More fibs

I was recently presented with a lovely gift from a friend in Algeria. It is a plate. When I asked what the design represented, I was told in French it is a “fibule”, a brooch for holding Algerian women’s robes in place. What a delightful word! It has some luscious connotations, connected to making up stories, like a teensy weensy little mini white lie, the way a nodule must be a tiny nod, and a stream is a tribula of a river - “Look at all my trials and tribule-ations” – (jc superstar). The first wrinkle on a French woman’s face, which must, at all costs, be hidden/filled in (whereas on a man's face it either doesn't make any difference or au contraire adds character) – is called a ridule, and I am not going to give you the satisfaction of adding the IC.
In my mind, the word is a hybrid composed of the English root “fib” (from fibble-fable), a teensy untruth that has no bad consequences, and the French diminutive suffix –ule. Not all French words ending in ule are diminutives – there’s crédule, (although maybe that means a little bit créd?) opercule, libellulethis is one of my all-time favourites. I can actually see phosphorescent blue and diaphanous, iridescent wings when I speak or read it. When I was an infant my parents called me looby-lou – I never understood why, but when I heard the French word for dragonfly for the first time I was hooked, I thought I had found my original family. Let’s face it; we are all descended from swamp dwellers.
Please take a moment to enjoy all the pleasant associations that come to mind in relation to fibule and its English sister, fibula, which also has fabulously free phonetic foibles.
Nebula, nibble, scribble, dabble, fabulate, febrile, etc.
Because the associations don’t stay fun and frivolous for very long. Feeble. Fistule
The Encyclopaedia Britannica
Fibula: outer of two bones of the lower leg or hind limb, probably so named because the inner bone, the tibia, and the fibula together resemble an ancient brooch, or pin.
[Latin īnfībulāre, īnfībulāt-, to clasp with a brooch, see fibula.]
To close off or obstruct the genitals of, especially by sewing together the labia majora in females or fastening the prepuce in males, so as to prevent sexual intercourse.
The design on my gift is yet another reminder of the influence of the Roman Empire.


The well-heeled soul

They’re all running around worrying

About the next minute the next mile

Hardly breathing hardly daring who and what they are or where

Totally immersed in the struggle of daily grinding, teeth to be cleaned, trains to be caught

Colds to be treated and lots and lots of

Hunger, anguish, thirst, despondency and despair in the air.

Smoked glass panes and bicycle lanes and everywhere the main idea of a rhyme we cannot fathom

How often do they stop and look
Beyond the frame beyond the shame
Driven and pulled, pushing and lulled into a sense of being without end
Sending messages of hopelessness and senselessness and of an ever-turning wheel that steals the minutes and the half-digested memories

Sitting on the settee, trousers clinging to the knee, I tie my laces, to call a truce

Forsooth they never told me it would be like this

I was one of them am one of them will be one of them and yet not
quite the same, seeing, fearing, sensing farther on the outside the emptiness surrounding our too-filled bubbles of trouble

How to get to there from here

How to think and be sincere

I would live in the moment only I don’t have time

Rushing from dime to crime to sign,

symbols clashing in my mind

Eye, I, aye, ail

Who will have mercy on my whole?


Running commentary

“[…] the Greek Rheumatos means "flowing"”

… so rumours and the French head cold (rhume) come from the same root. Incredible. Obviously comes from the fact that to catch and spread a rumour you had to hang about outside under the eaves…


Michael Lonsdale

I have just posted the first instalment of “Topologie d’une rencontre au lieu de la solitude” in Vita Text – yes, without the e, because it is in English, this first instalment. And I haven’t a clue how to translate the title. Maybe I will come up with a satisfactory English title later. I wrote this text in the eighties for bilingual actor Michael Lonsdale, and it switches into French, so I will probably post the next instalment in Vita texte.
I was very much enamoured with Michael Lonsdale in
Paris in the eighties. I first encountered him in esoteric French plays and poetry readings. I plucked up the courage to speak to him at the Théatre du Rond Point when he and Madeleine Renaud were playing in L’amant anglaise de Marguerite Duras. Afterwards, he was sitting in the foyer/cafeteria with Madeleine Renaud and Jean Louis Barraux (who actually touched my bum as I was making for the bar… the only stranger I can remember doing that in a public place…). Anyway I went up to their table and told Michael Lonsdale I thought he was fabulous (maybe not the actual word I used) and that I had recently adored his acting in a play in rue de Lapp, and he said “Ah bon, vous aimez ce genre de theatre ?” I was struck dumb. I had prepared my statement. I wasn’t expecting my idol to speak back to me!
Michael Lonsdale is bilingual and in English he often plays the baddy in big budget films. I adored the chasm between the two personae. I just basically had a crush on him and so I filled a book with an enfevered pseudo-dialogue. One of those beautiful, cloth-backed blank books you could buy in that street with the two beautiful stationer’s shops, round behind the Hôtel de Ville. I believe it was beige, the book I filled for him. I took it with me to a poetry reading at Les Halles. He was reading Walt Whitman, but I am pretty sure he read in French. Forgive me for not remembering a word of what he said, I was so enraptured by the sound of his voice, and afterwards, I thrust the hot object into his hand, told him I admired his work very much and had written this book for him. My name and address were inside the book on a business card that identified me as a "consultant en communciation technique". Did I also write my contact details on the inside cover? Probably not, because at that stage, I felt the book was more his than mine.
I never heard from him. I was very disappointed that he did not even say something anodin like “thank you for having written for me”. I tried to contact him through his agent once, to ask if he could please return the book, but I didn’t get an answer, and then I changed my mind and decided I didn’t want the book back anyway, because I had written it for him, filled it lovingly with words for him, and if he didn’t want it I didn’t really want it either, it would have stared at me from my bookshelves as a reminder that he had rejected my attempt to write at him.


