Tuesday, 17 May 2011

144. Add James Salter to your Must Read list

16th May 2011. I've been reading James Salter lately, an American author whose prose is capable of stopping you in your tracks. He's a former F-86 Sabre pilot who flew combat in the Korean War and this was the subject of his first book - "The Hunters". The book I've currently got on the go is his autobiographical "Burning the Days". I read it far too quickly the first time around but I'm taking my time with it now. I was pulled up short by one sentence in particular - he was describing a friend who'd died during WWII and he wrote, "His death was one of many and sped away quickly, like an oar swirl."  The image of that oar swirl receding in the wake of life was one that struck me forcibly. I found it such a powerful simile* and I struggle to imagine how he came up with it. His books repay slow careful reading - they can't be read in my usual rush. Here's an interview with the great man (from 1992). His books are well worth searching out.

* just realised it's not a metaphor.

Here's something you don't see every day.. It was the 100th anniversary last year of the birth of Django Reinhardt, the legendary gypsy guitarist. If three guitars are good - then surely a hundred would be fantastic.. non? Just as well Django didn't play the banjo then! Make your own mind up - listen here if the YouTube clip below doesn't work.

17th May 2011. Another perfect evening out on the river. This time it was an outing in an VIII sculler. Good outing in a well-balanced boat. Going up-river we had a warm breeze behind us that matched our speed so with the temperature at 26° (79°F), it was warm work. Coming back, it turned into a welcome headwind but despite that we romped home at a fine pace. Did 12km (Running total: 686km) Think I'll be just shy of the 1,000km mark (which is 621 miles - it sounds better in kilometres!) for the year which ends on 5th August.

18th May 2011. Quick trip over the border this morning to stock up the cellar with sangria et al ready for the summer. I passed through Ainhoa and already the first tourists to this honeypot Basque village were in evidence.

I haven't provided an update to the Chibby situation. If you've just joined us, Chibby is our cocker spaniel. Some friends here have a cocker spaniel bitch that's en chaleur at the moment and for the past 3 days Chibby has been extremely active in attempting to extend his lineage. So far he's had at least 50 attempts by my reckoning..! What do they say about a picture being worth a thousand words..?
20th May 2011. Pleased to see P & M yesterday - some friends who came down from Lacanau for the day. Madame excelled herself for lunch and so it was afterwards that we thought we'd add to the number of confused pensioners ambling around Biarritz in the late afternoon. We finished up at the Bleu Café, which is ideally situated on the sea front overlooking the Grande Plage. It must have been 28° at least and it was very pleasant watching and listening to the crash of the surf close by - think it was high tide. Here's some web cam views of the Grande Plage that may or may not work. Another one of the beach here.

Well spotted.. no rowing for me yesterday! Oh yes - and Chibby had a day off too!

Now that the warmer weather's here, the lizards are back! Walking around the neighbourhood you'll often hear the scurry and the rustle of quick little feet as you pass a sunlit garden wall. Lizards lie on warm stones soaking up the warmth of the morning sunshine and they disappear as quick as a flash when they sense someone approaching.

I was in the garden a few minutes ago when I heard a deep rumbling sound in the sky to the south. Not the usual Ryanair 737 or an Air France twin jet taking off from Biarritz airport.. No, this was an Airbus A380 - the new behemoth of the skies. I spotted it in the distance heading out to sea - and with the illusion of moving incredibly slowly. 
Very impressive.. first time I've seen one of these puppies..
Update on Chibby - Day 4. I think we have a result! In contrast to his previous 60 or so attempts over the last 4 days, this happened this afternoon. I'd not seen this before ever and the two dogs just stood there looking a bit bemused during what apparently is called a 'tie'. If all goes well, the litter should appear towards the end of July. Then the fun will really start!


Lesley said...

Our stupid dog is on permanent Lizard Duty. He has his head under the lavendar bushes in the extreme heat just in case a lizard has the temerity to scuttle there. Needless to say he has yet to get anywhere near one!

Piperade said...

We're lizard-free in our garden. Plus it would take a lot to make him interrupt his snooze in the afternoon.. especially this week! He has another date later on..!