Showing posts from July, 2020

Writer's block and happy accidents

Every now and again, my imagination crashes. Just like when your computer does it, it freezes half way through a task and refuses to get going again, no matter what I do to try to re-engage it. It happened to me last week when I wanted to plan this post. Nothing. You may have noticed it, not sitting there at the foot of the page. No "next time..." Usually, by the time I'm posting a piece, I know what I want to write about next time. I might struggle to get the words together in the right order, but I'll have a fairly clear idea of what I want to say. This was different; I didn't have a clue what I wanted to write. I started to feel some solidarity with Old Mother Hubbard, staring into the cavernous void of her nursery-rhyme larder and finding only anxiety about what to do next. Entertaining can be a bit like that, too. You've invited friends over and you're deciding what to serve, but nothing seems quite right. One thing's a bit heavy for the season, a

Un Chant d'Amour: a love-song to France

This week, France celebrates its national feast. Bastille Day (usually known simply as le quatorze juillet in French) marks the storming of the hated prison in Paris, a key moment in the beginning of the Revolution. The events of 1789 did not remove the King - that would come later - and France would know more troubles yet, including new tyrants and further revolutions. However, the events of that 14th July capture the imagination and fire a people's love of their country like no other date in its history. France gets under your skin. The language has a musicality about it; it feels wonderful in the mouth. You can say things a variety of ways, but the elegantly-constructed sentence will always draw praise. Education is prized for its own sake, not just as a means to a job. Manners are greatly appreciated, and formality is valued. The pace of life is different, and that's as true in the big cities as it is in the rural areas. Friends call in on one another in the early evening,

Summer Wine

"Strawberries, cherries and an angel's kiss in spring: My summer wine is really made from all these things..." So sang Nancy Sinatra in Lee Hazelwood's magnificently weird tale of seduction and theft. We are indeed in the season of soft fruits and osculation, but I prefer my summer when it tastes of well-tended vines in good soil and sunshine. Call me unadventurous if you must. Summer leisure is all about sitting out in the sunshine, watching the cricket, tennis or even the boating. It's about picnics, evenings in the garden, open-air theatre and opera; music festivals, barbecues and skinny-dipping. To my mind, the wines we drink need to reflect the colour, the joy and the lightness of the warm months. There are certain wines that just feel right. On the other hand, there are some wines that, however popular, never seem to fit for me. We all have our preferences, and I'd like to share mine. I hope you enjoy my suggestions. Rosé Wine that matches the colour of