Whilst cycling across Place de la Bastille this afternoon, I passed a large stage, put in place for a free concert, as is usual for the eve of the 14 juillet (or Bastille Day, as it is universally known outside of France). I don't know who's playing, and I have not been able to get any information online about it, but judging by the amateur stage-set of an old-fashioned bar I imagine that the gig will not hit the heights of last year's l'année de Brésil-themed line-up of Seu Jorge, Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil and others. What really struck me however was seeing, projected on the large screen to the left of the stage, myself pedalling across the dark expanses of the square (or circle, as the Place is really shaped) - pedalling in what looked like a terribly laborious fashion, I might add. Like most people, I have glimpsed myself in real time on CCTV monitors, usually in a harshly-lit Centra or similar type of convenience store, and the image has rarely been flattering. To see oneself in broad daylight however is more unsettling (even if it does have the secret thrill of being like those avant-garde 'symphony of a city' films of the 1920s like Berlin: Symphony of a City and Dziga Vertov's Man With a Movie Camera) and my main instinct was to think of being watched. Not that anyone could really be arsed about that guy on the cheap Go Sport bike inching silently along the bottom of the screen in front of them. But the sense of being watched remains.
Bonne fête nationale, des toutes façons. Not many people know that one of the dozen or so prisoners liberated from the Bastille 217 years ago was an Irishman, who had been incarcerated overnight for drunkennness. I have no source to back this up but, as John Wayne said in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, print the legend. Ctrl+P.