Scrambled Eggs

Let it Be
John, Paul, Ringo and George
(Cover of Let it Be – 1970)

Paul McCartney had only just woke up in his room in London, one morning in 1964, when he hurried to the piano and turned on a tape recorder. During the night, he had dreamed of a melody he did not want to let slip into the recesses of his mind.

In order not to lose it then, he played it with temporary lyrics inspired by the breakfast he was just about to take with his girlfriend: 'Scrambled Eggs… Oh, baby, you've got so lovely legs'.

The music was here, the whole of its melody so precisely composed that McCartney was not sure at first it was truly a creation of his own. He feared it might be involuntary plagiarism, that he subconsciously remembered a music composed by someone else. 'For about a month', he told later, 'I went round to people in the music business and asked them whether they had ever heard it before. Eventually it became like handing something in to the police. I thought if no-one claimed it after a few weeks then I could have it.'

was as its peaks at the time. The group of four boys from Liverpool — whose name was a pun made of The Beetles (one among their many first names, and a tribute to Buddy Holly's group The Crickets) and 'to beat' — had turned into the world's most famous band in the history of popular music in the 20th century. Even, first dissensions had appeared, that would make the band break in 1970.

In 1964 though, would always sing together. John Lennon and Paul McCartney composed most of the songs, they would always sign together — Lennon/McCartney. It was the case also with Scrambled Eggs when McCartney succeeded at last to add real lyrics to the music composed during his sleep. Yet, for the first time, the song was not sung by the whole Beatles but Paul alone, accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar, with a string quartet on the background.

Yesterday has become one of the world's most popular songs ever, with more than 3,000 recorded versions. In a poll of  British music experts and listeners in 1999, it was even voted the best song of the 20th century. I do love the song, but I somewhat regret it has not remained an Ode to Scrambled Eggs, just for the sake of fun and originality.

[BbN #4]

A Story of Three Friends

Forensics for Dummies
Forensics for Dummies
by B.T. Kidney and G. Grissom

I used to have an old friend, who was a reputable doctor. Nobody would have asked him about their symptoms or small complaints though, because with him, you would never know where such questions could lead you.

You should not think he was a dangerous doctor or a charlatan though. He was not at risk to be struck off the medical register, although his career was punctuated with a lot of death: my friend was an expert in forensics. He was even a leading expert in his field, among the best in the world.

A specialist in difficult diagnoses, death in suspicious circumstances, questionable suicides and unequivocal murders, he would find the diagnosis that explained the inexplicable. He was able to turn the irrational into the rational, and bring mysterious death back to normality.

You will not be surprised then that he was often asked for a diagnosis about victims from all over the globe. He was always between two planes, always in a hurry. A globe-trotting doctor, although he did not have the look. Several years older than me, he was a very unobtrusive person, with a quiet elegance and temperate language. He looked like a man of law, a solicitor, a judge, rather than a doctor.

For that matter, his area of specialisation required frequent contacts with men of law because his offices would often come to settlement of complex inheritance issues, sometimes in a way quite unexpected by the heirs of the dear departed, when coveted legacies turned into sentences of life imprisonment.


I had another very dear friend, who was quite different. About ten years younger than me, she was a very beautiful woman and a talented nude dancer at a famous Parisian cabaret.

I had followed her career and supported her for long. We were very hopeful she would become the first dancer soon.

My two friends met for the first time at a reception I gave on the occasion of my birthday. Between them, it was love at first sight. A few months later, my old friend divorced his wife, and mother of three grown-up children, and married her.

Yet aging persons are possessive sometimes. He made her interrupt her career. The young bride suffered a great deal, I can tell you. Her husband thanked her with long travels abroad rather than tokens of his affection. Soon, she only thought of keeping boredom at bay, and succeeded in this purpose in the most pleasant and Parisian way... I can surely tell you too.

Murder is always a mistake — one should never do anything one cannot talk about after dinner.
Oscar Wilde

My friend died shortly after their third anniversary. Nobody found the cause of his death, despite two autopsies: the first one performed at the request of his children, the other one by letters rogatory demanded by his insurance company, obviously reluctant to pay his young widow a premium that amounted to three million euros.

"No one will ever know why my poor husband died", she used to moan. "He was the only one who could find it out, but he cannot do it any more. He was the only one who knew how to kill your fellow man so that nobody can prove it." She would burst into tears then, and I comforted her in her grief the best I could.

She wanted to publish his fascinating last book, that was almost finished when he passed on. When he was away from home, we both used to read the manuscript during our long evenings alone together. She deemed it her duty towards the deceased to publish the book — a last way to show him how grateful she was.

