Saving a Cormorant (un cormoran)

They are smart. They can count up to seven.

Went swimming today and with help saved a bird caught in a net.

I am not a great fan of set fishing nets, and especially not those set up close to shore. They are not big, about thirty metres in diameter, with a small buoy and red flag. An off-the-rocks rod-fisherman recounted to me once how a swimmer drowned getting caught in a net like these. No danger sign under the waterline of course.

So down for my morning swim and starting as usual from some rocks, a groyne, a small set of boulders off Cannes, the first of several going towards Cannes La Bocca, where I usually swim.

Looking out about fifty metres I saw fishermen had placed one of these nets. Something was flapping. Birds were flying above in a circle so I wondered if they knew and were waiting for the flapping thing to die. When the caught thing flapped a wing vertically, I saw it was a bird. A small bird at first glance, its head down in the sea. When it brought its head up, it was not moving this way or that. I knew it was stuck.

When I swim, I go across towards another set of rocks and coming back and that’s me done for the day. Today first up I decided I was going to swim closer to shore, but I couldn’t just leave the stricken bird in that state.

So I swam out to get a closer look and being careful not to get too close to the practically-speaking transparent closely-woven plastic netting I saw the bird was not small. It was a Cormorant and it started flapping more, the closer I got.

It was completely entangled from its beak all the way down its body. I could see there was nothing I could do treading water trying to disentangle it. With the water temperature colder this month it wouldn’t be long before I got cold, leading me to do something silly like get myself well pecked. I felt sure this bird, terrified as it was, would soon use its powerful beak on me.

I swam to shore. There is a cafe/bar on the sands and telling a guy working there what I had discovered, I asked if I could borrow some scissors. He went and got a pair. Swimming out another swimmer was in the bay so I enlisted his help and we swam to the stricken bird.

First up I got my toes caught up and then the scissors entangled. So it wasn’t a great start.

The other guy used the scissors, being better than me, so while I held some of the lines, eventually we got the bird free from the netting circle. The bird was still not free from the netting. It was still well and truly entangled. So we swam it towards shore keeping the process of disentangling going on while we avoided beak attacks.

Moving on to the beach, me holding the bird up, he cut. Two women approached and showing more nous than either of us could think of or muster, first got control of the bird by gently grabbing its neck. Then the other other held onto its body. I thought to myself: women are more practical.

Finally we got the netting off and the bird now free quickly flew into the sea without so much as a backward glance. I handed back the scissors and went on my swimming way. It didn’t last long. I was now quite cold. So I cut it short. I could have gone on, but I didn’t want to get cramped up, or ‘contract’ pre-hypothermia. I am probably overstating here but it made me realize that if you were unlucky to fall into the sea and those seas were cold, if you didn’t keep moving, you soon would have hypothermia.

So returning home and going online to read on sea bird rescues they warned: protect your eyes. A cormorant’s beak is hooked at the end so it can do a lot of damage. I had racing goggles on but they were up on my forehead. I hadn’t thought of what a terrified bird might do to your eyes.

Still, this is an all’s well that ended well story. I’m glad I didn’t swim on by. I have often watched Cormorants from those rocks swimming at breakneck speed underwater chasing fish, coming up to stare warily at me staring at them. I hope if he or she comes back that he/she will waggle her/his neck or something in recognition of the moment we shared.

73 Films

Oliver Stone’s two films captivate because they are about power using war as a means to securing power. Oliver Stone deals with the presence of war as the Machiavellian means to an end of power.

Kennedy planned to export America’s cultural power peacefully – not extend it via the pax americana of war or threaten the use of America’s military forces.



‘The Great Dictator’ dialog resonating in 2020

“Let us fight to free the world to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all people’s happiness.”

“The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people… liberty will never perish.”

Film list of 63 of the best for me

These films are not the best perhaps, or even the best 63 films I have seen, though they would be very close to that.

I simply laid them down without prior thought of ordering or listing them in any kind or categorisation of this or that.

The only change was to add Gosford Park by Robert Altman, and to do that I dropped Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! which should not be left out, but I kept Monsoon Wedding which I adored when I first saw it and still do.

So the filmmakers and films are all great and in no way am I listing them in order of best – first to worst. There are no second-best or best here. They are simply all magnificent for all their own reasons and appeared as I remembered them and wrote them down.

Tell me what you think – offer suggestions – i.e. if you wish to.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestMilos Forman
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidGeorge Roy Hill
The Last Picture ShowPeter Bogdanovich
Apocalypse NowFrancis Ford Coppola
Rear WindowAlfred Hitchcock
King of ComedyMartin Scorsese
Raging BullMartin Scorsese
The Good the Bad and the UglySergio Leone
Little Miss SunshineValerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton
Pulp FictionQuentin Tarantino
Reservoir DogsQuentin Tarantino
CasablancaMichael Curtiz
Dog Day AfternoonSydney Lumet
The GodfatherFrancis Ford Coppola
UnforgivenClint Eastwood
2001 A Space OdysseyStanley Kubrick
AmadeusMilos Forman
Blade RunnerRidley Scott
The ThingJohn Carpenter
Ace in the HoleBilly Wilder
The VerdictSydney Lumet
NetworkSydney Lumet
SidewaysAlexander Payne
The French ConnectionWilliam Friedkin
The Godfather IIFrancis Ford Coppola
A Clockwork OrangeStanley Kubrick
Paths of GloryStanley Kubrick
Lawrence of ArabiaDavid Lean
Easy RiderDennis Hopper
ChinatownRoman Polanski
8 1/2Federico Fellini
La Dolce VitaFederico Fellini
The ConversationFrancis Ford Coppola
Out of AfricaSydney Pollack
Annie HallWoody Allen
Hannah and Her SistersWoody Allen
Deconstructing HarryWoody Allen
Broadway Danny RoseWoody Allen
AmarcordFederico Fellini
Day for Night (La Nuit américaine)Francois Truffaut
La règle du jeuJean Renoir
Crimes and MisdemeanoursWoody Allen
The French Connection IIWilliam Friedkin
Thelma and LouiseRidley Scott
GandhiRichard Attenborough
American GraffitiGeorge Lucas
Atlantic CityLouis Malle
Das BootWolfgang Petersen
Monsoon WeddingMira Nair
Gosford ParkRobert Altman
WitnessPeter Weir
PersonaIngmar Bergman
Wild StrawberriesIngmar Bergman
Cries and WhispersIngmar Bergman
Autumn SonataIngmar Bergman
The Truman ShowPeter Weir
Fanny and AlexanderIngmar Bergman
War and PeaceSergei Bondarchuk
YojimboAkira Kurosawa
RashomonAkira Kurosawa
Paris Texas‎Wim Wenders
Schindler’s ListSteven Spielberg
JawsSteven Spielberg

A Rainy Day in New York

From the moment in Annie Hall when he led Marshall McLuhan out from behind a film hoarding in a New York cinema I have been a huge fan of Woody Allen. He is America’s best writer director of ensemble urban comedies – truly a unique filmmaker.