what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

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.

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