Embarrassment is a topic which comes up from time time in conversations with an old friend who often visits Best of Now. He used to admit to frequent embarrassment. I used to claim never to experience it. I can no longer make that claim. Embarrassment has caught up with me over the years.
A recent instance: I come across in the Oxfam second hand bookshop a book called Avec Marcel Proust by Jaques Benoit-Méchin. It sounds intriguing. The author met Proust as a very young man, when he asked to be allowed to translate A la Recherche du temps perdu into German. This was in 1922, and Proust, his great work just about complete, granted the young man's request and suggested that he write an essay on the novel into the bargain. Six months later Proust died and the book, which I have just acquired, is I find based on the essay which Benoist-Mechin would have written at the time, but did not publish until 1977. Its value is reinforced by a handwritten note to the previous owner on the frontispiece which says : "I have been told by those that have read it that it is quite marvellous."
I have as yet barely opened it myself, but curious about the author, I google for a minute or two to discover that the author was a well known Nazi collaborator and was imprisoned at the end of World War 2. It will not deter me from reading the book but I cannot help feeling, even if it as good as it sounds, that I will not enjoy it as much as I would have done, if I had remained ignorant of the author's inclinations. Embarrassed? Yes, a little because I was intially so pleased with my discovery.
In the Grove, four or five teenage boys and girls climb into a tree and cluster among the branches. Now they hang upside down on the swinging boughs with their legs, now they
hug the trunk with their arms . As I watch them I see the arboreal animals from which we are all descended at play, and imagine that I hear the voice of David Attenborough, describing their antics.