The age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Since I arrived in Taillet I’ve had this feeling that I’m going to do something incredibly stupid or harmful. Something that’s going to irreversibly damage a precious object. I had no idea whether that object would be something of sentimental value, something of financial value or indeed Adrian and me. Well I can stop worrying now because it turned out to be an antique shelf that Adrian had been saving to put in the bathroom. One swift smack from a mallet later and it was la poubelle bound with no hope of repair. This moment of horror was compounded by Adrian going mental in the corridor with a string of expletives and, perhaps only in my mind’s eye, a little dance of frustration. I can understand his irritation, don’t send a writer to do a man’s job.

Our situation is wonderfully volatile, constantly surprising and extremely interesting. In some ways we are such different people and in many others, so similar. I have extremely vivid memories of the past few days and record them here, in no particular order, so they will stay with me.

• An early morning monologue that neatly encapsulated all our immediate neighbours, village gossip and local topography. This while I was still tucked up in bed and two thirds asleep. Half-remembered banter (ADRIAN) You shouldn’t worry about scorpions, a sudden, loud movement and they’ll just scuttle off … (ME) Does that work with Adrians too?
• My insistence we call ourselves Team Chris and the subsequent adoption of an entire ethos. Team Chris means embracing diversity. Team Chris means eating a different animal every day.
• Eating at Jean-Paul’s house, a French chef who looks like he stepped out of the pages of Asterix the Gaul. He had a cute little girl called Adele who kept sticking her tongue out at me when no-one else was looking. I guess I was the only other person in the room with a comparable grasp of the French language.
• Slow cooking a great steaming pot of Sausage Casserole on top of the fire and filling it with turnips and carrots and celery and tomatoes. Feeling proud and happy as we sat and chatted- like I’d achieved something worthwhile.
• Listening to Adrian playing his guitar with a skill bourn of experience and passion.
• The view from the front of the house. Breathtaking in a literal sense, it pushes the air out of your lungs in an appreciative sigh.

The region has been an inspiration to so many great artists and innovators, I don’t feel worthy somehow of the gifts it bestows on my imagination. There are subtle humours in the air, I tune into them and am lost, useless for long moments. Standing there smiling amidst the dust and the banging and Adrian’s frustrated cries. I enjoy the work and I enjoy these quiet times, the precious seconds between hammer blows where something clicks and the world lights up like a solar flare. I think of the books I’m going to write, I think of the stories I’m going to tell. I think of her, knowing this place effects her in exactly the same way.

We tear through this world, we splinter and break through structures and modes of behaviour that have stood for hundreds of years. Sometimes to make them better, sometimes to destroy them forever. Stone walls, shattered porcelain, a kiss on the cheek, wood spitting and cracking open in the flames. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?


Post a Comment

<< Home