Friday, September 08, 2006

While in Berlin, I documented a number of things that highlight the difference between the French and German peoples.

It is widely thought that the French vote for political candidates on the basis of looks, charm and general sexiness. Jacques Chirac's entire political career was founded on this, and Dominic de Villepin's popularity was famously boosted by a post party conference beach scene reminiscent of Colin Firth's celebrated wet shirt performance for the BBC's adaption of Pride and Prejudice.

While this may or may not be a cynical and caricatured view of French political life, there is one thing I can say with confidence: a man who goes about with a facial expression like this would have difficulty being elected to public office in France:



And yet in Germany, public displays of grimacing insanity would seem not to be prejudicial against electoral success.


Speaking of public affairs, there seems to be a distinctly different attitude towards public planning between the two countries.

If you wish to make a change to the exterior of your house in France, you must seek approval from the the local council in order that your modification is in line with the prevailing aesthetic of the neighbourhoud.

Tourists may have noticed that all houses in any given town have invariably been painted in an identical colour scheme, and even have the same species of flower growing in their window boxes. This is not the product of comfortable time honoured tradition, as one may assume, but of mortal dread of falling foul of the district's strict exterior decorating regulations. Look closer at some of these dwellings and you will find that these quaint aged-looking houses with wooden shutters, white washed walls and weather-beaten tiled rooves have in fact been built only a few years ago, again under the watchful eye of the local patrimoine police.

In Berlin, the city council's attitude towards exterior decoration seems to be rather more relaxed:



I hazard the liberty of suggesting that perhaps a happy median between the two extremes be accomodated.


Now I would like to return my attention some of the more alarming photographs I took at London's Highgate Cemetery.

Highgate Cemetery is closed to the public at night, and one doesn't need to speculate too much as to the rationale behind the cemetary management's decision:


Danger, keep away: do not disturb the dead


The cemetery is, of course, famous for its historically progressive "open grave" policy, Highgate enjoying some of the more radical elements of society as its clientele, notably Karl Marx and a host of dead Asian and Latin American left activists. Indeed Highgate Cemetery has turned no deserving corpse away, be they transgendered:


Beloved mother "Tom" dies tragically of complications resulting from genital reassignment surgery


or bestial:


Cat and trascendentalist poet "Muffy" finds final resting place at Highgate alongside literary contemporaries

1 Comments:

At 4:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol can I be burried next to Fluffy?

BTW what exactly does it mean to have an "open grave" policy?

 

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