Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Ploermel et al
The weekend was the English bank holiday – so we had the pleasure of a visit from Susanna and Adrian – arriving midnight. Vide greniers had promised – but proved disappointing at Ploermel at Augan. Ploermel itself, however, is the first place we visited which I could imagine living in. Lively and full of charm – it has two large churches in the centre – both with delightful stained-glass windows. An organ was playing in one on our first visit – but I could find no way in to enjoy the performance. When we revisited on Sunday morning a christening was underway in the second – wood ceilings and Breton stone are the impressive features of these churches. Proximity to such a spiritual haven is probably on my checklist for houses! The newsagent’s had a very impressive range of magazines – including a fairly recent literary venture modelled on New York Review of books – www.booksmag.fr
Josselin gave us 4 serindipidous moments – an exhibition of marqueterie by Jacques Moisan in a tiny ancient church adjoining its fairy-tale castle which looms over the river. A sculpteuse seemingly specialising in capturing the relationships between men and women – I photographed a small one in the window of a couple reading back to back with the woman’s hand trailing. Hands are so expressive – I remember one of Dobre Dobrev’s paintings of a quiet Bulgarian square with a languid hand in the air. You can get a sense of the sculptress at http://creatures.celestes.free.fr
The final delight was a second-hand English bookshop – from which I emerged with 3 gems - a Jonathan Raban book whose title I had come across when I was considering the Syrian job some years back (Arabia through the looking glass); a highly appropriate Colin Thubron book - Behind the Wall about his travels in China in the early and mid 1980s; and a Morris West thriller I had not yet read - Cassidy.
Sunday night we ate well – and I had the rare pleasure of a conversation a quatres – with Adrian’s questions proving skilful in eliciting from me some rare opinions about the goodies and baddies in politics and why the British system is in such a mess. Although I did opine that the recent expense scandals are perhaps not quite what they seem! Most of the so-called misdemeanours were in fact the result of the advice given by the House officials – and the felons were few and minor. I am never disposed to conspiracy theories – but on this occasion I have to ask about the timing and nature of the revelations. The financial melt-down and collapse of neo-liberalism has required string government action and a rethink of the role of the state. One would have expected a resurgence of socialist thinking. So perhaps the expenses scandal was a preemptive strike – to ensure that the legitimacy of government activity remained under question.