Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Glamour lights up the stars .

Cannes during the film festival . Hectic. The grand hotels charging $20 for a cup of coffee. ' The font ' has tickets to the screening of a raved about  French movie. It turns out to be a ' wrenching ' tale about a whale trainer and her depressive boyfriend .  Maybe it's the heat in the cinema or maybe it's the film but Angus finds himself quickly dozing off. He wakes forty five minutes later  to find that the whale has bitten off the girls legs and her boyfriend has, not surprisingly,  become even more depressive . Nothing much else seems to happen . Angus informs ' the font ' that he should get a prize for sitting through it .

A party. Angus wonders why would anyone want to be in a black tie in this heat . A flowery Frenchman gives a speech . Something about ''  true Glamour belongs to the realm of light. Its energy is sculptural , but it is transitory even as it is , in part, immortal  " . What tosh . The Frenchmans definitely not a Calvinist . ' The font ' spies a famous Canadian actor. Angus has never heard of him . '' He's an action hero ". Angus still hasn't heard of him . Faced with a lack of functioning air conditioning the Canadian actor very sensibly removes his black tie. Angus dreams of getting onto the golf course.

We meet old friends for dinner. Their youngest daughter , an actress in the US,  has landed a major part in a  daytime soap. The parents have just been to a preview for studio executives . The wife , an accomplished novelist , has the traumatised air of  someone who has just opened up the trunk of her  car and found a dead body in it . It seems that the daughter has failed to mention to her parents that she is playing the role of an under age street kid with a serious coke problem and form to match. Mother is not taking the discovery well.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gold stitches.

Memorial Day weekend. The end to a busy two weeks. The family roaring with laughter as ' the font ' relates the saga of travelling through busy airports with an urn . The security supervisor at Heathrow firmly told that ' granny font ' would not be travelling in the hold and would, despite his protestations , be travelling in the cabin.  '' You'll need a doctors letter " he says eyeing the urn suspiciously. ' It's a bit late for that don't you think ! ' comes the reply.

The end of the afternoon . The first clouds building up over the mountains .  One final duty to discharge. We wander down all together to the little stream that meanders alongside the roman road . The elder trees thick with flower, a briar drooping into the water . On the bank a set of fresh deer tracks .  A line from a poem  " Love is what carries you, for it is always there , even in the dark, or most in the dark , but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery ". Just right .   

Madame Bay is waiting for us when we get back to the house. Champagne poured. She's been busy in the kitchen making pate. Masses of pate . She cries again . Never one to hide her emotions . We all sympathize about her allergies . In her eyes - it's quite striking - a little bit of the world's goodness . A joyous end to the day.

Now it's time to move on . Later this morning cars will be packed, the house locked up, and we shall set off for the Cannes Film Festival.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Call Me Maybe ?

The Brasserie des Beaux Arts. One of those timeless French restaurants. A row of plate glass windows looking over the river. Starched white tablecloths , thick carpet , zinc covered bar. The service hurried without being unduly so. Just a hint that if you're quick and don't dawdle they might be able to fit in an extra sitting . ' The font ' has oysters. Angus has foie gras .

At the corner table a languid Labrador pretends to be asleep. Next to us a cheeky Westie cocks his head , inquisitively , everytime a waiter passes . Near the door a grandmother with daughters, grandchildren and something white, fluffy and indeterminate . Dogs and humans all well behaved . The dogs certainly quieter. Why do Anglo-Saxons view dogs in restaurants as health hazards ? A reflection on Anglo-Saxon dogs ? Or Anglo-Saxons ?

A quick lunch before ' the font ' heads back to London . Angus offers to come along. A moments hesitation but the thought of a journey involving Angus, airport security, customs and an urn deemed to be best conducted alone .

Home. The cherry trees laden , the rose garden suffering from the constant rain .  Upstairs the  unexpected sight of Cost Centre #2 teaching Madame Bay how to dance to ' Call me Maybe ' . College Boy culture meets France Profonde .  Madame Bay returning back to her usual self - laughing and happy . In the evening a trip to the cafe under the arcades for a Cafe Liegeois.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Is delight ! No !

'' Book now ! Only one room left at this unbeatable price ". Angus quickly enters the  credit card details. How bad can the hotel be ?

The lobby a riot of colour . More Bollywood than Toulouse. Spirally patterned carpet , a set of blue silk chairs,  white and orange striped silk wallcovering , green velour curtains and in a corner that might have been the bar, or just a corner , a collection of Louis XVI sofas . Each covered in a different fabric. Chintz, paisley, polka dot.

'' For you we have room with great privilege " says the receptionist leading us along a long , narrow, corridor . We discover she is from Baku, has a French boyfriend, and wants to study business. Finally, we stop,  she flings open a door , says '' Is delight ! No ! " and , before we can reply, is gone . 

The room neither small nor large. Walls half panelled in dark oak. The upper part covered in red felt. Two black leather sofas. A tired looking television. The focal point a window set high in the wall. On closer examination we find its a large window divided into two. The room above must have its half at floor level. '' Perfect for one night " says ' the font ' delphically. Not a room to tarry in . 

Outside , in the square in front of the cathedral,  a young man with a dog. The dog is leaping , effortlessly, in and out of an ancient fountain . It dips its head down under the water then emerges again with a whoosh of surprise,  water splashing everywhere , delight on its face. The young man laughs. The dog repeats his routine . Passers by stop and laugh . We laugh . The dog know it's the centre of happy attention . Another of natures jesters. All of us in a unscripted commonwealth of joy .

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Planning ahead .

Time to plan a trip away from the Rickety Old Farmhouse. The LRB bookstore doesn't sell travel guides but Daunts on Marylebone High Street does. Reservations made at hotels in Maine and Massachusetts. A few nights in Cambridge en route . The concierge at a hotel on Nantucket e-mails with the suggestion that " you let us know your choice of restaurants , what nights, number of people and what time you like to eat at least two , and preferably three , months prior to arrival ". Three months in advance ! Nantucket vacationers must be particularly well ordered people. We'll be there in a little over a month . Will we be able to eat ?

Friday, May 4, 2012

French humour .

An old neighbour stops to tell me a joke. Very French . Very politically incorrect .

Angela Merkel arrives at Passport Control at Charles de Gaulle airport. '' Nationality ? " asks the immigration officer . ' German ' she replies .   '' Occupation ? " . ' No just visiting for a few days ' .

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Saw this article about London in yesterdays NY Times . Wry travelogue writing. Somehow manages to sum up London just right.