Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Some of this loss is merely change: The tectonic plates of relationships shift perceptibly over time, subtly accomodating a changing environment. And the emotional geology moves so gently, so imperceptibly, so accomodatingly, there's no reason to pause,to articulate the difference.
But occasionally, there's rapid climate change, precipitating a catastrophic landslip. The familiar landscape one understood is gone forever. One's compass no longer points north. The map is missing. All one can do is acknowledge the disorientation until one determines to negotiate the new geography.
But whilst blundering about without a theodolite, one occasionally stumbles upon recognisable territory. Astonishingly, the landscape has regenerated in a richer, more fertile form. What was lost is reimagined as a brave new world. This is rare, of course. And precious. And whilst one is groping around trying to find a piece of paper on which to sketch a map of this eden, it's useful to consider what an arse Proust was when he wrote 'the only paradise is paradise lost'.
But of course, there is are things and people one can never regain, and when searching for their traces, there's more to be gained playing archaeologist than mapmaker.
All these weighty and much over-metaphored thoughts were inspired, as ever, by the superficial. One would never normally expect to start an archaeological expedition in Ferragamo, but that's where this meditation on loss and its legacy began.
Despite Mr Wilde insisting that only the truly serious could ever be deeply trivial, the substance of that meditation will have to wait for the next post. I've pulled something over-extending that metaphor, so I'll have to apply deep heat and take a handful of nurofen before I can summon the strength to kick out of the pretentious, oblique and portenteous prose I seem to have trapped myself in tonight. Hmmmm....
Saturday, 17 January 2009
"I hate the french and I hate France, Mummy" sobs Trefusis Minor at the start of his second week at the local Ecole Maternelle. "Why can't I just go to English school like everyone else?"
At the school gate we're surrounded by uber-sleek French Mamans and their tiny tadpoles, each of whom is more beautifully dressed than a Bonpoint ad, and all defying the skanky official W6 dresscode to look seriously Bon Chic, Bon Genre. One petit têtard has a mink lining to her anorak.
Neither TM nor I is looking BCBG. We're looking decidedly Hammersmith, having spent the time I would normally have spent making sure my clothes vaguely went together and my hair was brushed on talking TM down from the parapet. After going through four handkerchiefs drying his tears whilst persuading - bribing/begging delete as appropriate - him to leave the house, I find I can't face trying to get him into the Ralph-Lauren-Goes-Gallic outfit I'd chosen as sartorial camouflage, and he's defaulted to his preferred look of miniature snow-boarder.
Poor T.M. He hasn't inherited his father's obsessive francophilia. He wouldn't be going to the french school at all if any one of eleven local primary schools had a place for him. Mr Trefusis, franco-phone that he is, had put his name down for the French school three years previously, and by some miracle he got to the top of the list just as Hammersmith and Fulham were threatening to force us to send him to the only state school with places in the borough. A school in the middle of a sink estate with 85% of pupils speaking english as a second language. So we've sent him to a school where 99% of pupils speak english as a second language - the one percent being Trefusis Minor, of course- the difference I suppose being that they all speak the same first language and they wear Cyrillus rather than kevlar.
We tried to fast-track TM's french over the Christmas break, which resulted in nothing more than him speaking english with a comedy foreign accent. He sounded exactly like the policeman from 'Allo, 'Allo. He may have heard french spoken all his life, but he seems also to have a strong sense of national identity, and rejects the idea of speaking anything other than his mother tongue. Isn't four a little young for such teenage rebellion?
Oh dear. I hope what they say about children being hard-wired for language is true and that TM will suddenly cede to peer pressure and meet me at the school gate with a cheery 'Maman!'. I hate the thought of him sitting there in class not really knowing what's going on.
I know that a bi-lingual education is a good thing, and at least he won't have to learn 'Human, social and environmental understanding' rather than history and geography, but it doesn't make a new school easier to explain to a tearful Trefusis Minor.
Thursday, 15 January 2009
"Thank you, TM, that was very helpful. I'll be sure not to use too much of it then, shall I?" TM nods vigorously and I try to explain a bit about advertising which only results in a complicated and involved conversation about car ads, specifically the Honda one which is apparently stupid because "everyone knows a car can't transform into a robot". I wish account planners in ad agencies had TM in a focus group.
It's not the first time Trefusis Minor has taken an interest in advertising and branding: over Christmas he referred to a series of ticks on a page in a magazine as being 'sports signs'. It wasn't an ad for nike either. And he's always keen to recommend new household products he feels I might find useful, though having a fine understanding of his mother's personality and interests, he only ever points out those that promote themselves as being 'with silk' or 'the fragrance of black orchid' or whatever other nonsense they're putting into fabric softener these days. He's a good all round ad man, is TM: he's not just interested in the creative, he's also grasped the notion of targetting.