Proust Book Group : le Côté de Guermantes

Summer is fast disappearing and we have dug out our forgotten copies of Proust and tried to remember what it was all about.
As we have  stalled at different places in the book we decided to go
with our slowest reader from p143 of Volume 2 ( Penguin Kilmartin
edition), in The Guermantes Way.
We have been reading together for about one year now and have agreed that quality, not quantity, works best for us. So we gave ourselves 2 weeks to read about 40 pages to half way down p187. We all managed to achieve this and were happy to take a bit more time to just enjoy it.
This is what we covered:
Page 143. the Elstirs, as an excuse to see Mme de Guermantes. N (the narrator) mocks his younger self while at the same time showing the real importance of art in life.  St Loup promises to write to her, and we and N believe he has done this but only a few pages later it becomes apparent that he has not. We all liked the description of “setting our mental stage with little puppets…”, and felt it applied to all of us.
Jupien is briefly mentioned here, almost as a non-sequitur, but we
think this is part of Proust’s way of weaving stories in and he will
be back.
P.146. We noted that his admiration for Mme De Guermantes is of a
similar pleasure he might  get from a work of art, like “watching the
brush strokes of a great painter.”. We would have liked to have seen
the red dress.We also like the humour of him pretending not to be
interested in her.
p.147 Seems to be about the power of the dream in creativity – the
dream creates something more intensely artisitic than in real life.
The theme of synaethesia.
p.157. The pear trees in blossom. images of virginal beauty and art
with religious overtones which refer to the Jeunes Filles en Fleur of
the previous book, and provide a stark contrast for the introduction
of Rachel, who is immediately recognised as a cheap tart, not worth 20 francs. The story of St Loup’s love for her has clear parallels to
that of Swann and Odette..
St Loup is shown as deluded and tormented. For him she is an ideal,
in contrasted to N’s view of her. But all is much more complex as
usual; the Narrator’s opinion of her slowly rises as his experience
shows him her great talents as an artist. He is learning the truth
through experience.
p.163. Aimé the waiter, is part of the homosexual theme which threads through the novel, clearly there, though obliquely referred to.We felt that St Loup’s unconscious/ suppressed homosexuality is shown, for instance, by the fact he notices that Aimé might be attractive to Rachel.
p170 There is also comedy in the appearance of M de Charlus, clearly interested in Aimé, but this is misinterpreted by St Loup, in a
self-centred way as being about himself. He seems not to recognise his uncle’s homosexuality – (or not to want to).
p174. N’s drunken image in the mirror – the theme of  fractured personality.
p.177 The humiliation of the actress and the theme of sadism. We spent some time discussing the subtleties here of the difference between hatred, (which he attributes to Rachel and her friends here) and sadism (which would just be to take pleasure in cruelty).
p186 Rachel flirting with the dancer to torment St Loup, his suffering and the 2 unexpected outbursts of violence which shockingly rupture his aristocratic civility. We felt they were at the same time painful and comic, and that again there are strong allusions to homosexuality in these scenes.
We all felt that while at times we had to puzzle out what was meant in a long difficult passage (and sometimes fail), that we were finding it was getting a bit easier, that you can develop a bit of an ear for his
style.

Proust Book Group : Le Côté de Guermantes

Proust book group. Yes, we’re still going! Although I’ve not posted anything for a while.  But all that’s going to change.

Especially after the realization at our last meeting that we’ve read so much but can’t always remember it… time for some judicious note-making and keeping.

We’ve also decided to read just 55 pages  at a time just because the writing is so dense. So this should keep us going as a reading group for years…

Here’s something from Kate to start us off. It’s based on our discussion of pp55 – 119 Penguin edition ‘Le Côté de Guermantes’ :

The background story here is the narrator’s ‘love’ for Mme de Guermantes.

1. The Art of War. As a parallel to the creation of art works and
also in the context of the First World War.

2. The character of St Loup. As a good kind loving person, as an
idealist and hero worshipper, attracted by cleverness and reacting
against his background, holding court ( with Narrator providing the
entertainment), as the last of his line. His jealousy and the
homosexual aspect of the friendship, which Proust makes us consider whilst appearing to deny it.

