Sarky et huche

Speaking from the agricultural show, Sarky announced that he is going to apply for the whole of French gastronomy to be given Unesco world heritage status.

What will we eat?

He really is becoming ridiculous, hence the title. I wondered about "Hutch" and discovered it comes from the French for chest, so Huchette, a mnemonic device for St Michel on a Saturday night in Paris, would be "little chest".

Yesterday a friend told me that Paul Ricoeur decided to keep writing till he died, to observe how his mind changed. Fascinated by this, I started reading about him and found:

"The word is my kingdom and I am not ashamed of it." and `The understanding that psychoanalysis offers to modern man is difficult and painful because of the narcissistic humiliation it inflicts.' This partially explains why it is so difficult to talk about “it”.

Recently I found myself wanting to state the obvious, in case my analyst had sort of forgotten what we were supposed to be doing and thought that what I was saying was what I actually felt/meant/believed, and I found this great quote from a nice article:

“It would be as incongruent for an analysand, in the midst of a transference experience, to announce that she knows that all she is demonstrating at that moment is transference as it would be for Olivier to announce in the middle of the soliloquy that he is not really Hamlet, he is just acting him.”

It is all grist for the mill. Translating about flour, I looked up “mouture” and found “grist”, which is annoyingly the word for the grain taken to the mill both before it is ground and after it is ground. Language is so unsatisfactory, (too strong, because it does sometimes work and we don’t have a good substitute) approximate, etc.

I hope you get the gist -yet another slip twixt French and English

Back in dixit land, I regaled myself with Red herring and White elephant

As I was finishing off a job, the automatic spell checker corrected the word “undergarment”. In that spilt second my uneasiness about the situation made me realise that “the word doesn’t belong to me”. It is common, was already in the dictionary of this software…
The fact that I found that strange indicates that some part of me must have felt that some words do belong to me, are my property, as if nobody else … or, on the contrary, as if everybody else… there are public and private words, and I was washing my linen in pubic…
Oops, a Lapsus clavi. Who would have thought there was a Latin term for typo?


Music is what feelings sound like...

I thought Danny Boy was a traditional Irish lament. I discover that the words were written by an English lawyer who never set foot in Ireland. The melody, Londonderry Air, is apparently authentically Irish. The air is also used as a hymn, and for the inspirational song “You raise me up”. In any case, it was much sung in Scotland when I was growing up, mainly by very drunk people. It came to be associated in my mind with the thick, unmelodious emotion of drink, that seems to make people think they can sing and at the same time make them want to sing as loud as possible. I left Scotland geographically but probably never left it emotionally and for years I sang too loud. Everybody told me I sang too loud; I kept telling myself to sing quieter, and inevitably I would start out singing quieter and then get carried away with the music like the bear in the Jungle Book and end up screaming.
I seemed to be trying to communicate, in written or sung words, to some mysterious almost unattainable entity. I also assumed this was because I had spent my first night on earth stuck in a linen cupboard.

When I moved to Samatan, there was a jazz pianist wandering about the town in dressing gown and slippers. He was coming to the end of his life, and died shortly after I arrived. The local café owner played me a CD of his music. A jazz instrumental version of Danny Boy.
At secondary school I went out with a boy called Danny and he wanted to have sex with me and I was a virgin. He asked me if I wanted to wait till I was married and I said no, not necessarily, just till it “feels” right. He went out with somebody else. I think of him occasionally.
I used to sing with my alter ego in primary school. Dressed as robots one Halloween we sang Sonny and
Cher’s “you’re the ladeeeeee” – I was Sonny and she was Cher. Anyway, she has had more than her share of tragedy, and recently her son joined the Scots Guards and went to Afghanistan. Thankfully he has just completed his tour of duty. His name is Danny.
I started to get fed up with the piano exercises my prof was giving me, looked on the internet for beginner level sheet music and found Danny Boy. My maternal grandmother was a weekend singer in a skiffle group. During the war she worked in a munitions factory, and later became a nurse. When she died, at roughly the age I am now, she had just started taking piano lessons.
So when I set about deciphering the notes of the song on the keyboard each one was so charged with emotion I almost broke down and cried the first time, especially when the melody goes up into the high notes. I found myself trying to hit them as hard as I possibly could, as if there was a correlation between emotional charge and physical force. Is that why Jimmy Hendrix set fire to his guitar?

Why am I doing this to myself I wondered. It was a kind of torture. It reminded me of my mother breaking down in the middle of a song her mother used to sing and saying she just couldn’t do it. I kept on playing it, once a day. The melody began to fall into place and I stopped crying. I spoke to Françoise, who reminded me that singing the blues means singing the blues away. The idea is that music lifts your mood. If you stick with it long enough.

These trees were decorated by Denis Martinez, an Algerian artist who lives in Marseilles. I saw a wonderful video of him drawing on the sand in the desert, with the wind erasing his work almost as soon as he had done it.



I feel scathed. I shouldn’t take it personally, I know, but I entered the Willesden short story competition with a fictional account of the last half hour of the life of Jean-Charles de Menezes, and not only did they not award the prize, but they had the following to say:

To be very clear: just because this prize has the words Willesden and Zadie hovering by it, does not mean that I or the other judges want to read hundreds of jolly stories of multicultural life on the streets of North London.”

Right, well, not to worry, ho hum, I’ll know better next time!

It started when I was having a coffee in Starbucks next door to the IPCC in Old Holborn last September and I first heard of the De Menezes case. I was passively on the look out for a subject for the Willesden short story competition. The fact that the video footage from inside the tube station had mysteriously disappeared made me prick up my ears. I read as many articles as I could and became interested in the case. A tragedy; a communication breakdown. I imagined the stress in the crowded control room in contrast to the calm attitude of a man going to work unaware that he was even being followed. It seemed to me that the points of view of the other players involved would be given adequate coverage so I felt compelled to give voice to the victim who suffered most. Reading on, I nearly choked on my coffee when I read that Jean Charles de Menezes was on his way to Willesden to fix a fire alarm when he was shot.

“That does it,” I said to myself, amazed at the synchronicity, convinced that destiny was pointing a huge arrow in that direction for me. I shall write it and call it “trying to get to Willesden/is this the way to Willesden/on my way to Willesden" before finally settling for “On the way to Willesden”.

Neither of us made it.