Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vive La Revolution!

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that what TC calls our 'unofficial zoo' won't be complete until it provides a home for a parrot. This remains starkly problematic though, owing to the increasing number of cats in the menagerie!

Here in Placencia the Sunrise bar houses Samara, a four-year old yellow head I've so far heard saying her own name, "hola" and "women". She also exchanges more parroty kind of salutations with another yellow-head just a couple of blocks north up the causeway. (In Guatemala the red-crested Amazon is the more common pet.)

Anyway, I was finishing off Vive La Revolution Mark Steel's 'stand-up history of the French Revolution' yesterday. Thomas Paine - best-selling author of eighteenth century paperbacks such as Common Sense, The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason - has always been a bit of a hero of mine, but now I learn that during the days of unprecedented social upheaval in Paris he managed to get himself elected to the Convention without even bothering to learn a word of French. What a man. What an English-man.

And then he wrote a letter to George Washington telling him what a tosser he was for leaving him to rot in a revolutionary jail. That was a bit later on when things were really getting out of hand.

Along with the Marquis de Sade Paine was scheduled for a one-off meeting with Monsieur Sansom, Robespierre's chief Guillotine operator. However, he had the amazing stroke of luck that the buerque who was supposed to mark his cell door with the fatal cross did so on the inside of it by mistake, allowing Paine to shut the door and hang low for about 48 hours until Robespierre himself had had his jaw shot off and had been carted off for the chop.

Nobody is quite sure how de Sade got off, but he apparently had friends in low places. He did however have to shed 'tears of blood' on July 14 1789 when the poems he had written whilst imprisoned in the Bastille not so mysteriously disappeared in all the pandemonium - the very day he had sent his wife to the old castle to fetch them!

Steel also makes the point that Dr Guillotin was probably hoping that he would be best remembered for finding that empty tennis court that the representatives from the Third Estate could swear their famous oath in!

Seems that most of the bars in Placencia own just one compilation CD each. Yesterday I must have heard Blueberry Hill five times. Here comes James Blunt again....

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