Sunday, 25 June 2017

inspirational places


Our local museum - The Piano Museum (and behemoth/ex-church) is stuffed with beautifully-polished and documented pianos. Mark and I were there yesterday - he page-turning for some pianist friends, me attempting to take photos of them in the unforgiving spotlights/deep shadows.
Away from the main museum, I found this stock/dumping area which was far more interesting with its collection of rejected, or waiting attention pianos, dust and portraits of composers. I thought I'd do my own of the composer I live with, and will probably return soon to see what storylines might occur in this ancient resonant space.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

where's the map?


It's that time again - book finished (writing, that is) at least to the point where the end has been reached and the editing starts - that rolling project that envelopes you in a certain security each day - knowing where you are amongst all the other day-to-day stuff, where you're heading - sort of.
So where next? I've several ideas stumbling about looking for the right path; some to be developed from short stories, another in my Londonia series, or a follow-up to the one just completed - The Hundred and Fifty-Eighth Book.
As Hamish, the main character is still firmly inhabiting my head I might just continue with his life - I rather like him and it might be interesting to see where he wanders off to next, me following, pen in hand.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

More things I know nothing about

We have guests arriving and suddenly the loo broke down and the cooker . . . The loo looked fairly straight forward and I did some DIY in the cistern; this worked for a while providing you gave the button three 'clonks' perhaps not something to have to request of your 'invitees'. I tried to improve on it and then broke the whole thing. No plumbers answering phones, so I went to the plumber's merchants and spoke to a biker who was delightful: didn't sell me anything unnecessary, explained what to do with the thing I had bought and gave me the number of a local reputable plumber in case it - me, failed.
Yeah . . . instructions! bits of ratchety plastic! things to unscrew, tighten again, loose down the bog . . nope, need the right person for the job. Mark can play extraordinarily complex bits of Scriabin or Chopin but faced with a dribbling loo and a spanner or two - nope, 'non plus'. Luckily the plumber was free; came round with his backpack of tools, accepted a glass of water and tamed the bog - in about ten minutes. Lesson to be learned, hm - yes, don't DIY unless you have an awful lot of spare time and patience. There are people who know about theses things, just as I know about . . . lots of other things.
The cooker . . . Oh, God, what a thing of fearful complexity. From the outside it looks Aga-like; friendly, solid, dependable, but when the 'special man' (electrician had sucked in his teeth and advised a specialist) unbolted it all and took the top plate off, it was full of wires and tiny skinny bits of metal as fragile as a spider's leg.
I went and tackled something simpler - cleaning the bathroom (I'm good at this - water, Jif, scrub, done) while he talked to himself - 'Alors, donc . . . cette fil blue, hm, pourquoi ça . . . ah, d'accord. Bon . . .alors, donc . . . cette fil marron, hm', etc. After two hours he announced he knew what it was and that IT would have to be ordered and that he would have to come back again when I had agreed to the price of the thing that was to be ordered, uh?
I suggested I didn't have much choice and perhaps he could just order it. I suppose I could haunt ebay for a few days, but time wasted and possibly not the right IT would be even more annoying. So Mark will have to suppress his cake-making urge for a few days' and we won't be able to offer our guests home-made bread, but at least the loo works.

Loo and oven I probably could mend

Monday, 29 May 2017

Vide Grenier joy

(boot sales, garage sales, yard sales joy).
The Vide Grenier season is well-established here and so far has been useful for a much-needed re-filling of t-shirt drawer and replacement of manky mugs.
This Sunday, however, was a junk market Zenith moment with a finding of a Napoleon and Josephine coffee set for five euros, (only out-done in naffness by our gold rococo edged Stealth Bomber plate, now sadly broken), and a tree-hugging bear lamp that would have happily featured in a 'Blue Velvet' kid's bedroom, had there had been one in the film.


Friday, 26 May 2017

The playfulness of the mind



       Small boulder in a rectangular hole for no apparent reason, or a fish peering out from its shelter? 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

seeing into the future

Watch this excellent comment on over-production of non-needed stuff from back in the 70s! 

Oliver Postgate was a total hero - a creator of marvellously weird animation for kids, but not just for kids . . . Bag-puss, Noggin the Nog - what a genius name for a series!

I was an avid watcher of The Clangers as a child and we bought a video cassette set for Ezra when he was about seven (and we were all still watching the videos when he was well beyond ten.)

He brought up the subject of this very favourite series a few days ago after happening to see there is a NEW version out - complete with jolly, non-BBC-voiced woman and happy blue skies replacing the old black space-scapes that made up the backgrounds of the original series.

