Saturday, February 21, 2009

Suffering for our Art

It's a school, it's a frigging school, the kids are walking past in their teenagerly nonchalance, and some of them glance at us a little puzzled as we sit there puffed out from the uphill climb to get here. I stare into space, Jackie curses eloquently and Simon, peacemaker that he is, tries to smooth things over.

We have taken to blaming the sat nav (satellite navigator, for those of you who are unfamiliar with these funky abbreviations) for everything, most times unfairly, but this time, with considerable justification. We were meant to be heading towards the Musee de Matisse. Instead, it led us to a school, a perfectly ordinary school, with the kids just having finished their morning session. And there we sit, like paedophiles-in-training, staring at them staring at us.

"You have reached your destination," the electronic male voice tells us confidently. We experimented briefly with Yoda and Darth Vader voices - but none of these were clear. And when you're navigating you'll take clear over amusing any day.

When Jackie programs the actual address iof the museum in (by street this time because it is obvious the sat nav has no clue where the Musee de Matisse is) we find we are 9 miles off. And there is no way in holy hell any of us are going to walk 9 miles to get there.

"I wonder if Matisse appreciates all the trouble we are going through to get to his place," Jackie wonders idly, as we puff our way back into town to refresh ourselves with an extremely overpriced Orangina each. Then we find our way to the Chagall museum instead, which is apparently nearer. If that bloody sat nav hasn't fooled us again.

The Chagall museum is the only art museum in Nice with an entrance fee. 8.5 Euros each, to be precise. But Chagall is breathtaking - his reds are basinfuls of blood, his blues are the colour of the sky in the South of France, his greens are emerald dreams. We wander around speechless, reading the little notices next to each painting which explains the imagery - mostly Jewish - he seems to like cockerels and Hanukkah candles. And there is the creation of man, and there is Moses, and there is Adam and Eve...and he likes to look through windows a lot. And there is a short filmlet of the mosaic he designed for the Plaza in Chicago. The New World. In 1977.

He kept changing his mind, refining it even to the last minute. The poor sod who actually had to cut the tiles sighed heavily at all the changes and extra work, but went gamely ahead. When you're dealing with a Master, you submit to the Master. Every whim.

When Chagall finally says: "I am giving you so much trouble - I am hard on you but only because I am hard on myself. Some people are so easily satisfied." He shakes a bony finger at the notion.

An artist is NEVER easily satisfied.

Then we make our tired way back to town - to have lunch. We are all starving by now. A nice little cafe with an old man waving at someone near us (I nearly wave back cos I think he's waving at me, I seem to make that mistake a lot here). This cafe is cheap and cheerful and everyone seems friendly. A baldy smiles engagingly at us as he bites neatly into his baguette.

Then as we're walking back to the carpark (we think we'll give the Matisse museum a miss for today) we run into a little adventure.

There is a police car with sirens blaring inching forward in front of the cafe. This is unusual as testified by the fact that everyone is craning their heads to look out. A police car attracts attention here. Simon is chugging on cheerfully ahead, in front of both us as usual, and I notice a man trying to hide behind a car. He looks so innocuous that I can't believe he is what all the commotion is about. He passed us a little while ago, hurrying but trying not to appear to hurry and suddenly a tall official looking man barks out:

"Arrestez vous!"

The crouching man straightens up and goes without a murmur. The plainclothes policeman stuffs him into the noisy police car. Simon steers us off into the opposite direction in the meantime. Jackie has visions of Simon (who was closest to the guy) being dragged into a hostage situation. But really, for an arrest, it was severely anti climatic.

We giggle a little hysterically, recount what we each saw, and try to figure out what crime this guy must have committed.



Can't say. He looked harmless enough.

Anyway we finally find our way back to the car (and the massive parking bill) and decide we will spend the afternoon at the beach. But stop at the supermarket first. To get a few essentials. Like an adapter (Jackie cannot use her straightener and her hair is getting curlier every day) and...snacks. We get tarts and eclairs and cakes.

All we do is eat. And look at art. (hey, I just realised that art rhymes with tart)

And then we're on the beach unloading our booty and watching some poor sods windsurfing not very successfully. Jackie and Simon are reading. I am writing postcards.

Just another ordinary miraculous day.

But Jackie will never forgive that sat nav.

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