3. Comic elements  and also the rude meaning of Cambremer (as explained in ‘Who’s Who’).

4. Francoise in contrast to St Loup and also what she teaches him about people. Francoise and characteristics she shares with narrator.

5. Sleep, dreams and the act of artistic creation. Memory as the
immortality of the soul – as part of a work of art. Also is Proust
reflecting on the religious doctrine he grew up with?

6. Proust mentions works of art. If you know the reference it creates
a picture. eg the shops lit up like a Rembrandt picture. Scenes from Breughel.

7 A pan of boiling milk described poetically. An invalid would have
time to notice.

8. Synaesthesia and the effect of the loss of sound.

9. the writing of a novel by the narrator. The untouched pile of papers.

10. Mme de Guermantes. The narrator thinks he loves her but he doesn’t know her. The comic elements in his inability to even recognise her at times.

11. Humour. How  the narrator can laugh at himself and make himself seem ridiculous to show his lack of self-knowledge (like a Molière character).
Phew! Is that it??

here are a few of my favourite things

Here are a few of my favourite things … to moan about!

First off, new phrases. One moment no one’s saying them (never mind understanding what they mean), the next they’re being used by virtually everyone. All of the time. Sounds like a good thing? Well let’s see.

Culprit number 1 : ‘Back in the day’

What?

Seems to refer to some non-specific period in the speaker’s  past when everything was possibly better. Or possibly not. Though, grudgingly, could be said to be useful for those of us who have trouble remembering dates…

Culprit number 2 : ‘Happy days’

(uncannily similar to culprit number 1)

What’s wrong with that?

When I first heard this I confess to having found it  really quite charming. Full of joyful enthusiasm. Sort of catchy. So ‘sort of catchy’ in fact that I found it escaping from my mouth all too readily. Soon sounded rather simple.

Culprit number 3 : ‘Mac and  Cheese’

Odd to find it here you may think, but think again. When I first heard this I thought it had to be something far more mysterious, more exotic, than ‘macaroni cheese’. Even now I wonder whether I’ve got this one completely wrong. But I don’t think so. It is ‘macaroni cheese’. I’ve googled it (!). That dish that we had as kids when we’d run out of everything else. Suddenly it’s everyone’s favourite, and even my own kids bandy its name around as if they loved it ‘back in the day’. But they must have been chowing down on it at some other family’s table because they certainly didn’t have it at mine. I don’t know why but it sounds as if it belongs to the same family of words such as ‘dude. Or ‘bro’. (Which makes me think of ‘bromance’. And ‘Brovember’. And…Stop me. Stop me now.)

Culprit number 4 : ‘enjoy’

Now this is an old one. The first time it irritated me was back in the late 1980’s. Now I’ve got nothing against the sentiment. Please, do enjoy yourself. But just ‘enjoy’? It used to be so cool it made me want to stick my fingers down my throat. But I’ve grown up now. And calmed down. And whereas I can forgive, I can never forget.

Although I’m trying to distance myself from the times that I’ve succumbed to ‘enjoy’s easy charms myself. But it never did make me sound cool. More a people-pleasing, crowd-following twerp with no resolve. Damn.

Culprit number 5 : ‘fess up

So, time to ‘fess up myself. I cringe as I admit that I’ve used this one. More than once. How did it’s annoyingly catchy sound get so hardwired into my brain that I found myself reproducing it? Against my better judgement?

(For those of you who may still be ‘fess up’ virgins it’s simply a contraction of ‘confess’ + ‘own up’ = ”fess up’. Sorry to have corrupted you.)

Culprit number 6:

and this is the one, my nec plus ultra  (at the moment, at any rate) of irritating phrases. Wait for it –

‘First World problems’.

 

Though on first hearing it this one bowled me over.

Not least because I’ve come up with my fair share of moans deserving of such an epithet (is that even the right word? Please feel free to help me out here.)

