The Best Things in Life …

You can view New Year’s Eve as amateur night, when those who have failed to make an appearance over the previous twelve months don their finest drip dry shirt and paint the town red or as a time to reflect.  Those who know me know that I get about a bit.  I get to mix with some of the most fascinating people and some of the more insane; you know the type, the sort of people who moan about Starbucks’ position on tax – whilst they’re sitting in a Starbucks, drinking Starbucks coffee.  Well I’ve been reflecting.

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I was sat in a park in Leeds with a former member of a Latvian all-girl rock group when she told me that the most important things in life aren’t things.  You are singing to the choir when you share such wisdom with me.  I know that it’s not rocket science but it is profound.  To you and I it may be obvious but for those who need a gentle nudge look no further than the latest research commissioned for the release of Life of Pi on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK. The message from the top 50 responses is crystal clear – concentrate on what you do have, rather than what you don’t.

  1. Stop worrying about money
  2. Stop worrying about what other people think
  3. Take two holidays a year
  4. Enjoy the little comforts
  5. Experience different cultures
  6. Work to live rather than live to work
  7. Pay off all debts
  8. Be true to yourself
  9. Concentrate on what you have instead of what you don’t have
  10. Use Money for fun rather than for a rainy day
  11. Make time for family and friends
  12. Try all types of food
  13. Find true love
  14. Travel to a least 25 foreign countries
  15. Go outside more
  16. Learn a new language
  17. Be well thought of by family and friends
  18. Help your family when they’re in need
  19. Lose 6 kg in weight
  20. Treat each day like it’s your last
  21. Visit all Britain’s historical landmarks
  22. Book an impulsive last-minute holiday
  23. Volunteer for a charity
  24. Take up a challenge
  25. Go on Safari
  26. Blow money shopping
  27. Learn a new instrument
  28. Been married for longer than 20 years
  29. Save money for your grandchildren to enjoy
  30. Start a family
  31. Earn more than your age
  32. Have a pet
  33. Drive a really fast car
  34. Travel alone
  35. Keep children on the straight and narrow
  36. Meet strangers
  37. Move away from home to an unfamiliar place
  38. Have a one night stand
  39. Pass your driving test
  40. Get a degree
  41. Rescue someone so you’re a hero for a while
  42. Date someone exciting but completely wrong
  43. Get a promotion
  44. Reach your career peak by 40
  45. Have an all night drinking session
  46. Perform something on stage in front of others
  47. Snog a stranger
  48. Plan a surprise party
  49. Embark on adrenaline packed activities such as bungee jumping
  50. Keep young by spending time with children

The Metro reports that the average person is able to tick off just eight of the fifty and that fewer than a quarter of us believe that we are living life to the full.  So snogging a stranger, having a one night stand and dating someone exciting but completely wrong may not be your thing but I for one was able to combine all three.

There is perhaps nothing new in the research; some of us realized a while ago that we are experience rather than stuff junkies but for those who wish to delve further and explore the ideas raised in the film the Damaris Trust offers an excellent Resource
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Aristotle pointed out that it is logically impossible for two contradictory beliefs both to be true at the same time but if we suspend logic momentarily we offer ourselves tremendous opportunities for self-discovery.  We are no longer inhibited by the labels which we and others apply to ourselves.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

Paris – Vive la difference

I am fortunate in that I get to travel a lot and mix with people from all walks of life.  After some prompting I’ve decided to start sharing brief snapshots of some of the cities I’ve visited, so that others, as business travellers or tourists with only a limited time available may benefit.

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You’re only going to get a real feel for the place on foot but different parts of Paris have a totally different feel so you’ll probably want to take full advantage of the Metro system too.  You’re best deal is to buy a ‘Carnet’, that’s ten individual Metro tickets costing around £12.  Tickets are valid for a single journey. You can buy your tickets from the kiosk or the automated machines with English instructions. Metro lines are numbered.  RER lines have letters. You can also use a normal Metro ticket on the RER trains in the central two zones, the Metro runs until between 1230am and 1am.  Like I have said before, different parts, different feels.  You’ll know where you want to go but after you’ve done the obvious Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame you’ll find yourself near one or more of the areas below:

