Uncertain whether I shouldn't be doing more about The Foot, but disinclined to drag The Patient off to doctors or x-ray clinics, since clearly it was better when rested and kept on the horizontal or slightly above, I decided on the Monday to consult our lovely pharmacy, a thriving and lively place. The Patient himself hit on the rather intelligent idea of taking a photo of the extremity in question and showing it to them. I shall spare sharing the actual images here. The pretty dark haired assistant pharmacist, who was wearing a beautiful dark blue handknit cowl, listened carefully, winced and grimaced at appropriate moments of the narrative, responded enthusiastically to the photographic evidence, and told me we had done all the right things, that there was indeed little to be done about a broken toe, that an x-ray would only confirm what we already knew, and that it should be better in ten days to three weeks. The only additional recommendation was an ice pack three times a day regardless of The Patient's objections ('Pas de glaçons sur mon pied!' I mimicked, with the invisible translation switched on retrospectively), and free-and-for-nuffink they supplied us with a set of cannes anglaises for as long as needed.
After a few days of The Patient lugubriously insisting that it was never going to get well, he is now moving much better and getting about in the house without the aid of the cannes, so now we're back on track, though I had to bring in the wood and take out the rubbish myself for a while.
Another nice and flattering surprise in the post.
As I mentioned before, Charles Davis asked for the photo a few weeks ago, but he said it would only be for an e-book, so I was very pleased be given a proof copy of it in print, not only to gratify my vanity about the photo but because I was struggling to read it in the PDF format on my old-fashioned grey-faced Kindle.
Charles is dissatisfied with and rather cast down about the book, which I know he's been working on for quite a while, he says it's irretrievably flawed. Initially he didn't expect to have it in print at all, but it is now available, very reasonably, from an independent publishing source via Amazon. So far, his deprecation of it notwithstanding, I'm thoroughly enjoying it. It's set on the Mont St Michel in the early seventeenth century and described as ' a ludibrium or capricious game, a classic adventure story informed by riddles, myths and conspiracies', and though it is certainly something of a colourful and mischievous romp, and will, according to the rather spoilerish blurb on Amazon, get even more lurid, it's also typically full of fascinating, unexplored corners of history, with alchemy and threads of gnosticism and such like, undercurrents of ideas and counter-history flowing in and out like the partially hidden and deceptive currents and streams in the sands around the Mont (which was why he wanted the photo, though that wasn't taken there but some way further west into Brittany). I do like exploring these obscure backwaters of history and ideas and belief very much, but so often fiction that uses them is just unreadable, badly written, portentous rubbish. Charles' writing though is so classy, sharp and witty and ironic, his dialogue crisp and satisfying, his characters likeable and solid, his research and learning, though worn quite lightly, so meticulous and informed with an awful lot of legwork (literally, he's a world class walker and his bread-and-butter writing is walking guides), it seems a great shame he's not better appreciated.
'You do not take literature seriously, Dom Robert.'
'On the contrary, I take it so seriously that I am persuaded that the highest literature is also the most lighthearted, floating in the ether while the weighty tomes of moralists slough aobut at their authors' feet before sinking without trace. Read Rabelais, read Cervantes. Wisdom weighs lighter than folly.'
[Pilgrim of Love, Charles Davis.]
Time for a belated collage for the month of February.
- Early daffodils up the road, always among the first I see.
- Some 'flowers' for the guest room, hebes and hellebores, whiteish and purple the only actual blooms, otherwise rosehips, bay and acanthus leaves, dogwood seed heads.
- Doggies on the beach.
- Beautiful Milly.
- Seashells collected and left on the windowsill, they're still there.
- Jantien's exhibition. Our friend Jantien Kahn is doing another residency at la Résidence in Moncontour, this time with her partner Jessie Ehlhart (website in Dutch), who is using the opportunity to develop her work as a musician and sound artist. They too, like our other visitors, have been brave birds of passage, appearing on out doorstep against the season and cheerfully bringing late winter/early spring cheer and doing our hearts good. I'll try to get a post done about their opening night, though it was a few weeks ago now...
- La Polyclinique where Tom had his eyes done. It really is a very pleasant building, full of light and giving out onto sweeping views, about a central well,
- which has this cheerful mural, featuring the rather unlikely scenario of seagoing fishing boats on the nearby lac de Guerledan.
- Still bare trees outside the windows, shining with rain, which I didn't quite capture, but the little yellow orb of flare charmed me somewhat.
- Grey hat.
- Wet muddy field.
Now March marches on, and we sat outside in the garden for an hour or two today, though it's good to come in to the fire too.