Added on Monday 19 May 2008
Very sadly we have had no students this month, an unusual state of affairs for April, so it looks like I shall have to write about our rather domestic going's on recently. On reflection perhaps it has been just as well about the lack of students though as the weather in the last few weeks has been somewhat wet. Normally in April we have some rain, usually during the night leaving the days getting a bit brighter but over the last week or so we have had tremendous downpours lasting several days. However this morning as I write this the sun is shining brightly with the mist slowly disappearing and there is a considerable feeling of optimism, as it looks much more promising for the coming weekend, I hope! Is this something to do with climate change I wonder? I do find that the damp weather seems to aggravate my various aches and pains, something to do with my age I suppose. I noticed that this morning that the barometer has literally shot up to the top of the glass getting to the position of 'beautiful fixed' weather, I had to stop and think there as I was trying to translate that back to English, it is a French barometer after all. I do notice that quite frequently I am sometimes stumped in remembering the English words or phrases when translating it back to my mother tongue! This can be quite embarrassing when
Fiona and I are asked what a certain word is in English and we both look at each other as we try and remember what it is! When we have students here we mostly teach in English so we get back into the swing of things but even after a month or so when daily life is conducted in French it can get rather complicated.
At the beginning of the year an elderly cousin of Fiona's died and she got a call from her solicitor to say that she had left her a couple of rings and they duly arrived the other day. On phoning the jewellers to say that they arrived safely, Fiona had asked if they knew the value of them for insurance, but they only knew the probate value, which is different from insurance valuation, so we are still in the dark on that one. They are very pretty however but unfortunately too small for Fiona to wear so she may well sell them. We don't have any knowledge about the age or history of them so we are completely in the dark about their history, all we know is that the cousin was married a couple of times and she died when in her 90's so they could be of an age from about the 1930's onwards. Cleaning them was my first priority so with the help of soapy water, vinegar and an old toothbrush I set about the task and within an hour or so they were both nice and shiny and sparkling, one looks like a wedding/engagement ring with a raised diamond and three small diamonds on either side set in platinum and the other seems to be an eternity ring with eight small diamonds set in gold. All a great mystery to us at the moment!
I don't know if it is just my age but I feel that the advance of technology is just going a bit too fast for me. Take my video camera for instance. When I bought it some 13 years ago it was a state of the art professional camera, using a video format that is now considered obsolete and overtaken with new format tapes several times over. Now by that I don't mean that it does not work or that it produces substandard images, just that it is no longer compatible with readily available standards of tape stock. It all has to be transformed via the computer into a digital media before I can edit and modify the images to produce a programme. Now I am not complaining about this as the quality in an edit programme is now far superior than it was when it was transferred from tape to tape with the subsequent loss of quality when dubbing from one tape to another. However, in the digital domain there is no loss in the image and for that I am eternally grateful and it has made editing far quicker than it used to be, a quick cut and paste and Bob's your uncle. Finished! My complaint is that when we have students that come here with the latest cameras, and especially the ones that do not use tape at all but it is all in the digital domain, and I have to learn how to transfer the images to the computer, mostly by looking at the handbooks. Which I may add are usually far too complex, and probably translated from Japanese via Swahili or something similar. Another example is that of my stills camera, when it was bought 4 years ago it had the latest technology but has now been superseded several times over. And as for the handbook, well that is just as incomprehensible as it always was taking seemingly forever to read and digest! On the other hand I was changing the starter in one of the fluorescent tubes in our lingerie the other day, a technology that I understand and one that has not changed for decades. 10 minutes and the job was done without having to look for the handbook! Bliss. I am reminded of the old joke about how many .......(fill in as appropriate) does it take to change a light bulb! On the other side of the coin I suppose I remember the time when I started in news gathering when the minimum crew that was required was 5 people including a director, cameraman, camera assistant, a sound man and a driver. Now I work solo fulfilling all those roles, although I do wish that I had an assistant to lug all the kit about! Must be my age.
Rural France. I love it!
(c) Barry Paton. May 2008.