The book was truly of utmost scientific importance: in particular, it revealed the formula of a new toxic substance, unknown to the most eminent of specialists, that anyone could easily extract from the stamens of a common wild flower, thanks to a clever and innovative process.

If the book was to be published, no doubt that the plant poison would be called by my friend's name, giving him post-mortem fame, and immortality,  sort of.

Anyway, at the end, my old friend's widow bowed to my reasons. Hardly silencing her scruples, with a lot of tears in her eyes, she burned the manuscript in the bonfire we lit in our home's hearth, the very day we received the check from the insurance company.

[BbN #3]

I first published this short story a couple of years ago in a previous blog, now deleted. My friend Vanessa was kind enough at the time to read it and point out several English errors. Thank you again, Vanessa.

2 Lovers —> 1 Couple

— 2A — At the beginning

The Kiss by Edvard Munch
Kyss [The Kiss] by Edvard Munch (ca. 1895)
Oil on wood, 38.7 x 32.5 cm — Munch-museet, Oslo.

Önceleyin [At First] by Cemal Süreya

Önce bir ellerin vardı
Yalnızlığımla benim aramda
Sonra birden kapılar açılıverdi
Ardına kadar,
Sonra yüzün onun ardından
Sonra her şey çıkıp geldi.
At first there were your hands
Between me and my loneliness
Then the doors opened
Suddenly all through,
Then your face,
Your eyes,
Your lips
Then everything came up.
Bir korkusuzluk aldı yürüdü çevremizde
Sen çıkardın utancını
Duvara astın
Ben masanın üstüne kodum kuralları
Her şey işte böyle oldu önce.
A fearlessness surrounded us
You took off your embarrassment
And hang it on the wall
I left the rules on the table
Everything happened this way at first.


— 2B — I Don't Want to Be a Couple

Woodstock by Burk Uzzle
Woodstock  by (1969)
[This photo has become famous as the cover of the first Woodstock album]

I don't want to be a couple.
Couples are stupid.
Couple kiss all the time.
Couple moan.
Couple fight.

I want to kiss you when I want.
I want to leave you when I want.
I want to come back when I want.
I want to be free.

I don't want to spoil everything.
I don't want to be a couple.


— 2C — Looking Together in the Same Direction

The Kuss by Gustav Klimt
Der Kuss [The Kiss] by Gustav Klimt (1907)
Oil and Gold Leaf on canva
s, 180 x 180 cm
Osterreichische Galerie, Vienna
Years pass.

S'aimer, ce n'est pas se regarder l'un l'autre, c'est regarder ensemble dans la même direction.
[Loving is not looking at each other, it's looking together in the same direction.]
in Terre des Hommes [Wind, Sand and Stars]


— 2D — Old Lovers

La chanson des vieux amants [Song of Old Lovers] by

[...] But finally, finally,
It took us a lot of talent
To be old without being adult.

Oh my love
My sweet, my tender, my marvellous love
From bright dawn until the end of day,
I still love you, you know,
I love you.

And more the time marches on
The more time torments us.
But isn't it the worst trap
For lovers to live in peace?

Two of Hearts
[BbN: #2]

Being the First, at any Price

Le Maillot Jaune [The Yellow Jersey]
Le Maillot Jaune

It is in the very nature of sport that competitors do as much as they can to win. For an athlete though, searching for the first place should not apply to the results of the competition only, but dignity, human excellence, and fair-play as well.

In other words, 'being the first at any price' is not defensible. There's a gap between being the first, thanks to your efforts, perseverance and biological aptitudes, and winning because you cheated.

Many people think that 'the end justifies the means' though. According to this logic, being the first is not the main goal in itself. It is a way to get honours, please a government, make money, and have many other people around make money also.

When I was a child, the punctuated July. I would spent hours watching it on TV. I undoubtedly learned a lot of French geography by writing down every stage, with distances, intermediate towns, passes to get over, etc. I would read every day in the local newspaper about the day's winner and the jersey holders: the white, spotted, green, and of course, Le Maillot Jaune.

Tom Simpson dies — Mont Ventoux, July 13, 1967
Tom Simpson
Mont Ventoux, July 13, 1967
And then... on July 13, 1967, died climbing Mont Ventoux. Millions people saw it . I did. "Heat exhaustion" they say. That's right, blame the heat... Even the child I was at the time understood it could not be related to heat only. We heard later that Simpson's autopsy found amphetamines and alcohol in his blood. Police also discovered amphetamine tablets in the pocket of his jersey and in a team support car.

