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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.

Friday, 1 July 2016

The Rs soldier on

Scenes from domestic life 1. Britain’s future may be bleak but the Robinsons have found comfort; unilaterally VR has acquired new toilet brushes (with porcelain holders) for our three WCs. Foolishly when the brushes were last replaced I retained the old (wooden) holders on aesthetic grounds. They proved too tight; extracting a brush required two hands and this promoted hygienic unease. Now I use the toilets in happy anticipation.

Scenes... 2. “What would you like for Thursday dinner?” asks VR. After fifty-six years of shared life I am well aware this invitation has implicit limits. Neither a cassoulet nor a quail stuffed inside a capon stuffed inside a turkey is on offer. “We haven’t had sausages for ages,” I say, slavering slightly. VR nods assent. “With mash and mushy peas,” I add. VR nods again. What I don’t request is onion gravy. With VR that is a heavenly given.

Scenes... 3. Our Languedoc holidays always include a visit to Les Tilleuls, a remote roadside barbecue grill at St Maurice-de-Navecelles; me for the mutton, VR for the duck breasts. The grill imparts a unique flavour because it is fired by sections of old vine trunk, winnowed from the vineyards when the vine’s grape-growing function comes to an end. I buy a characteristically twisted section for €3, imagining it as chintzy decoration at home. “Il faut le gratter,” says the grill man. Gratter is “to scratch”. But will I have the patience?

Scenes... 4. Cosmos seedlings, bought and planted by me (a most reluctant gardener), have flourished in our holiday absence. A magic and always unexpected event when I do it. Yet I still hate gardening.


  1. I thought that photo was a dead squirrel I think the French do eat them amongst many other unlikely items.

  2. For your comfort: 'Dead Ringers' Radio 4 calls Huw Edwards ' The human equivalent of a soggy digestive biscuit, and one without chocolate too'.

  3. Fed: A few details:

    (a) Repeated and unvarying stock phrases: "Tonight we'll be going over to..."

    (b) Repeated forms of questions ("So X is Y, what's your reading of that...? ...your take on that...?") based on outdated usages which, nevertheless, are uttered brightly as if to prove he's au courant.

    (c) Technological unfamilarity. "Go to our website bbc.news, forward slash politics where the links are there for you." Always those links; it's a website, what else would we be looking for?

    (d) Two expressions for the camera: solemnity, and extreme solemnity.

    All of which suggests that everything he says (and does) is scripted from a very narrow range of options. As if the prospect of an ad lib would cause him to wet his pants.

    At moments of significance he appears in front of the source of the news (eg, Downing Street, the Paris night-club of the assassinations, etc, etc) his face doughily tense; "I am here therefore it must be important". A virtually inanimate artefact transported in for the occasion, perhaps wheeled in.

    Everybody else who anchors the news (Clive Myrie, Ben Brown, Emily Maitlis, Fiona Bruce, Martine Croxhall) has the capacity to vary what they say and to use their personality as a means of expressing what's being conveyed. Huw clings almost pathetically to the Henry Moore Statue Rules of Communication.

    Enough? There's more but does he really deserve such attention?

  4. 'Doughily tense', wonderful. Who says we should wage war on adverbs?

    While redistributing the freezer contents, the sausage drawer was the first priority and is now in a Dutch-owned freezer. I'd offer all our friends and helpers a thank you barbecue but I'm not sure I could face it.

  5. Lucy: Give 'em cold cuts and beer in the salle polyvalente, but in a couple of months. With music of a certain vigorous and/or lyrical type: Ives fourth symphony, Walton's Portsmouth Point overture, Brahms Alto Rhapsody, the Count's ironic chastisement of Cherubino. Perhaps by then I'll feel confident enough to send you a recording of Santa Lucia. Or attend in person.

  6. Wot no biniou and bombarde?