Tuesday 21 April 2020

Hoxton Radio interview

Well, with a name like that they had to interview a Londoner whose novel features a leading character with the same name.

The interview went out last night and although I listened waiting to cringe somewhat it was really okay. Jordan Scudder (could also have been a character in my book with such a name) was an excellent interviewer, making me feel totally relaxed - good preparation for appearing on Woman's Hour/ desert Island discs... one can dream.

The only tricky point was when he asked me on the spot for a record that would have relevance to Londonia. Complete blank and then thought of about fifty possibilities three minutes after the interview had finished. Anyway, oddly this does make me think of the book, so my sub-conscious must have taken over, which it often does in my writing process.

Great video too.

In celebration of trees

This wet spring (for here) has seen a proliferation of foliage and blossom I can't recall ever being quite so lush. Or maybe it's just nature noticing that humans have been put firmly in the background for a while - possibly longer/for ever... middle finger well and truly jabbed upwards to our destructive race.
As a committed tree hugger/tree admirer I was happy, very happy to hear that Mark (husband) was writing a music accompaniment to an excellent reading of 'The man who planted trees' or, in its original French, l'homme qui plantait des arbres'. The result is touching and beautiful, and the message of the story so utterly relevant for all times, particularly now.

                     A lone, and happy pine on top of the 'pic de Brau' near our town

Saturday 18 April 2020

Todays allowed-out walk

A grey day. Suburbia beckoned. Not that we have much of one, but there are some fine examples of 1920s/30s and 50s housing estate architecture on the outskirts of the town.
Setting our phone apps to a slightly later time as we would be unlikely to meet a policebod until reaching the main town area we set off along one of the oldest roads of Limoux (la Petite Ville), past the hospital, along the river for a while, across the Rue Oscar Rouge and into the area of mostly 50s and 70s housing.
After crossing the river we tried to follow a rather overgrown path along the banks and had to stop where tree debris from the January floods blocked the way. Walked back, and into town which was almost deserted, apart from a few brave shoppers wearing surgical masks. We've lived in this town for about eighteen years now and I can't recall a single day when most of the cafés and at least one bread shop was open, even on Christmas Day.

Yesterday's walk

You looking' at me...

A detail I have stopped to look at many times over the years. I just love the care that someone has taken to sculpt the stone to enable key turning

Mark reminded me of the fable that you should never sleep under an elderflower as you might never wake up such are its soporific properties...


One of 'the music houses'


               Random art piece

                               Reminder of the river's January height


                                                              The overgrown path

                            Spring fashions in rural Southern France. 

Live reading from my novel, Londonia.

An extract in which our heroine, Hoxton, visits a 'shouting house' (auction rooms circa 2072) to seek a requested Ikea cabinet.

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Conceptual art walk

sort of...

At the time for the communal family walk this morning - a series of deep-exploration of our town and surroundings, within the allowed kilometre radius (slight cheat from time to time) - no one could make a decision on which direction to start from. No problem. Bag of cut up paper each piece marked with: Left or Right, or Straight On.
So, left out of the gate, up the deserted road, left at a 'crossroads' (choice of continuing the road, or one of two paths). Then we got distracted by a not-previously noticed path and ignored the bit of paper's instruction of 'right'. Short-lived art piece but new views, plants and possible other routes observed. To be continued... or not. Probably not.

Left out of the gate

choosing (reluctantly) the next bit of paper - Mum, do we have to do this...)

Next turn

Left and up the hill

new view of the town

Monday 13 April 2020

Reading of The Panto Horse End

Part one:
A deadly fart causes an accident that changes the course of Marions' life...

An honest portrait

Forget all those, 'oo, wait while I just check my hair's okay,' moments, this, caught in a moment of silliness (happening more frequently...) is probably the most true picture of me I've seen for a long time. Nicely snapped Ezra.
I'll keep messing about between the blog/Twitter/Instagram/website etc and see if it surfaces on Google....


Building No 65

Spotted on our Allowed Out walk this morning.

Could it's clinical concrete exterior be a cover for something wild and at-the-present forbidden? The gate could give a small hint to the right observers. Tea dance? Exclusive private party featuring a stranded in France stadium rock band? Drug-laced rave?
. . . Probably not. I'd guess at beige or pale grey walls, white leather three piece suite, grey floor tiles, a clipped Yorkshire terrier, shiny red kitchen units, cinema screen TV, brass uplighters, huge white bathroom tiles with a scattering of gold and silver mosaics, palette knife black and red paintings, and a cream Renault Captur in the garage.


