Banana, Comté, toastie…

Rennes, Capital of Brittany, February 1992. For the last year or so, I found myself crossing the city, heading towards my favourite hitchhiking spot on National 24, just outside the Citroën car assembly point; yes, plenty of room there, nice and safe for the generous soul that would bring me closer to Vannes and my Rock’n’Roll mates from the Cactus bar and like the chorus of a song I once wrote, looking forward to “ walk down Butcher Street, with my black leather jacket”; I was just 20, leaving behind for a couple of days my life as a musician for the “Smoking Dogs” theater company, swimming in a pool of doubt and uncertainty like most of my peers, dark, fun and life loving, hopeful. I am always hopeful, even in my most pessimistic days. The anxiety of a young adult then, now and to be… I don’t really know why I was making that weekly journey, partly because I wanted to see some of my friends who weren’t really friends, partly feeling guilty for moving to “The Big City”, afraid of being judged and secretly weaning myself off the provincial town that saw me grow, unfriendly to our lost kinds, “them Rockers”with long hair and short ideas, guys and gals who had to hide in the back streets of this self proclaimed pseudo bourgeois town,  to entertain our love and hunger for rebellion, music, identity and art… We were beautiful, we didn’t care… Rennes fed us and nurtured us in a way our home towns and villages couldn’t anymore.

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The Cherry Picker

Fresh Cherries Tart

The story takes place in Rennes, Brittany, during the famous summer of 1968; my Dad and his best friend Yves have more or less finished their studies, and the country is still in turmoil after the students and workers’ revolution of the notorious month of May. Youth is still pissed off, there is a hunger for things to change, anger against the more conservative previous generation; the parents. My father was raised in a strict patriarchal environment, as my grandfather was in the military, now stationed in the offices of the Breton Capital where I was to do my military service 25 years later… Well, two days of it anyway, as I managed to get away with it in the most spectacular manner. I didn’t pretend to be suffering from anything, it just happened by telling the truth, the fact that I couldn’t be bothered. In Ireland, we call those guys “Jammy Bastards”… But that is a story for another time. Despite the fact that my Dad’s father was pretty tough, his mother was a gentle soul, balancing the family cocoon quite well. Yves wasn’t as lucky and basically told his own family to fuck off and left to make it on his own… He was soon to be hungry and realised that before he could get a job with all his good qualifications, he ought to get himself sorted through the summer…

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Spaghetti


September 1991, it was a beautiful morning over the Breton Capital. I had left behind the hills of Glenveagh National Park, my first real summer job, for another, scarier adventure: independence and freedom. So long mother and father, I am 18 now and your evil powers have no effect on me anymore… Cutting at last the proverbial umbilical cord, living the dream! I was meeting my olf friend “The Hero” in the Ozone Bar, two years older, kinda wiser too; he felt that it was his duty, as a big brother figure, to welcome and show me the ropes, places to hang out and other music venues to be part of. “You are staying with us until you get sorted, you hear?” His statement came as a relief, I hadn’t planned that far, and sure, I knew Rennes, very well even, but only as a child with the eyes of innocence. I was a man now see, free in the big city at last! I quickly finished my skinny glass of Maes Pils and followed my compadre toward the giant spaceship like building that was the Judiciary precinct; “Galion Street”, my new quarter, my new home… And how appropriately named for my new voyage!

Continue reading “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Spaghetti”