DAY 56

August 22nd, 2013 § 0 comments

So, neoliberal global conspiracy, you thought you had silenced me? By exiling me to a small village in the Languedoc, dulled by the sun, deafened by the cicadas, with a wifi which I thought I had got installed, but which proved defective. (‘Il vous faut peut-être un cable ethernet, Monsieur’.) Unable to think, much less communicate my so-called thoughts to the world. Luckily, I was able to draw inspiration from Tchékhov’s deathless one-acter La Noce, in an unforgettable performance by Humani Theatre.

voici-le-carton-d-invitation-pour-assister-a-la-noce-de_647395_510x255How better to meditate on the balance-sheet of a country life – and of modernity – than in the company of the deranged Russians.

No, no, no!

[Following her]

Have pity on us! Have pity!

No, no, no!

[Chasing them]

You can’t go on like this! Where are you off to? What about the grand ronde? Grand ronde, s’il vous plait!

[They all go off.]

And all this in barely comprehensible French. All it wanted was the odd spliff to aid the unsystematic derangement of the senses. I suppose that, while we are on the subject of the arts, I should put in a plug for the brilliant Théâtre de Pierres at Fouzilhon (Hérault 34480), who sponsored this event. Drop in if you’re in the neighbourhood on a Tuesday.

So, anyway, evil empire, if you think that I had forgotten your misdeeds – your nine hours’ detention of innocent Brazilians at Heathrow, your continuing arms sales to the bloodstained régime in Egypt, not to mention the arrest of Caroline Lucas for opposing fracking – you must have thought that, just because I was lying on the beach with my head buried in the Midi-Libre, I had nothing on my mind but the rubbishy outcomes of yesterday’s bullfight at Béziers

Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 21.39.16(‘Faibles applaudissements, une oreille’). No way – rushing back to London unmolested by Theresa May’s minions at the airport, (although the Green Line in an undoubtedly sinister move has replaced the 757 bus from Luton airport by a limping local service to the exciting centre of Luton, followed by a 1 1/2 hour wait for a ‘real’ bus along the motorway – but I digress) – I resumed contact with  the thrilling course of international events, with my Facebook friends, with my fans worldwide.

In the ongoing debate on education, I begin to feel that Michael Gove has a point: education has been undermined by left-wing “ideologues” who believe schools “shouldn’t be doing anything so old-fashioned as passing on knowledge, requiring children to work hard, or immersing them in anything like dates in history or times tables in mathematics.” Indeed, too many amateurs are trying to move in on a field where after all expertise ought to count for something.Under the terms of my upcoming draft bill on the subject, no one should become secretary for education unless they know (i) the proof (well, a proof) of Pythagoras’ Theorem;Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 22.08.24 (ii) the periodic table, and why its periods are the length they are (in particular, what is the difference between the lanthanides and the actinides); (iii) why it hurts when a policeman hits me on the head. In terms of neurons and pathways, I mean. That should rule out some charlatans who, like Mr. Gove, have English degrees and affect to despise more technical subjects like Hotel Management.

And if you are at a meeting where one of these people is holding forth, don’t throw eggs. Just ask:

1) Why is the sky dark at night?

2) Why is the sky blue during the day?

3) Why do fools fall in love? (Answers in the next posting.)

POETRY CORNER: Having mentioned cicadas, it makes sense to cite the major poem which features one, even if in English it becomes a cricket, a grasshopper, or (in Finnegans Wake) a Gracehoper.

La Cigale et la Fourmi

Jean La Fontaine (tr. Don Webb)

La cigale ayant chanté
Tout l’été,
Se trouva fort dépourvue
Quand la bise fut venue :
Pas un seul petit morceau
De mouche ou de vermisseau.
Elle alla crier famine
Chez la fourmi sa voisine,
La priant de lui prêter
Quelque grain pour subsister
Jusqu’à la saison nouvelle.
« Je vous paierai, lui dit-elle,
Avant l’août, foi d’animal,
Intérêt et principal. »
La fourmi n’est pas prêteuse :
C’est là son moindre défaut.
« Que faisiez-vous au temps chaud ?
Dit-elle à cette emprunteuse.
— Nuit et jour à tout venant
Je chantais, ne vous déplaise.
— Vous chantiez ? J’en suis fort aise :
Eh bien ! Dansez maintenant. »

The cricket had sung her song

all summer long
but found her victuals too few
when the north wind blew.
Nowhere could she espy
a single morsel of worm or fly.

Her neighbor, the ant, might,
she thought, help her in her plight,
and she begged her for a little grain
till summer would come back again.

“By next August I’ll repay both
Interest and principal; animal’s oath.”

Now, the ant may have a fault or two
But lending is not something she will do.
She asked what the cricket did in summer.

“By night and day, to any comer
I sang whenever I had the chance.”

“You sang, did you? That’s nice. Now dance.”


I got the intern to do some research and we don’t think I’ve played Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love‘, which has got to be one of the all time winners in the contest for an enigmatic video. (See comments, of which the best is certainly ‘Heck yeah!!!!!! Awesome. Timeless!!!!!!’ by the discriminating Tristan Tupaz.)

And I’m quite certain I haven’t played any Mahler. How prejudiced! Here is no. 5 of Kindertotenlieder, ‘In diesem Wetter‘ sung by Sarah Connolly.

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