  • Rough n Ready – Around Gare Du Nord and walking to the west to Place Pigale near the Moulin Rouge (northern edges of the 9e and 10e).
  • Village Charm – Montmartre (18e), more fun to work your way up from Place Blanche and gradually walk uphill to Sacre Couer.  You can walk down through the gardens and take your photos looking back.
  • Marais (3e), you’ll get lost but just weave through the streets. I recommend a brief visit to one of the few free museums  ‘Hotel Carnavalet’, 23 Rue de Sevigne (10am to 6pm except Monday) and then heading to  Place des Vognes, an open square a few hundred yards away.  Lots of galleries and shops but head for ‘Carette Salon de The’ at 25 Place des Vosges, sit outside and enjoy a hot chocolate served from a silver pot  into your porcelain cup.
  • Designer and Class – Get off the Metro at St. Germain des Pres on the south bank.  Opposite the church you’ll see Deux Magots, great for a coffee, the former haunt of Satre, Camus and Hemmingway (don’t worry it’s not a dodgy French dish, a Magot is a grotesque Chinese figurine).  Just around the corner on Bld St Germain de Pres at 173 you’ll find Le Flore, another classy but reasonable place.  From there you can head south to the Luxembourg Gardens, meander up to the Pantheon and Rue Descartes and call in the ‘Mayflower Pub’ for a Belgian beer.
  • Big Buildings – If you’re not fussed about traipsing around the museums but want to see the sights you could head from Bld St Germain to the 7e to the National Assembly, Hotel Des Invalides (where Napoleon is buried), take in the Eiffel Tower, the Arc De Triomphe and walk down the Champs Elysees to the Concorde and the Louvre.

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There is much to do but remember that museums are closed on Monday, not a bad thing when every museum will cost you around £10-£15 each.  I hate organised stuff but sometimes you can find out so much by tagging along and you can be spotting places that you want to return to.  If the Paris Catacombs take your fancy the entrance is at Denfert Rouchereau Metro station.  Though it’s too much for a short visit the medieval village of Senlis, 45 minutes north east of Paris near Chantilly, is the birthplace of the French monarchy with gothic cathedrals, half timbered houses and cobbled streets  (recommended to me but I haven’t made it yet).

Generally you’re talking about £7 for a pint and £4 for a coffee. The cheap places are crap and nearly as expensive, while the classy places aren’t always a lot more expensive.  Beware of the tourist rip-off places though, €22 for a coke is the record I’ve found, don’t worry I didn’t pay it!

The French – generally they are far from ignorant. They really don’t understand you unless your pronunciation is spot on and I usually get in trouble. English and German use concept words whereas with French it is the whole sentence and its context which brings meaning. I’m told that I pronounce Monsieur, like Mon Chien (my dog); Excusez moi, like excuse mes nois (excuse my nuts).  Biere a la Peche, is beer with peach syrup but when I pronounce it I ask for goldfish in a glass, Biere avec Pesce.  It’s hardly fun living in an attic but I thought that I was being sophisticated describing how I lived in a Pommes de Terre.  Pied e Terre, is a small flat used by folk who only need a small base midweek which translates as a foot on the ground.  I on the otherhand was telling everyone that I lived in a potato. Now you can see why it’s never boring when I’m away.

And the French, well they have an unusual take on me too.  One client told his colleagues, “We like the way he speaks his mind. He can express himself in a way that is shall we say… virile. That’s rare these days, and it’s good to see.”  Well flattery is always welcome so thank you to a certain member of France Télévisions too who said, “Who cares if he’s English! You’re our oldest enemies but we like the way he talks!  In many ways Andrew fulfils the expectations in France of what an Englishman ought to be like. He’s seen as stylish, slightly eccentric, gentlemanly, outspoken, and humorous.” Oooh la la – Vive la difference!

All rights reserved © 2013 Andrew Hutchinson

Portrait of A Weird Society

For a real taste of alternative culture you will do no better than Portrait of a Weird SocietyPortrait of a Weird Society has the inspiration of Elisa Radelet to thank, as she organises parties and extravagant shows in Paris to create a network of artists, models and performers from different environments to promote art and culture for everyone.  Well we may put on a good show when it comes to the Olympics but for that true Bohemian feel, well only the French do it … and presumably the Bohemians.  Absinthe spoons at the ready. To support the project through crowd funding click on this link to the KissBank.

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All was beautiful in the garden that day (le Jardin des plantes). I’m flanked by Portrait of a Weird Society’s organiser Elisa Radelet and its web designer Elise Melet.

The next events Solstice I and II are due to take place on the 7th and 11th June

SOLSTICE I @ l’Ogresse // Poses Ogresse théâtre associatif in Paris, France

SOLSTICE II @ Le Batofar // Performances Batofar in Paris, France

Press enquiries should be directed to Urielle Dutartre, email: urielle_dutartre@hotmail.fr

To follow my journey showcasing talent in fashion, music art and design, encountered on my travels click on the Showcasing F******MAD tab at the top of the page or follow the link.

All rights reserved © 2013 Andrew Hutchinson