‘It is the way with all men and women who reach middle age without the clear perception that life never can be thoroughly joyous: under the vague dullness of the grey hours, dissatisfaction seeks a definite object, and finds it in the privations of an untried good.’
PG Woodhouse, after he had sealed and stamped a letter, would throw it out of his London club window. He had such confidence in the good nature of his fellow citizens. I had one of my busy days in town. It was a mixture of Chico Chica-related business (organising shows for the new five piece band), meeting a friend for lunch, browsing shops (books, clothes, guitars) and then catching up with another friend for drinks in the evening. All that time I had a borrowed library copy of George Eliot’s Silas Marner in my pocket and somewhere, I lost it. It was probably on a bus. There was no need to worry because whoever found the book will simply put it in a jiffy bag and post it to the library. I’m still waiting but I still believe in the innate goodness of human nature. Maybe it fell down a drain or something.
Many years ago I lost a copy of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot on the 237 bus. I had to make a one hour journey to Fulwell bus garage to pick it up. After I spoke to the man on reception he rolled his eyes shouted back: ‘A bloke here has come for the idiot book’. Distant chuckles. Once I lost Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and I remember the last word I read: enceinte. It was the very last word of the first chapter and one on which the whole story pivoted. In August this year, Chico Chica may be performing in France and I plan to read Madame Bovary and Stendhal’s La Chartreuse de Parme as way of getting in the spirit of things. By that I mean, getting a feel for the language, not stealing doctors’ wives though if the opportunity presented itself I might consider it.
As an experienced reader, I often ask myself what are the most famous classic novels I’ve never read. Novels are famous for a reason so it’s an interesting list to ponder. It includes all Proust, the Brontes, Gogol, Gissing and Sands; there’s Joyce’s Ullyses and lots of Henry James. And a few weeks ago there was George Eliot’s Silas Marner.
All I knew of the story was that it was about a miser. Last year I read another story about a miser, Balzac’s Eugenie Grandet. But in that there was no redemption. On his deathbed, M. Grandet was calculating the value of the priests silver cross while he was receiving the last rites. But Silas Marner comes right in the end. It is exactly what I expected, a good old-fashioned story and told in way that makes it timeless, entertaining and instructive. The introduction in the Everyman Library edition is by Rosemary Ashton. It’s best to read this at the end because she gives the plot away.
Chico Chica have an interesting show 1pm, Saturday 17th May, Enfield, Herts. It’s part of a community event and my sister Margaret will be giving a talk there. I have copied the details below:
The event’s purpose is both to open Forty Hall Farm to the local community, and also to celebrate the work of the Pioneer Health Centre, a unique experiment in community health and wellbeing. There will activities taking place all day, suitable for children and adults of all ages.
The day will feature a series of talks and discussions about the Pioneer Health Centre and its relevance to the way we eat, learn and live today. With local speakers and others in the know, including Andrew Simms (nef, author of ‘Cancel the Apocalypse’), Ruth Potts and Molly Conisbee (Bread, Print and Roses), Christopher Trotter (chef and cookery writer); Julia Clarke (Prince of Wales Primary School) and Margaret Hannah (Deputy Director of Public Health, NHS Fife).
The Festival is a celebration of a pioneering experiment in community health, known as the Pioneer Health Centre, and all of the community groups, people and clubs that make Enfield tick today. The Forty Hall Farm Field Kitchen will be serving drinks and snacks throughout the day, with fresh produce from the fields of Enfield.
There will be free entry all day.
This event is being sponsored and organised by the Pioneer Health Foundation – a small charity that exists to keep alive the spirit of the Pioneer Health Centre. You can read more about the Centre at www.thephf.org