The Tempest


My legs this morning took me to Cuneges and back, a feat my hip would not have allowed eighteen months ago.  This was a long, hilly, walk, and although the weather was cool and overcast I soon raised a sweat.  A couple of years ago I did part of this trip with Chris and Frances and Chris took a stunning landscape photograph of which I would have been proud.

On the approach to Lestignac I passed a bunch of bullocks which quickly lined up alongside their wire fence to watch me go by.  I still have a photograph, taken in Cumbria many years ago by my friend Ali, in which I am sitting with a book in the garden, completely oblivious of the string of similarly stationed cattle reading over my shoulders.

Cuneges, a village larger than some, does, I knew, have a bar, but it was closed, so for refreshment I had to make do with the occasional light rain.  It is home to a number of artisans, one of whom is a plumber whose services I was unfortunate enough to require at the very beginning of 2009.  In December 2008, just a week after completion of my purchase of No. 6 rue Saint Jacques, S.W.France was hit by the greatest storm in living memory.  The gales were even worse than those that buffeted the U.K. in October 1987.  The consequence was that Maggie had had to telephone me to tell me that my recently acquired house had been flooded.  The cellar was full of water and there were several inches of it in the ground floor.  Multiple disaster had struck.  The gales had thrust water under the French doors at the back, and the local underground stream had strayed into the cellar, completely filling it.  Because of a three day power cut across the entire region the auxiliary generator installed for just this eventuality failed to function.  The trapdoor into the cellar was swollen and had to be forced, breaking some of the tiles laid over it.  To make matters worse the inferior plastic piping distributing water throughout the house had sprung a leak and burst.  Now I have a copper system which cost a pretty penny.  Maggie and Mike had managed to get emergency help to pump the place out, and obviously I had to come over to organise repair work.  The house was freezing, damp, and full of soggy mats and plumbers.  I stayed with Maggie and Mike.

Le Code Bar lunch today was kuskus with a delicious ‘three meats’ stew followed by profiteroles accompanied by a glass of red wine.  After yesterday’s word play Frederick wanted to know if I was ‘satisfied this summer’.

The sun having slunk away for the day I consoled myself with Flaubert’s sublime prose and began Somerset Maugham’s ‘Catalina’.  As usual the skies cleared in the evening.

I watched ‘Frost/Nixon’, an electrifying film about the series of interviews of Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) by David Frost (Michael Sheen) directed by Ron Howard and based on the stage play by Peter Morgan.  Taking place in 1977 these led up to the final confrontation, perhaps the most devastating public political admission of my time.  This episode finally put paid to Nixon’s hopes of a return to any sort of office, and revived the career that Frost had apparently thrown away by risking all on the project.

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