Given that such matters are never completed until they are completed, I have not mentioned the sale of my French house before. Today, however, I must give voice to it. The first signings in the final process are due to take place on 12th. The solicitor is due to sign on my behalf. To this end a document was e-mailed to me by my agent a few days ago. This contained seven errors. A corrected version was promised. I have not received it. I e-mailed the agent yesterday. She replied that the solicitor says he sent it and receipt was confirmed by my son. I left the agent two voicemail messages and an e-mail explaining that this was rubbish (one son in Australia, one in New Zealand, and another elsewhere in England). I have heard no more.

Just to complete my morning, I received a letter from NHS saying that my appointment with an eye consultant has been cancelled. Patient readers will know that a date was first fixed in November. This would not be until April. In December this was cancelled and I was given another for later this month. Today’s letter (dated 4th) doesn’t specify which appointment has been cancelled, and invites me to make another. This I could do neither on the telephone nor on line without a password which I don’t have. I was advised to contact the person who referred me. This was my GP. There is no information in the surgery after November. I was promised a call back from the GP’s secretary. It hasn’t come.

So I did some ironing, accompanied Jackie to a dental appointment, and read a book.

The book in question, which I finished later, is James Branch Cabell‘s Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice.

Soon after its publication in 1919 this humorous romp through the mediaeval period with references to Arthurian legend, and the eponymous hero’s trips to Heaven and Hell was charged with obscenity and banned in 1920 by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. The publisher, Robert M McBride and Company, brought to trial in 1922, was acquitted.

Now, there is absolutely nothing at all graphic about the original publication, which relies purely on phallic symbolism in the form of swords and lances; and such innuendo as can be gleaned from, for example, ‘exchanging pleasantries’ in the dark.

When an edition was produced containing Ray F. Coyle’s rather more suggestive illustrations in 1923, I suspect this may have been the publisher’s sweet revenge.

Like our own Aubrey Beardsley, the American Coyle died young. Beardsley was in the avant-garde of the Art Nouveau movement. This was followed by Art Deco, of which Coyle was a splendid exponent. The artist died of appendicitis soon after this work was published.


The very last word of this edition, repeated under the final illustration, is capable of two interpretations. ‘Explicit’, from the Latin, was used to indicate the closure of early books and manuscripts; modern readers will be well aware of its use to describe graphic sexual activity. Was this the author’s ultimate joke?

This evening we dined on pork, chorizo, and Jamaican pepper sausages from Hockey’s Farm shop; creamy mashed potato and swede; crisp carrots, and manges touts. I finished the Malbec




  1. Hope you get your eyes taken care of soon. I have my own troubles here in NYC getting medical care and paying for it. I’ve enough recent stories to fill a book.

  2. A Comedy of Justice sounds like an appropriate book to be reading when everything that should go smoothly – ends up with constant complications!!

  3. Wow–Derrick–the gremlins certainly seem to be at work with your business dealings and e-mail. I could not access this post via the e-mail notification today, but it came up when I typed your name into the browser. Weird!

    It sounds like it was a good choice to stop and read a book. That last illustration is not explicit, but it certainly is suggestive. 😉

  4. How very frustrating for you, Derrick. I do like things to progress smoothly and feel most irked when through no fault of my own, someone else messes everything up. Hope you get your eyes exam very soon and that your house sale comes to a satisfactory conclusion.

  5. I love the sound of Jamaican pepper sausages. I do hope you could fix things with the sale of your house and your eye check-up.

  6. I’m sad that you’re having to deal with so many frustrating events. I’m afraid my language would be of the explicit sort after the day you had. And yet, you ironed!

  7. I’m so sorry. I don’t like when appointments or plans are canceled…it’s so frustrating. Be persistent with that eye appointment. We’ve got to take care of our peepers!

  8. More service problems Derrick, you guys must be tired out from the frustration and stress of it all – real estate dealings in another country must be a lot of fun to work out. I hope your eye examination gets completed and you still remain on track for surgery.

  9. Oh those vampires and their foibles!
    Sorry to hear of your house sale woes and the irksome necessity to rearrange your health appointments but at least you found something to amuse yourself. And us.

  10. More I read of your disappointments, the more I am convinced we are moving back towards the Stone Age. The barriers of distance and terrain existing then are being replaced by hifalutin legalese and electronic fences. That is an interesting book you are reading.

  11. The pen and ink drawings are artsy and seem to reflect the Art Deco period in the 1920’s. . . So glad you mentioned this, Derrick.
    I feel bad about yet another eye appointment postponed! Does Jackie have also eye appointments cancelled?
    Oooh, this would make me upset! I hope you get the cataract fixed from your sports injury. I have had three optical surgeries and liked the laser for the glaucoma best. No anaesthesia nor having to not eat for so many hours. Take it easy and hope it all gets resolved! ?

  12. I hope all works out with paperwork on the French house sale. Frustrating to have yet another postponement of your appointment! Grrr-r!
    I have hope it will all resolve. The pen and ink drawings were artsy and glad you confirmed my thoughts of their being from the Art Deco period in the 1920’s. ?

  13. The NHS seems to be fairly incompetent in dealing with appointments. I hope you get one pretty soon and that the sale of your French house is finalised soon.

  14. My Giddy Aunt ……. the immo and the notaire, hmmmm – my money’s on the former just making it up as he or she goes along. Smacks of the worst of foolish childish behavior when they are caught having not bothered to do homework – the next thing they will announce ‘c’était mangé par le chien’. So sorry about the battle with your eyes which I sincerely hope you will manage to get fixed very soon. I’m with GP Cox, the title of the book you chose is beyond appropriate.

    1. Very many thanks, Osyth. The immo is English, and I do trust her. She picked up all the errors except the one mentioned below. The notaire has sold the house twice before and took forever last time. One of the errors in the CDV was the statement that I was the widower of Mrs. Clarke – my name has never been Clarke, but Jessica’s was, about 40 years before. In any case she was the late Mrs Knight by the time I bought the place!!

      1. Sadly, I have to concede that your confidence in the Englishwoman and lack of it in the Frenchman is likely to be well-founded. The French, of course are quite peculiar with names and get entirely confused if one has had more than one (which Jessica did) – I will tell the tale of the tumbleweed soirée here one day. We truly are different cultures

  15. Sorry to hear Derrick that you are a casualty of the NHS cutting back on appointments etc.. And I hope all goes through Ok with the sale of your French home..
    And I love those illustrations..

  16. Sorry to hear the sale of your French house is having problems, but as we know, in the world of real estate there is always hiccups. Can’t recall you ever posting a picture of your French house on here Derrick, or I have misread or overlooked it.

  17. The NHS Trusts really are battling to provide quality service it seems! So sorry you are having these problems. Your French house looks awesome! Do hope it all comes together for a speedy resolution (yep….I’m the eternal optimist! 🙂 )

  18. You do like to set yourself Herculean tasks don’t you – taking on the NHS and the legal profession and the French…

    Most people would do one at a time!

    Good luck.

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