“Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to speak French.”
Once again I borrow the words of PG Wodehouse, a fine writer who managed to be humorous and insightful at the same time.
I shall draw a veil over my own language skills, sufficient to note that the school system taught me French from the age of seven to the age of sixteen, and frankly, it didn’t stick. My late mother always said that it was because I couldn’t see the point of it so didn’t bother. She may have been right in this. She also taught me to read before I went to school and then wondered if she’d done the right thing as I seemed to have the attitude that once I could read, what else did I need to learn?
But I did learn. I got a decent old fashioned education that would have qualified me for a proper job. One with a salary, a pension, holidays and even time off, but somehow I never went down that road. I’ve farmed all my life, even now I genuinely enjoy hedging which combines the outdoors (admittedly in winter when it’s cold and wet) with a sort of four dimensional Tetris as you try and work out not only how the next tree will lay in, but how it’ll grow and fill out.
Perhaps because of my decent old fashioned education, in spite of everything that modern media and technology can offer, it’s been reading that has always been my preferred way of relaxing. At school, aged eleven, we even had a time at the end of lessons where, if you’d finished the work set, you were allowed to read. I remember sitting there, head propped in hands with my fingers over my ears, totally engrossed in the book.
I remember one occasion when suddenly this hand appeared, as someone blocked the page where I was reading. This had happened before, people used to think it was an amusing trick, but this time I reacted instinctively. I brought one of my hands down, hard, and slapped the offending hand in front of me.
I suppose I ought to have studied it for longer; had I done so it would probably have occurred to me that it was larger than my hand, and certainly larger than the hand of any other eleven year old I’d met. This only occurred to me after I’d made forceful contact and so I looked up, to see the headmaster looking down at me. Yes, I’d just slapped his hand and not softly.
Back then head teachers were just teachers who also did other stuff, not administrators tied to the office. I think he was just pleased to see a pupil who enjoyed reading, because he just smiled at me, called a giggling class to order and we went on with the next part of the lesson.
And now I’m not just reading; I’m writing stuff as well. I’ve got five fantasy books out there. They’re E-books and I confess I’m proud of them. But today, on the 1st March 2014, I actually have a book coming out in paperback with a proper publisher. Yes, Safkhet are publishing ‘Justice 4.1’ (Tsarina Sector).
The kindle edition is here
I’m writing this before it happens, so I can post it tomorrow morning and jolt everybody into going out there and buying it.
It is a strange feeling, the feeling that the world, for me, will change slightly. For billions of other people (probably everybody else actually) it’ll just be another Saturday. But for me it’s one of those milestones in life. Not one of the big ones like births, deaths, marriages, but significant in its own way.
But one thing that amuses me, after all these years, in spite of my utter inability to communicate meaningfully in French, Justice 4.1 is out there, on Amazon.Fr
French without tears indeed.