TABLE BAY AND THE BAY OF ANGELS

Table Bay, etching 1683

For me Table Bay is a Cape Malay bredie* of images and thoughts.  Table Bay and, of course, the Table Rock, were what magnetized me from the rural landscape to become a Capetonian.  And this bredie … Table Bay calls up for me the desire for a bigger world, a refusal to settle for suburban answers.  These Westerners … was the bad they brought in equal measure to the good?  In the shimmer on Table Bay history clashes swords with the sun … Wolraad Woltemade and his horse in the curve of a wave; the postal stones; ships sinking, ships arriving; the noon cannon;  bearded sailors staring at the Table Rock; Adamastor that you hear in storms if you listen; the Castle, the Amsterdam battery, the Chavonnes battery; the pain and anger of the Flying Dutchman …

The Flying Dutchman, ghost ship

… the murmur of the beach-combers; gulls; Robben Island, smear on the ocean;  musicians on the deck of a ship full of freed slaves dancing and playing the banjo, bringing the blues back to Africa …

Then the second bay, the Bay of Angels.  This Bay, the Côte d’Azur in France, stretches from Menton, near the Italian border and ends near Cannes.  They tell me there were human beings here four-hundred thousand years ago.  I smile.  Where I come from, South Africa, we start at two million years.  Still, history hums in the Maritime Alps that guard the Bay.  Here the Celt-Ligurians, a civilization of thousands of years, erected their forts and grunted under monoliths.  In Antibes (then Antipolis), where I find myself, their remains from 600 b.c. have been brushed open from under the Cathedral with its proto-Christian history.

Nomade sculpture ponders the Bay of Angels

Then came colonial masters, the Phonecians.  For them, the Bay of Angels was a lesser part of the larger establishment of Massala (today Marseille).  The Greeks arrive with an It’s our turn.  Monaco, Nice and Antibes all had Greek names originally.  Whether there were epic battles after some hundreds of years when the Romans marched in is uncertain.  Another handful of centuries.

In this time Roman soldiers regarded the mists of Scottish mountains and the rivers of Northern Europe.  After the assassination of Julius Caesar the coastal town along the Bay, Fréjus (the Forum of Julius), was honoured with his name.  His descendant Augustus had La Trophée built, today a sad, proud ruin, above Monaco. He instituted a census in the Empire, even to the far-flung town of Bethlehem in the Middle East.

Trophée of Augustus at La Turbie

Antibes has a legend that Paul came to the city.  Not unlikely when one thinks that Rome is but two or three days by boat.  Somewhere in the hills here there is a cave, its entrance collapsed and hidden.  In that cave is the Letter to the People of Antipolis written by Paul.  How would that be, if it were true?

At Juan-Les-Pins, the coastal town adjoining Antibes, there are few waves.  Here the Bay of Angels, or the Mediterranean Sea, often feels like a lake.  Over the shimmer on the water you see two islands, Ste Marguerite and St Honoré.  These islands, closer to Cannes, were occupied by the Romans and four hundred years after Christ, St Honoré and his following landed here, to establish one of Europe’s first Christian cloisters.

The islands of St Honoré and Ste Marguerite

These whispers across the water, music from distant times; strange instruments, lyrics unknown … they move over the creased sea … Table Bay and the Bay of Angels, two worlds, people who went before me, some of whose genes I carry … they saw what I now see and, perhaps, felt what I now feel.

 

© Will van der Walt

http://www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2017

 *bredie – A Cape Malay dish of spiced curry, dangerously addictive

 

 Sources

Pierre Tosan (ed.) : Dictionnaire D’Antibes Juan-Les-Pins (Hepta, Antibes. 1998)

 Images

Flying Dutchman – paulthomasonwriter.com

Table Bay – etching by Allain Mallet in 1683, from “Hoerikwaggo”

Nomade, sculpture on the ramparts of St Jaumes, Antibes –  my photo

Trophée d’August – Côte d’Azur Tourism 

View of islands – my photo

 

 

 

 

 

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LA VIE EN ROSE – the vulnerable romantic

This song was composed by Edith Piaf in the final years of World War 2 and is far more than a hit.  It is honoured by some as the unofficial national anthem of the French.  And it is a single line in this love chanson that sets the tone in the lyric –the beloved is compared with an unretouched portrait, an affectionate ambiguity.

                     “the smile lost on his lips”

The title in relation to the lyric suggests a vulnerable romanticism – life in a rosy hue, or even, life in pink.  “Moonlight and roses” comes to mind as well as the ease with which life fractures it.

                            The orphan sparrow

La Vie en Rose cannot of course be seen apart from Edith Piaf.  As a child she was called la môme, the orphan sparrow, probably as a result of crippling poverty and the unpredictability of bohemian life once her talent had been discovered.  It is this pathos that we hear in Piaf’s voice, something which still touches people.  And she had endeared herself to the French public when accusations of collaboration with the German occupiers, calling her a collabo, were launched against her.  A close friend in the French Resistance set things straight.

After an internationally successful life, the life style and encroaching health problems took their toll and she died at an early age in Grasse, in the south of France, in 1963.  She had still recorded her hit Non, je ne regrette rien in 1960, another chanson that recalls her vulnerable romanticism.  She was laid to rest in Paris.  There were 100,000 people at her funeral.  And, if you listen, you’ll hear her voice in every piano accordion on the Champs Elysées.

                        “… the beat of my heart …”

 

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2017

 

Sources

Wikipedia: biography and “La Vie en Rose »

You Tube, for the song

 

Images

Roses on music sheet – lavieenrose.over-blog.com

La môme  –  francisdonne.qc.ca

Edith Piaf  –  lefigaro.fr

 

 

  

THE FRENCH LANGUAGE: the delights, the quirks

 Outsiders (I believe we are called les etrangers)  will know what I’m talking about – the ups, downs and the sideways.  Take the accents in this language, something seldom used in English.

Le bâtiment (building) has a nice little roof on it.

Célèbre has celebratory firecrackers over it.

La flèche (arrow) is somehow sharper than its English equivalent.

Déteste feels stronger that detest.

                    An angle on Angèle

I take the liberty of mentioning some of the delights of Claudie’s English.  She speaks more formally than I do and adds a touch of the literary, at times.  For her a window gives onto the place.  You push off the light and close the television.  And the baddie in the Policier aggresses someone.  If you’re uncertain then you don’t know what’s expecting you.

French, you soon discover, is an uncharted territory of false friends.  Or do I forgive the English language for evolving borrowed words in unexpected ways?

Je suis blessé does not mean “I am blessed”.  It means “I am wounded”.

Négligé is not black, sexy and made of silk.  It means “neglected”.

A woman (in English) who is petite is not merely short.  So too, in English, petty is not merely dimensionally challenged.

      Painting the Giraffe

Idioms in any language are fascinating, especially when they become a touch surreal.  In Afrikaans, for example, the die is cast is expressed as “the bullet has passed through the church”.

“A kettle of crabs” in French is something like a hornet’s nest and to be avoided.

“To paint the giraffe” is doing something that really does not have to be done.

“The marriage of carp and hare”  means to bring incompatibles together vainly

And the one that applies to me  − “To speak French like a Spanish cow”.  Enough said.

                Marriage of Carp and Hare

 

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2017

 

Sources

Claudie A. L. Mader

P.Desalmand, Y. Stalloni:  200 expressions expliquées (Chen, 2013)

Images

Claudie by Ise La

200 expressions expliquées

 

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