Sunday 31 July 2011


The holidays have begun for real. Massive queues on Autoroutes, businesses closed down. Our little town was buzzing this morning as campers and day tourists filled the streets. All in all a good day to stay at home and write. I really should talk more about writing. I have all kind of writing missions to fulfill. I have to do something for a web site dealing with French life. I have to do something about being on Kindle. I have to do some book promo blurb. All of these things are quite pleasant and give me the illusion of actually writing. As far as the book publishing aspect of writing I am so lucky that Gilles selflessly gives up so much time to help me with  the inflammation technology. Rosina does all manner of promotions and chasing sales. To be honest I've come to think that being a Kindle author is almost more about the tub thumping than the actual book. Now, let me say a bit about my book "Knockout!". Recently a reviewer saw my new professionally produced cover and said " Excuse me - but it does kinda look like a Harlequin style romance."  Well, BINGO! I wish I had their success. I've read many Harlequin Romances over the years and they do not present many surprises. I first came to read them in French when I was looking for relatively unsophisticated vocabulary and prose style. "Knockout!" is a straightforward romance, the sex is on the paler side of purple, passionate and has no obscenities or curious behaviours. It's about a girl who falls for a big tough bloke. It's supermarket checklit. It didn't really happen. It's a made up story. Harlequin - you can have me - you can kiss my lips numb, find a place in my core that I've never known before and carry me to your castle and impregnate me,  with a contract and your babies.. You can take me now!

Gilles had his shirt off in the garden. He's looking tanned. I do like to look at him - what's the oldest possible age for a Romantic novel hero? I guess if he were a Latin billionaire.....

We have sparrows. The dear little souls have evaded various anti nesting devices under the roof tiles and this year's brood of piafs seem to have come through well, despite the drought. I can never see a sparrow without mentally acknowledging Edith Piaf and how she changed the course of my life. She still flies on plainly dressed street wise wings and chirrups out the human soul.

Emma thinx: If you just can't stop - at least enjoy it.

Saturday 30 July 2011

X Certificate Trailer

The French love construction work. Ownership of a trailer containing some sand and a few ubiquitous planks is almost de rigeur. This does not mean that one actually does any construction. It means that one is the type who can. Generally trailers are used to take horticultural waste to the municipal tip. Now - if there is one reason to live here it is La Déchetterie. All of us Brits will have queued for the Municipal tip in the UK. Once you park, you climb some high metal steps, dragging some massive item such a mattress. Once you have scaled the North face of Mont-bin there is last push for the summit. The edge of the metal bin is about neck height. With superhuman force you heave in the load  and stumble exhausted back to your car. Here, there is a simple solution. The car park is raised and the bins are below you. Now, there is of course the possibility of all manner of vehicle careering into the bin. I guess it has happened somewhere. I'll chance it. There's always an old tractor close by to pull you out.

Going back to the genetic love of construction, a pile of stone or sand acts as a magnet. It signifies Les Travaux. It's like having a dog. With it comes all manner of guidance. "Oh yes - you ave to be certain of the foundations - zees sand will compress." Yesterday a well wisher stopped to look at the stones but decided to address the matter of window frames instead, "You will have to very careful - there is plomb in the paint." Knowing that I am English the term plomb had to be magnified in a kind of English. "Metal you know - so heavy in zee blood. You need masks to stop breathing"  I agreed to stop breathing if I went too close. He seemed happy. "The man who had this house who sold it to some people before - some years ago - he rendered that wall and he just had three young men who were not builders and it was not a good job." Oh dear. "And then you have to sure of the termites and do not forget the capricorns. You must always be sure of your infestation certificate. Sometimes things just collapse."  I began to feel that way myself.  He is a kind guy. He has a really big trailer. He does a lot of inspecting.

Gonna fix a nice curry for tomorrow. Bet you I can't find any lime pickle or papads. Perhaps you know different? (Don't tell me how to make them! I have tried it. I think they are using them as discus in the London Olympics.)

Emma thinx: Tired of those old fantasies? Ask your lover if they'll do a swap.

Friday 29 July 2011

Painting the Town White

I guess I was having a bit of a Buddhist moment. I thought I'd do a bit of painting. No - not ART. (I think ART is too much about this world and the ego and the me me me.) Nothing wrong with that but the Dalai Lama hasn't been a Turnover prize winner has he? So - I was blanching the walls. Here in Charente the walls are Blanc, maybe une rose claire or maybe a risque beige. The sun bounces off the pastels while cherubs sleep on my wall. Look - I'm a Tacky Romantic OK. The front face of the house had become a bit tatty and flaky. I started to clean and brush the stone. First I saw a panicking earwig disturbed from somewhere on the flagstones. Generations of them had lived in a certain universe. I mean A UNIVERSE OF CERTAINTY. Suddenly a Mr Brico broom entered their cosmos. As I worked I caught a cob web in my paint roller. A spider reeled out a life saving silk of utter magical strength and mystery.....and landed in my tray of paint. Certainty destroyed again- scales of Time and Dimension overturned and brutalised. We are no less fragile but our scale of Time and power is different. World markets, the circus of greed, the preaching hedonists ( had to put myself in somewhere) will be swept away. All is relative and will change. I work on ideas of acceptance, wondering if I can have a glass of wine before 5 O' clock.

While I was painting several folk stopped for a chat. As I was drinking a cup of tea, a neighbour remarked that I always had a cup of tea in my hand. "This is how we won the Empire, the World War and the CUP in 1966." I replied, "What do you do in France?" The neighbour thought for a moment - "We have longer lunches and then it is time for aperitif." He replied. I thought he was joking - until he came back with a glass of Pineau. Well, it was after 5.

Outside as I write a pigeon is giving it some real wellie. Wherever you are in the world pigeons and cockerels sound the same....yes a cockerel has just started up, probably to out-shout the bloody pigeon.  BUT today I saw three butterflies. There has been a shortage and there still is no doubt. In the drought of butterflies a single one is a joy. The fragile motion of its paper thin defiant wings scribbled a poem against the blue sky that left me in tears.

Years ago I did a poem about power and change. It's silly and banal but somehow I kept it. Check out "I threw a stone"

Emma thinx: To most living things, we are the Tsunami.

Thursday 28 July 2011

The Lady's Not for Forgetting

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.