‘I’ve not managed to get fresh clams for tonight’s spaghetti alle vongole.’ ‘I missed the last episode of War and Peace.’ Sadly both mine. I was nearly reduced to tears by one of them.

So, the reason I hate this phrase is that I’ve started to use it after nearly most things I say. And so have many of my First World chums. Instead of making us reflect on more serious problems it’s just served to give us a chummy, back-slapping out.

When I used it after ‘Waitrose has run out of hazelnut croissants!’   I realised I had a problem.

But here endeth the rant. For now.

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Reading Matters

Reading Matters

Reading. That most solitary of  activities which has helped me understand and connect with others in the most profound of ways.

Pretentious, maybe. True, most definitely. And so I’ll lay myself open to derision because I would really like to share my latest reading discovery.

I was researching women who lived in fin-de-siècle Vienna recently because...well, that’s another story, when I stumbled across a short work by a woman called Adelheid Popp.

‘Who,’ I hear you cry, ‘is Adelheid Popp? Never heard of her.’

Well, after reading her autobiography you might start to question why that is. Why have you not heard of this most inspirational of women?

A Socialist and a Feminist, her story is charmingly written and beautifully moving. One of 15 children born into the most desperate poverty she rose to become one of the leading pioneers of her age, calling for fair wages, improved working conditions (including sick pay), all the while campaigning for universal suffrage and against sexism and exploitation of women in society.

Haven’t we heard it all before? I’d thought so too but it was only when I read her personal account of her youthful experiences and the hardships she endured that I actually felt it.

It will inspire, amaze and move you and the foreword written by Ramsay McDonald sets the scene.

https://ia802304.us.archive.org/15/items/autobiographyofw00poppiala/autobiographyofw00poppiala.pdf

And it’s all accessible for free. I downloaded the pdf version (which I’ve linked here)  and finished reading it in hours.

Adelheid Popp. It’s a crime that I’ve not heard of you before now.

 

Wassail!

Wassail!

Tankards, earthenware drinking cups and glasses clink, chink and clunk together as wassailers bid each other good health.

Wassailing. It hadn’t registered on my ‘excuses to eat and drink to excess’ before this year. And so when Martina suggested that we have a wassailing evening I didn’t really know what to expect.

But I do now.

Wassailing is a very ancient tradition involving drinking to good health and to a good apple crop for the coming year.  The word ‘wassail’ itself comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘waes hael’,  meaning ‘good health’ though it refers also to the drink traditionally drunk  while wassailing. Wassailing is usually done on or around 12th Night, and the wassail itself was originally a drink made of mulled ale, roasted apples, curdled cream, eggs, cloves,  ginger, nutmeg and sugar  (sometimes known as ‘Lamb’s Wool’ due to its white and  frothy appearance caused by the pulp of the apple and the cream ).

However, Martina thought that we could have a wassail feast too. And  I was to bring a starter. A starter?

I didn’t know much about wassailing but from what I did know it seemed fairly obvious to me that  starters weren’t big in wassailing circles.  And so it proved. I spent hours pouring over recipe books and getting lost on the Internet.

But then I found it. The perfect wassailing menu on the site of ‘The Ethicurean’, a…but before I attempt to describe the place perhaps you’ll get a better idea of what ‘the Ethicurean’ is in their own words –

‘This is the idea of having a connection with the native land, its history and the community who grow food locally upon it. Our family team seek to discover harmonious pairings between the ingredients that surround the walled garden.’

‘The Ethicurean restaurant is set in the enchanting Barley Wood Walled Garden, a perfectly restored Victorian kitchen garden, bursting with fertile life. But far from your usual garden cafe fare, gardener Mark Cox sends his produce to the restaurant in the delightfully scuffed former glasshouse to be made by the team into some of the most delicious, innovative, vegetable-focused cuisine in the land.’

Get the picture?

