Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The language merry-go-round

3 days after leaving Spain, and I'm still instinctively replying (to French) in Spanish. I've rehearsed the old Je suis desole. Je ne parle pas Francais. schtick so I don't stutter like an ignorant boeuf.

When I have Bondi with me, then the situation is a little different.

Random Jacques: Jeneparapluijesuispamplemoose [I mean it can only be ONE thing]
Malamute de Alaska.
Random Jacques (emboldened): [in French] How did you find the final volume of Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu ?
Me: [I have no idea what he said, so maintain beatific smile]
Random Jacques: [thinks:] Ah! a philosopher! A true Frenchman! [says:]
alouettegentille alouettealouettejeteplumerai. [more unintelligible nonsense]
Me: [getting older and more exasperated]
Je suis desole. Je ne parle pas Francais.
Random Jacques: [taps temple several times]
These Frenchmen are crazy!

I had a brief CD shopping orgy in FNAC, ending with me carrying off a new Vivaldi opera, some Satie rendered by oud, lute & chanter, a sprinkling of jazz piano trios and some other on-a-whim. I'll get to properly hear them in the car tomorrow when I'm following the Loire eastwards. Posted by Picasa

Just had a brainfart to check on availability of Robert Lepage's Far Side of the Moon on DVD - an adaptation of his fabulous one-man stage-play. I recalled that it had screened a film festival somewhere and I had missed the opportunity to see it. Anyway, in typical scary universe fashion, it turns out that it was released on December 2.

The last time I had a brainfart like that, was when I was trying to remember the names of some books I'd loved as a child, about an elephant in an incredible castle (not Babar!). Well I finally recalled it was the Uncle series by J.P.Martin, illustrated by Quentin Blake. That month they were reprinted for the first time in nearly 30 years! That is, two out of six books were - the publisher refuses to do the others on the grounds that they are dated and classist. Just like the other books they've been compared to: Alice in Wonderland et al. They also pop up on nearly every published list of the greatest English children's literature, but still they are largely unknown to those under 40. The originals spiral ever upwards in price on eBay and with book dealers - luckily I tracked down a set before they became unfeasibly expensive. More about them here.

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