On a lovely Sunday afternoon in Armadale, Melbourne, Australia

I left behind summer and all, to meet up again with the man of my life and find the first days of spring on the other side of the globe, in Australia.

Took off on Friday August 30th, noon, Paris time. Landed on Saturday August 31st, noon, Paris time, 19h30, local time.

Rather than a long story, here is a little photographic stroll, on a lovely Sunday afternoon in Armadale, residential precinct, 7 kilometers southeast of Melbourne center.

Café break and delicious sandwiches @ The Pour Kids
1E Winter St., Malvern VIC 3144

High Street, Armadale

High Street, Armadale

High Street, Armadale

High Street, Armadale

First day of spring in Armadale

First day of spring in Armadale

Glennferrie Rd., Armadale

A church with a quirky sense of communication, on the corner of Dandenong Rd. and Glennferrie Rd.

And an orchid which would make envious any of our European orchids grown in industrial greenhouses

To be continued...


The four-leaf clover, the fireworks over the Yarra River and the Saint-Jacques tartar with tender endives

Like Walt Disney's Snow-White chattering with the doe at her window, I question the dove resting on a hazelnut branch in the courtyard. She's been coming here for a couple of days and is now looking at me with a doubtful eye. What is she trying to tell me?

My man on the other end of the world is calling me. In Paris it is 11am. 7pm in Melbourne. He's going out for dinner. I show him Le petit livre des tartes et carpaccios I bought at a book stall in the rue Daguerre. I open the little cook book at random and find a withered four-leaf clover. The book is from 2004. Has its owner used the quota of luck which the clover is supposed to contain?

Laurent doesn't believe me. I insist. Then, it is his turn to marvel at something unexpected. On the road leading to his friends', glorious fireworks are illuminating the Yarra River in Melbourne. In our naivety we imagine immodestly that the city is already celebrating our reunion...

...or the jackpot we'll win tonight at Euro Millions thanks to the four-leaf clover tucked between the fish tartar with spiced lemon and the Saint-Jacques tartar with tender endives.

French version: 


Your laugh in the drawer


"Purpose" by Seth Sawyers  
Photo : Flickr creative commons

A small conversation by video. Small and tender minutes while I work, when my man on the other end of the world, with the 8-hour time difference, is about to go to sleep. I want to wish him good night in my suit and tie.

FaceTime, free video phone calls via wifi, allows my man and I to share little bits of everything, nothing, bits of our daily lives, until we meet again physically, soon. While I am in the office, answering emails from clients, the iPhone standing on the desk in front of me, Laurent and I are discussing the sun in Paris allowing him to see the French Open matches, and his dinner with his friends. A guest then comes to the front desk, right next to the office. I take hold of my iPhone still on video mode. I don't disconnect the call. I put it in the drawer which I close. He doesn't see me anymore but can hear my restaurant tips for the night, deadened by his presence in the drawer. I open the drawer to wink at him, to give him a clown face. I close the drawer again. I talk with the guest. I can hear Laurent's laugh in the drawer which I open again. I put my finger to the lips to say sh! Laurent raises a bemused eyebrow and offers me his most beautiful and happy smile.  

- I had never been in a drawer before, says a little later my man on the other side of the world.

French version: 


a tiny bio

A guy living and loving living in Paris. Blogger, ex- literary translator, actor and director, working as many jobs needed to fill the fridge and pay the rent, travel, and enjoy life to the full. My blog: des fraises et de latendresse. Strawberries and tenderness. And irony. Once editor of a European review of blogs : E-Blogs by Wikio. Translated 12 romance novels and a collection of poems. Once a clown on stage, recently an actor for a German-Anglo-French feature film. Fond of meeting people. Twitter and Instagram addict. 