And so it was here, perhaps unsurprisingly, that I found a wassailing menu. Once discovered I managed to find wassailing menus from previous years and eventually opted for Caerphilly and Cider Rabbit (posh cheese on toast), although I wouldn’t do this ever again, not least because it was too filling. In fact, the entire evening seemed to be a laying down of fat to cope with the harsh winter months ahead.  A veritable festival of fat, sugar and stodge…

The Menu

IMG_4893[1]

 food

just click on dish to find most recipes

Caerphilly and Welsh Rabbit (The Ethicurean Recipe Book)

Belly Pork (The Ethicurean Recipe Book)

Apple Brandy Sorbet with Cheese Batons (The Ethicurean Recipe Book)

Apple. Mincemeat and Nut Strudel (Delia)

 drinks

Lamb’s Wool

Mulled Cider 

Locally Produced Cider (from Grape and Grind, Bristol)

Locally Produced Wine (from Wrington)

Somerset Cider Brandy

Apfelkorn (a schnapps-type drink which Martina had at the back of a cupboard…)

I couldn’t get to sleep that night because I’d eaten so much… Although, thankfully, due to a bad cider experience in my youth, I’d refrained from drinking too much.

‘Wassail!’

FACTFILE

Most recipes are taken from the Ethicurean Cookbook –

The Ethicurean_bookjacket

http://www.theethicurean.com/cookbook/

If you don’t fancy cooking yourself you can eat at ‘the Ethicurean’  restaurant. Click here to check out a menu –

http://www.theethicurean.com/menu/

‘The Ethicurean’ is located at –

Barley Wood Walled Garden
Long Lane
Wrington
Bristol
BS40 5SA

And to read more about wassailing  go to  http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Wassailing/.    Time to bless some fruit-growing trees…

Proust Book Group Meeting

Proust Book Group Meeting

Not everyone made it to this meeting and so we used it as an excuse (opportunity?) to focus on the just start of the second part of ‘A l’Ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleurs’.

Key Observations

  • the narrator’s focus on the blue of the blind at the window of the train carriage. Significance – to underline the importance of what we see ( in this case the colour) as opposed to what we know we see ( it is a blind).
  • the importance of light and its impact on what we see. As seen in the changing impressions of the same scene as observed through the train window as the train follows its winding track. Same scene, different perspective. Affected by time, light, distance.
  • the relevance of these visual experiences become clear when the narrator describes what he sees through his hotel window. eg he describes the sea as a mountain, the crests of its waves as snow.

Proust here makes the distinction between intelligence and intuition/ sensory response.  He reveals to us his developing aesthetic – that to touch the truth, create art, he needs to respond to the impression, to be faithful to what he sees, rather than to allow what he knows to come between its expression.  (cf. voluntary and involuntary memory)

To place this in a historical context, these ideas are clearly connected to those of the Impressionists.

We are told that the artist Elstir, even before he is introduced,  will have a significant influence on the narrator’s artistic evolution.

It is also aesthetically important that Baudelaire is mentioned here.  Baudelaire’s use of synaesthesia within some of his poems has a definite correlation to Proust’s use of metonymy here. To taste the smell of a rose is akin to seeing the mountain in the sea.

further points for discussion

  • humour. Now we’ve spotted it we see it everywhere. Perhaps the narrator’s grandiose claims and anguished exclamations are intended to express genuine pathos, but we can’t help but hear a self-conscious, self-mocking bathos – the voice of a wiser, more knowing older self who is prepared to elicit humour out of his more naive younger self, even in his most despairing of moments.  Waiting at the train station; seeing the milk girl; drinking the alcohol.

By concentrating on such a small section we managed to talk about the writing in detail. It really is a joy to be able to read ‘A la Recherche’ in this way and to see how much we’ve still got left to read makes my heart soar as it means we’ve got so much more to explore.

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NEXT MEETING : Friday 5th February

TARGET : To finish reading the 2nd part of ‘A l’Ombre des Jeunes Filles…’ or, at least, try to.

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Time to Brush Away the Cobwebs

I’ve clearly not been writing any posts in a while and did think that I would walk away from this website/blog all together.

Why?

Because I was becoming obsessed with stats, hits and search engines, that’s why, desperate to think of the latest click-bait to push those numbers up.

