A limbless donkey, the ‘C’ Word and Crimes against Art and Literature.

Without wishing for the main part of summer to be over already, I can’t help thinking about some lovely plans that we have in September and whilst I am wholeheartedly impatient for them to arrive, I realise that in wanting them to be here, I am effectively already writing off the whole of August.


Firstly, we are having some very good friends to visit during the first week of September, whom we have not seen for some time, excepting a very brief get together in February.  Brief get together’s are very pleasant, of course, but they really are not sufficient, for indeed my friend and I can talk the hind legs off a donkey when we are together, in fact, I’d go as far to say that where my friend is concerned, that poor donkey would be entirely limbless. She will take no offence at this, she knows it to be true and she also knows that I love her dearly and truly, never wishing to change a single thing about her. We have been friends for more than 35 years and she truly is one of the loveliest people I know. Both she and her husband are very dear friends to me and naturally also to my husband too. I am very much looking forward to welcoming them back to our home soon.

Once our guests have departed, we have waved them off and that their car is just a distant, retreating speck, we will be able to say “Thank Christ for that” and do a little celebratory dance of joy that we have our house back to ourselves….I’m joking of course. We will turn our attentions to our forthcoming trip just two days later. We will be setting off for Spain for another six wonderful days visiting Roses, Tamariu, Aiguablava, Begur, Sa Tuna and Calella de Palafrugell, though not necessarily in that order. We will be meeting up with friends both in Roses and further down the coast and it is shaping up to be a thoroughly sociable week. Also, I can’t wait to be near the sea again, hearing the waves crash against the rocks, feeling the soft sand between my toes, waking up each day to a wonderful view of deep blue skies, the glittering blue Meditteranean sea and dense greenery as far as the eye can behold. For me, the northern part of the Costa Brava and its many coves and seaside towns are amongst some of the loveliest places I have ever visited. I have been to Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives as well as many other places, and whilst I love these exotic, far flung countries for both their stunning scenery and their diverse cultures I can honestly say that my heart is in Spain. Thankfully my husband agrees and as you probably already know by now, it is our full intention to make Spain our future home.

However, none of these things will be happening just yet so I am waiting and rather impatiently counting the days for our next events.

I also recently, rather guiltily, used the ‘C’ word!

Yes, that’s right ‘Christmas’ was uttered in my household during the height of a summer heatwave! I am sure that this must be a punishable offence, perhaps one that incurs a public flogging or being left in the stocks and pillory for a day so that the towns folk can cover me liberally with previously unwanted Christmas gifts of talcum powder and shame me by making we wear Christmas decorations in last seasons colours.  To be fair, my mention of the ‘C’ word, was innocuous enough. It was in a message to my sister-in-law enquiring what plans they had for this Christmas and New Year and wondering if they fancied joining us again in France.  Obviously, with me being a complete control freak, this is not the sort of thing that could be organised last minute so an early suggestion has been put forth, though knowing my brother and my sister-in-law, because the message contains the word ‘Christmas’ it probably won’t even be read until late October or possibly even November. They have adapted a very fine way of prioritising things since they had their little girl and life became ever much more chaotic. Everything that should have been completed last month, will now be moved up to top current priority, anything that is due this month will be late (how late? is anyone’s guess) and anything that is not even on the perceptible horizon simply does not exist yet, apart from perhaps in some parallel universe.

As well as writing, planning trips to Spain and irritating my family by being so infuriatingly organised, I have just finished reading a brilliant book by Alain de Botton called ‘The Art of Travel’.

If you haven’t already picked it up, then I can thoroughly recommend it. It is masterfully written and I imagine very relatable to a great many people since it covers such a diversity within the topics of both Art and Travel. I particularly liked the notion (though not a specific inference) that as a ‘writer’ one could effectively consider themselves an artist too, for it is possible to describe a scene, a place, a person or an object with such intensity that the reader can conjure up a mental image that is so strong they might be looking at a picture. I loved this idea, for I have always struggled very much to produce an actual piece of art. I am simply no good at drawing. My artistic preferences have always been based on realism rather than expressionism so for me, I always hankered after illustrative correctness rather than the abstract. With my persistent lack of talent in this area, I have always failed miserably to produce a decent piece of art. Perhaps one day I will take a different approach to it and something will connect, in the meantime, however, I am more than happy being a wordsmith and describing what I see.

