Archive for May, 2011

The inside of a power station: a 500 mega-watt unit

This much I know.

That duct-looking thing at the top left is where the pulverised coal comes in, I think (the single thing you’re guaranteed to hear about the coal used in a coal-fired power station is that “it’s ground as fine as face powder”).

The big rectangular thing to the right of the duct is the boiler.

Near the extreme right of the picture is the turbine (the three cylinders).

And the bits inbetween? Um… Pipes, mostly.




The French Elvis (4)

And so we finish in 1999, with Un Jour Viendra (A Day Will Come), a string-laden, heart-felt, bitter-sweet love song. This song, co-written by Johnny’s son David, was released during my time in France, and I have pretty vivid memories of it, and the accompanying video, which can be described in the following thought process:

Ah, a pretty waitress… And there’s Johnny, playing his guitar… The waitress is being ogled by some horrible bloke. What a cock… Wait, now she’s taking her clothes off and having a shower. Am I now the cock who’s ogling her?… Johnny’s still playing, where is he? A Roman ampitheatre?… Oh, she’s off somewhere. But her moped won’t start… What lorry driver in his right mind wouldn’t stop to give her a lift??… Ah, she’s sorted out now… She’s very friendly with that security guard, where’s she going?… There’s a big crowd, is it for a concert… It seems to be the same place as Johnny… Wait, he’s gone, and there’s loads of strangers around… Who have they come to see? Oh of course: it’s Johnny in concert! Hurray! Now I get it…


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The French Elvis (3)

Back in time by 10 years, it’s 1966 (do keep up). A cover of Los Bravos’ Black Is Black, this was another massive number 1 for Johnny.

This is a very enjoyable video, with lots to talk about. The dancers stay just the right side of amateurish (they’re so nearly synchronised), while Johnny himself looks like some kind of wax-faced animatronic. Gone is the audience-pointing, hip-wiggling funster of 1960; we are instead witness to Johnny seeming to be glued, at various points, to a white pillar, a black pillar (trying to shake or sway himself free), and the floor (his arms swing, his knee moves, but he won’t be freed), while at about 2:20 he signs directly to one of the dancers, and looks like a shy teenager in a nightclub trying to chat up an attractive young lady, complete with visible nervous swallow.


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The French Elvis (2)

Forward now to 1976, and a number one, sold gold hit. In France.

Gabrielle tells the story of a love-hate relationship, in which Johnny portrays himself as some kind of chained-up sex slave.

I couldn’t track down a ‘proper’ video for this song, though I did find one with lots of lovely photos of Johnny. This one on the left is my favourite. I can’t decide whether that’s a bottle of alcohol or aftershave in his hand.

Either way, he’s clearly been drinking it.


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The French Elvis (1)

It really is lazy to describe Johnny Hallyday as ‘The French Elvis’. But I will not apologise for it, and I will continue to do it, most probably for the duration of this Theme Week.

Despite every instinct in my body and mind (and ears), I love Johnny Hallyday. I love what he represents to France, I love the love France has for him (apart from when he decides to live in Switzerland and stops paying taxes to the Elysée), and I love his style.

Here we see him in an authentically flickery 1960 clip, playing “Souvenirs, Souvenirs”, his second single and his first big hit. A fairly straightfoward early rock and roll love song (which reminds me of the Ren and Stimpy theme tune towards the end of its middle eight), it’s worth noting his confident gestures towards the (unseen) audience, his very Elvis-esque hip-swaying, and also the on-screen graphics’ mis-spelling of his name. This seems apt, as legend has it he went by the name of Johnny Hollyday until a promoter inadvertently gave him what would be his final pseudonym on a bill poster even earlier in his career.



Flamanville nuclear power station

Flamanville, Manche, France

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Tony time

This is the sweat; this is the sweat that’s going to happen

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