More ways...

... than one.

The drive to my analyst’s spot is through pleasant scenery. Occasionally, when the air is clear, there is a good view of the Pyrenees. I always feel the drive there is part of the process. A pleasant interlude in a life of mental strife. One day I was putting petrol in the car and it came to the same amount I pay for a session. I found myself thinking “I wonder how far a session gets me?”


Ways of becoming.

In March, I posted two photos of L’amour en cage in it’s lacy skeleton stage, one with the orange berry inside. I put other photos in the slide show, with the lanterns fully covered. It’s amazing that the original colour of the lanterns is the same as the berries. Like a magic trick, the orange is outside then suddenly it disappears and reappears, locked up on the inside of the delicate cage.

The other day, I caught sight of a withering branch outside, and was intrigued. I suppose I had assumed that the orange faded, and one of these is fading… but the other one is losing the cover with the colour intact. Now, there were silvery trails around, so it is possible that my assumption was right, and the colour fades first and then disintegrates, and the other one is being eaten by snails. It would be nice to be able to film the process and see what’s really happening.

Only goes to show, not only is life not a straight choice between black and white, or orange and colourless, but there are different ways of getting from one to the other.

How did the Body Shop
get their bath cream from clover – which suggests abundance and comfort – to clou de girofle, which screeches toothache? Depends on the hand you've been dealt.
I googled 'clover' and found a French film
- Crooks in clover
les Tontons Flingueurs. The review says: “What was originally envisaged as a serious gangster thriller ended up as a classy comedy thriller”. Which reminded me of my recent experience with Margaret Atwood. I just finished reading The Robber Bride. Although not as mind-bogglingly grave as the Handmaid’s tale – which I saw as a film - I found the book food for serious thought. Imagine my surprise when I looked for some reviews and found – “the TV movie version of Margaret Atwood's
comic novel.” I do sometimes tend to take things too seriously. Have been looking for a Beckett quote I love – can’t find it – something like “I was born too grave and seriously worked hard to become less grave”. Years ago I put all my seriousness into writing a play in French, called Cinq Lui Même, which the first reader laughed at. I was hurt at the time, but I’m becoming less susceptible, in some ways.


Synchronicity, etc.

I was in the habit of drinking my morning coffee from a very attractive René (Rennie?) Mackintosh rose-style china mug, (9th one down, Blue Kintyre) which, like so much in my kitchen, was a present from my sister. The word "Evasé" comes to mind, curving outwards to be wider at the top, giving a larger surface for the hot liquid to cool, reminiscent of the way champagne glasses used to be before it was discovered that the bubbles burst faster.
I needed clothes pegs. I went to the local ironmongers, which is the biggest store in the village. Outside urban centres people need to be able to fix things and do things themselves, I suppose. They only had plastic ones. As I head for the exit, I catch sight of an attractive china mug with roses on it. I pick it up and stand in line to pay for it, a voice in my head saying “clothes pegs. You need clothes pegs. You do not even remotely need another china mug. What are you doing?" But the instinct won and I paid for it and took it home.

The next morning I poured my hot drink into my trusty mackintosh bone china mug and it cracked open and fell apart. I had its replacement right there, waiting to be put to use.

I was totally awestruck. If only, thought I. If only life could be like that more often…

The Double bind
On Christmas day, a son receives a gift from his mother of two neckties; one red, one green. Invited to his mother's house for boxing day dinner, he wears the red tie. She greets him with “what’s wrong with the green tie I gave you, don’t you like it?”.
The only way he could have avoided this particular reaction would have been to wear both ties at once, making himself look effectively crazy.

Laing’s most famous patient was Mary Barnes, who painted this (detail):