As year passed, we heard of steroids, androgens, the 'pot belge', erythropoietin, and so on. We learned that, besides training, willpower, capacity for overcoming pain, that are still necessary in a crazy competition that aims at putting back the limits of human resistance to pain and effort, doping substances were and are still essential.

Richard Virenque, Marco Pantani, Jan Ullrich, Bjarne Riis, Floyd Landis… and . Dozens of cheats and liars who had sworn for years they were 'clean', until they were convicted of doping, and then cried and apologized. Many cyclists have not been caught yet, or have miraculously been put in the clear, scientifically guilty but not guilty on juridical grounds… What a farce.

Anyway. A lot of people still love the Tour de France… people outside France especially. Among the people who watch Le Tour on the French roads every year in July, there are a lot of fans from all over the world, bikers or not, who come to France especially to see it. Good for them.

Yet, as for me and millions of French people, I don't follow the Tour de France any more. I watch the News of the Tour sometimes though. Not because I want to hear about who won the stage or who leads the race. Only, I am a little interested in hearing which cheats will be unmasked this time.

[BbN: #1]

A Void

Georges Perec Jigsaw
Georges Perec's portrait as a jigsaw puzzle
Puzzle pour un portrait de Georges Perec
La Poésie dans un jardin — Festival d'Avignon 1988

Born in Paris in 1936, was the only son of two recent Jewish immigrants from Poland, Icek and Cyrla Peretz. His father volunteered for French Army during World War II, and was killed in 1940. His mother was deported by the Nazis and died in Auschwitz in 1943.

Georges survived because his mother had previously sent him by train to a little town in the Alps mountains, where relatives took charge of him. They had him baptized Catholic and his name frenchified to Perec. They adopted him formally after the war.

Disappearance of his parents when he was a child, disappearance of his Jewish roots, there is nothing so surprising that Perec was haunted by absence, loss, erasing, disappearance. “I have no memory of childhood” are the first words of his novel , an admission that he remembers almost nothing of his early life as a Jew in Nazi-occupied France.

In 1969, Georges Perec published a novel named La disparition, a phrase that means ‘the disappearance’ in English. A word for word translation of the title into English had to be replaced by A Void (Gilbert Adair) or A Vanishing (Ian Monk) though, because the letter E appears three times in ‘the disappearance’, and the whole novel  is a 300 pages written without ever using a E.

La disparition tells the story of the disappearance of a man, whose name is Anton Voyl (in French) or Vowl (in English), in a strange world from which an enigmatic part five of 26 has disappeared as well.

La disparition
It implicitly talks of its own lipogrammatic limitation, starting with the name of the missing person — Voyelle in French, Vowel in English, after the E's have been lost. Characters in the novel work out what is missing, but they risk fatal injury if their though gets too close to that taboo “circular symbol with a horizontal bar across it”.

The constraint that underlies the story induces endless tricks and distortions of language, and describes how a world can be built that fills that void. Besides the amazing lexicographic feats of writing a whole novel with zero occurrence of the most frequent letter in French and English though, the silent disappearance of the letter is a metaphor of loss, and suffering it causes.

In French, E is the only vowel in père [father] and mère [mother], and sans E [without E] sounds very much like sans eux [without them]. Furthermore, since the name Georges Perec is full of E's, the disappearance of the letter also ensures the author's own disappearance.

The absence of a sign is always the sign of an absence, and the absence of the E in A Void announces a broader, cannily coded discourse on loss, catastrophe, and mourning […] Each "void" in the novel is abundantly furnished with meaning, and each points toward the existential void that Perec grappled with throughout his youth and early adulthood. A strange and compelling parable of survival becomes apparent in the novel, too, if one is willing to reflect on the struggles of a Holocaust orphan trying to make sense out of absence, and those of a young writer who has chosen to do without the letter that is the beginning and end of 'écriture' [writing].     —


Postscript: When I challenged myself with the Blogging by numbers constraint, I decided the first entry in the series would be related to Number 0 — not 1 — and dedicated to A Void. It seemed fair enough because the very idea of the constraint was inspired in particular by the works of Georges Perec and Oulipo.

I did not know though that another void was just about to occur, when my I had my laptop fell from a table three weeks ago and its hard drive broke. Another aching void and a lot of work to do again, because I had not performed any save for a month or so. Anyway, I am back now.

[BbN: #0]

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin


Timeless Music
The Magic Flute
by W. A. Mozart

Timeless Reading
Les Essais
by Michel de Montaigne