Music School Erik Satie

There’s almost an Art Deco feel to this building. Canopy, long windows beside it, “jazzy” iron work on the gates:-

Honfleur, Municipal Music School Satie 2

Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1 is a lovely piece of music. I also like the animation which accompanies it here.

Erik Satie – Gymnopédie No.1

What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton

Re-reading the classics of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Corsair, 2015, 477 p.

 What Makes This Book So Great cover

This is a collection of Walton’s contributions to a blog on Tor.com, appearing between 15/6/2008 and 25/2/2011, in which she discussed the works of SF and fantasy she had been re-reading during that time. Her claim to be able to read up to six books in a day astonished me. If she’s doing that how does she fit in everyday life – food shopping, cooking, eating, family life, putting out the bins? Where on Earth can she find time to write fiction, or a blog post? Yes she says she sometimes spends all day in bed (I assume through illness or some debilitation) but even so. Admittedly that six was a maximum and she says she starts another book as soon as finishing the previous one. There was also the odd, to me, observation that she feels she hasn’t read a book if she hasn’t re-read it at least once; that first impressions of a book are suspect. I differ here, certainly from a later in life perspective. If a book does it for me the first time that’s fine; with perhaps a very few exceptions, if it doesn’t, a re-read is unlikely to help. My tbr pile is too high for much re-reading anyway. I also cannot read at Walton’s pace. Perhaps I pay too close an attention to the minutiae of a text; vide Pedant’s corner.

Many of Walton’s enthusiasms I doubt I would share. She spends 14 posts and over 60 pages here on Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series which has far too many volumes for me to embark upon now, and in any case I have a disrecommendation from another source. Similarly 17 posts and 53 pages on Steven Brust’s Dragaera series. Not going to happen.

Walton always writes interestingly about the subject at hand; even of books I have no desire to read (whatever her eloquence.) And “IWantToReadItosity” is a great coinage. “It’s hard to explain, is utterly subjective and is entirely separate from whether a book is actually good.” We all have such guilty pleasures.

She occasionally digresses from the SF/Fantasy remit, for example enthusing about Iain Banks’s The Crow Road and of Middlemarch opines that George Eliot would have been a great writer of Science Fiction if only she’d had the idea to invent the form.

A puff on the back cover quotes Publishers Weekly, ‘For readers unschooled in the history of SF/F, this book is a treasure trove.’ I wouldn’t disagree.

Pedant’s corner:- Various instances of “there are a number” or “there are a lot” – too many to note individually. “I admire it to no end” (if anything this means “there is no purpose to my admiration of it”. I assume Walton meant “I admire it no end.”) a missing comma before a quote (x 2,) Achilles’ (Achilles’s,) visit with (visit,) “Every culture has their own naming custom” (its own naming custom,) “and right go on into” (and go right on into,) for goodness’ sake (goodness’s.) “The Mazianni are a company fleet” (is a fleet,) “the rest of the worlsd … look on jealously” (looks on,) “The weight of significance of things … sometimes need” (needs,) “when it gets us information” (gives us,) Marilac – but two lines later Marilican Embassy (which is it; Marilac or Marilic, Marilacan or Marilican?) “global warming has deteriorated” (“the climate has deteriorated because of global warming,”) “and is decided” (either “has decided” or “is tasked with” the context isn’t entirely clear,) Katan (Katin on next page,) “‘going I know not whence’” (in a quote from Dunsany; whence means “from where” – you can’t go “from where”,) “‘to be a part of the forest. (from ‘The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for the Sacnoth’)” (no full stop after forest; or else a capital F at “from” and a full stop after Sacnoth.) “There are the sort of situations,” (the sorts of situations,) “who’s presented a great poet” (as a great poet,) elegaic (it’s spelled elegiac.) “There were a host (there was a host,) “that the British population shrink” (shrinks,) “Shute’s Britain …., indeed their ability” (its ability,) “to get away with Nicholas’s guesses to be more often right than wrong” (being more often,) to whit (to wit,) the PTA are considering (the PTA is considering,) vaccuum (vacuum,) “These are the kind of” (kinds of,) Marcus Aurelius’ (Marcus Aurelius’s,) “so that she has learned to thank people, and realise how nice” (realised,) Jesus’ (Jesus’s,) “Small Beer are definitely my favourite small press” (is definitely,) vapourised (vaporised, this is a curious error in a book full of USianisms,) ascendency (ascendancy,) philo-sophical (no hyphen) even moreso (more so.)

Honfleur War Memorial

From over the street:-

Honfleur War Memorial

Honfleur is a relatively small town. Just look at all those names. “To her children of the armies of the land and sea killed for the homeland 1914-1918.” A measure of what France lost between 1914 and 1918:-

Honfleur, War Memorial Close

World War 2 names are at the base of memorial. In front is a stone poilu’s helmet above crossed swords with the inscription, “Gloire au Soldats Francaise”.

Honfleur, War Memorial Detail

Off to one side was this plaque to Albert Manuel, “heros de la résistance, croix de guerre”:-

Honfleur, War Memorial, Resistance Plaque

This plaque commemorates “The veterans of Indo-China in Normandy. To their lost and disappeared 1945-54.”

Honfleur War Memorial, Indo-China

Another notes “19th March 1962. End of the war in Algeria.”

Honfleur, War Memorial, Algeria Plaque

Football Again

The new season doesn’t take long in coming around.

Sons’ opponents in the League Cup (Betfred Cup) will be Kilmarnock, Ayr United, Clyde and Annan Athletic. Matches to be played during the second half of July.