Because I found I was more intent on recording life on my phone than actually living it (that’s a BIG one). I dislike Facebook but it crossed my mind that what I was doing here had many of its negatives. And that had never been my intention.

Because I wasn’t concentrating on anything else in my life, just writing randomly and uploading it aimlessly. The result, one huge,  word soup, fairly sludge-like in consistency.

BUT  because I have stopped recording certain things that I find important and useful, I’ve learnt that when a moment has passed (the details of which I think I will never forget), I have trouble calling to mind even the most basic of information about it. The feeling always remains, of course. I can tell you with gushing enthusiasm, for example, my favourite book, or film. But I can’t always tell you why. And ask me what it’s about and I’m completely scuppered.

And so, for that admittedly selfish reason, I intend to continue writing up what I want to remember just in case I ever want to get my hands on recipes for a dinner party  or just rediscover what’s so great about  ‘A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs’. I know this is not for everyone but as I get older I realise that it’s not about trying to please others but finding things that make me feel alive. The same things might not do it for you, and that’s fine, but this year on Frock Friday I  will offer what does it for me and if you want to share it please help yourselves. And I’m going to start with a little bit of Proust.

24 hours in Oxford

‘Ladies! I know you thought I’d never get round to it but I have, and I’m just about to press ‘BOOK’. Do you trust me on this?’

The evening before, on a  wine fuelled night out at the Urban Standard on The Gloucester Road, Cecily, Jilly and I all said ‘Great idea!’ when Fee suggested going away together. Sometime. Somewhere. Having tried and failed with ‘India for a month?’ ‘Sicily for a fortnight?’ ‘Bruges for the weekend?’ Fee finally had to settle upon…’Oxford. For one night’.

And so  the very next day she’d booked it so that we couldn’t back out.  Accommodation secured –

one night at Magdalen College, Oxford, bed and breakfast for the four of us.

One week later and we were there!

The drive from Bristol to Oxford took just one and a half hours. Once in the city, the first thing we did was to go full-tourist and do

the open-top bus tour,

price £13.50 and valid for 24 hours, complete with knowledgeable guide (an actual person) and the chance to hop on and off at key stops dotted around the city.  This was an excellent start to our stay, not least because it was a beautiful day. The spires against the blue sky were breathtaking and we took in many of the key sites.

Sufficiently inspired and surprisingly moved, we got off at bus stop 10, on the High Street, and we did what any right-minded tourist to Oxford should do –

go for afternoon tea at the Grand Café.

 

It really was such a treat! It’s reputed to be the oldest coffee house in England, mentioned by Samuel Pepys in 1650. Although we very nearly didn’t make it over the threshold of this little piece of history as a woman pushed past us muttering ‘They charge £3 just for a glass of tap water!’  As none of us had ever visited a cafe that charges £3 for a glass of tap water before we decided to remain steadfast and  channel our inner Marie Antoinettes,  replacing water with champagne and eating bread AND cake. And scones. And cream. And jam.

                                               Grand High Tea

The food was abundant. So much so that ‘Eyes bigger than your belly’ very rapidly came to mind after I’d greedily loaded up my second scone  with strawberry jam and clotted cream…

Time to find our accommodation – Longwall Street refurbished double room with ensuite  (Magdalen College)  – and have a little nap.

Feeling decidedly sluggish we crawled to the porter’s lodge at Magdalen College, conveniently situated not five minutes away from the Grand Cafe on the opposite side of the road. Told that our rooms were not in the main building but situated a mere 3 minutes away, we went in search of them. Unfortunately, and most embarrassingly, we all turned into women not accustomed to getting out much. Clearly giddily giggly, we had all relied on each other to listen to the porter’s directions  which meant that not one of us could remember how to get to where we were staying. We got lost just going round the corner and after 30 minutes walking up and down the same stretch of road and putting our keys in every keyhole along the way (not to mention -oh the ignominy – following a student through a self-locking gate only to find ourselves trapped in the grounds of one of the colleges)  we had to admit that not one of us had listened to the porter when he’d told us where to go. We went back to ask him again. And this time we listened.

