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Saturday, 27 February 2016

the worst people in the world


Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, arriving for the ceremony in 2012: photo by Monica Almeida/The New York Times

After luncheon the snow stopped, and the afternoon turned out intensely cold but bright and clear. I took a tram up the hill to Monte Carlo. The sound of firing came from the bastion below the promenade where 'Tir aux Pigeons' was advertised. Some kind of match was in progress; the competitors were for the most part South Americans with papal titles. They made very interesting gestures with their elbows as they waited for the little cages to collapse and release their game; they also had interesting gestures of vexation and apology when they missed. But this was rare. The standard of marksmanship was high, and while I was there only three birds, fluttering erratically with plucked tail and wings, escaped the guns to fall to the little boys below, who wait for them on the beach or in rowing-boats and pull them to pieces with their fingers. Often when the cages fell open the birds would sit dazed amid the debris until they were disturbed with a bowl; then they would rise clumsily and be brought down, usually by the first barrel, when they were about ten feet from the ground. On the balcony above the terrace sat one of the Casino pigeons, privileged and robust, watching the destruction without emotion. The only convincing recommendation which I heard of this sport came from one of the visitors at the Bristol who remarked that it was not cricket.

Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966): A Pleasure Cruise, from Labels: A Mediterranean Journey (1929)

Björk, at the Academy Awards in 2001: photo by Reuters

Gibraltar: Charles Pears for the Empire Marketing Board, c. 1930 (National Archives UK)

Jennifer Lawrence at the 2013 Academy Awards
: photo by
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters


Sandra said...

los ricos inventan cosas que los tontos imitan

Harry Hoogstraten said...


The rich as dumb as
they come as smart
as they are; they
welcome the poor !


'Tir aux Pigeons' coming up tonight on channel "X" -- viewer discretion advised . . .

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

many crimes against humanity have been committed - as pierre teilhard de chardin said, human evolution is a way of the cross

but "worst"?

in the words of the ancient question, "compared to what?"

the truly worst people have succeeded in having their evil deeds forgotten

may the creative forces of the universe have mercy on our souls, if any

Sandra said...

worst is worst and there is no problem in telling the words evil, bad, wrong and all those who criticize or condemn someone or something seem to be forbiden to say...and the evil forces are happy for that (I apoligize for my english)

TC said...

Beneath the porticos, in this view of Monte Carlo in its glory days, were the pigeonholes whence the disabled birds were released for the purpose of killing

The young Evelyn Waugh was not the only civilised person of the period to be disgusted by the pigeon tunnel shoot at Monte Carlo. In his youth the novelist John Le Carré was curiously obsessed by Tir Aux Pigeons, and the repellent fascination of the ritual has stayed with him. That for Le Carré something about human nature and human behaviour seems to have been revealed in the observation of this cruel hobby of the rich is suggested by the title he has given a recent memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel.

Indeed, Tir aux Pigeons is a lovely sport with a long tradition in the culture of the highly civilised land of Charlie Hebdo.