I’m sitting in my bedroom. If I were to move to my left I would have a view from the window. Only discipline keeps me looking at the pink wall. (Well – what other colour would it be?) All writers need somewhere to work. This simple fact comes to mind with the news that a public appeal has been launched to save Roald Dahl’s writing shed. Now, I guess his name will be familiar to you……but let me make a confession. Until I was about 25 I had never heard of him. As a child I read books completely at random. My parents did not read books and never read bed-time stories to us load of brats.(Can’t say that I blame them. They worked night and day to pay the rent.) Most of what we read in school was the Bible and I don’t think Roald wrote that in his shed. It was when my own kids were young that I became aware of his work – and that was because of the film “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” which was on TV at Christmas for about 20 years. Anyway – they want half a million pounds to organise the moving of the shed to a proper museum. Not sure how much I’ll be giving to be quite frank.
Thinking of books that I read as a kid reminded me of my own very very special appeal to the people of the world. The first book I read was “Missing from Home” by Geoffrey Trease. It was a very socialist book about posh kids accidentally coming across the poor. It was in a pile of books given to me by a very kind lady called Mrs Lovelock. Now my life story is of a poor kid accidentally coming across the rich. Perhaps I read the book backwards. I was a pretty dumb kid. However, I must say that this book planted those old commie seeds in my brain and now they are in there like those weeds that strangle everything in my herb garden. Well – all that oregano and basil sound a bit bourgeois to me. I would say that this book seriously changed my view of life. If anyone knows where there is a copy PLEASE PLEASE let me know. My treasured copy got kinda divorced and lost in the decree absolute of time.
This weekend marks “Les Journées Européennes Du Patrimoinie”. This means that palaces, monuments and chateaux will be open free of charge to the public. The idea is to give everyone a view of our heritage and also to involve them in the notion of its conservation and continuance. There are queues everywhere! There is no doubt that our leaders want to involve us all in the Eurodeal – that notion of the single state, doing away with the idea of war and the economic beggaring of your neighbour. If they do pull it off – to unite Europe fiscally and politically with an educated population fully employed with an equality of wealth and opportunity, it will be one of the greatest achievements of all time. I urge all the leaders of Europe who are reading this blog (and I know you do!) to be conscious of this. Over recent years a “place in history” has required war. Over these next few weeks my leaders – it will require the end to war or you will never be forgiven. If you can hold the show together and retain an agenda for people and not just for the so called markets, you will be THE GUYS. Can you even dream of failure? All the rest of us can do is press our faces into ugliness against the window you have shown us!
Emma thinx: History: Keep out! Work in progress.
One day not long after I had met Gilles I was cycling near the Hampshire town of New Alresford where there is a fabulous old fashioned bookshop – all kinda creaky and smelling of old dusty books. I think also there is a hint of lavender, cat and old ladies wotsits. They have a foreign section where I have bought all manner of French Lit. (I mean – you don’t have to read it do you!) On this particular day I found “Lettres de Napoléon à Joséphine.” Now, Napoléon was some kinda Romantic Hero. After great battles he would pen her a few lines as thousands of dead and wounded were cleared away ready for the recorded highlights after the late news. Excited by my purchase I got myself to London and presented the book to Gilles and asked him to read it to me in bed. You know – for a French guy his accent’s not too bad. The early letters burn with passion and lust: “A thousand kisses await my love – but do not give any to me – they burn my blood.” Probably his most famous letter ordered her not to wash because he was on his way home. Look – these are guys who eat boudin, andouillette, oysters and a cheese called “Epoisses” which is so smelly that it is banned on French public transport. (Sadly all of the mentioned products are delicious). Seemingly Napoléon liked her Au Nature. Well – I don’t mind a bit of male musk myself (Ooh – I really think that an Emperor could have tweaked my knobs). So I lay there as my lover read the letters of Napoléon to Joséphine. “Ah – he had it bad you know”. After a while he skipped to the end of the book. I asked him to tell me how he ended the last letter. I quote: “They tell me you’ve got fat like a Normandy farmer’s wife”. Well, at least she might have had a bit of tasty cheese in her knickers for him! Bloody Emperors – it’s all self self self.
