Monday, March 02, 2009
roof-mates, L'esprit de l'escalier, visitor
In the pub we are talking about the rival merits of Melbourne and Sydney. I admit not to have visited Melbourne, but recall that on a ferry in Sydney Harbour once, I head a woman say to her son, that Sydney was "the arse-hole of Australia". "Where are you from?" I had asked her. "Melbourne" she'd said. "So much for Sydney!" I say. " What you should have said," says my pub companion, quick off the mark is: "Just passing though, then?"
This morning from the telephone wire outside our bedroom window a sparrow peeps in. It flies off and the wire swings up and down.
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I'd never noticed that pigeons have pink feet before viewing your photograph.
Learn something new every day!
I'm using that line. Made my day.
I never knew (still don't know) what l'esprit d'escalier means. In a press party in Tokyo I cornered a French journalist and asked. Not only did she not know, she'd never heard the phrase and I was rewarded with a look of pure loathing. As when I told another French woman that my favourite French verb was arquebuser (to kill with an arquebus) although in that instance I was told the word didn't exist.
L'esprit de l'escalier is the brilliant retort that only occurs to one, when it is too late to make it. The staircase suggests the characteristic parisian immeubles or apartment buildings. I first came across the phrase in A la Recherche du temps perdu, but an hour spent looking for the precise point where it occurs has proved fruitless.
L'esprit... I'll try and remember it as The Delayed Rejoinder. Hasn't there been some discussion recently in the less-than-popular prints about an equivalent English phrase?
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