It seems very dark here.
One minute we are at Perpignan airport, sitting in the car park, sheltered from the sun under an olive tree, or if not an olive tree a tree that ought to be an olive tree, having a picnic of Roquefort cheese, fromage de tete and pink wine and putting off the encounter with Ryan Air. The next, Ryan Air having actually been not bad at all, we are peering through the London gloom. The better half takes a black and white view of these things, direct sunlight being good and anything else an unacceptable compromise. I’m not so sure. The late summer in the Essex fields on the train back from Stansted was beguiling enough. English people, though, en masse, are boorish. Especially the cyclists.
So we plot how to get back again. First the French language has to be mastered. Then a way of earning a living has to be found. A friend at work tells me that I would be the perfect host of a B&B. I can’t help thinking that there is a subtle balance available to be struck here.
Do they have broadband in France?
If we could be out in time to avoid the Olympics that would be nice.
In the meantime there are all the emails to be disposed of. Nearly a thousand can be trashed unread. They have all been seen, at least cursorily, on the blackberry, in France, but a worrying number ring no bells at all, plaintive appeals for help or just for a response. As I trawl through them the phone rings continually. I ignore it. The callers add to the pile of emails. ‘No signs of life,’ they comment wittily.
Lunch on the first day back with my friend J. J should have been a country rector. He is immensely erudite, unfailingly courteous and not of this century. His best century would be the Eighteenth. He could have ridden his horse around his parish and talked classical Greek with his particular friends. I say that I am reading Wallace Stegner and mention his environmentalist views about the American West. A shadow crosses J’s face. He has a sheaf of American environmentalists at his fingertips but he has not heard of Wallace Stegner. When I get back to the office there is a lengthy email from him. It rehearses Stegner’s life story; his political views; other Western environmentalists; Teddy Roosevelt: his legacy: betrayed; corruption in State politics; whither the Tea Party. It is all very cogent. I reply mentioning Larry McMurtry; I am fairly certain that J has not read him either.
I remember in early 2008, when our fools’ paradise still prevailed, J coming into my office – he then worked with us – and telling me why a banking crisis was inevitable and the form it would take. He was exactly right. I remember telling him not to worry; it would never happen.
So what does the future hold, we ask him. Twenty years depression, like Japan, apparently. No fun, but not cardboard box time.
Wallace Stegner: A Shooting Star. By no means his best. Novelettish at times. But still only half way through.
Petr Eben lunatic organ music
Simon Mayor Second Mandolin Record
Quail with squash. Minervois pink wine.