Monday, 31 August 2020

Rats as big as cats

Homage to Catalonia You have to admire the courage of war correspondents, the journalists who place themselves in the middle of a conflict in order to bring us reports of the fighting and destruction and its effects on citizens. In December 1936, six months after the start of the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell travelled to Spain "with some notion of writing newspaper articles". Unlike today's reporters he went a step further. He promptly joined the militia, "because at that time and in that atmosphere it seemed the only conceivable thing to do". It's rather a lame explanation, ill-considered and reckless considering what happened next.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Excusing Barbara Cartland

I had a good laugh at Barbara Cartland's expense after finishing Mission to Monte Carlo. I texted my literary chum who sniggered, thanks for the heads up, just in case I have a lobotomy and reach for one of her tomes. Why would anyone ever read a Barbara Cartland?

I emailed my sister next, chortling that my IQ had dropped several points. She said that our nan used read the fuchsia-frocked novelist's books. Really? I paused to consider what this working class woman born in the first decade of the 20th century might see in the candy floss stories.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Romantic fiction or psychological manipulation?

Mission to Monte Carlo I just read my first, and last, Barbara Cartland book, Mission to Monte Carlo. It's a piece of romantic fluff set at the turn of the 20th century and so absurd that I had to imagine it was a parody of itself in order to get to the end. But while I sniggered through its seven chapters, the "happy" ending left me uneasy and fearful for the future of its heroine. I know it's only fiction, but hear me out.

Spoiler Alert

Every Barbara Cartland story, so I'm led to believe, follows the same basic plot. In Mission in Monte Carlo it's this: A man who's had lots of affairs but never been in love, saves an inexperienced girl who's under pressure to offer up her virginity in exchange for secret information. The handsome man and the timid virgin fall in love spontaneously. They marry. The end.

Here's my problem. Our leading man Craig, a millionaire playboy, removes all agency from his supporting actress Aloya in what looks to me like gaslighing.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

After lockdown

I stirred when the sun came through the shutters, casting golden dashes on the wall. The bed was silent and empty, the Dog asleep on the sofa. I was alone with a thick head, although I'd slept well. Probably the heat, maybe the Aperol Spritz and glass of red wine I had yesterday evening; nothing compared to what I used to drink, but now it's more than usual.

It's best to go for a walk in the cool morning air, fewer people around, no traffic. You can hear the birds before the clamour of the day starts. On the horizon hovered an ugly blemish on an otherwise silver sea. It was heading for Villefranche. So that's where the gangs of tourists are coming from! The cruise ships are running again, this one from Genoa. As I watched the monstrous spectre a sound other than bird song hit my ears. An aeroplane. When did I last hear an aeroplane? There's usually so much noise that they're inaudible, but at 6.30am it boomed from behind the mountains and roared overhead, the sun reflected from its undercarriage.

Perhaps there was a brief moment of time during lockdown when the world was a better, more peaceful place.