greenbottletree











Eight Michelin stars in a small mountain resort and The Ablyazov Syndicate (film)

———————————————————————–

With a population of around 15,000, the small Black Forest town of Baiersbronn has two three-Michelin-starred restaurants and one two-starred.  I would like not to be unduly influenced by reviews and stars, but there is something hugely appealing about a small town in the midst of forest and mountains with so many supposedly exceptional places to eat and that it is in Germany, which is not a country I particularly  associate with  fantastic food.  The thought of a week in a mountain resort, ideally staying at the Bareiss hotel, with a meal at one of each of these places every two days … yes, I would rather like that.

Restaurant Bareiss (3*)

https://www.bareiss.com/en/restaurants/restaurant-bareiss.html

Schwarzwaldstube (3*)

http://www.traube-tonbach.de/en/schwarzwaldstube-restaurant

Schlossberg (2*)

http://www.hotel-sackmann.de/en/gourmet-worlds/schlossberg/


For probably all my court reporting colleagues, the name Ablyazov will incite a groan at the very least.  From our perspective, this is litigation that has gone on for years, it’s a challenging job to transcribe and it’s full of names not immediately obvious to us how to spell.

I had an interesting chat with a barrister who I recognised from that case.  He asked whether I had seen “The Ablyazov Sydincate”, which he said made for an interesting viewing.  Yes, a documentary film has been made about Ablyazov, billed as the “story of one of the biggest bank frauds in history and the man behind it”.

For anyone not familiar with Mukhtar Ablyazov, watch this or have a look on Wikipedia.  I have not yet watched the film but I do have some insights from the many court hearings I’ve listened to and the Wikipedia information is the kind of read you’d expect only to suspend belief over in a James Bond film.  Also of interest is the Blair brothers’ involvement in this seeming game of crime, violence, politics and staggering amounts of money.

Advertisements


Text speak, Nina Simone and capitalism through clothing

Turns out IRL means “in real life”.  Surely I wasn’t the only person who didn’t know that?!  I am one acronym closer to understanding modern colloquialisms.

————————————————————————

In June 2015, Netflix released a documentary about Nina Simone, “What Happened, Miss Simone?”.  The documentary consists largely of archived footage and interviews, most pertinently with her daughter, Lisa.  On reading about this film in the context of being Charlotte Gainsbourg’s “On my radar” (Guardian) favourite documentary, I realised that I too know very little about Nina Simone’s life.  For example, she was a concert pianist first, though having sung in church, and only made herself sing once she had moved from classical to jazz and blues because a particular piano bar she worked at said she could only continue playing there if she also sang.

————————————————————————-

In terms far more basic and vague than should probably be acceptable, capitalism kind of came about during the latter 1700s with Britain’s Industrial Revolution when, for example, a textile worker’s pay, the yarn, machines and factory costs amounted to X [eg £100] but the product generated Y [eg £170], meaning a profit of Z [£70].  As Z is so attractive, trying to reduce X became increasingly appealing.  With improvements to technology thus production capabilities, England, as one of the northern hemisphere regions that benefitted most, ensured more viability as the provider of mass market end-product goods than, say, Bangladesh, which was still using traditional, non-mechanical methods.  Thus regions like Bangladesh ended up merely supplying the raw materials for England’s burgeoning textile industry, a far less profitable enterprise than exporting the finished garments.  With a need for fewer skilled artisans and a much diminished ease for making profit, less skilled work and raw material production flourished, thus an economic divide was created and endures 250 years later.

I had never thought of how/when/where the concept of capitalism emerged nor the concept of finished product = profit potential versus raw material = exploitation potential, but I find it unexpectedly fascinating that and how we in the UK, with only a small scale textile industry now, rely on both raw materials and garment manufacture from, for example Bangladesh, yet we’re still considerably better off.

I reiterate that I am well aware how much more there is to it, but it’s a small point that struck a chord with me while reading the below book.

[Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-hand clothes by Andrew Brooks]

————————————————————————

 



It still amazes me that for 14 months I posted a 500-word blog post every day.  Most of the contact lacked research or depth, but literary brilliance was never my intention.  I wanted to slip easily from daily blog writing (500 words every day for six months equated to pretty much a novel – so, yes, I totally overachieved/postponed with 14 months) to novel.  I did actually almost finish that novel but, like my first attempt, it wasn’t the work of genius I had envisaged.

I am now not planning a daily blog nor to prepare myself for writing a book, and I’m certainly not proffering high quality reading matter.  I like blogs because they might not be read by anyone, but they might just be, and something you share might even pique the interest or curiosity of someone else and that, for me, makes the whole process worthwhile and rewarding.

“Things I learned today” has come out of my frustration at my perceived diminishing memory capacity, an aide memoire perhaps, a need to feel that the snippets of information I read about, hear about at work and/or am told about can be used and shared in some way and to get back into the habit of writing regularly.

So as to not write an introduction and then not get around to posting instalment one – check me out – I will be writing my first post on this alarmingly general theme soon after publishing this.

——————————————————————-

*Particularly for British friends, yes I did make a conscious decision to use “learned” instead of “learnt” as that is officially the spelling adopted in the US and generally accepted in the UK too.  Whether to use “learnt” or “learned” has long bothered me.



I am perilousl­­­­y close to smugness as, yes, I can now reel off the 199 capital cities I decided to learn for June’s challenge. 

Not only do I now know the capitals but, after about two weeks of not being able to retain the names of about a third of the capital cities, I realised that attempting to establish a photographic memory was futile.  I then started to be a bit more creative with my connections.  For example, Palau, being an island in the midst of the Pacific must surely be muddy, thus the capital is Negerulmud.  Similarly, I could not get Podgorica in my head as being the capital of Montenegro.  In the end, I got it with “-gro” as being key and I did grasp that the capital was then PodGORica.  Tenuous at best, but it worked.

I am ludicrously pleased with myself and have been informing people of the capital of countries they mention.  I suspect this could be considered annoying.  Bring on the quizzes and obscure capital questions … while I can still remember them, rather than just remember that I used to know them.

At the beginning of June, I convinced myself I would never be able to retain the countries and corresponding capitals, let alone spell them.  Around about week two/three, it suddenly clicked into place and I have enjoyed the learning process, despite it being a straightforward, uncomplicated memory challenge.

DSC05651For July, I want to deal with another kind of photographic memory, as I plan to sort through a massive box of my photos.  I have photos in various places but, as this box is so big, I want to be fairly realistic and just aim to sort through that.  That will mean sorting them into categories, most likely: throw; put in an album; frame; keep in packets.  I am not going to aim to do the framing, album-making, etc, by the end of July, just get them ready. 

In an ideal world, this will lead to the rest of my photos being organised at a later date and some DSC05650albums/pictures created.  Unfortunately, I predict bouts of melancholy about the passing of time, how slim/young/carefree etc I used to be.  However, a bonus would be to get rid of the enormous box they’re in to make some room in the far-too-full cupboard (I may even be shamed into addressing the accessibility issues with the cupboard) in which it currently occupies almost half the spare floor space.   

 



et cetera