Perhaps Not A Good Choice

Three days ago, on Friday, I finished reading John Le Carré’s thrilling novel, ‘The Night Manager’ This was while waiting, all kitted up, to go to theatre for my knee replacement operation.

Unusually for me, I had first seen the film adaptation series on television in 2016. The film, starring Trevor Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Tom Hollander, Olivia Coleman, and Elizabeth Debicki was most gripping. As usual, I will not reveal the story, but say that I am impressed by Le Carré’s research and his writing skills. He does, of course, have many worldwide admirers. His spare, descriptive, ability; his insights into human nature; his handling of dialogue; and his building of tension, are all impeccable qualities. He moves seamlessly through time and place. The gradual development of the characters in the  book, ‘The Night Manager’ is exemplary. The film did not adhere completely to the novel; one of the male figures was transformed into a woman and the ending has been changed. Given that a Series 2 is in progress that may also be fortuitous.

It was perhaps not a good choice to read this book whilst waiting for the surgeon’s knife, nor to feature it on this post between bouts of medical staff persuading me to leave my bed.

Orange juice and a plain omelette sufficed for my dinner. Richer pickings were on offer.




220px-maulwurf_gefangen2007Moles are small creatures that live underground. They rarely surface in the clear light of day, but throw up evidence of their presence as they tunnel seeking mates.

They are considered vermin highly destructive to crops, and have been traditionally hunted down for centuries.

Wikipedia, as well as providing this photograph of a captured creature, tells us that ‘traditional molecatchers travelled from farm to farm. The molecatcher’s customers would provide food and lodging, as well as a fee for every mole caught. The molecatcher could also earn money by selling the moleskins to fur dealers.’

Today I finished reading, for the second time, John Le Carré’s 1974 novel, ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’, the first of three works featuring George Smiley, who is possibly as well known in British espionage culture as James Bond, largely on account of the 1979 BBC TV series and the 2011 film starring Gary Oldman.

You could be forgiven for wondering what this has to do with moles. Well, the book features a cast of moles, or spies who work undercover and insinuate themselves into positions of power in other countries. The Cambridge five were KGB moles in the British Intelligence Service of the 50s and 60s. Characters in Le Carré’s novel are inspired by these five Cambridge University men. His story tells of the convoluted lives of such agents. The work is, unlike the 007 tales, actually undramatic. It is superbly crafted, largely through the devices of retrospective conversations and interviews. Even on second reading I had trouble working it all out.

Tinker Tailor ...1Tinker Tailor...2

My Folio Society edition is cleverly illustrated by Tim Laing whose monochrome drawings exhibit obfuscation in keeping with the book’s theme of mistrust and deception.

Tinker Tailor.....cover

Similarly appropriate are the anonymous silhouettes on the front cover.

This evening Jackie produced a well filled mushroom and onion omelette, chips, and baked beans, with which I drank sparkling water.

A Square Meal

Paella 7.12

Last night Le Code Bar was very quiet.  For this reason Frederick was able to offer me a complimentary glass of wine to drink with him, so I wasn’t quite as abstemious as I’d claimed.  Apparently it is far too hot for people to come out.  He and the staff are very concerned about the cat (see yesterday), which is disturbing for customers.  If only some of the diners would stop feeding it.

After this I watched ‘Ground Control’, a gripping and heart-rending film in praise of Air Traffic controllers, in which Kiefer Sutherland was magnificent in the lead role.  The supporting cast, including Henry Winkler (The Fonze in a previous incarnation) were excellent.

This morning my language skills were tested to the limit.  I had new windows and shutters fitted by Huis Clos.  Having been most impressed by their organisation and the fact that everyone I had spoken to so far, either in person or on the phone had pretty good English, I thought today’s communication would be a doddle.  Two very friendly artisans from the deep South turned up.  They spoke Spanish as well as their regional French, and had the tell-tale accent complete with lisp.  Their understanding of me was better than mine of them.  I knew I was getting somewhere, however, when there were no windows or shutters to the sitting room.  We sat sharing coffee and talked Olympics.  If they didn’t understand what I said, I found other words which did the trick.  So, coffee over, I said they could leave the back of the house as it was because there was a nice breeze coming through.  ‘As you wish,’ said the younger man, making as if to pick up his tools, and extending his hand  ‘Goodbye Monsieur’, a broad smile on his face.  That was the first and only time they sat down until they had finished.  I am extremely satisfied with their work.  I now have beautifully fitting shutters and secure French doors.

