They'd just come back from a foray to Leroy-Merlin, seeking more materials (Did I really just supply a link to Leroy-Merlin's English language webpage? Expatriosis must be terminal...). We're trying to get this room done for when his daughter and her family come at the weekend. They're only staying for the weekend, so it's not really necessary to be busting a gut to this extent, as they could doubtless make shift perfectly happily with less finished accommodation, but we find deadlines can be useful and challenging, even when they are artificially imposed.
However, the pressure brings Tom's perfectionism to pathological levels, and it gets difficult to stop. I concluded the only way I was going to get time to do this blog was be reclaiming my 6 o'clock in the morning habit, but as I rolled groggily out of bed, I was only too aware my boon companion was extrememely alert already.
" I'm terribly worried about the varnish round the door" he told me.
"Shut up and go back to sleep for god's sake."
Molly is disgruntled at our attention being shifted away from the sofa, the kitchen and outside. She is at a time of her yearly cycle when nest-making becomes important, and insists on living dangerously among the dust sheets in the bathroom to make her point.
(She has had another abscess by her ear, which threw us into momentary misery, but it didn't seem so painful this time, and with all the regular vets being away on holiday, we saw a very kindly retired locum, who was inclined to be less needle and scalpel happy and more hands-off, and he prescribed oral antibiotics and a regime of cleaning, which seems to have worked fine, fingers crossed...)
" That Proust bloke always pisses off when I come into the room." says Tom, suspiciously.
"That's because he's a great big wuss," I reassure him, adding for good measure, "and a mummy's boy and a big girl's blouse" to allay the creeping jealousy he is evidently feeling about my current devotion to darling Marcel, who is, of course, all of those things, none of which prevents him from being sublime. In fact I turn the CD player off because I need to concentrate on listening and if we chat, or fret about varnish round doors, or whatever, I miss bits.
Which brings me on to Lovely Things Coming in the Post. This from Joe.
I had just been thinking that it would be really handy to have some kind of reference of who was who and where and how they fitted into the scheme of things, and was there a real place that Balbec was based on and wondering if I could afford more time on-line searching for such things, and little did I know that not only did such a book exist but a copy of it was already winging its way toward me! Now, without even possessing the full print text, but armed with a set of CDs, this book and Alain de Botton's 'How Proust Can Change Your Life' - another of the things that spurred me on to undertake this project, I am well on the way in my career as an apprentice Proustian.
And it really is a project. I do need the text, and preferably two translations at least, because the latest Penguin one is doubtless fine but really one needs Moncrieff as well, and I would really like it in French, not because I'm ready to embark on reading it in the original in its entirety but because sometimes something comes up where I really want to know how it was rendered. For example, when little Marcel reads in a grove of hornbeam and savours the other charms of the garden, is there a pun on the word 'charme'? Does Proust descend to puns, even such dainty ones? (Come on, all French people descend to puns, all the time...). And when he refers to Gilberte's 'wisdom', I'm thinking no, that's not right, Gilberte may be many things but wise isn't one of them, but perhaps it's 'sagesse', as in un enfant sage, that she is 'being good'. In other words, I want to be a smartarse to myself, perhaps to cover for the lack of profound and pithy things I really have to say. But I am just a beginner after all.
So, yes, with three sets of text, a set of CDs, sundry works of reference and comment, plus enough room to spread them all out, one could really set up a whole room of the house consecrated to total Proust immersion. Joe probably has.
At about the same time, Lovely Sister, (who is sometimes capitalised, sometimes not), sent me a parcel with this dear little pen in it,
Japanese anemones, which are very easy-going,
along with a DVD of 'The Painted Veil', which I haven't watched yet. I'm slightly uncertain that the blurb describes it as 'a captivating love story', which from what I remember of the book, from about 30 years ago when I read it, it wasn't exactly, but perhaps I'm wrong, and the scenery certainly looks sumptuous.
The garden is sadly neglected in this blitz on interior work, but with all this, nature is never spent, there lives the dearest freshness deep down things... it carries on doing pretty things all on its own, like these snapdragons that had the nous to seed themselves right in front of the red grasses,
However, I am prepared to make an exception of these lime green ones, which are smaller and finer than the others.
Evening primrose happily plant themselves all over the place, and are much more subtle in their demeanor,
If I were a cricket, I'd probably want to live inside one too.
Going short of exercise and having to take pills smeared with butter, on account of her being poorly and our being busy, Molly has put on weight. Once she was better, and I had literally painted myself into a corner and could do no more until it was properly dry, a longer walk down the la Tantouille road and a visit to the mirabelle hedge was in order. The late, fine spring at the time when the trees were in blossom, and some sunshine in the intervening months, have, as I hoped, produced a good crop. So it'll be tarte aux mirabelles for Dick's visit, and perhaps some more foraging by way of entertainment for next weekend's visitors.