An actor´s sleeping point of view

From left to right, Jade Boyd, Nikolaus Tunis, André Schneider, Jennifer Eberhardt

Really, there are worse situations, worse circumstances, than the ones I endured this morning. Waking up, lazy, and not having to dress or make any other effort than saying hallo, wie geht's or giving a hug to the small crew of the Second Beginning- the reason why I'm in Berlin for almost two weeks. Unlike the other members of the crew, I didn't have to take the U-Bahn (underground) and the S-Bahn (suburban train) and fight the -14° morning, mumbling "es ist arschkalt!" (it's freezing cold). I just wrapped up warm under the blanket and the spotlight, pretending to be sleeping. For the next 3 hours, like the niedlichen creative ants they are, André, Niko, Jen and Jade would turn around and shoot as many sequences as needed to tell the story André wrote. And while they punctuated my false sleep with "sound ready, camera ready, scene 8.2, sequence 4, take 1, 2, 3 or 4, 5, ...15", I counted sheep, wandered through wild thoughts: ach mein Gott, that's a big microphone Nikolaus has; is Berlin really 9 times bigger than Paris? no wonder it's so cheap to be living there; I wouldn't mind a nth cup of coffee; is it the downstairs landlady's panties that I found under my pillow?; I shouldn't have taken that much garlic really; they all are ever so kind to speak English whereas I play with a few German sentences like a 4-year-old boy with his Chicaboo; is it André who suggested we should go to that foreskin competition?...
- Laurent, wake up, we're done with your scene.
- Wie bitte?
Acting is a hell of a difficult job nowadays.


A Second Start (3rd day of shooting)

Photo by Jennifer Eberhardt
(Click to enlarge)

You are so sweeeeeeet. Your comments and likes on Facebook. Funny or tender. Or both. But for those who don't have Twitter, Instagram or Facebook where i published live yesterday and today material from the shooting that had me busy this week-end. Here are 4 pictures. Of which the first visual of the couple André and i are embodying on film (above).

When i think of it, the last time i did the actor, it was in 2006. For a sweet project where i played a clown for 3 months in a small Parisian theatre. Getting back to it is far from being painful. Especially when it's others who struggle. Who juggle with the singing exercizes of a soprano neighbour. Who ache from holding the lights. Who make tea, lunch, dinner, or makes you decent on film.

What's next? Berlin in February. A city i will happily discover then.

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)


*Direction, script, part of André, production : André Schneider who patiently teaches me German, natürelich. For real life. Not on film, don't worry.

*Dir. of photography & sound : Jennifer Eberhardt who promised me to share Sufjan Stevens once she's seduced him.

*The blog of Deuxième commencement



Looking for Eiffel

The shooting of A second chance started today. I like when projects come to reality. When the idea that grew in an artist's brain becomes physically concrete. And the realization is André Schneider and Jennifer Eberhardt respectively director and director of photography taking control of the Franco-German feature film (produced by Vivàsvan Pictures) in which I gladly give my silhouette and my tender irony.

This morning we gleaned pictures of the market along the Edgar Quinet boulevard in the direction of the infamous Tour Montparnasse. Before that, I took them to one of Brancusi's Kiss and the surprisingly smiling fish by Berdal. André wished to see Jean Seberg's grave. With our friends Google and 3G, we found the division 13 where the actress of JL Godard's A bout de souffle rests.

Nibbled a baguette de campagne. Caught a glimpse of the Eiffel tower from the metro. Outdoor section of line 6. Drank a hot chocolate/coffee/tea with Léonard Lasry who will compose the film's soundtrack. And ended our Parisian day by shooting a scene at a terrasse place Emile Goudeau, in Montmartre, yes, in the winter, absolutely, wrapped up warm and captivated by the project I suggest you to follow here. Then in theatres hopefully soon.

Click here to read the French version of this post.



Monday on the roofs of Paris

Click on the pics to enlarge

Click on the pics to enlarge

Click on the pics to enlarge

My warmest gratitude to the friend who took Tilly and I on the roofs of Paris.



Lost in translation with love and wastewater

You can't imagine better brain gymnastics: in 2 hours time, from a technical translation on energy production by wastewater treatment plants, from the french to the english, a quick stop by the coffee machine to have a bit of a discussion with myself on what terms are best suited, to another translation from the english to the french of a poem meant to become a song. I'll be lucky if words of love and rapture don't mingle with effluents and measurements of redox potential and nitrate and ammonium...


