I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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* One exception: short stories.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Whose blues?


Across the road from our rented villa is is a newly built primary school. Very occasionally I hear high-pitched childish voices in rising competition. They sound more contented than I was at primary school, arguably the worst period of my life if I exclude those piercingly unhappy moments when disdainful West Riding maidens turned down my stammered invitations to come to “the pictures”.

The French children are technically “at work” and are no doubt meeting certain obligations. I am on holiday and have no obligations other than to pass time (which sounds better than wasting time). But no one has told my fevered mind which is giving me subterranean gip. Shouldn’t I be visiting cathedrals, wandering the endless forests, decoding the Cathar problem or watching the news in French on telly (Actually impossible. The proprietor of the villa is English and believes like many of her ilk that French telly channels are unnecessary.)?

Improving myself, in fact. Or at the very least inhibiting metal decay.

During the most assiduously organised holiday guilt intrudes. Time is in unrenewable asset, used profligately it brings about a Calvinist hell.

I read a bit but nothing that stretches me. My Kindle - accusingly - contains free downloads of Ovid, Goethe’s autobiography, Milton by the kilo. Untouched.

My almost-namesake, Robert Robinson, was of the opinion that the best holidays are spent at home but that always seemed defeatist. There must be somewhere in the world that needs me, that would profit from my presence. The Athabasca Tar Sands, perhaps. Or Death Valley.

Meanwhile, here’s a poser. Is this post evidence of wasted time? Might I be meeting some form of norm without realising it? Answers in a plainly wrapped email.


  1. MikeM: Well, who's to say it isn't metal up there? The cheapest of mild steel used for the tins that contain baked beans, or for the sad toys that were produced during the war? Rusting away this last half-century and now reduced to a frilly lace-work of oxydisation, decorative to look at but without function.

    I am attempting to reply to Brown Paper in the conventional email fashion but the netbook (now as decrepit, slow-moving and irritating as its owner) has denied me direct email transmission throughout the holiday and it may fail yet again. If so I'll re-transmit from my desktop at home where - deo volente - I'll be this coming Sunday.

  2. Mike M: PS to above. The email didn't make it. Let's hope my desktop proves more effective.

  3. All that has a familiarity for me. When I am walking I tend to pass by items of interest that others stop off to explore and that gives me a feeling of guilt. But having seen inside one church, castle, or WW2 pillbox...

    ...and to photograph birds your only chance is to sit still for half an hour which my logistics don't usually allow for.

    The delightful crescendos of children at play are probably their joyful reaction at being temporarily released from the travails of the classroom.

  4. I believe that the Athabasca Tar Sands can be delightful at this time of year. I am sure, too, that you could write reams about " steam-assisted gravity drainage". Or not.....

  5. I tend to think the trouble with holidays at home, for those of us who don't go out to work anyway, is that guilt kicks in and the mundane, undone housework, gardening etc tasks nag at one, while the means of distracting oneself from satisfying chunks of reading, etc are all still there. Even a slight change of location usually involves enough simplification to free enough time and energy to laze guiltlessly.

    In fairness to us Little Englander expats, enjoying our good cheap healthcare, wine etc while we still can before becoming collateral damage in the struggle for the great British separate destiny, and living in an anglophone only televisual bubble, it's not that easy, in fact, to have both French and English channels, something to do with the direction of the dish and how many holes to drill in a thick stone wall for the cables. Given a choice, I'm afraid the English tv will win. Mind you, not that we're getting it, since having a new Freesat box installed (whoopee, real HD at last, does everyone really look like that?) almost all the channels have disappeared anayway, and the bloke who installed it (yes, another Brit, though now boastfully married in) is much harder to get hold of for after-sales than he was for supplying it. I count my blessings still.

  6. Sir Hugh: I suppose you could say you were addicted simply to movement and/or change. When either of those ceases you become fidgety. Nothing wrong with that. Poets and others may have raised the intellectual benefits of reflection and contemplation to "arty" levels; certainly for many they are misunderstood; unless they lead to a conclusion, however minor, they are meaningless since nothing has truly happened.

    I must confess I enjoyed watching most of the Howe family race round the kart track at Caussiniojouls - for the third year running. Also as Zach and Darren did the arbor-adventure of which more later. Perhaps I was "doing" something in both instances since VR and I did facilitate the experiences for others. And neither day was gloomy.

    Avus: Athabasca is said to be one of the most horrific man-made blots on the worldscape and aerial photos appear to confirm this. Even so I'm fascinated; might the horrors have become transcendental? Given a choice between visiting Athabasca and Stonehenge (Not fair, really, since I've seen the latter.) I'd opt for the Tar Sands. There'd be more going on and I respond better to action rather than inaction.

    Lucy: We only had the French channels at Drefféac but it was pure intellectual snobbery. I could just about handle the news, that UK copycat treasure hunt called (I think) Rose des Vents, and the never-ending series about the sea (Thalasso-something) but when it came to French movies without sub-titles I was lost and each attempted viewing was inevitably followed by a long period of deconstruction during which VR and I tried to make sense of what we had seen. Jean Gabin with a treasure-map tattooed on his back proved to be a huge stumbling block.

    Your situation re the English TV installer surely says something quite wounding about Brexit which I am not yet able to figure out.

  7. Holidays I have decided, are under the same pressure from expectation as Christmas. In the end, however we look back on them with gratitude (and rosy glasses). The are not so much punctuation points but maybe ends of paragraphs.


  8. In case you don't pop by to see my reply, the only problem I've been having is with ghost spam--bit annoying but I thought it was harmless. I've had friends try in multiple browsers (Opera, Safari, Firefox), and all seems okay. Friend-who-knows-computers says that your software may need updating, or you may be using software (XP, for instance) no longer supported by Windows. He says, "newer Adobe and Windows software is unlikely to allow rogue spam notices to appear." So I don't know what you're using or whether that's possible.