A quick reunion with Ayr, then. Doubtless we’ll get nothing out of that. They had the hex on us last season. It’s a long time since we played Kilmarnock.

Reelin’ In the Years 136: Jessica. RIP Gregg Allman

This is perhaps the most abiding legacy of the Allman Brothers band, whose member, Gregg, died earlier this week.

I might have included it in this series before if it had not had the (mis)fortune to have become the theme tune to Top Gear. Still that’s not the Allmans’ fault and it was chosen long before the programme was hi-jacked by the play-to-the-lowest-common-denominator tendency.

The Allman Brothers Band: Jessica

Gregory LeNoir “Gregg” Allman: 8/12/1947- 27/5/2017. So it goes.

Honfleur, Normandy, France

The final stop on our cruise trip last year was the fishing village of Honfleur in Normandy, France; across the River Seine from Le Havre.

This is a panorama from the ship’s berth on the River Seine.

Honfleur and Port Tower from Ship's Berth

At the extreme right above is one of those modern buildings we seemed to encounter at nearly every port. View from dock:-

Port Tower, Honfleur

View from town side of tower:-

Honfleur, Port Tower from Town Side

Honfleur itself is a delightful village in the old style. Panorama of harbour from the direction of the River Seine:-

Honfleur Harbour

Honfleur harbour from the town:-

Honfleur Harbour From the Town

Harbour buildings:-

Honfleur Harbour, Buildings

Honfleur Harbourside

Bruges

The first four were in Brug Square.

Judging by the flags this first is a local authority building:-

Second square

This seems to be the Provost House:-

Second square

Two aspects of the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Hard to photograph without other tourists in the shot:-

Second square

Second square

St Salvator’s. Impossible to get in one shot from nearby street level:-

St Salvatore

St Salvator's Bruges

An old almshouse:-

Old Almshouse, Bruges

Statue of painter Jan van Eyck:-

Jan van Eyck Statue, Bruges

Art Deco in Bruges

There isn’t much Art Deco in the centre of Bruges, of course, but in the approach to Smedenpoort we saw this. Good rounded balconies and column, porthole windows:-

Art Deco Style, Bruges

And that building to the left has an interesting feature – a gold figure of a seated man:-

Gold Seated Man, Bruges

This one was a bit nearer to Smedenpoort. Rounded balcony, pillar, rule of three in windows, projecting canopy:-

Bruges, Art Deco Style Again

This doorway was striking:-

Art Deco Door, Bruges

I photographed this pair on the way back to the car. Note canopy over central bay on the one to the left:-

Art Deco, Bruges

It had a good doorway too:-

Another Deco Door, Bruges

And that greyer one had strong banding and a projection from its roofline. Pity its eyes have been “poked out”:-

Art Deco in Bruges

Bruges from the Canals

The boat trip guide called this the former “English” Embassy:-

"English" Embassy, Bruges

"English" Embassy, Bruges Again

Canalside House with weathervane:-

Canalside House + Weathervane, Bruges

More canalside buildings:-

Canalside Houses, Bruges

Extended canal vista:-

Canalside Buildings, Bruges

Flemish style buildings:-

Flemish Style Buildings, Bruges

Church of Our Lady:-

Church of Our Lady, Bruges

I’m afraid I can’t remember the name of this church with great stained glass windows:-

Church with Stained Glass, Bruges

Church with Stained Glass, Bruges 2

Building with Venetian (Murano) glass windows. The first such in western Europe we were told:-

Building with Venetian (Murano) Glass Windows, Bruges

The Belfry in Bruges from the canal:-

The Belfry in Bruges

Arnhem by Major-General R E Urquhart

Pan, British Battles Series, 1972, 221 p plus 8 p photographs. First published in 1958.

 Arnhem cover

In 1944 Urquhart was the Commander of the 1st Airborne Division which along with 1 Polish Parachute Brigade carried out the ‘Market’ part of the overall ‘Market Garden’ Operation to take the crossings over the Rivers Maas, Waal and Neder Rhine by aerial assault with a ground push intended to relieve them. As such he was therefore in command at Arnhem, location of the famous “Bridge Too Far.”

The book mainly covers Urquhart’s own experiences at Arnhem to the west of the town and bridge but it does broaden out at times to cover other aspects of the operation.

Perhaps a desperate adventure in the best of circumstances, the enterprise was totally compromised by the plans for the complete operation being found by the Germans on the body of a US officer. The German commander, Model, had in any case quickly assessed the likely focus of the attack and made his dispositions accordingly. In addition, from the outset there were problems with British communications, as radio sets failed to function properly. As a result subsequent air supply fell on the places designated before the operation started which were mostly back in German hands by the time the drops took place. Urquhart pays tribute to the dedication and bravery of the aircrews on these missions. They had to fly in a straight line for kilometres sometimes making several passes over the drop zone all in the teeth of German anti-aircraft fire. As a result many planes and lives were lost. So too with the fortitude of the defenders of the Allied positions at the bridge and in the pocket.

A strange circumstance seemed to take place with medical provision for casualties at one location where relatively lightly wounded of both sides were treated in the same building (under German guard) before returning to their respective positions.

Oddly, I felt that a history of the battle might have been better written by someone not so intimately involved with it. Urquhart was perhaps too close to the events to clarify them sufficiently for the general reader.

Pedant’s corner:- Horrocks’ (Horrocks’s,) none the worst (none the worse,) at the feet of a ten-feet-high brick wall (at the foot of,) 82nd Us Airborne Division (US.) “For a while we were enduring…” (For while we were enduring,) “but an forming close defence” (am forming,) XXX Corps’ (XXX Corps).

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