Thursday 9 April 2020

Following on from last post...

... another walk we discovered within our allotted kilometre walk this morning.

I must have driven up the road that leads to a favourite walk about thirty times and most times have wondered where a small path on the right goes. As we were on foot this time it was easier to think - 'okay, let's find out.'
And we did, until Gala the sometimes deranged greyhound ran off... but the bit of walk we managed was beautiful - a hillside full of scented gorse and thyme, a river cascading in the valley below and new-to-us views of the town.

                                                             Gala with her innocent eyes.... 



As an appreciator of small abandoned dwellings and cabanes, I was happy to find an excellent specimen, complete with tiny fireplace, old chairs and long disused kitchenalia (not sure if this a word, but I like it).
I thought the shack and its ghostly owner wouldn't mind if I took a souvenir - an old and much cracked coffee bowl, which will now house a basil plant on the terrace.


In contrast to the wilderness and peacefulness, I recorded a few urban sites on the way home.

                                                a favourite view near the river


                                                   Charming bit of 80s architecture

                                              Weathered lockdown ad hoarding - Ha, Macdo!

If I was living back in London I would no doubt do what John Rogers (urban flaneur par excellence) does and record in detail everything around me, and look into geography and settlements of the past.
Below a recent video in which John uses the allotted 'lockdown' hour to investigate his patch of London.

Sunday 5 April 2020

Human re-setting

Many changes with come from our current crisis, one of the positive ones being, hopefully, a decline in the amount of unnecessary voyaging and an appreciation of what we can find in our immediate surroundings.
Nick Papadimitriou, a London observer and walker invented the phrase: Deep Topography for this sort of studying of one's 'patch'. In his case, London is a massive stamping ground but I imagine even during lockdown he will still be using his allowed out time to explore in ever more depth.

I've been reading a rather intake-of-breath book recently by Aurélien Barrau, a mind-numbingly intelligent French physicist and philosopher, in which he lays down the facts - verified by his numerous scientist friends - about where we are heading on this particular capitalist trajectory. Doom, basically. And as you read, you know it to all be true, (despite what certain maniacs in power spout) - the rapid decline in all species, the melting ice, every type of pollution, and on and on...
I started reading before the Covid emergency and had put the book to one side, it all being too bleak to contemplate. Now I'm reading it again with rather different eyes. Our current situation feels ever more like a warning from the planet.
He compares at one point a plane journey to get to a destination to experience life, and then compares it to life within a square meter of an average fairly healthy bit of meadow, in all its minute complexity. I'm not suggesting we should turn our daily existences into a kind of conceptual art and only move within a meter, but we could start to explore own own 'patches' more profoundly.

Not yer average astrophysicist... Monsieur Barrau.

The day before yesterday, the lad and dogs and I went on a walk to discover a bit of the town's surroundings we had never been to. Difficult, one might imagine after living in the same place for eighteen years or so. But, no. There it was, a small grassy lane leading up a hillside, which didn't in fact go as far as we would have liked but we saw beautiful blossom, an interesting shack, bright orange insects and a new view of the town.
We did it again yesterday, on foot from the house and up a road which we normally take in the car to get to an interesting vantage point and favourite walk. This time, as we were on foot and were noticing things in detail, we took a previously overlooked small road to the left, followed a track up a hill and were suddenly in a beautiful area of moss, lichen, gorse, dappled sunlight and huge old pine trees. The path continued, and conveniently ended up making a good twenty minute loop back to the main road.
Today, Mark and I took a more familiar walk past the currently shut station, past the currently shut restaurant de la Gare, and on through a twenties and thirties housing estate - a great place for observing French front garden style - and then into Limoux centre via the river walk. No one out anywhere except a few people sitting well-spaced in the square looking mournfully at the closed cafés - usually constantly open, even on Christmas Day. Weird. Although, oddly, rather wonderful too. The sky is occupied only by birds, wild flowers and grasses remain on all verges, and a car passing is a rare thing...

A few pictures from yesterday's and today's local wanderings.


                                                        New hillside vantage-point

Magnificent palm tree and newly painted balcony

Deserted back streets (apart from us and two dogs) 


                             the rather lovely fire station petrol pump