Image via WikipediaI decided to try to organise some of the stuff on this blog into book form, urged on by the kind comments and advice on recent posts.
Thus has the night air been rendered hideous by a return to the old days of the projection of heavy objects and boiling of heads as I attempted to get a split screen on the computer.....finally did it but then couldn't remember how....then wondering how many goats I would have to sacrifice to get the brute to copy and paste when I wanted and not only when it wanted to do so....and hours trying to find double spacing on Open Office...and more hours wondering how to get rid of bullet points, as I think they are called....then trying voice recognition, only to find that I speak some variant of English not known to the machine, which must have been trained on Winston Churchill after three cigars and far too much brandy. I don't mind the brandy, but I draw the line at having to smoke cigars to please a computer.
It has all been very trying.
However, word having spread among friends and family, I have been the recipient of much sapient advice on the content of the book.....so much sapient advice that I think it best to record it all while it is still fresh in the memory for the benefit of anyone else thinking of writing any book about anything. Except childrens' literature.
Firstly, it appears that there has to be sex. Preferably with a hint of perversion....or more than a hint.
I foresee difficulties here....I never actually interviewed the three generations of prostitute who used to be the attraction of the main bar of St. Supplice on the details of their calling but doubt very much that elastic stockings figure in anyone's erotic repertoire.
As far as other sources go, the local ducks are not forthcoming.
I do know a great deal about the efforts at integration undertaken by some British immigrants...from having an affair with the local tourist boss to setting up an all-British partouze....not to speak of the nude calendar project with the local photographer.....but accounts of unorthodox but effective ways to get a three star rating from Gites de France might not be regarded as being of general utility while as for the intimate detail of the partouze I rely heavily on the account of the woman who was ejected from the group for promiscuity so there might be some slight lack of objectivity.
Secondly, there has to be something about high life to engage the other fantasies of the potential reader...frocks, champagne and luxurious living, with names like Moet et Chandon and Dior thrown casually into the text.
Frocks...forget it. Rural France is the land of polyester, acrylic and salmon pink corsets with steel reinforcements. Thinking about it, the corsets might qualify under the perversion requirement, but only for those keen on the Rubenesque.
I cannot imagine how I could casually slip mention of these garments into any text bearing on the high life unless some modern couturier has taken them for his latest inspiration....which is not, I suppose, impossible.
It has long puzzled me why women allow themselves to be made ridiculous at the behest of a gaggle of homosexual dress designers......but the women of rural France are immune to the infection.
They stick to Barbe Bleu and Defi Mode, and I Defi any Paris couturier to take any inspiration from their offerings.
There are the Parisian second homes...where I suppose you might find mention of Moet and Chandon.... but there is only one such in this area and the owner is a somewhat taciturn judge where you're lucky if you get a tisane and the sniff of a biscuit, so it seems we will have to forget high life.
Thirdly, food and wine must figure largely.
This seems all right until further enquiry reveals that this element has to feature 'little' restaurants where the owner takes a personal interest in you, his client.....back to the first requirement here, if we're not careful......and where the whole meal that you have ordered has to be discussed in detail between you, the owner and the reader.
I am not convinced that anyone wants to hear my reaction to piercing the carapace of an andouillette, nor my reaction to finding a living organism in a shell peering out at me from the plateau de fruits de mer.
Given the risk of food poisoning I do not often go to restaurants, nor, these days, to cafes, since they are dying out under the twin bans on smoking while eating and boozing before driving.
Sitting on the terrace watching the world go by is not what local cafes are for...they are for escaping from the wife and doing deals and smoking and boozing are essential elements in these activities.
I can do wine...but not all the swirling sniffing and spitting....Try that in this area and you'll get a reputation as a wimp.
Fourthly, there has to be mention of either sunflowers or lavender, depending on the area of France under discussion. No one will know the book is set in France without mention of one or other of these staples.
Too far north for lavender, I can certainly do sunflowers....the iniquity of growing them in an area where they need irrigation, while we get bans on watering the garden....but it seems people want to hear about the beauty of fields of the darned things instead.
Finally, I must deal with the French reputation for style and glamour.
Nix. Niet. No way.
All the men round here look like Depardieu after a hard night and are usually tastefully attired in vests and torn caps, while as for the women, suffice it to say that if Paris had come looking for Helen in rural France there would have been no Trojan War.
Analysing the advice and my reaction to it, it is clear that this book, if ever it leaves the confines of the computer, will be a resounding failure.....
And if by some chance it isn't, I will be bankrupt in very short order as the writs for libel fall like confetti at a wedding.