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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Sunday, 16 June 2013

Gravity's no fun at all


FRANCE: LA CHUTE It was hot as the hinges of hell. Darren, OS's hubbie, ordered une pression (draft beer), I ordered une grande pression causing Darren to change his order. The beer came in heavy glass mugs that needed two hands to keep them steady. I hate these crude containers – they coarsen all they dispense. Thick dimpled glass is the enemy of all beer.

Quite soon we ordered a couple more GPs and eventually my personal thermodynamics re-assumed a steady state. I went inside to pay the bill. Told the waitress I was looking forward to lunch the following day “because yours is the sort of place that does blanquette de veau (veal in a white sauce) as the plat du jour (the daily special).” Left cheerily.

Too cheerily. I fell into space from a platform cunningly designed for minimal ostentation. Fought myself in the air; gave in. Fell saying “Shit”, the word pilots usually leave behind on the black box as they face their final rendezvous with Mother Earth.

Two youngish Frenchmen sprang up, one extending his hand. I smiled (I think I did) and said my most available hand was the one that hurt. “I'm going to turn over,” I said. Raising myself I not only used the hand that hurt but also a knee that hurt too. I thanked them both profusely in my most inventive French wondering if two Englishmen of equivalent age would have bothered.
THE NOMAD A sleek black cat wanders in offering insincere caresses. Later a scraggy grey cat enters timorously. If I throw gristle to the grey the black boxes its ears. Early this morning the black saw me typing through the French windows and screeched to be let in. The hell with it.

7 comments:

Tom said...

"Doing very nicely, thank you!" were you? At least until you rediscovered Isaac Newton, although the experience sounded more Einsteinian. Nice to hear you're having an enjoyable holiday.

Joe Hyam said...

Falls can be grievous in an any language as we progress towards dotage. Glad first that you survived the fall, second that you are clearly in full possession of your wits, and third that courtesy and respect for those of mature years is still alive in France.

Ellena said...

Ouch! Sorry you fell victim to 'la grande pression'.

Roderick Robinson said...

Tom: Was there an ironic tone in your comment? I asked Occasional Speeder. No, she said, adding that I have a tendency to look for that sort of thing. So I let it be.

Joe: The lasting impression I have is not of the pain or the personal damage but the look of concern on both the men's faces. I didn't expect it and many would say I didn't deserve it. Afterwards I told myself I had experienced Cartesianism in all its glory.

Ellena: Nice wordplay.

Lucy said...

Enjoy your trip?

A friend of ours from a while back here, who with his wife used sometimes to run a market stall (very small, selling jam and cakes), and who could tell a good story, recounted one of a rather elderly and corpulent French lady who stopped at the sweater stall opposite his and insisted on trying on a sweater that was far too small. She struggled to get into and even more to get out of it, and during the latter procedure her wig came off inside the garment. The stall holder retrieved it, handed it back and offered her the very small mirror (too small to adequately reflect her form whilst trying on the sweater) to set it straight. Our friend and many others watched the whole event, and he said he waited for the exchange of looks and amusement at her misfortune after she had passed, but it was not forthcoming. Everyone carried on as usual, no loss of dignity was marked.

I don't want to make too much of French manners etc, I don't believe they are necessarily more gracious, more civic-minded, certainly I'm not convinced they're kinder, than anyone else; I think most people everywhere would wince in sympathy and move towards someone who fell. I worked in a technical lycée for a short while for my sins and I know there are oafs a-plenty among French young manhood. And But there is a certain level of politeness and graciousness that is maybe, sometimes, a bit short in their British equivalents, for whom their own sense of awkwardness and embarrassment might get in the way.

Hope any bruised parts are on the mend.

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: Your anecdote is hard - nay, impossible - to top. So many effective crescendi: the unexpected wig, the small mirror, etc. It is not in itself a short story but it has a short story's completeness. I am privileged to have been able to accommodate it.

Re. tripping. I shouldn't really have proceeded from the particular to the general and I'm well aware of French oafishness. But the pain and the sense of personal stupidity created some kind of lens that magnified emotions. In such situations spectators most often display uncertainty and I cannot complain about that. But here I saw concern and sympathy. These are rare expressions in public and whereas they did nothing for the pain they helped alleviate the stupidity. And also create in me an overwhelming need to express my gratitude. A million miles away from the scene at the filling station, see Fatties Freak Out, etc

Rouchswalwe said...

Oopsie daisie! Hope your hand and knee are better by now. Thanks to you, I can now order "une grande pression s'il vous plaît"