Monday, 16 November 2009

Street people

One last point I'd like to make about the street people who infest the city of Nice - I saw the best busker I have seen for many a long year there.

She was an old lady who sang without any form of amplification in the market place. She was accompanied only by a guy in a beret, who plonked away on string instrument (I'm no good at identifying such things) to very good effect.

Altogether, they were an excellent combination and the marketeers applauded with the public at the end of each song. They performed for about an hour, which I thought to be the limit of the old lady's strength and repetoire, as she really put heart and soul into such classics as "Je ne Regrette Rien", then gathered up their money and left with dignity to an all-round peal of applause.

What a contrast to the buggers who make a damned nuisance of themselves in our High Steets, blasting out amplified crap to annoy passers-by.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Streets of Nice

Someone recently told me that Ralph McTell's famous folk song "The Streets of London" was originally written about Paris. Well, all I can say is that neither London nor Paris has got anything on Nice for the number and variety of "street people". The mild climate and the number of nooks and crannies in which to doss has attracted bums and stiffs from all over Europe. One favourite spot for dossers is round the side of the rather magnificent War Memorial garden (pictured), so much so that the place stinks permanently of piss.
Every day as I went from the flat I had rented to the beach, I passed an old bag-lady who had made herself a regular home on a street-corner out of old junk, umbrellas and broken deck-chairs!

All very picturesque and you might be inclined to sympathise, but not if you've paid two or three hundred thousand euros for a flat with a view and what you get is a permanent street encampment outside your front door and visible from your balcony.

On the promenade I passed a lovely public garden with palm trees, flowers and benches but it was NOT available to the public, having been completely taken over by a pair of tramps who had spread themselves and their belongings over all the benches, even hanging their clothes up in the trees as a wardrobe. Once during the week I spent in Nice I witnessed the Police moving them on, but they were back within hours.

It's little wonder we sometimes hear of "police brutality" in dealing with these people. It must be very frustrating for them.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

It's nice in Nice

Recently, Marion and I rented an apartment right in the centre of the Old Town in Nice. I was on the Garibaldi trail (he was born there), indulging my fascination with that greatest of all heroes of the 19th century. The Old Town was everything we could have wished for, with wonderfully atmospheric narrow streets, full of life. It was a treat to wander around in the evenings, down the narrow alleyways brightly lit by shops of every description.

One thing that didn't suit me, however, was the price of the beer - 6.5 euros on average for a miserably small glass, not even a pint! Even during the "happy hours", the price only fell to 4.5 euros. And yet the amazing thing was how many drunks there were. Each night inebriated revellers reeled around the streets shouting and making a nuisance of themselves. How do they afford it? Barely had the last of the revellers cleared off than the street cleaners arrived, whistling and rattling about as they hosed down the roads and pavements. Very necessary no doubt, not only to clear up after the drunks but because Nice is a town of not-too-conscientious dog owners.

No, Nice is not the place to go if you want a peaceful night's sleep, but it's a great place nonetheless. Who wants to sleep anyway?