Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

One reason, at least, for crossing la Manche

I say I’m a Francophile but I’m not really. I couldn’t take Pelléas et Mélisande seriously. Or French pop. Or Loire red wines. Or Georges Perec. Or Président Elevator Heels. Or French cars (Buy one in the UK; turn the ignition key; see the value depreciate 20%). Or accept that the Paris périphérique is suitable for vehicles. Or agree that autoroute lasagne is edible. Or manage the opening hours. Or not shudder in the gendarmerie seeing the Wanted poster with faces obliterated by diagonal red crosses.

Which still leaves much to enjoy. Before the Brittany flight Mrs BB and I drove to Trégastel, on the north coast where the BBs and the Plutarchs spent a mid-seventies holiday. Where the torrent roar'd, and we did buffet it with lusty sinews, throwing it aside, and stemming it with hearts of controversy. Where, having pigged out on mixed metaphors, we climbed a rock face at the eastern arm of the bay.

This year, using the table d’orientation I discovered the rock was called Pointe du Valet. Puckishly I turned to an adjacent Frenchman: Did “valet” have another meaning in French, I asked. Not as far as he knew. Then why identify a geographical feature as a domestic servant? Wasn’t that bizarre? “Why, monsieur, should it not have a bizarre name?” he said. One reason straight off for being francophile.

MEMENTO MORI A family visit on Saturday. Granddaughter Ysabelle (21) had thought a lot about death recently. Good – it’s more interesting than soccer. Y’s mum, Occasional Speeder, said she too had pondered death. Suppose I (ie, BB) died; would readers worry if Works Well didn’t appear? Not as long as Plutarch didn’t die simultaneously, I said


Plutarch said...

Must look out for thunderbolts when we next meet!

Hattie said...

I certainly think that must be quite a tourist attraction with the red print suspended in air there.

Lurker said...

No Place, in Northumberland.

Or Ugley, in Essex, complete with its Ugley Women's Institute.

Bizarre, n'est pas?

Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: Perhaps we should behave like pilots and co-pilots in civil aviation. Never choose the same dish in a restaurant. Even never go simultaneously to the same restaurant. I don't think I'm prepared to make that kind of sacrifice.

Hattie: I'd like to think the locals erected the floating sign to mark the first ascent of the rock climb by the BB/Plutarch families.

Lurker: Welcome to Works Well. What a courageous blogonym, only one notch down from Stalker.

There's a world of difference in coming from a place with a funny name and being able to make intellectual capital out of it. I grew up in a suburb of Bradford called Idle. Television latched on to this when it became necessary to demolish Idle Working Mens Club. But the locals would have missed the paradox. "Ah doan't na what tha's talking about. It's t' place's name."

But the French genius takes things a step further. He was a humdrum little chap with a pot-belly who nevertheless knew he was talking to a foreigner and recognised that France's honour was on the line. Hence the apothème

Rouchswalwe said...

Ah, yes. One must save face.

Anil P said...

'What's in a name?' Aha, come to think of it, everything.

In a way, it might actually be interesting to name something that would make visitors ponder on the 'Why', the 'What'. Adds to the travel.

Now I'm curious why 'Idle' got the name it did.

Barrett Bonden said...

Anil: Tried to find out the origins of Idle but in true West Riding fashion no one was talking. However, I discovered that not only was the Idle Working Men's Club rebuilt but it now has a membership of over 1000 - from all over the world. Belonging to such an organisation has obviously tickled many folk's fancy.

Julia said...

Such a French answer, it is true. Not only on point with a slight shrug, but the insistence on rights.

While working for a magazine in the States years ago, I very much enjoyed visiting our printers in Lizard Lick, North Carolina. Bizarre names are so often good marketing material. (And that is, perhaps, a very American point of view.)

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: So much of what I like about France is oral. I suppose Lizard Lick could be called oral too. Vivid, concise and witty: I do hope they were good printers.

How wonderful that a name established lots of years ago lives to take on new meaning as "lick" (one of your favourites) is reborn through jazz.

Avus said...

Of course, we have the "Loose Women's Institute" here in Kent, but they spoil it by pronouncing it "Lews"