Now, what was I saying? I've been in Brittany for a month, no internet except occasional sessions with coffee in Bar le Roulis, Esquibien, facing the ocean, the ferry pulling out to Ile de Sein, the vast empty beach with greater black back gulls, hikers on the coast path…
Just in case you find that my ideas have radically changed over that interval, you might need to know about my reading:
Richard Bronk, The Romantic Economist
Muriel Spark, The Abbess of Crewe (hilarious)
Tommy Steele, Bermondsey Boy
Amos Oz, A Song of Love and Darkness
Alan First, Night Soldiers (spies, 1930s, Le Carré-like, good book for long car ferry journeys)
Douglas Dunn, Selected Poems
Seth, George Sprott 1894-1975, a picture novella – big lovely present, thick card covers, 36 x 30 cm
Terry Eagleton, The Gatekeeper, another memoir (like Steele)
For my French, a policier by Joseph Bialot – good for idiomatic dialogue, though I rapidly tire of crime fiction and haven’t bothered to finish it.
I won’t list the ones I took but didn’t read. I might have if it had rained a lot but the weather was either hot and lovely, too hot or just nice and great for walking the coast path, with occasional showers, mainly at night. The Finistere type of landscape is called la lande, translated ‘moor’: gorse, bracken, bramble, broom, heather, honeysuckle, ivy, with deer, rabbits, hawks, meadow pipits and swallows. My ideal house would have swallows to sharpen my sense of the onset of spring and winter because they are wonderful birds to watch.
The books that most unexpectedly impressed me was Tommy Steele’s autobiography. I read it because my research into the history of Walworth or Mina Road School relates to Bermondsey and Southwark at the time Tommy was living there. Bermondsey Boy was well written, funny, interesting and moving – I ended up liking and respecting the guy: he’s decent, talented in pursuits outside show business, intelligent – and literate because he missed a lot of (sec mod) school through illnesses and instead read because there was nothing else to do in hospital, indiscriminately and voraciously, almost like Amos Oz as a kid. Kenneth Allsop in The Angry Decade (1958) thought Tommy Steele was a healthy development after the charts had been dominated by American singers.
Might write more about one or two of the books now I'm back in business and things are quieter, it being late July.
Now I've got all my photos to go through and all those taken by the people who were with me and have posted them on PhotoBox.