Well, my holidays are over for 2013. Unless we win the lottery in the next few weeks I will now spend the rest of the year wishing all my friends ‘Bon Voyage’ and envying them their breaks from the daily routine (or what passes for routine in this house.) We had three nights in Paris to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary, followed after just five days by a week in the Lake District. Very different trips, but equally enjoyable. Paris is a wonderful city to stroll around and in three days I walked as far as I ultimately did in the Lakes – around eighteen miles. I enjoyed delicious food on both sides of the channel and now have to adopt a strict low-fat, caffeine free diet in order to unclog all my vital organs.
All this time off has meant that work has been, largely, left behind resulting in my need to quickly shake off post-holiday blues and get back to writing. I also have tons of admin to do, but that never ends and to get it done is just a matter of avoiding distractions. Ha!
One thing that I did have to miss was my radio show ‘Talking Books’. I should have been ‘on’ the day we set off for Cumbria but was given leave and others stepped in. I would like to think I was missed, but with just three programmes to my name I doubt it. Luckily, I have the fabulous Fire River Poets in the studio this week (Friday 24th) which will make sure we get people listening again quickly.
However – back to the 26th April and the ‘Talking Books Talks France’ show. I deliberately chose the subject matter to get me in the mood for Paris, and to pick up a few hints from my guest, Trevor Snow, who organises walking tours of France and has written a book – Best of France - detailing some of his favourites.
We talked of many things, Trevor and I, on the show. He was a wonderful and very knowledgeable guest; a true Francophile. He offered some of his favourite authors who write about France, or who use it as a backdrop for their writing (most notably the novels written by Peter Mayle). As usual we looked at those suggested by my social media pals, who enjoy classics by Camus or Dumas for example or contemporary fiction by Joanne Harris, or the detective novels written by Fred Vargas. We also talked about French literature and why so many of us read authors such as Balzac, Gide and Maupassant in our angst-ridden teens. My favourite is Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier and thanks to Trevor I can pronounce the title correctly for the first time. Of course, I know some who can read French literature in the original language. Sadly with Grade E O Level French I could barely read Spot Goes to France….
I also got a mention in for The Chase by Lorna Fergusson, which I started before my holidays and finished really quickly on the plane home, gripped as I was by the thrilling story, very different from the usual tale of ex-pats in the Dordogne. I heartily recommend it.
What preparing for this programme really brought into focus is how many people adore all things French. I know I do and Paris was very welcoming. Yet we came home to all the fuss and bother about Europe and the ghastly, greasy Nigel Farage suggesting that Europe is some kind of threat to the very soul of Britain and Britishness. Frankly, I don’t think those Mr Farage finds so threatening care about Britain as much as politicians, full of pomp and pompousness, would like to think. The French get on with their own lives, experience their own problems and enjoy all the lovely things French culture can offer. Standing around in tweeds without a chin rubbing people up the wrong way will get us nowhere Nige. Not an image of Britain I would want to promote.
As always I give you the chance to ‘catch up’ so here is the link to the show:
Do listen in to this edition of ‘Talking Books’ if you have a chance. It was great fun to do, although I still get a few nerves, especially when asked to read out a question for a French quiz. Thanks for stepping in Trevor!