Berry orange

Once I was supposed to take pictures of a play and they did not work out, they were all blurred. When I had the camera poised to snap Serge in his boater hat, he looked at me and I was intimidated and did not dare to take the picture. It was engraved deeply on the inner membrane that holds images. I felt that if I had just snapped the picture blithely, I would have forgotten about the image; we sometimes rely on the camera to remember for us.

Twenty five years later I surfed the web looking for Serge and lo and behold, I find him wearing his boater hat. Someone else was able to photograph him because he did not look at them.

in a blaze of glory

Hedging your bets

For at least a month now, every time I drive past this hedge I want to stop and take photographs. The day before yesterday I stopped. I love the orange berries, they are so bright.

I have tried to capture the hue before, not very successfully. This hedge has three shades of orange – pale orange, orange orange and red… I took the photos with my phone. Makes me almost want to try to acquire a real camera. It was a very bright and sunny afternoon, and you can see my shadow in some of the pictures. In this one, my shadow is right in the middle, as if it was part of the hedge.

I say almost because I don’t trust cameras. I have owned 2 cameras. One was a present from my sister; the other was a present from my mother. I don’t want to buy one because it would be just another cog in the wheel of consumerism. And also because part of my mistrust stems from the fact that I believe that sometimes you have to not take a picture to remember a scene clearly. And who do we think will look at all our precious images after we have gone, anyway?

I'm off to Scotland for Hogmanay. See you next year!


Les not so Misérables

I have always been fascinated by mosaic and recently I visited a friend who has just finished her kitchen wall. It took her a year. I came away with broken bits of tile and couldn’t wait to get started. I first did a small shelf and was very excited about the whole process and the result. I kept my eye open for suitable “supports” (I’m using the French sense of the word here, which seems to fit perfectly… how would I say in one word in English ‘things that are suitable to be covered in mosaic’?) and found a large tray, a mug tree and a plate for sitting hot cooking pots on the table. It is great fun putting in the white joints, and it dramatically changes the appearance, so I thought I would show these in the previous stage, before it has been added (see below).

It is not easy to break the tiles, especially into small pieces, and I beavered away intensely for a long time, thoroughly enjoying myself. Then I tried to lift the tray and was shocked to find how heavy it was. I felt really deflated. Although it occurred to me that the tiles and cement would help to weigh down the mug tree and make it more stable, it did not occur to me that my breakfast/tea/all-purpose tray would need a weight-lifter to shift it once completed. The feeling was similar to the time I filled a bucket with water at the kitchen sink and only remembered as I was carrying it across the kitchen floor heading for the door that I had punched holes in this particular bucket to use it as a large plant pot. There is something humbling about water lapping round your ankles.

The mosaic is an excellent metaphor for the blog, too. No two pieces are the exact same size, shape and colour but they are all stuck together by the same hand or some such.

I just heard on the radio that the French Courts have decided in favour of the publisher who produced a sequel to Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.

My initial reaction was that only Victor Hugo should have the right to write a sequel to his own work… and he can’t, so nobody else should. Then I read the article in the Figaro and was convinced by the argument that the dead baddy should remain forever dead and forever a baddy – the sequel brought him back to life and made him good…

But when you think about it, the sequel will not be signed “Victor Hugo”. It is just one person’s take on how the work could possibly evolve, so maybe it is no big deal.

Zapping, I caught a television interview with poseur Bernard Henri Levy. He said that psychoanalysis is of no interest to him because he bears no resemblance to the person he was as a child or teenager. He only became the real person he is when he started to write. “I have no childhood memories” he proffered, guilelessly.

I’m surprised I haven’t written about serendipity yet, it is one of my favourite words and favourite concepts!!!

Funny I had never before come across Obloquy; it is very pleasant-sounding and looking.

Trite has always intrigued me. It is not a word I have ever used. It seems to me to be very English...
And I wanted to mention Foley.

In Monty Python’s Holy Grail they click coconut shells together to make the sound of horses’ hooves and without the coconut shells they can’t travel. I found that hilarious. I didn’t realise it was actually pure Foley.

To create the sound of snow, they press corn starch, so I suppose there must be a lot of corn starch in custard powder. This took me to a search for Cremola custard, I wanted to find a picture of the moon on the tin, or that lovely yellow colour, but couldn’t find it.

Wellspring as a noun has 2 meanings:
Meaning #1: the source of water for a well
Synonym: wellhead
Meaning #2: an abundant source
Synonyms: well, fountainhead

One of the images that emerged in my writing and in psychoanalysis was that of being stuck down a deep well. I suppose I had always only considered the negative aspects of a well, from the point of view of someone trying to get out. This reminds me that wells can be good things! I have one in my garden and it might help me to have some kind of green grass in the summer here.

'Witches', 'bitches', or 'britches'.

“Contraltos are fairly rare in opera, since there is very little work that was written specifically for them. Most of the time, contralto roles are limited to maids, mothers and grandmothers, but they do occasionally get notable roles, often playing female villains such as witches or playing male figures that were originally intended to be performed by castrato singers. A common saying among contraltos is that they're only allowed to play 'witches', 'bitches', or 'britches'.”

Talking about who wears the trousers, I like the expression “the suits” to mean businessmen dressed in business suits.