To read the French version of this short post, click on the flag:


My arm is in Amélie

Screen capture from my flying by moment in Amélie

When I was telling my friends that my arm was in Amélie, they thought I had gone nuts. The excerpt with my arm was shown on the Cesars night (the french Oscars). By the way, it almost won an Oscar. [I had lunch with Audrey Tautou, but that's another story.] It was a time when I was doing a lot of crap casting calls and, when I was lucky enough to be chosen, it was for an advertising in which I was blurred (for Société Générale) or another which was never displayed (Kléber), or for a catalogue promoting dowdy clothes… (the XL shirt had to be adjusted to me with needles ; catalogue for summer clothes, pictures shot in the winter, in Vincennes woods devastated by a tornado, I was nonchalantly holding a fishing rod, wearing a shirt(another) with short sleeves that had been cut with scissors because they hadn’t got the right one.

Oddly enough, I can’t find this catalogue.


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a kiss to build a dream on

Staying in a guest house has good sides too.
When I got back the other night, there was some kind of a party going on outside by the swimming pool. I didn’t feel like seeing people. I didn’t feel like doing anything. Actually, I was a bit low. I don’t know why but I said hi. And they greeted me with a cup of wine. It was somebody’s birthday. The most handsome guy there. Fernando, alias Fer, was celebrating his 40th birthday. He could only speak Spanish. So I called my brain to summon up the little Spanish that I remembered. With a little help of his friend, Hache, who did the translation, I told himself a quick summary of my story. Oh, God! I can’t help talking. If you ever meet me, stop me before I start. Then, all of a sudden, Fer said “give me a hug”. Hesitating, I embraced him. “A bigger hug”, he said. Everybody was watching. I had just arrived and, out of the blue, I was in the arms of the guy everyone was drooling at. When the hug was over, they looked at us as casually as possible. I said: “he asked for a hug, I gave him a hug. So what?”
But it was the warmest hug I had had in ages.
A soothing hug.

Later that night, being with Fer and Hache in a disco, I asked Fer "dame un beso". He not only gave me one kiss, but a dozen, a hundred. And enough hugs for the next few weeks. And his smile to build a dream on.


Click here to read the French version of this post.

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The kindness of strangers

strangers who became friends in Hout Bay
(click on the picture to enlarge it)

There’s a quotation in A Streetcar Named Desire, the play and film based on the play by Tennessee Williams I’ve often related to : "I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers", says Blanche Dubois, Stella’s sister in a tragic scene as she is being taken to a mental asylum. I don’t know if there’s a hospital waiting for me when I get back to France –or a psychiatrist for that matter. But I intend to have a specialist’s insight on my disappearance. Yes, I have already written about it, but I really think this disappearance is the closest thing there is to suicidal. Anyway, in this personal journey, I’ve met wonderful people who have been very kind to me. I might at times have seemed to self-indulge in depression. I left France being depressed, I don’t see how that depression could have vanished. I am sorry, Lezanne –if you ever read this– but I still disagree with you, depression doesn’t go away because you decide to get up and do something with your day. Sometimes it is beyond understanding, logic or willingness. However, your countless efforts to lift me up, to make me meet your friends, have made me more optimistic on human generosity. And should your French become better or worse when I leave this country, I will be the only person to blame.

It is amazing how quickly strangers become friends. Jonathan didn’t ask me a thing on the reasons why I was in such a despairing state – no matter how hard I tried to hide it, he knew I needed kindness. I have met his mum and dad, his friends too. They proved me that South-Africans can be warm and welcoming and… more concerned about my welfare than their wardrobe : proof is the two pairs of jeans Jonathan gave me.

Oh no! I didn’t ask anyone for charity! It’s just that I can’t tell I’m a regular visitor when I’m not. I can’t tell I’m just hanging around, enjoying the wonders of South-Africa when I’m on a recovery journey.

