Her Slightly Dopey Prof

Thierry was singing away this morning, maybe because completion is in sight. I said I liked a man who enjoyed his work. He replied that it is his policy, as he had said a day or two ago it was to take his time to ensure the work was good. He isn’t slow. Just thorough. Apart from yesterday’s lunch, the two men have worked eight hours a day without a break.

Geoffrey, who is of course new to the work, was, without using the term for a doorstop, explaining that I would need one in the living room to protect the wall from the handle. With the aid of Robert (dictionary), I was able to give him the word. He was grateful and I was pleased.

Warning me that there would be more noise than usual this morning, Thierry asked me if I knew my neighbours and would I apologise for him. Fortunately Garry and Brigitte were out, but I left them a note.

I have, at last, finished reading Violette Leduc’s book ‘La femme au petit renard’. Albeit short enough to be a novelette, this is by far the most difficult work in French that I have read. Using stream of consciousness the paragraphs are up to ten pages long. It is the story of an ageing, povrty-stricken, starving woman wandering the streets of Paris, finding warmth when and where she can. Round her neck, both as comforter and sole companion, is a fox-fur.

When writing of ‘Her fearful symmetry’ on 7th, I mentioned Martin, who suffers from OCD. He uses counting enormous numbers as a method of warding off imagined danger. ‘La femme’ counts to kill time and to help her eke out her few grains of coffee and cubes of sugar. Her situation is real enough.

I was somewhat comforted when Clement told me that the stream of consciousness writing would be difficult for a French person to read. There is no room for working out the vocabulary from the context. I even had to check words that I did know, because they didn’t seem to make sense. Never mind, it was good revision, and nowhere near as difficult as James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake which I had to abandon.

After this I started on the book Sofiene had given me in January. It is an anthology of ‘the hundred most beautiful poems in the French language’, presented in chronological order. Following the straightforward preface, I began with ‘La Griech d’hiver’ by Rutebeuf (1225? – 1285?). That wasn’t too difficult, but this is a collection I will just tackle one at a time, for my sanity’s sake.

My chequebook arrived this morning, enclosed with a note from Jackie in which she had the temerity to call me her ‘slightly dopey prof’. Given the two important items I’d forgotten, I suppose that was fair enough.

Pools again filled the holes in the road as, beset by staedy rain, I walked the steeply undulating route to Ste Innocence to meet Maggie, Mike, and Bill, fresh from their game of tennis with Joss who runs their favourite holiday venue. Maggie then drove us all to their home in Eymet for our evening meal. In Eymet I bought an universal charger that is suitable for my camera battery, so I can take photographs again.

Maggie fed us all on a marvellous spare rib casserole with rice or pasta. The ribs were incredibly meaty. A variety of ice creams was to follow and we shared a bottle of Le Bihan 2009 which was very mellow.

As I write Bill and I are waiting for Lydie to drive us back to Sigoules.

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