Sunday, 24 August 2008

pretty vacances

Balmoral coming up the Avon yesterday

I'm always reading Blaise Pascal, me*. When I'm not reading Ulysses, of course. The special edition of Ulysses, that is, with the extra words**. So on a day like today, when I hear the rain pattering on the roof and think of Bank Holidays, those wise words of the slightly-dead French philosopher come to mind. In french, naturellement.

Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'un seul chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

Sounds like a good reason to put t' kettle on.

....dips Hobnob into tea, continues.

The tidy-up continues. I hoovered up a few hundredweight of dust from under the bed, and took up a few floorboards to try to find some of the ear-rings that I've lost over the years. It's funny how it happens, that; something falls onto the floor and you reach down to pick it up, only to realise that it is nowhere in sight. And no amount of scrabbling around with a torch does any good at all.

Didn't find anything, apart from an ancient Bakelite light switch deposited there by a casual electrician sometime long ago.

This reminded me of a time down on Ashridge Farm in Devon, when I was doing some work on the place. I took up some floorboards in one of the upstairs rooms, and found.... well, a long-dead rat for one thing, and the skeletons of lots of little mice which had been electrocuted in the top of a light fitting which, presumably, their mother had thought would be a nice warm nursery. And, in one corner of the room, piles of ancient buttons and sewing things. It had evidently been the place where someone had sat and done the needlework over a long period of time.

In the same room, when I stripped off the wallpaper around the window, I found some lines written on the exposed plaster. Tantalisingly, the words were indecipherable, but I could read the signature, Jane Lakeman. I found her grave in Modbury churchyard; she'd died in the middle of the nineteenth century. It was odd, sitting in the window seat where she'd sat as a young woman thinking poetic thoughts, and looking out onto the same wooded and rainswept hillside. I do wish I could have read what she wrote; those words had been waiting for such a long time under the wallpaper.

Back to the present... so I made a pile of videos-that-are-probably-worth-something, and checked that they still played. I was amazed to discover how rare this one is:

...and transported back in my mind to the early 1980s, when it also seemed to be raining a lot. Driving up the motorway through the night on my way to Newcastle, past endless police convoys during the miners' strike, listening to Everything But The Girl and trying to stay awake. Here's a nice track from the compilation: Working Week, with Tracey Thorn and Robert Wyatt...

video



*fibs
**all fibs