3 minutes away (it was true), we saw the arched door with the phone booth in front of it.  Once inside we found our newly refurbished rooms. Warm , with comfortable beds, soft white towels and white cotton sheets, it really did exceed our expectations (that we were all miffed that we hadn’t packed a hot water bottle and bed socks as Fee had done gives you a clue as to what we thought the rooms might be like…). The ensuite bathroom was immaculate – light, clean  and with a radiator so hot you could brand your bum on it.  And Jilly did. So be careful!

Time to unpack, then a trot around ‘The Meadow‘, located near Christchurch College.
View of Christchurch College across the meadow
Then back to our rooms for a quick shower before eating out at ‘La Cucina‘, a family-run Italian restaurant just ten minutes walk away from Magdalen College at 39-40 St Clement’s Road.

‘La Cucina’ proved to be a great find. The food was excellent and plentiful, and the service was charming.  I shared what has to be the most generous portion of vegetarian antipasti I’ve ever had, followed by a great pasta and clam dish. Given that each of us had a starter, a main and several glasses of wine the bill came in at a very reasonable £90 for 4.

Image result for la cucina oxford

Feeling pleasantly full and ready for bed it was good to know that we had a very short walk back to where we were staying.

Next morning, after a great night’s sleep in a bed more comfortable than my own, we made our way to Magdalen’s great medieval Hall.

As I tucked into my full English breakfast with my yogurt, fruit, cereal, croissant, toast, butter and jam all lined up  I suddenly  remembered why I’d put on two stones in weight when I had been living in catered halls as a student many years ago.  But that’s where the parallels began and ended, the neon lighting strips of the canteen where I’d eaten as a student bearing no resemblance at all to the Harry Potter-esque surroundings in which I now found myself.  I couldn’t help but feel a little awestruck at the very beauty and grandeur of the setting and wished I’d tried that little bit harder at school…

IMG_4559[1]                                              For the candle-lit suppers?

Our 24 hours in Oxford was passing quickly. We just had time to have a wander round Magdalen,  with its cloisters, quads, past its deer park and into its chapel.

And as we did so we became more and more ecstatic. The awe that had started for me in the refectory reached  its crescendo in the chapel when I took this for the original –

The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci
The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci

I was surprised,  but not as much as I should have been given that I knew  it was in Milan. But, after my ‘You had me at hello’ moment where I’d been robbed of all critical faculties in the refectory, I was now ready to believe that anything was possible here in this most inspiring and magical of places.

IMG_4573[1]Shame I’d not taken my glasses…

Still, the chapel was beautiful, and as the organ played, so my spirits, not to mention imagination, soared.

Our twenty-four hours were up. But what a glorious twenty-four hours they’d been.

FACTFILE

Accommodation : Longwall Street refurbished double room with ensuite  (Magdalen College)  cost £105 including breakfast

Grand High Tea at the Grand Cafe  £23.45

Dinner at La Cucina, St Clements  £20-£35

Bus Tour of Oxford  £13.50

Next time…

visit the Ashmolean

attend Evensong

try the Turl Street Kitchen for lunch and Quod for dinner

 

 

The ‘C’ words

Back in August I bravely embraced my child, fighting back my selfish tears. He’d travelled the world. He’d gone to university. But I knew that this time it was different. His adult life was about to start and he wouldn’t be looking back. He was leaving the nest for the final time and my heart was breaking.

Fly my boy, fly! May your life be full of joy. Oh , my special one! Words cannot express the depth of my love for you nor my anguish at saying this one goodbye.

As I drove home from the train station I had to pull over, my eyes temporarily blinded by the tears that they could no longer contain. And I let them fall, full and heavy over my cheeks, my head awash with images of Tom. My happy, smiling Tom. Tom.  The pain and the beauty of the past, brought back so intensely in the moment, took my breath away.

Bitter sweet.

But now, at the start of October, it’s just bitter.

Because he came back. Why?

Nothing’s changed. He’s still my lovely, beautiful joy of a child. But why did he come back?

