Pick And Mix


Ever since the demise of Woolworth’s our world has lacked the joy of the pick n’ mix sweets display. If I were to be really pompous and OTT I could say that it represented a philosophy of opportunity, infinite choice and reward. It was the free market of anticipated pleasure. Now why is this daft old Doris in the fried egg and banana sweet display? Well, watching the “global” demonstrations against “Corporate Greed” the image of the Pick and Mix keeps flashing into my mind. Should I join the jelly baby, fruit chew and dolly mixture coalition, the Red Strawberry Brigade or should I stand up and march goose-step in black uniform with the Liquorice Jugend? The choice is mine if I can ever be certain enough to dip my scoop and pay up. We live in interesting times when the old political show is indeed like some dated summer camp concert. As a spleenager I used to love punk music – (you should see me pogo guys!). There is a lyric in the 1977 song  “Anarchy in the UK” which reads “Don’t know what I want but I know how to get it.” A further line reads “Your future dream is a sharpie’s scheme.” My dictionary gives a definition of “sharpie” as a “dishonest or cunning person. Now, as a very grown up parent with a life hard lived, lusted and busted I still see the fresh anger and confused accusation of this song. The modern young generation have an itch they cannot scratch – indeed because they have jumped nothing but focused educational hoops, they have received no word for that itch. They were told the pedlar had everything in his pack for them and that they could be even richer pedlars themselves. They have no anthems, no heroes and no leaders ….YET. In troubled times the winning slogan will be simple. The leader will wear some kind of boots – style to be decided. Sandals or slippers are unlikely.

I know that I overwork the word JOY. The reason is simple. In the universe of our hearts there is so much of it and yet we allow ourselves so little. Just now and then life gives you a booster jab of joy. Today, the joy was not my own – but danced and flung itself in ecstasy from the canvases of an artist. When Gilles spotted a sign advertising an exhibition outside a house as he was driving home I expected a polite amateur show of “local” art. We wandered along this afternoon to take a look at the paintings of Sara Barnes. Let me say simply that it is a long time since I desperately wanted to write a poem. The picture below speaks so vibrantly of the defiant fragility of blooms against the sky, the hidden force of their roots feeding their cry of  mortal beauty into the deaf indifference of the  ocean.

 Then we have a canvas of Exbury Gardens which needs no words and is a visual feast of atmosphere,light and colour.

Then an unwitting careless study of innocence, hierarchy, fascination and that peculiar English childhood of rock pool discovery. The disequilibrium  of the child in green, reflects a gauche accidental view of vulnerability and mortality.(Literatti among you might wish to check out “The Shrimp and the Anemone” by L.P. Hartley which explores this theme).

And finally a picture of that transcendent quality of motion that ballet sets out to achieve. Here a dancer leaps into the space of possibility that our imagination sketches ahead of us in time. 

 Feel the joy in that flight! I arrived too late to buy the above picture and paintings were flying off the walls. Remember the name: Sara Barnes (artist).

Emma thinx: A pure vacuum has no choice of what it sucks in.

Clawed Money

Believe it or not, I once used to work in the field of fine arts. It was just a temp job but I used to see a lot of the inside track on art sales. Some of the prices are of course more famous than the art work or indeed the artists. Now – for the one big thing that I know that only a few thousand other people know. ( I mean- there are a lot of people in the world so a few thousands knowing something are almost like a secret). A lot of posh art in galleries and private collections is either nicked/copied/done by apprentices or simply forged. No one wants to tell you this. The world of Wheeler Dealer “one careful old lady owner full MOT immac condition” is nothing compared to fine art. You can get a manual to tell you about Mondeo camshafts and the AA will come and inspect it. Try that in the art world. There is always the likes of Brian Sewell. I just ADORE this guy. Check him out here – Last of the Medici on youtube

Anyway – today’s picture is a painting wot I done me self. It should enable you to see why I’m a novelist. At the time I was trying to teach the kids about art. Well, that’s my excuse.

Two matters got me onto ART issues. Well, actually it’s three matters because all of this horror in Norway just made me think that you just can’t rise to this sort of thing. All the outrage and horror is done by professionals. But – we do somehow create these individuals and don’t see them coming do we? Somehow it’s all about love and the lack of it – mainly the lack.

Last year I saw an exhibition of art here in St.Savinien. It was by a guy called Pascal Audin who had lived a terrible childhood of deprivation and imprisonment. He expressed himself in his art but sadly all photo reproduction was banned. I did buy some stuff but maybe I’m not allowed to put it up? I would love to if I could.
The other artistic matter was that of the free concerts held on the beach for holiday makers. As I mentioned yesterday, last year we went to see a performance at Royan. This series is done for French TV and is running again this year. The idea is to bring Culture to the masses. (Is that the same thing as bringing the masses to culture? – Well- NO- it is not). We guarded our plot on the sands for FIVE HOURS. People crammed in around us but with a certain lack of respect for personal space. Just as the concert commenced a couple more or less kicked one of our kids out of the way and tried to sit on top of her. Gilles went to the scene and told them to push him instead. He sat eyeball to eyeball, fists clenched, with the interloper for the whole performance. He’s not a Buddhist – but I do love his pure gorilla anger. I know how desperately he wanted to break loose and settle the matter jungle style. It still burns in him. I can’t explain how our anger builds into horror – but it does you know – it does. The performance ended with the overture to Tannhäuser plus fireworks. It was wonderful.

Emma thinx: Anger – it’s the gift of love not given

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The Whole Truth

Sometimes you have no choice. I stood for several minutes at the meat display at Carrefour.There they were- whole rabbits, gourmet rabbits and chopped up rabbits. The whole ones are – well – whole. They look at you with their soft eyes from naked earless heads. I know Gilles will love me if I do this for him. It will be an act of cultural respect, loyalty and prostration. I went for the chopped up (could be anything on legs) budget pack. It’s only a casserole isn’t it.

And now it rains. The forecast promises more rain but it has come too late for the sunflowers. They look to be about half their normal size. What joy they are, turning their ever hoping faces to the sun. They are the flowers that a child would design – like those suns that blaze in the right hand corners of all those fridge door paintings of “my house”. They are impossible gaudy badges of ecstasy even in their impoverished state. Vincent Van Gogh painted them in a transcendent frenzy, often squeezing yellow pigment straight from the tube in an attempt to capture their unequivocal moment of blazing passion. I think he got them for us don’t you. 

Many folks will be planning to holiday in France. My little town of St Savinien is part of a big push to attract tourism. Enthusiasm for foreign travel has not reached President Sarkozy. He has advised members of his government to holiday in France. He has also advised them that they may relax but remain on duty. OK – you can be a tourist – as long as you stay at home.

Emma thinx: One seed is enough.

Surprised by Joy

So out came the sun and out came the bikes. We rode to Crazannes to see some wonderful stone carvings which local and international artists have created over the past ten years. I would have loved to post a photo but any publication is banned by les Lapidiales authorities. Well, if you’ve got it flaunt it I’ve always said. That’s how I pulled Gilles!

On the way home we rode into a wall of perfume at a spot named Allée des Tilleuls. That’s lime or linden in English. The heart shaped leaves connected these trees to Venus in days gone by. If you have a soul sensitive to warm air, blue sky and perfume the link is still there believe me.

Surprised by joy is a beautifully sad elegiac poem by Wordsworth – a big hero of mine. Check it out at: Surprised by Joy – poem