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.



Positions please

Roll cameras

Cue background artists

Mark it

Action..No, no. Not everyone going everywhere

What’s my ex-wife’s lawyer doing in the shot?

And the spy in the hat..cut. CUT.

I know, I know..what can I do..There’s six thousand of you.

First positions again please, as quickly as you can

OK…What I want is like…a crowd ..being…like…a real crowd

Experiment, what experiment?

..handheld shaky cam, found footage, ultra-violence, meta-storylines, etc., all becoming part of the broad pop cultural landscape and assimilated into the commercial marketplace. This translates across all cultural lines – music, art, technology, etc. as the outsiders and untouchables of yesteryear are today’s TV spokesmen and tastemakers..

…experimental film seems to represent more fully the true potential and magic of cinema

…for brief moments in history, think the ‘beats’, the real ground-shakers, the true risk-takers, manage to do something that is life and culture affecting, their minds drafting the future…

The Blue Roads of Cannes

Away from the homages, special screenings, classic films, away from the red carpet ride to that palace of dreams, away from the Cinema Paradiso deep in the watery hearts of those days of ‘how it used to be before they built the new Palais.’ Away from the game before it became the game it is “guarded by thin-lipped security experts..” (Roger Ebert).

Away from: This is a business after all, bringing in hundreds of millions (billions) annually. Away from the other Cannes down in the concrete heated bowels of an airless bunker where the sharp weave themselves into tongued-tied hoarse and whispery tanglings over business fits and contracts and suits.

Away from the silver screen stars of present and past, Charles Bronson and Miss Piggy, Arnold, Bruce, Brad, Brigitte, Mel, Kirk, Michael, Woody or Penelope, away from the belle epoque hotel suites and facades, away from yachts as big as small apartment blocks stock stilled by the importance of those they house out in the wide bay, away from those gleaming bright decks, practiced sunglasses, strategic smiles, away from trained binocularists, the annual crush and cheap ticket ride along the promenading, skateboard Croisette, away from the blinding baroque plaster, the guest only dinners, friend-of-a-friend-who-knows-a-friend ticket-only beach parties, away from the clickety-click crush of pass-only photo shoots, prized seats under the balcony, away from ‘go easy I’m-not-wearing-makeup’, away from  the bright-new-glory of my-new-found-fame, those bullish, brave, belligerent and bereft smiles, away from the silent jeering, away from the exclusion zones out in the streets.

Away from get away from who-are-you-and-who-do-you-know big films and titles, away from that winnowy fame and limouey celebrity, over in the back blue road of Mediterraneanised cinema, over in – I only hole up in the dark to witness creative endeavour – over in this other plane and train load of tourist-class, over in the world you mostly will never hear talk long enough to remember how to forget, over in the altogether smaller world of Un Certain Regard, with a jury presided over by Tim Roth.

Among the yet no-so unfamous such as Benicio DEL TORO, Pablo TRAPERO, Julio MEDEM,  Elia SULEIMAN, Juan Carlos TABIO, Gaspard NOÉ et Laurent CANTET with 7 DIAS EN LA HABANA @ 2h and 5m,  four first-filmers, Brandon Cronenberg (yes, that Cronenberg) with ANTIVIRAL @ 1h and 50m, Ashim AHLUWALIA with MISS LOVELY  @ 1hr 50m, and Juan Andrés Arango with LA PLAYA @ 1h and 30m.

Roth’s own brit pack ever-repressed to boiling anger ride through names and changes in life and cinema from Dulwich to Los Angeles via works by Mike Leigh, Stephen Frears, Peter Greenaway, Robert Altman, Quentin Tarantino, Nic Roeg, John Sayles, Wim Wenders, Tim Burton, Woody Allen, Werner Herzog and Francis Ford Coppola seems to offer interesting, experimental possibilities as what might emerge as the final choice.


Cannes Film Festival

– The Big Time

You’re in the south of France.



You arrive on the TGV, in a bit of a blur…


Right, where’s your place then. Christ, you hope you haven’t been conned. You walk out of the station, get lost in two minutes. How do you get lost in Cannes when you’ve been there ten times. You just do. But up the hill you go, eventually, get there, find the place…believe you me, well away from the hoy palloy.


Not bad, you think, for something off the Internet, okay, away from the action, on the other side of the train line, but it has a beautiful garden…


A bit Graham Greenish, even. But you are here to work, not to sit in a garden deck chair, sip pink gins, complain about being an Anglophone abroad all day long. You are here to take photos. You get started right away..


Get the writing tools set up…BILD1177

Right then, down to the Croisette..


To do what? Gawk at the stars…


Where are the stars anyway? Up on bill boards or hiding in hotels. Maybe the key is to be a star yourself…get yourself somehow onto one of these bill boards even…but how do you do that?


You could simulate the process..


Or take a leaf out of the books of others, mix in with the media..


Wait, maybe you don’t look the part. Do  you need a special pair of shoes, a hat even?


At these prices, forget it. But you know how to climb all over the competition, get head and shoulders above the crowd.


But what are you looking for anyway, or at, what do you hope to see?


Is cinema just another empty business?


Or is that all just a bit too serious.

What to do? You could dress up, give someone a laugh, at least..



Or get drunk…


…or find yourself an empty chair.


Stare at the scenery..



…yr mind all out to sea.



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