Now don’t get me wrong, he can always come back. But to come back when he’d never intended to (and I’d been planning to re-decorate his bedroom and turn it into a workroom) hasn’t been good for him. And, perhaps not more to the point but a consideration to bear in mind, it’s not been good for me either (workroom aside). To see him moping around when he should be out embracing life is painful. I understand his frustration at not knowing what he wants to do with his life. I do. I really do.

But I’ve discovered a frustration equally real.

That is, the very real frustration of the parent of a grown-up child living at home. A parent who knows best. Or, at least, thinks she does.

You could say it’s a sign of the times – grown-up children all over the land  having to live with their parents because of student debt, lack of jobs, rising property prices.

I know this.

I also know what Tom could do to prevent this. And therein lies the rub because now he’s back in my house it’s oh so difficult not to tell him this. I’m torn between on the one hand  letting him find his own way and on the other, sharing with him the wisdom of my very considerable experience.

I endeavour to do the former as I realise the importance of making your own mistakes  but when I see him falter (and that’s the problem, that I can see it ), I resort to letting him have ‘my wisdom’,  both barrels. But, looking down just one of the barrels of my  experience-loaded shotgun Tom can only see the smoke. What’s happening to my little fun boy?

‘It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it, and that’s what gets results…’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQ9DrReE-uo

 

 

This old Bananarama/Fun Boy Three song has been going round in my head for some days now and it’s only in the writing up of the words that I fully understand why…

It’s clearly time to rethink my approach ( nearly wrote ‘attack’…). I want what’s best for Tom. I want Tom to know this and to understand that I will do all in my power to support and help him.

Maybe I’m not as smart as I like to think I am. ( Cue Dean Friedman song.)

Clearly the overt advice isn’t going down well. Think, think, think.

I know, I’ll make him a cake. And not just a Victoria Sponge. Oh no.  A raspberry and hazelnut cake with hazelnut liqueur and mascarpone topping.

                                     raspberry and hazelnut cake with mascarpone topping

This goes down well. I may not be as smart as I like to think I am but I’m smart enough.  Back in the parenting game And so, fuelled with  maternal zeal, I consider my next move.

And then I have it. A calendar. A Christmas Advent Calendar. Genius! Take that Dean Friedman…Back of the net!

While Tom argues with himself about what he’s definitely not going to do with his life as he doesn’t want to sell out, and he wants to make a difference, and he doesn’t want to be a hypocrite, and he’ll think about doing that job he supposes as a stop-gap, and his arm is twitching, and his work experience is boring and he certainly wouldn’t want to be doing that at the age of 40, and he doesn’t see himself as a corporate type or the type who…. I find that I am surprisingly happy just agreeing and cutting out little felt shapes.  Whereas before I might have finished his sentence with ‘the type who earns money?’ now I spend hours nodding supportively,  making gently sympathetic sounds, all the while cutting out numbers, squares, holly leaves, berries…

In fact, I decide to show my love for all three grown-up children in the same felt-advent-calendar way. Hmm. Foil covered chocolate coins in the pockets?  Tom likes this idea. We think as one.

IMG_4515[1]Strangely, Tom has just told me that he is now leaving home to start his life. My Fun Boy is back in the game. But not without his Christmas Advent Calendar .

Where the wisdom-loaded shotgun failed Cake and Christmas  prevailed. Up yours Dean Friedman!

****

The image of those philosophers of yesteryear, Bananarama and The Fun Boy Three, is from the siobhanfaheyrealm.blogspot.com

Proust Book Group Meeting 4

Proust Book Group Meeting 4

So whatever happened to Proust book group meeting 4?

Memory. So elusive.

So what did happen to the 4th meeting? I know that we had one. But beyond that (at the moment) I can’t remember a single thing.

I’m just going to make myself a cup of tea in my favourite tea cup in the desperate hope that whatever we discussed at our 4th meeting will come flooding back…

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And to give myself a fighting chance I might just have to resort to cake. Chocolate cake.

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Wish me luck…