Thursday, April 22, 2010
rare, Lamborghini, La Cousine Bette
Growing wild in a neighbour's garden, a double lesser celandine. How rare it is, I do not know. But another neighbour recognises it as an oddity. It has the same leaves, as the ordinary lesser celandine, and the petals are of the same shape, but there are many more of them and they come in several tiers. A Google search doesn't cast any light on its rarity or on its existence elsewhere. But happening upon it provides a sense of excitement and discovery. Perhaps it is quite ordinary, but all the same ...
Parked in the High Street is a white Lamborghini with smoked glass windows. It is low slung and squat, streamlined like a fish. So low is it that other cars parked in line with it, even little Fiats and Volkeswagens, tower above it. Its number plate - 1DLV - almost certainly comprises its owners initials. Far from being envious by disposition, I am always glad to see such sample of excellence in design and engineering on public display and in use - on spotting the yellow and black parking notice on the windscreen, I have to admit, that a hint of schadenfreude sneaks in to my mind.
Since I was at school I have owned a copy of Cousin Bette by Balzac. But it is one of those books - my copy is a hard back which retains its pretty blue cover, and bears the price of the 6 shillings I must have paid for it. But although I tried on several occasions, I didn't succeed in getting beyond the first chapter. Now that I am several chapters into La Cousine Bette as it is called in French, I realize that the fault is attention deficit disorder on my part rather than prolixity on Balzac's. When I open Cousin Bette for the first time for 50 years, I notice that the edition is translated by the poet, Kathleen Raine, who happened to be the parent of a university friend of mine. An unexpected connection. Meanwhile, I have mixed feeling about having missed out for so long on one the greatest of French, nineteenth century novels. But I am glad to be reading it now for the first time, and in French, which I would not have thought myself capable of in my idle teenage years,