One day, several years ago, on a visit back to Kent, I met up with one of my very best friends and we decided to visit the much lauded Turner Centre in Margate to take a peek at the Tracy Emin exhibition which: featured an eclectic range of drawings, sculptures and tapestries on themes including love, sex and eroticism

Well, if I’m being entirely honest with you, contemporary art is not really my thing. I just don’t get it. I can’t look at an old stained mattress with a bronze cast branch on it and feel anything, other than, is someone taking the piss? I don’t understand the subtleties. This is not the fault of the artist, of course, obviously, I am just one of perhaps many people who can’t connect with the empathy, suggestion and intention of art. There was also a room full of ‘pictures’ that I couldn’t really make any sense of. I’m not trying to be rude but it looked like someone had just scribbled on every page of a giant Flip Pad, almost like someone had thought to themselves on a Sunday evening “Shit, I’ve got that exhibition to put on tomorrow, I’d better get cracking” and then spent the next twenty minutes scribbling away, then stood back and thought “Yeah, that will probably do”. To be honest it’s the sort of thing that I would do. I know I must sound like a complete philistine, trouncing the hard work of an established artist but like I said I just don’t get it. During our visit and what with the Turner centre being a very quiet and serious place, I couldn’t help but get a fit of the giggles. I tried to stop it but the more I tried, the worse it got, I had to put my hand over my mouth to stop myself from making any noise and tears were literally streaming down my face. My friend kept telling me to pull myself together which, if anything, just made matters worse. At one point I was crying with laughter so much and still stifling my outbursts with my hand, that an usher at the Turner centre mistook me for a sensitive devotee and offered me a tissue and a little supportive squeeze of my arm all the while saying “Her work is so beautiful isn’t it” whilst giving a little nod of their head to convey their full understanding of my current emotion. It took every ounce of available energy in my body not to pee myself right there and then and absolutely shriek with hysterical laughter. It still makes me laugh just to think about it.

So, getting back to the book ‘The Art of Travel’ by Alain de Botton, of course, the happiness and contentment of having enjoyed such a brilliant piece of writing as a ‘reader’ will often usher forth enormous discontentment, disillusionment and a crisis in confidence from the ‘writer’ within me,  when I find myself thinking “Why can’t I write like that?” and “Do I even have the right to be using the term ‘writer’ and ‘wordsmith’ when it comes to describing what it is that I do?”.

Though, as I recently said to a friend, I do then quickly have to remind myself that the world needs all sorts of writers, at all levels of capabilities, with all manner of material. Thankfully the sanity saving grace for me will always be the international popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey (or ‘Fifty Shades of Shite’ as my husband calls it)  and its subsequent sequels. From this, I can only assume that there is still hope for any of us budding writers to carve out an audience.

I’m sure the now multi-billionaire-authoress of this trilogy will be entirely unperturbed by my comments.

Now, I’m not saying that I look down on anyone that has succumbed to the curiosity of reading any of the ‘Grey’ trilogy and actually ‘confessed’ to having enjoyed the experience but what I will say, is that I often have a little chuckle to myself with my very own little fantasy of each and every FSOG fan having their own Septa Unella wandering behind them for the rest of eternity, ringing her bell and uttering “Shame, Shame, Shame”.  If you don’t watch ‘Game of Thrones’ then, unfortunately, this very idea is probably lost on you, in which case “Shame”.

courtesy of memegenerator.net


Mind you, all those stark Septa Unellas and all those clanging of bells could get pretty noisy. I read somewhere that the trilogy has already sold more than 125 million copies in 52 different languages, which is pretty damn impressive and I suppose I shouldn’t really judge too harshly for I have not personally read any of the books, though I did read an excerpt once in a magazine and decided that I could not even begin to bring myself to read an entire book. This is not from any prudish standpoint I might add, I would have no problem devouring the sex scenes and keeping an open mind to the sadomasochism it was the criminally awful writing that I couldn’t have punished myself with. I read perhaps 500 words during this excerpt and was so pleased when it came to an end. That said, ANYONE who is a published author and indeed one so extremely internationally successful undoubtedly has far more right to a claim of being a writer than I do.

And on this note, I will leave it at that for this week:

A quote from author J.K.Rowling back in 2012, on the success of Fifty Shades of Grey.

“Just think how many books I could have sold if Harry had been a bit more creative with his wand.” J.K.Rowling

Until next week.

The Virtual Recluse


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