Saturday, March 15, 2008


When an icon crumbles, it is only human to feel the tremors in your own feet. Terry Pratchett has always been with me, either in a current book or reference, usually, but not exclusively, shared with my daughter Lucy, who has inherited my own passion for his writing.

His most obvious and saleable talents; prolificacy, humour and wry perspicacity have relegated TP to zone 'popular' , but he is in fact a great philosopher and his humour is grounded in a detailed knowledge of philosophy. That he should now be silenced by a rare and virulent form of Alzheimer's is too cruel an irony to dwell on, but in compensation he can say that his time as a writer will persist well beyond his time as a living being. In addition, his writing has earned him enough to be able to contribute half a million pounds to further research of the disease and hopefully help future sufferers - another prolongation of his presence. I wish I could leave behind so many, valuable souvenirs, but in our own small way I suppose we are trying. PDF continues to stretch us on the rack of technological torture, but we will sort it out and our guide books will help a small number of people find the via Francigena with less pain than we had to go through. After another day lost, it looks as if Paul may have found the solution. I am trying not to think about the fact that this requires a copy and paste of the whole book into a single document.

This morning I went to Laval to pick up the export documents for our 'girls' and this afternoon I cleaned up the schooling area (something I should have done long ago), prior to them being collected tomorrow morning. When I went into the tack room and saw their saddles and bridles I nearly broke down. The next few days are going to be very hard.

On the way back, I discovered an element of France - the housing situation - that had passed by our comfortable, closeted existence. Here in the country, supported by Paul's pension and income from my own property, the notion of 700 euros a month rent paid by teachers earning only 1200, seems utterly impossible, but apparently not. The item featured a number of action groups, particularly one that is exposing the practice of landlords to demand sex in return for 'reduced' rent. All of which reminds me that our time in France could include far more than our own, very personal aims, and adds a metaphorical post-it to all the others randomly scattered in the jumble of early-morning (still in bed) ruminations.

I rejoin this draft blog with at least two of the items superseded by new events. The 'girls' have gone and the moment was predictably painful. We groomed them and winced when they so obviously appreciated the attention. I wrote a long, last letter to Emma, listing more of Gwen's eccentricities and urging her to love our horses as we have done/do - though I don't think there will be any doubt about that. Then the lorry came and now we have the Marie Celeste. Even Vasco was visibly disturbed by their departure and refused to leave the road until I had to pick him up and carry him inside.

Our Printer Proofs for the Volume One have been rejected again, so we are no further. But, on a lighter note, yesterday I received the second half of my mother's day present - tickets to see Evasion, Femmes de Plein Vent, a French a Capella group who defy any distinct classification. Singing in a variety of languages, Portuguese, French, Italian, Arabic and African dialects, they managed to transform their voices and persona to mirror every aspect of the individual cultures - movement, facial expressions and interaction with each other . We were all agreed that it was an amazing spectacle, not only because of the quality of the performance itself, but also because it was in a tiny village hall with no more than 200 in the audience - only in France, long may the subsidies last.

Next on the list of icons - Hugh Sykes, reporting out of Baghdad, so obviously engaged with the people there, speaking some Arabic and relaying what I believe to be the most accurate impression of life in Iraq. I recommend it to anyone who has not yet listened. Radio 4, a 5-minute item in PM or his blog:


Meanwhile, the apartment is acquiring layers of paint and a new landlord. Perhaps it is good news, perhaps he/she will want to re-decorate our depressing and odorous hallway, and perhaps he will want to mend the leak in the cistern. We can only hope so, but we will meet him next Tuesday and probably get an impression of which way our luck will swing.


Heiko said...

I couldn't agree with you more on Terry Pratchett. His humour works not because it's silly, but because he has a deep understanding of human nature and he is such a good observer himself. The music you saw sounds a little like the Orchestra di Piazza San Vittorio. They are a multi-national ensemble of musicians from Africa, South & North America, Asia and Europe. works really well and is very different. We saw them open air in a castle in Sarzana. Here's their link

Jim said...

WE are Terry fans but even in dubai sex for less rent is unthinkable -what with the Bedouin mindset and all!

Us flowers miss you Pilgrims and we hope all is well....