I’ve come back from Perigord to the grim news from New Orleans. I don’t really have anything to say about that, for the moment.
I did manage to listen to the cricket on Radio4 LW via a buzzy little radio. I ended up having to hold it out of an upstairs window and nearly had a heart attack when I thought the Aussies were going to win the thing. Fingers crossed for the Oval. I have a ticket for the fifth day, so my ideal result would be an England win on Monday. But I’d also accept five days of rain.
Not much on the bird front in France; a distant hoopoe was the best bird. The swallows and martins are gathering on the telephone wires and in the treetops. They take off in great twittering flocks and flutter around chasing insects before settling again somewhere else. It’s such an evocative sign of the changing seasons; one which I generally miss, living in London. One day soon they’ll take off and head for Africa.
Swallowtail, tiger swallowtail, lots of butterflies. My favourite insects though were the hummingbird hawkmoths, which I could happily watch for hours. Minutes, anyway.
Lots of booze, lots of food – duck carpaccio, duck paté, confit of duck gizzards, duck pizza. A morning of very hung-over canoeing, which made me feel like I was going to die. We visited a C12th church carved out of the face of a cliff, complete with a necropolis, a C9th font for total immersion baptism, and a reliquary modelled on the tomb Joseph of Aramathea had built for Christ in the Church of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem – as seen by one of the local nobles who’d been there on the Crusades. It even had a temple to the Roman god Mithras which they found under the main church. So that was pretty fab. We played the Lord of the Rings edition of Risk, as well. There may be something in life that makes you feel more geeky than saying “I’m going to invade Fangorn” and then pushing a little plastic orc onto your opponent’s square and rolling a dice to see who wins. But I don’t know what it is.
I finished The Victorians by A. N. Wilson, which is OK. One volume isn’t really enough to deal with a 70 year period, and his opinionated comments sometimes seem a bit dubious, but it’s readable enough. I was more impressed by The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst, which was last year’s Booker winner. The central character is a gay PhD student writing about the style of Henry James while living in the house of an up-and-coming Tory MP in the 1980s; he (the student) becomes involved with a wealthy coke-snorting playboy who eventually dies of AIDS. It is in fact something of a satire of that period, but it’s handled with a much more sensitive and nuanced touch than that summary would suggest. Hollinghurst is an impressive prose stylist himself.