Saturday 15 October 2011


Three and a half years after starting at the french school, Trefusis Minor can now pass for a natural born têtard, slipping in and out of French and English without skipping a beat. All the tears and 'don't leave me Mummy's are a thing of the past, and he now reads more fluently in French than he does in English.

At home, only Mr Trefusis is permitted to speak french to him: if I offer a few words, or join in if the conversation round the supper table is in french as it often is, I get a look of withering scorn mixed with pity - 'Please don't try, Mummy, it sounds really horrible: tu vas casser mes oreilles.' he says. If Mr Trefusis sticks up for me (as he mostly does) and tells Trefusis Minor that my french is perfectly good, if strongly accented, Trefusis Minor will concede, begrudgingly, that I don't sound as bad as his English teacher, who really does 'break his ears'.

Anyway, the gallification of Trefusis Minor extends to extra-curricular activities too: after-school clubs are called 'Atelier' which makes them sound impossibly grand, quite as if he's going to come home and start pinning a toile on me for a couture frock. Hope springs eternal, I suppose.

But it's true, isn't it, that everything sounds more elegant in French - last term's Atelier was 'Jeux de Societé' which sounds like experimental sociology but seemed to mostly involve learning how to play Connect 4 and Draughts. This term, his favourite atelier is cooking: does he come home with the droopy peppermint creams, rock buns and butterfly cakes I remember learning in cookery as a child? He does not. So far, he has learned how to make a clafoutis, madeleines, financiers, and some kind of small savoury tart. I fully expect him to be working his way up to a croquembouche, or to suddenly appear with a selection of tiny macarons to rival Pierre Hermé or Ladurée.

I think this should be greatly encouraged - if he keeps it up, he'll be able to make the Tiniest Trefusis' birthday cake - in a few years, I might even be able to earn back the school fees by hiring him out for dinner parties.

Wednesday 5 October 2011


I seem to have conquered the insomnia, for which relief much thanks. Someone suggested I might be hungry, which seemed an absurd idea, til I tried eating dinner very slightly later, and drinking some hot milk before bed, and then it was suddenly seven a.m. and I'd not woken once and all that day my synapses snapped and sang with delight at not having my thoughts mediated through a fog of dull exhaustion.

I am very much hoping I shall stay sleeping soundly from now on, and plan to read this wonderful Fleur Adcock poem every night in bed as a talisman to ward off further bouts of insomnia.

There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public.
There are worse things than these miniature betrayals,
committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things
than not being able to sleep for thinking about them.
It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in
and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse

and worse.