I hear Cheryl Cole is out in Afghanistan with the troops. Apparently she had to go on “Hostile Environment Training”. Now, how can anyone who has worked with Simon Cowell on X Factor need that? Give me the Taliban any day. At least they don’t pull their trousers up so high.
Emma thinks: Credit rating downgraded? Passion is never over- spent.
It’s all about focus isn’t it. I have broken a tooth, or rather what was left of a tooth has given up and just left me with a lump of mercury about the size of the planet. Before this incident I was a human being, a woman, a romantic novelist, a mother and a vin de pays (not champagne) socialist-Buddhist-cyclist. Now I am a tooth. I am a jagged lump, unfamiliar to myself. I probe myself with my tongue. The breeze, the dishwasher, my sweet neighbour’s chatty friendship have become a tooth. The developing characters of my book have become teeth. I feel like the ocean the day after the storm when my reaching self folds around and takes in the new ravaged cliffs. I think I’m kinda fumbling forward here, towards some kinda understanding of how we deal with change, trauma and loss. Because my experience is so small and trivial the actual experience doesn’t overwhelm me and so I can objectivise it. Am I making any sense? A few folks will have had terrible news and problems today and I feel so pathetically selfish.
So, I’m gonna hop back to the UK. There is my father’s old desk for me to pick up and there is a dentist. Probably I’ll miss the 14th of July in France but I do need a desk. I’ve always tried not to do sentimentality but this item of furniture has many memories for me. I can’t say that I had good relations with my parents and they certainly did not have a good relationship with each other. The desk was where my father used to sit in his isolation doing whatever adults do on desks. Moving it to France probably means it will never come back to the UK and he would never have been able to imagine such an event. Something rooted in the gum of my familiar certainty is crumbling. I told you – I have become a tooth.
I’m reading two books. The first is an old fashioned tree book called “Fatherland”. It’s a cops and Nazi mega stega blockbuster with a gold and Gothic cover. I’ve read cop stories ever since my helmet and handcuff phase with a Scotland Yard detective. So far I’ve avoided the Nazis. The other book is on kindle and called “Shadowbrook” by Shannon Bailey. As an ex hippy poet type I know nothing of genre etc. It’s a paranormal romance crime thrilla frilla I think. Tell you what though – it’s got me hooked and spooked. We live in a fantastic new age of stories. All those old back scratching scribbling elites are cracking. Did someone say tooth?
Emma thinx: Certain of the rock and the sea, I am sand.
So just as I raised the subject of Buddhism yesterday, an Australian TV presenter makes a joke about the Dali Lama and gains world fame. I think it’s a great joke and what I love about Ozzies is their lack of reverence. Check out the joke here.
Rain and more bloody rain. I had a good long write this morning and then joined Rosina on a trip to Wessex to see some printers. I ended up having a stroll around Dorchester, conscious that I was actually in Casterbridge, where the mayor sold his wife in the Thomas Hardy novel. Look – some snivelling little scribbler like me should not be allowed to speak of him. If you don’t read Hardy get on and do it.
As it happens I know this area. A few years ago before I moved to France I was part of a sort of an artists/writers commune just outside the village of Piddletrenthide. It was here that I met the poet Oscar Sparrow and became interested in Buddhism. Oscar spends a lot of time in Thailand and at one time was actually a monk. Check out his poem “Farang” which I’ve added to my website with his permission. My main memory of the commune was of leaking roofs, lentils and wind which entered our lives by either route and often both.
Tomorrow I go home to my lovely Gilles. I just could not leave Wessex without seeing again the famous Cerne Giant. I had seen this ancient chalk figure many times before I met Gilles but to me this is him walking up the hill past le château in the morning carrying my hot baguette.
Oh, I finished Fantasy Lover. The Greek love slave was released from his suffering. I kinda knew how he must have felt.