Monday, October 5, 2009

October 5, 1936

Well, I'm back from the seashore. The little house was not clean. And its charms were meagre. It was fairly cosy, I'll give it that. Perhaps it was the very, very low ceilings. But it had a lovely view, perched right above the sea. And as I lay in my bed the first night - in a bed certainly designed for the proportions of elves, and with sheets half the size of the coverlet; I had to coil myself like a viper, lest my nether regions go exposed or all of me plop over the edge and onto the carpet - I did have a lovely vision of the moon - golden, translucent - floating low over its shimmering mirror of a limpid sea. Heavenly, that moon. And, oh, how well-made, how perfectly set it was for romance! One felt the very shiver of it, a quivering of incipient amour. And there I was, in a house perfectly brimming with fairies!

Oh, I live and work in the world of music and the theatre and the cinema, so I'm completely entourée des pensées, as it were. I do love all my dear pansy friends. We have so much to speak of, always. Certainly the most important things, the theatre and the latest fashions. But pluck them from their accustomed "flower beds" and they don't add up to much, I'm afraid. Why, down by the shore my pretty boys were completely hopeless. Oh, they lit fag after fag the weekend through, so they are not altogether unfamiliar with the process of setting things alight, but not one of them had the smallest idea as to how to build a fire in the grate. I had to do it! And do it marvelously, I did. It was a perfect Greek temple of a pile of firewood. Architecturally sound, it was, too. And it burned like anything! It surprises me that I'm so often very good at these practical and earthy sort of things. I must possess an actual instinct of some kind; who would have guessed it? I can't imagine where it comes from. I thought anything practical or in any way useful had been bred out of me! Oh, la! But there does appear to be something there. Some wee link to an uncivilised past. Oh, dear. But I'm sure I'd have made some sweet Neanderthal the most brilliant little wife.

Oh, but the weekend was tedious. Nothing at all to do, but endless games of patience. Cigarettes and gossip. And we hadn't thought to bring even one fashion pictorial! Or any real food. Not that any of us would have known what to do with it; I'm sure my aforementioned instincts would never extend to a lump of fish or a lamb chop. So we just nibbled at a bit of dry cheese and some biscuits. Of course I brought two cases of Veuve Clicquot so that we shouldn't perish.

The skies were pretty and blue, but descending to the plage proved perilous. On Saturday I got myself up in that delicious Patou sailor outfit I mentioned. I thought, well, I'm dying of boredom, it's sunny and fairly warm, so I'll just take myself out for a wee constitutional. Mais, quelle horreur! The wind whipped about me, tearing at my clothes, blowing off my poor, sweet little hat. The horrid sea-smelling air - too, too coarse - tore at my delicate nostrils. But I am no coward, so I trudged on manfully, the high heels of my sandals sinking further with every step, the ghastly salt air blowing sand into every moist crevice I possess. I thought I must die of exposure! After what seemed ages, perhaps two minutes, I turned round and ran back, stumbling, to the cottage, and threw myself onto the floor in tears. I was chafed, blotchy from the burning sun, and red-eyed. And worst, my hair had been swirled into some sort of hideous, felted thing! I looked positively Ethiopian. And now, I will have to have my hair re-set!


Penny Prévert said...

Mother, it sounds like you've had quite a seaside adventure. But must you make fun of the poor fairies and Ethiopians? Honestly!

Madeleine Prévert said...

Darling, mummy wasn't making fun! Why, I would never do such a thing - why must you be so beastly? My dearest, dearest friends are most often those of the "third sex". Mummy loves the fairies. You know that very well. I even know some lez-z-zbians! I would never make fun. And the Ethiopians...well...I suppose I don't actually know any.... But you know I haven't the slightest bit of race or class prejudice. As long as everyone stays where they belong; it's so much cosier that way. And I wasn't making fun. I'm sure they have darling clothes that go perfectly with the hair and that they, therefore, look - marvelous!

Madeleine Prévert said...

Oh, and before any terribly pedantic linguist scolds me, let me say that I'm quite aware that the French do not use the word "pensée" as I have done. I have made a literal translation of "pansy". Pansy like the flower. Which I think is sweet, don't you? I am an artist, after all, and feel I should be allowed some latitude with the language. But, no, it is not a literal translation. So I do apologize to the French, who are so rarely literal in anything. Which is another reason why we find them so very charming. And confusing.