Monday market

Despite my best annual efforts, my somewhat shy awkwardness and male Englishness cannot be disguised at the Monday morning marché – and not just by way of my poor linguistic grasp – no matter how much I long to blend, fluent and unnoticed, into the throng. It’s a native, culture thing, I think, with the French. The absolute confidence of being at home in oneself and in one’s own country. An easy knowing one’s way around. Ready expression of preference and the opposite. The street café as extension to one’s own home. The ability to smoke a cigarette, langorously, as though it were possessed of a thousand positive health-giving properties. The exquisite minuscule goût de café that chides the waxed cardboard pails that pale in comparison. The authenticity of the faded pink (1940s?) shorts and deep-tanned legs. No socks with sandals – without discomfort.

So Monday market here is both celebration of the all-things-French that I love, and mildly painful disorientation, a yearning perhaps, like the bewilderment of my first days at primary school long ago. Everything moves so fast. I’ve just worked out how to get into the saddle of the huge rocking horse and it’s time for warm milk (ugh) again. Just made friends with pretty Jayne Matthews and a harsh voice tells me I’m not concentrating – though I’m sure I was. And someone in a hurry pushes me over. Just got the globe spinning with a satisfactory hum and I’m told it’s supposed to be stationary while I look at a bit of it called China or something or other. It’s another world. And I want time to linger, invisible, quite uninterested in being ‘top of the class’ or top of anything. Just wanting to rester ici au le marché. To hear and smell and touch and taste and see. Être. To be.

see travelpad

All souls

Nationwide fog has dissipated here and I’m reading in our garden, glistening and wet with morning dew. Richest of autumn hues around me, warm sunlight on shirt-sleeved shoulders, white china cup of coffee near at hand, breakfast porridge still present upon the tastebuds and warm-in-the-tum. It is, I hear, a record-breaking November morning. It is, I feel, a glorious moment to be alive.

You know how it is? How your throat catches when, looking up from the book for an instant, you catch your own reflection, together with that of a host of flowers and the deep blue sky, in each of several hundred dew drops glistening on a single green leaf? The coolness of a single drop to trembling finger’s touch?

All souls must know this from timeless time to time. Eternity caught up in a moment. A moment caught up in eternity – what it is for one soul to be viscerally aware of its connection to all souls, and all souls to one Soul – and yes, its having landed on the rim of my coffee cup – as though designed reminder – connected somehow even to this tiny, thirsty, scent-attracted fly. All souls. Living and dying and dying for living. Through all ages all souls fly …

On a Fly Drinking Out of His Cup

Busy, curious, thirsty fly!
Drink with me and drink as I:
Freely welcome to my cup,
Couldst thou sip and sip it up:
Make the most of life you may,
Life is short and wears away.

Both alike are mine and thine
Hastening quick to their decline:
Thine’s a summer, mine’s no more,
Though repeated to threescore.
Threescore summers when they’re gone,
Will appear as short as one!

William Oldys

Where will summers gone appear as short as one?

In company with all souls, in a timeless eternity, where innumerable, iridescent reflections may be seen and delighted in – even whilst new creations tumble into view – in glorious timelessness, alive.