Somebody who follows me on Twitter – no idea why since they object to pretty much everything I say on there – asked me yesterday why I was always angry. Well, I’m not ALWAYS but it’s inevitable I should sometimes be in the current climate since, you know, I don’t go through life like a mindless robot.
No apologies for that.
I’m definitely too old for the number of Brainy t-shirts I own, but: I identify – I can be as annoying as he is but I’m unrepentant about using my brain.
We escaped gloomy cages
Breathed new air outside the musty pages
Of the books we’d sheltered in
For so long
We were bewitching birds brought back for a single song
Briefly swelling with life
Drunk on sun & scented promises
The sweet sound of stolen kisses
For a little while, we were allowed
To fly once more – high, above the clouds
It didn’t last
It never does
Alas everything must die
Go back to ashes and dust
I’ll always remember
How once we emerged
From the cocoon of past winters
I watched Notre-Dame burn yesterday, I cried and I had to turn away from it – I couldn’t bear it. I read this by the always excellent Douglas Murray, it encapsulates everything I feel and think – he is much more eloquent that I could ever be. This is Douglas for The Spectator: link to the original article is here: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/notre-dames-loss-is-too-much-to-bear/amp/?__twitter_impression=true
Civilisation only ever hangs by a thread. Today one of those threads seems to have frayed, perhaps snapped. It is impossible to watch the footage coming out of Paris. Like videos of pornographic violence, all that can be done is to groan and turn away. It is not possible to watch the spire of Notre Dame collapse. It is not possible to watch the great cathedral consumed by fire.
Evelyn Waugh once said that in the event of a fire in his house, if he was able only to save his children or his library, he would save his library because books were irreplaceable. Only at a moment such as this is it possible to concede the slightest truth in that remark. Almost anything could be borne rather than the loss of this building.
There will be recriminations, of course. There will be disputes about budgets, and overtime and safety standards and much more. It is worth reading this piece from two years ago about the funding problems that existed around the cathedral’s restoration. But if Notre Dame can burn then all this is as nothing, because it tells us something too deep to bear. As I said a couple of years ago in a book, in some way the future of civilisation in Europe will be decided on what our attitude is towards the great churches and other cultural buildings of our heritage standing in our midst. Do we contend with them, hate them, ignore them, engage with them or continue to revere them? Do we preserve them?
Though politicians may imagine that ages are judged on the minutiae of government policy, they are not. They are judged on what they leave behind: most of all on how they treat what the past has handed into their care. Even if today’s disaster was simply the most freakish of accidents, ours would still be the era that lost Notre Dame.
We would have to tell future generations what it was like, this treasure that we lost. At the start of this decade I was living part of each week in Paris, commuting back and forth to a little flat on the edge of Le Marais. Each time I headed out to the earliest Eurostar on a Monday morning I would see the great cathedral first as I turned into the street. One winter morning heavy snow was falling and as I headed to the station I stopped dead, alone in the street with the cathedral and just drinking in the sight of a building I had seen a hundred times before. When I got into London a friend could see I was just beaming still, radiating far too much joy for such a time of the week. He asked how I was and I remember simply saying, ‘This morning I saw Notre Dame in the snow’. It was like that.
It’s Publication Day for Unfinished Business – how exciting! – so here’s (another) pic of me holding the book a bit earlier today, because that’s definitely what the internet needs.
If you missed my (looong) post about the novel the other day, here it is again: Being a Bookworm and a Beta Reader is Beautiful
You can order Unfinished Business here: Unfinished Business on Amazon
A couple of pics that didn’t make it in the last post: yes, I know, I’m shameless – but this book is soooo good I’m quite happy inundating you all with photos.
Don’t ever be intimidated by groupthink, don’t fall for identity politics, keep resisting the bullshit…
…but if all your attempts to re-establish sanity fail, leave them to it, desert the sinking ship – and do it with honour and dignity.
Be an authentic Corsair – walk the plank backwards while looking them in the face, so they are fully aware you’re jumping because you want to, not because they are making you.
It’s not often I have anything good to say about Twitter, it can be such a vicious place, especially right now as they’re cracking down on free speech. But… this isn’t going to be one of those posts!
Last night I couldn’t sleep, not one bit, not at all. Now I’m used to insomnia, I’ve always had problems sleeping but I usually manage a few hours. But last night there was nothing doing, I knew it was no use and I gave up even trying – I was pacing up and down until morning because I couldn’t read, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t do anything.
Predictably, by 8 o’clock this morning I was feeling like s**t.
So I turned to Twitter and asked if anybody knew of a quick pick-me-up, because I don’t drink coffee like other mortals. And Twitter delivered, a bunch of people replied with tips and another bunch messaged me to ask if I was ok, etc…now, that – alone – was a pick-me-up.
I had the cold shower quite a few people recommended, and you know what? It bloody works – you have to be brave though. I also made juice with everything I was told would help – all kinds of fruits – and including a big chunk of stem ginger…now I won’t say the juice tasted nice because it didn’t…but I definitely felt better afterwards.
I then posted a selfie to Twitter: post cold shower, post juice because it was after all a Twitter result – and now it has made it on my blog too.
It’s now afternoon and I’m having green tea and feeling sooo tired…and hoping tonight won’t be a repeat performance of last night.
People who have no problems sleeping…you have no idea how much I envy you.
When the stars peppered the skies, pinpricks of light in the silent night and the dark fabric of life,
you said I was beautiful – one of a kind –
by dawn you had changed your mind.