He summed the 1970s series rather well, I thought: 'as if David Lynch had decided to make a kids program' . . . and it was; a little eerie, dark, dream-like and with Mr Postgate's gentle voice-over's emanating as if from the mouth of some benevolent god dressed in a worn flannel suit, sitting in an armchair up in the heavens.

Each story seemed to have a light-hearted but real enough moral side to it; a gentle warning, but not finger-wagging, something that kids should absorb rather than just happy-happy and candy-floss colour.

I've looked on Youtube before for this episode as I feel Mr Postgate could absolutely see where we are heading and it's a brilliant comment on man's over-production of unnecessary stuff. Fortunately for the Clanger family, the outcome could all be chucked into a deep hole, hands (knitted paws) dusted off and back to their more puritan and happy lives. We don't have this solution (well, land-fill and not a solution), but we do still have the chance to stop the seemingly never ending flow of plastic before it engulfs the world.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

the changing day-scape

So there I was yesterday, happily putting in some tomatoes after getting all the domestic jobs/emails and other work out of the way. It was a sparkling day after the rain of the night before; birds were shouting, plants thrusting upwards - (weeds especially); all rather wonderful really . . . I went in to make a cup of tea and write something and heard an odd noise in the living room.
    Our older Spanish Greyhound appeared to be about to have a crap on the floor tiles - you know, that rounded-arched-back sort of shape. I was about to reprimand when I saw blood and what appeared to be a knife sticking out of her chest. I just stood pathetically for a moment watching her shake and wondering what I was supposed to do in such a situation - vet obviously but Gala is about the size of a small deer and I can't lift her.
I brought the car up to the door and phoned lots of friends and neighbours - no one in. The vet said there was no way they could come and get her. I looked at the object amongst the bloody fur - could I give it a quick yank out? No. Fire brigade? Ambulance? I tried a neighbour again, with luck this time.
He appeared and we both circled her wondering how to try and pick her up. He tried and she screamed - never heard a dog actually scream before.
    "Will she bite me?" he asked, quite understandably.
    I shook my head. "No - well, she is the most gentle dog in the world, 'normalement' mais . . . "
Whose to say what a normally placid dog might do with a sharpe projectile stuck in her chest and possibly about to peg out. He just did it, somehow - bundled her out into the car and I drove to the vets in Starsky and Hutch style.
    The waiting room was crammed with sad cats and limping dogs. I ran in feeling dramatic: "Au Secours!  - my dog is about to peg out!"
    I was suddenly in a reality TV pet show. Dr Zanin ran from a back room where he had been no doubt dealing with something less exciting; a stretcher was produced which he thrust aside and man-handled the whistling dog from my (friend's - oops) bloodstained car.
    "Vite - prepare the anaesthetic!" The operating room door closed and everyone turned reassuring and sad expressions onto me.
    The receptionist suggested I go home and wait for a phone call. I thanked him and turned to leave feeling still quite dramatic and close to tears. The I couldn't find the bloody car key and the car was blocking the door. After a search of the car, the gravel surrounding the car, the reception area and listening to helpful suggestions, I found it in my pocket . . . I slunk off and went home to finish planting tomatoes to find the other dog had dug them all up due to some particularly fragrant chicken poo I had used as fertiliser.
    The sun was still shining and everything else as bucolic as it was before the dog accident but I couldn't concentrate on anything much other than drinking tea and reading about Donald Trump's latest misfortunes.
An hour before vet closing time, I rang them. She was ready to go.
I arrived, paid (arg!) was shown the eight inch stick that had just missed one of her lungs by a fraction, and the helpful assistant got her into the car. The key wasn't lost; I went home and couldn't get her out of the car. Drank more tea. Showed her the small runty dog in case she was lonely. Covered her with a blanket and watched dusk approach.
Of course in their natural(?) habitat a wounded hunting dog such as this would probably have had a gun to the head, or worse, but Gala is a pampered sofa greyhound, so I did worry . . . bit of music, an extra pillow?
Anyway, an hour later she stood up and got out of the car like some ancient member of a royal family about to greet her subjects, had a piss for about five minutes and hobbled into the house where she tried to get into her normal chair. "No!" me and son cried, "it's the wrong shape." We wheeled the chair to the sofa and she eventually decided the sofa was a better option and fell onto it at which point I poured a large glass of wine and wondered where the day had gone.


                                         Recovering dog with wounds and sad eyes.