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Alex and Leo and André Schneider

Alex and Leo (André Schneider and Marcel Schlutt in... Alex and Leo)

For his latest film, André Schneider wrote a savoury sexy romantic comedy, Alex and Leo. Leo is "der Löwe" in German, a lion unable to either roar or choose his lioness, the girlfriend who almost begs him to marry her. Then appears Alex, young and nonchalant Berliner, also caught in the web of a complicated relationship. Alex and Leo are the key characters of a film visited by a flock of picturesque and lovable friends. There's something theatrical in the plot, something deliciously excessive in the dialogues -mention spéciale for witty, spicy dialogues. Like André Schneider says in the following interview, the honesty that caracterizes his characters is not a rose without thorns.

Strawberries and tenderness: Aren’t you afraid of the "gay" label that one could stick on your film? (Note to the readers: the film is soon to be distributed by a gay label and welcomed in gay festivals)

André Schneider: No, I knew from the very beginning that it would turn out to be a "gay" film, so I'm not "afraid". On the contrary: since we don't really have a "gay cinema" in Germany, Alex and Leo is kind of a trailblazer in that field.

S&T: Beside your part as Alex, you were active in writing, producing, with doing the soundtrack, etc. What did you not do in this film?

André Schneider: I didn't direct, Yuri Gárate was our director, and he did a terrific job. We were so close to no-budget that each one of us had to do several jobs. Ütz, our cinematographer, for instance, was such a great help when Alex and Leo went into post-production. He did the animated title sequence, helped with the sound mixing, the editing...

S&T: Can you tell us about the soundtrack? Why did you choose Léonard Lasry, a French singer, to « lift » your film?

André Schneider: I always loved everything French: the language, the people, the food, the films, the literature, the French culture in general. I'm a Parisian at heart and really hope that one day I'll live in this city again, it's one of the most beautiful places I know. And of course I love French music: Art Mengo, Alex Beaupain, Calogero, Benjamin Biolay and so on. They're jazzy and sexy, heartfelt and light. It was a long-held dream of mine to use French songs in one of my films, and when Alex and Leo came along, I thought the combination of a Berlin film and Parisian songs would be beautiful. When I first heard Léonard Lasry's chansons, I fell in love with them instantly. I am very happy that Léonard allowed us to use some of his work for Alex and Leo. They add a certain charme and lightness to our movie, just lovely.

S&T: How did the German viewers react to Alex and Leo? Unfortunately, we’ll discover it on DVD (except for the festival goers), did the German see it in cinemas?

A: Alex and Leo will have its world premiere in the USA on July 131. Matter-of-factly, the French DVD release will be a couple of weeks before the German cinematic release this autumn.

S&T: How did you articulate the themes of sexuality, love, friendship?

A: Honestly, I can't really tell you. I don't analyze my work until it's finished.

S&T: I like the way you drew bitter-sweet portraits. I think about Steffi (Sascia Hadj), the therapist, or Tobi (Udo Lutz), Alex’s best friend. You’re not tender with your characters, are you?

A: I think the great quality of this particular friendship is the utter honesty between Steffi, Tobi, Kerstin, and Alex. Honesty can be rough at times. But if anyone of them is in need of comfort and a real friend's shoulder, they are also very sweet and tender.

S&T: By the way, I love the dialogues. What about them? What about your writing process?

A: Thank you. The first couple of weeks of writing Alex and Leo were pretty hard, really. I had never written a romantic comedy before, and starting off wasn't easy. But once I had drawn the characters, it became easier every day.

S&T: What’s your schedule for the weeks, the months to come?

A: On June 30, we start shooting the sequel to Alex and Leo called Tobi and Ernie. That'll take about three months.

S&T: If you need a French actor who doesn’t speak a word of German, I’m your man.

A: Let's keep that in mind, shall we? I would love to shoot a short movie in French one day.

Is your curiosity aroused? Good. Let's have a look at this charming trailer with the nonetheless charming song
Nos Jours Légers by Léonard Lasry.

