Dinner with French friends. Poor me without Gilles. He turned up at about 1.30am having driven from Bordeaux. He is an angel - up for hot baguette at 7am. No wonder he's a corporate controller. Anyway - le dîner. Generally I am always in the shadow of the very French Gilles. He shrugs, does that horse thing with his lips and says nonchalantly - "Oh oui - ( flick of the right hand as if something has stuck to your fingers) c'est normal quoi!" This means that he can more or less get on with his food without having to think of sophisticated, witty and utterly charming remarks expected of a Romance Novelist. Being alone, I have to freestyle and because I am alone, everyone thinks that I am alone and so that I'm not lonely, they are all gonna talk to me at once, about everything the most ENGLISH they can think of, so that I'm not conscious of being special and on my own!!!!
"So - Margaret Thatcher -once upon a beau jour she was General De Gaulle, Joan of Arc, Wayne Rooney and Carla Bruni all in one person. But I read she has Alzheimers....."
" It is the most intelligent personnes who attrape this problem." Says a wife - obviously defensive of la Dame de Fer.
"Oh yes - I ave seen zees in zee paypairs - but I can't seem to recall the details." I add with a tweek of eyebrow inviting at least a smile.
A lady wife gives me really warm eye contact and laughs.
"You must forgive 'er - she understands not the politique brittanique."
France is not England in any way at all. At the English dinner party there is a kind of flippant mocking shallowness which hides a deep intelligence which is often expressed in rivalry (Being on top oneself as opposed to discussing ideas is a big Anglo/Franco difference). In France there is a deep seriousness which hides a revolutionary cynicism and violence. There is no personal rivalry - but respect for serious ideas is important. Let not the joking reformists mock the executioner revolutionaries. Understand this and an Anglo will understand La France. Here no one gets on top of anyone - because the world is so fixedly in collapse, only hard ideas are flexible enough to survive. Geddit?
Went off to order some patio supplies. We are short of sable de Remblai. This is a kinda sand which is more differently sophisticated than any Franco-Anglo dinner party. For a start it has big lumps of clay in it. Now - EXCUSE ME - how is it sand if half of it is clay?....I think we did geology and artesian wells at school one Friday afternoon when I was a bit pre-men and I just wanted to get home and hide- or hit someone - or be A BOY.
Emma thinnx: If you're really a know all - you'll know not to expect gratitude.