With 44 degrees on the garden thermometer and now no breeze, I spent the afternoon inside and finished John Le Carre’s Single & Single.  This novel, still about the Intelligence game and still intriguing, seemed to me much more humorous than other works of his I’ve read.  I enjoyed it.

At 4.15 I ventured out into the blistering heat and glare of sunlight.  I took the circular route round the cemetery to La Briaude and along the Eymet road back into Sigoules.  The French enjoy decorating their streets with flowers, and Sigoules has more than its share of artefacts from a bygone age filled with brightly coloured blooms.

Along the road to La Briaude a cock was crowing.  Perhaps his clocks keep similar times to those in No. 6.  Crickets were being broadcast in stereo.  Various amphibians were splashing about in the now shallow roadside stream.  Someone had extended their garden across the road onto the edge of a maize field.  Our Morden neighbour (see 18th. May post) would be proud of them.  I was relieved to benefit from the brief shade of the tree-lined road around the hamlet.

There was a bit of a wind by the time I got back.  It did more to dry than to cool me.

This evening it was paella and chicken and chips from stalls in the market square and Stella Artois from Le Code Bar.  As I have mentioned before, every Friday evening throughout July and August the square is covered in long tables and chairs; various food suppliers put up their stalls; Les Caves and others produce the wine; and people swarm in from miles around.  There is a pop group singing a fair number of English songs.  With respect to those who want to sleep, everything closes down around midnight. Given my proximity to the square I’d best join in.  If I didn’t there would be no point in going to bed early.  In any case these are delightful occasions, and at one we met Judith and Roger Munns.

Jeux De Mots


The overnight rain having somewhat abated, I set off to do yesterday’s walk in reverse.  Apart from offering variety, this provides a downhill return to the house.  As the sun was making an effort the saturated stone pavement sparkled and the friendly roadsweeper was doing has best with the windblown debris.  Sigoules was emerging from the storm so there were more people on the street.  The rain had not quite given up, therefore raindrops glistened on the greenery and kept ‘falling on my head’, especially when the trees received a gust of wind.  My M & S linen suit just about survived the trip but by the time I got back the sun had conceded defeat.

After my blog came lunch at Le Bar.  I asked David who had dreamed up the title?  He said he had.  It had been a toss up between the one chosen and ‘The Parralel Bars’ as in gymnastics.  We found we shared the pleasure of play on words.  It gets better and better.  I was tempted to finish this sentence with ‘innit?’ but thought better of it.  Forswearing it completely was beyond me.  (Couldn’t help myself, Jackie.)

Vegetable soup; then melon with delicious garlic sausage and a slice of salami which could cure my dislike of that meat where the fat is visible; a succulent melt-in-the-mouth pork casserole  containing mushrooms and olives producing a delightful piquancy to follow.  In serving me this Frederick said he knew I liked chips every day, but today it was rice.  Would I like chips?  I said I was happy with rice.  What about ‘a piece of two’?  I said rice was fine.  I got ‘a piece of two’ delivered with a smile.  One small glass of red wine sufficed.  Yesterday, as I was paying the bill, David asked me if I were satisfied.  To me it had sounded like ‘that summer’ and I produced my ‘English, don’t quite understand’ expression.  We cleared that up today.  I’d also introduced him to our cockney phrase ‘what’s the damage?’.  He countered with the French version: ‘what’s the pain?’.

It being rather too damp to sit in the garden, I remained inside this afternoon.  A lizard came in to visit me, realised its mistake, and scarpered.  By early evening the weather seemed to have cleared up a bit so I decided to take Le Carre down to the fishing lake and sit for a while.  As I closed the door the heavens opened and stair rods descended.  After ten minutes this ceased and the sun enlivened the streams filling the gutters.  Weighing up the odds I decided to stay put.  By sunset there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

I finished ‘The Honourable Schoolboy’ this evening.  This long novel was hailed in the 70s as Le Carre’s finest and the best spy story of his age.  It is indeed an excellent book provided you can get through the first half.  Despite our being, through the medium of cinema, familiar with the work of George Smiley I found section 1, effectively an introduction to the machinations of espionage, a little difficult to follow.  After the action begins in the second part I could not put it down.  Le Carre’s prose is flowing, elegant, and detailed and he has a flawless grasp of his chosen milieu.