1. Philadelphia QFest (link)

Some useful links:

knuddelfilme.de (Official Website), http://vivasvanpictures.wordpress.com (Production Company's Website) et optimale.fr (French Distributor)

But before you go, you can try your French by reading this interview in... French.
Click on the flag:


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Strolling with Ella

click on the magic button |>

1. Ella Fitzgerald "Baby, what else can I do?" | Tenderness, sweetness, purity ; Ella Fitzgerald = pain + love = jazz.

2. A bit of nature captured yesterday while I was strolling in the woods down the meadow, home.

click on the magic button |>

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Caron from Scotland tweets with Béatrice from France

click on the screencapture to enlarge

If any proof was needed that Wikio & E-Blogs create links between people from one country to another, here's one above. Thanks to E-Blogs, Béatrice, French blogger and translator for E-Blogs, tweets with Caron, Scottish blogger who happens to have one of her posts translated.

The original version of her post can be read here: Why some women have real reason to fear the World Cup
The French version: "La coupe du Monde et la bière = plus de violence conjugale"
And the Italian version: "Mondiali e birra = più violenza domestica"

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Anna Raton-laveur likes my strawberries

Anna was quicker than I to write about our meeting. And she wins "haut la main" the who's-the-wittiest contest. I must think of sending her wonderfully well-written post to all my english speaking friends, acquaintances, enemies. If, with that, my prince doesn't come, I might as well turn into a dispiteful frog or a nun. By the way, I advise you strongly to (re)discover her blog. I still have to write about the amazing synchronicities that happen to knock on my door these days. Anna, Cathy, and many others who have a life outside the Web.

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blog in progress

This blog is in progress. When I have time, I might change how it looks. I must, actually. Why this blog? Because. That's a good enough reason, I think. Well, I've been thinking of having an English speaking blog for a long time. I had 1 last year. From which some of the posts published here will be taken. A few chronicles. An interview of a film maker, soon. Bits and pieces on my job as UK editor. Some advice on UK blogs I discover. The encounter with an influential* UK blogger (yes, Anna, I'm talking about you). Anything is worth writing, isn't it? Especially when it involves people. Don't you just love meeting people? You don't? Come on. They don't bite. Or if they do, it's for your own good. Let yourself be bitten by reality. That reminds me (absolutely no connection with what I just mentioned) I have to contact Stella Duffy again. And write about how I discovered her fiction. Bye for now. (Don't) Behave!

* if getting someone out of jail doesn't make her influential, then I might as well become a vicar.

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What about your Bic?

Some say they’re signs, some say they’re just coincidences. Anyway, the first sign I saw was when I was writing in the plane, deciding what shapes my journey could take if I wanted to keep my sanity. So I looked at the pen I had bought at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport, an ordinary Bic. You can’t read the inscription until you look at it very carefully. I couldn’t believe my eyes. On the side of the pen, next to the blue cap, is engraved South-Africa. I hadn’t chosen it, the seller picked it aimlessly. I was in a hurry. I didn’t have a pen. I needed one.
A few days after I arrived in Mother City, I went to a store to check if my pen was the only one to have that inscription. Imagine my surprise when I found out that all the Bic Cristal Bics were “South-African”.
What about your Bic?


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A glass of wine before an early night

If you have read bits and pieces of this blog, you know that I'm Thomas. But I'm not really Thomas. I have to admit I like being anonymous. The French guys who are currently staying in the guest house know my real first name - I can't always think to tell my interlocutors I'm someone else. They wanted to have a bit of a chat with me. They didn't notice that, as I was cooking my dinner, I might have wanted to stay by myself. But never mind. Since I'm polite, I said hi and asked them questions about their day. They asked about mine. And while I was starting to eat my pasta, standing in front of them - the four of them -, one almost had his face on my plate. - You want some? I asked. He reacted by suggesting we'd have a bottle of wine. - Oh, you have some manners, I said.
The one with whom I'm sharing the bathroom looked at the notebook where everyone keeps a record of his drinks: - Thomas... who's Thomas? We missed that one...

I’m Thomas but I decided to keep it for myself.

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