Bee, joue

This bijou of a picture shows Jeremy Irons X 4, two of the images facing forwards and two ready to walk off into the distance behind. The wistful look on his face is very poignant – he could be thinking “Christ I wish it was Saturday night so that I can go and get pissed” or remembering his first night at boarding school:

As you get older, you look back and try to make sense of the sort of person you have become. And I think the most important thing that happened in my childhood was the first night I went to boarding school at the age of seven. I remember that night, and the loneliness. Also, my parents' marriage broke up when I was 15. But I think it was that first night at seven years old when I felt something had broken, and I've spent my life trying to get back to that feeling of home. It's the same sense of family that you find in the theatre and movies. In fact, I'm hoping to make a film about that very subject - the need for home. You don't really have a home until you have children. And that home is created by the children.”

As Valentin in Claude Lelouch's romantic comedy And now ladies and gentlemen please… Irons is casing a jeweller’s shop. He dresses in drag and makes off with a substantial haul from a bijouterie in Avenue Montaigne.

This week, with bling already in the news because Le Figaro newspaper drew attention to an expensive ring on Rachida Dati’s finger by removing it with an airbrush, four armed robbers, three of whom were dressed as women, stole jewellery worth 80 million euros from a store in … Avenue Montaigne.

The questions all these sparklers raise are endless, and include:

Will the Police call Lelouch in for questioning?
Who wrote the scenario?
Will the thieves be charged with breach of copyright?
Why did a newspaper try to hide the fact that the Minster for Justice owns a ring worth ten times the minimum salary? She is not a socialist…
What else do newspapers remove with airbrushes (President Sarkozy’s love handles, apparently, too...)
Is there really no system better than capitalism to regulate human society?
If more people went to the cinema, would the world be a better place?



Dancing to the beat of your own drum…

Un enfant terrible…

Oscar in The Tin Drum, perfected the art of breaking glass with his screaming.

I don’t know what I’ve been trying to break, or if I’ve been trying to break something, but I have certainly been striving to hit some invisible spot… sometimes mistaking loudness for intensity or getting other parameters mixed up.

Maybe the whole of this human’s endeavour consists in trying to explain why, or trying to give the coordinates of the target, or just perfecting the aim (“I may be off mark, but my aim is true” as Lone Kent sings in Point of View).

A friend sent me a Miles Davis track which reminded me of how distinctive a sound he created. A trademark. Like Keith Jarret, it is almost immediately recognisable. I then picked Miles Davis on a “make your own radio station” website, and it played me a track by Chick Corea which was very nice.

As I was listening, I was surprised to be finding it interesting, because I do not normally like instrumental jazz. Apart from the two musicians just mentioned and Eric Satie I need a singing voice to create the right kind of edge. The excruciating instrument solos of all those bands with no singer, no voice and therefore no real message… As if all music was accompaniment for a singer, a voice, a person … as if instruments were merely the equivalent of machines - something you switch on – you can programme - as if the voice was the only real expression of the soul and of creativity – A drum solo is like a kind of torture you put up with to be stroked in the direction of your fur (dans le sens du poil) by the singer’s voice. And not just any singer’s voice, it goes without saying. But that’s another kettle of fish.

Marciac jazz festival. The frustration of hearing English songs sung by people who stress all the wrong syllables and whose emotions are not in sync with the mood of the lyrics... the drunken Irishman who thinks he can make the words up because he’s in France and nobody will understand anyway (wrong)… then Françoise Guerlin, who understands the lyrics and knows what she is singing, and does it for me by sending the last note of In a sentimental mooooooooooooood gliding through the air like a love letter to Mars. Did anyone get it? Did she get any replies? The b******s can’t write, if you want my opinion.

So many misconceptions – or this one vast misconception, that all music is simply there to allow voices to sing – fell apart as I listened to Chick Corea and enjoyed the sophistication of the rhythm. And my mind (heart) silently admitted that it was pleased with that kind of creativity and it was not a problem that Mr Corea was not making the music with his mouth and body only but had added an instrument – so the instrument could actually be something more than the body and not necessarily always something less, a shield to hide behind, a disguise, a cop-out…

The female vocalist’s solo in The Dark Side of the Moon… Now you're talking. Incidentally, at the recording session, when she stopped singing, she apologised for having screwed up… that’s how difficult it is to know how you are doing in the middle, if you can’t read the audience and even if you…

Now I’m listening to instrumental music and it is not distracting me – it is a background – a beat, a tempo – for too long I was only and exclusively able to dance to the beat of my own drum… which was not always in the tempo… which often mischievously led me astray.

Instrumental music is non-intrusive – like email – you don’t have to listen to it if you don’t want to – it is not asking a direct question, it has no linguistic message – it can be as relaxing as a holiday in a foreign country whose language you do not understand, because you don’t have to make an effort to try to understand, you don’t have to strain to eavesdrop on your neighbours at the street café, on the beach, because you have no entry point, if you can’t visualise the words you can't divide it up into units to understand it piece by piece and if, perchance, the message does speak straight to your heart – as in Samba Pa Ti, for example, by Santana – then yes, it will arrest you and you will stop and listen to it and take it in with every cell in your body and “know” what it means – infinite sadness, love, emotion , nostalgia, human striving – beauty – and yet not "know" and it will become a part of you for ever.