From “A Moveable Feast” by Hemingway

When I first read this book, I had never been to Paris; I was enchanted. I had read most of Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald though, and I followed their adventures in Paris with delight. When I did eventually go to Paris, I found that some of the cafés mentioned in the book, were no longer in existence. But of course, I loved it anyway.

Has anyone seen the movie “Midnight in Paris”? It’s a Woody Allen movie and covers the same sort of territory. Any writer, or reader, would love it.

‘It now began to rain heavily and we took refuge in the next village at a café. I cannot remember all the details of that afternoon but when we were finally in a hotel at must have been Chalon-sur-Saone, it was so late that the drug stores were closed. Scott had undressed and gone to bed as soon as we reached the hotel. He did not mind dying of congestion of the lungs, he said. It was only the question of who was to look after Zelda and young Scotty. I did not see very well how I could look after them since I was having a healthily rough time looking after my wife, Hadley and young son Bumby, but I said I would do my best and Scott thanked me. I must see that Zelda did not drink and that Scotty should have an English governess.

We had sent our clothes to be dried and were in our pajamas. It was still raining outside but it was cheerful in the room with the electric light on. Scott was lying in bed to conserve his strength for his battle against the disease. I had taken his pulse, which was seventy-two, and had felt his forehead, which was cool. I had listened to his chest and had him breathe deeply, and his chest sounded all right.

“Look, Scott,” I said. “You’re perfectly O.K. If you want to do the best thing from catching cold, just stay in bed and I’ll order us each a lemonade and a whisky, and you take an aspirin with yours and you’ll feel fine and won’t even get a cold in your head.”

“Those old wives’ remedies,” Scott said.

“You haven’t any temperature. How the hell are you going to have congestion of the lungs without a temperature?”

“Don’t swear at me,” Scott said. “How do you know I haven’t a temperature?”

“Your pulse is normal and you haven’t any fever to the touch.”

“To the touch,” Scott said bitterly. “If you’re a real friend, get me a thermometer.”

“I’m in pajamas.”

“Send for one.”‘

Can’t you just see the pair of them, bickering in their pajamas! Scott, here, reminds me of Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory.

More fun poems from way back when . . .

Fred by Horace Walpole

Here lies Fred,

Who was alive and is dead.

Had it been his father,

I had much rather;

Had it been his brother,

Still better than another;

Had it been his sister,

No one would have missed her;

Had it been the whole generation,

Still better for the nation.

But since it is only Fred,

Who was alive and is dead,

There’s no more to be said.

The Desired Swan-Song by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Swans sing before they die – ’twere no bad thing

Should certain persons die before they sing.

Stupidity Street by Ralph Hodgson

I saw with open eyes

Singing birds sweet

Sold in the shops

For the people to eat,

Sold in the shops of

Stupidity Street.

I saw in vision

The worm in the wheat,

And in the shops nothinjg

For people to eat;

Nothing for sale in

Stupidity Street.

You’d wonder why some of these poems were considered good enough for the school curriculum! I think I’ll have a look at love poems next . . .

A review | Broken Heart Attack by James J Cudney

Broken Heart Attack is the second in the Braxton Chronicles Series. When I read the first one, it was my first look into the world of Cosy Mysteries and I enjoyed the book very much. But this second one I loved.

The plot centres on the death of Gwendolyn Paddington, a friend of Kellar Ayrwick’s grandmother, Nana D. It’s a classic whodunnit involving several relatives and a will. Or were there two wills? And what about the rumours of an unknown child? Nana D insists that Kellar investigate as he has solved mysteries successfully before.  

Kellar is the main character and the story is told in the first person which always makes any  story more immediate. He comes across as warm and witty, a college professor and a family man, but also someone who doesn’t take life too seriously. His tone is jocular but as the story unfolded I began to wonder if this was all a front, if it was Kellar’s way of keeping the world at arm’s length. He has terrible problems to deal with in his family life and impossible decisions to make and I worried about him a lot.

His grandmother, Nana D is my favourite character; in fact she’s my new role model! When faced with situations in future I shall ask myself – what would Nana D do? (But I hardly ever get faced with situations!) Kellar also has an ex-wife and a little daughter, and parents and siblings.

(You hardly ever hear about a hero’s family. Who were James Bond’s parents? Did he have siblings/cousins/grandparents? It’s as if heroes arrive on earth wearing tuxedos and drinking martinis “whole and entire unto themselves”.

The other characters in this book are distinct and easy to remember. There’s a handy who’s who at the beginning of the book but I only used it a couple of times. There are plenty of plot twists and turns and the narrative rolls along with ease, keeping the reader on edge but making you smile at the same time:-

“Hints of a ferocious dog came to mind when his alarming expression and cold, dark pupils centred on his unsuspecting mother.”

“… and kept her short, spiky grey hair perfectly styled. I’d suspected at one time it was a wig, and if I ever had the chance I’d rip that sucker off to test my theory.”

 The dialogue was terrific especially between Kellar and Nana D:

“This better be important. I love you to pieces, Nana D, but I was dreaming about a warm, sunny beach full of calming waves and palm trees.”

“Get your patootie out of bed. The sun is on its way up and you’ve got a nurse to grill . . . “

They teased each other but they also relied on each other, not least for Nana D’s delicious desserts which Kellar relished.

The story is well paced and shaped, and I believed every word of it. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. It’s great when you enjoy a book and really like the characters, to know that you can spend more time in their very pleasant company.

WARNING by Jenny Joseph

I came across this poem a long time ago when I was fairly young and loved it. I found it inside a book the other day and thought I would share it, since now I AM that old woman! I expect a lot of you have already read it.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me,

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens

And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

And pay our rent and not swear in the street

And set a good example for the children.

We have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too surprised

When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.