Sunday, 28 February 2010

Epiphany (without Carmen rollers)



After hedgehogging the other day at the acupuncturist's J. and I went for a light lunch in the centre of Montpellier.

Conversation was lively, mostly about where he'd stuck his needles, what ghastly jellop he'd prescribed and the consummate and extraordinarily courteous discretion with which he lifts the waistband of your underlinen, but I'm ashamed to say my attention was partly diverted by the girl who was sitting at the next table, back to back with J.

I wouldn't like to be associated with King James II as 'the most unguarded ogler of his time' (a criticism I discovered earlier this week), but I found it difficult to take my eyes off her hair, which was the only part of her that was visible, really.

Several years ago I finished The Night Music, my only novel to date, and please don't think of this as a plug, because it's now out of print. The heroine, Claire, had various characteristics cogged and compiled from girls and women I'd known more or less closely, in real life (if there is such a thing) or in books, which I recognised was a bit of a cop-out. Claire had long blonde curly - no, but really curly - hair down to her waist. I took her appearance from a version I had of the King Arthur stories, where there was a woodcut of Isolde. It's the one above, in which she and Tristram have drunk a love potion intended for somebody else, on their fatal voyage to Ireland (which for my purposes I transferred to the Isle of Wight ferry). I had never seen hair like it on any living woman. Did such hair actually exist? Wouldn't it have been the very devil to comb? Was I taking a big risk in featuring something I didn't have first-hand knowledge of?

Then suddenly at the next table in the crêperie there she was, with hair exactly as I'd imagined it. I felt completely vindicated. Relieved, too. Or maybe that was the effect of having all those needles pulled out?

26 comments:

Dave said...

I understand that plugging your novel on your own blog is not only allowable, but also compulsory.

I believe you are the only reader of my blog to have actually read my book.

Rog said...

I never talk about all my books. I haven't even finished colouring some of them in.

The Isle of Wight Ferry pulls out of the Needles does it not?

Vicus Scurra said...

I hate to be critical, but your second paragraph was somewhat ambiguous. I am sure that there was not a lady at the next table as you were having your nether regions examined.
But, there again, I am not familiar with French practices.

Sarah said...

Enegry flows where attention goes....so I keep telling Dave anyway.
You were bound to bring that vision of lovelyness to you...thinking about it so much.

I should go steady on the Monkshood if I were you.

Christopher said...

I wish I hadn't mentioned it now, Dave. I'm much happier plugging other peoples' books. Your My Dear Sally is neatly sandwiched between Osgood Mackenzie's mostly autobiographical A Hundred Years in the Highlands and Hugh Ross Williamson's Catherine de Medici. The best part of sandwiches is always the filling.

Rog: You're past dot-to-dot books, then? And I suppose most Isle of Wight ferry passengers will avoid the Needles, especially those that have got a ticket to Ryde.

Vicus: As a seasoned royal watcher Honi soit qui mal y pense will not be unfamiliar to you.

Do you ever take in proof reading?

Sarah: As usual you're spot on with your very pertinent observations. I was totally obsessed with her at one time, like Pygmalion with Galatea.

Knowing nothing about aconite, I've just read up about monkshood, wolfsbane etc. and am so perturbed I may not be able to finish thi

Sarah said...

LOL

Z said...

My daughter, in her teens, had a friend with astonishing long, curly, black hair, just like that of Charles II. I assume the late king's was a wig, but hers wasn't.

UberGrumpy said...

It was a wig. They're a vain lot in Mntpellier.

Published novel? Top job

I, Like The View said...

the characters in my novel have to have hair? oh crikey, you're upping the ante Christopher

crêperie - yum!

Christopher said...

I see we're going all Royal Stuart, Z. Are you wearing tartan today?

UG: Top job? Wigs usually are, tho' I understand chest wigs have occasionally known some popularity. I doubt if any members of this couthy little blog circle have ever indulged, particularly as I don't think they're available on the NHS. But I'm open to correction.

I: But of course! Not forgetting, naturally, that in the country of the bald the one-haired man is king.

And creperies, yes, yum. (For some reason Blogger is refusing circumflexes today.) The one we usually go to uses buckwheat flour and they're perfectly delicious.

Spadoman said...

So, how did the acupuncture treatment work out?

Christopher said...

Bit early to tell yet, Spadoman, thank you for asking. The aconite made me feel really ill to start with, but I'm persisting and things are improving. I haven't sneezed since the last needle came out, but then I haven't tried the system to the full, with rice pudding and other delights.

Really enjoying The Great Spadoman Odyssey over at your place. When are you going to do Europe?

Pax vobiscum.

Sarah said...

Christopher, Christopher...guess what...as I was driving my little Citroen-roof down...is she mad I hear you cry...had the dog in the car,bit smelly...anyway....I saw this woman with long blond hair, down to her butt, all curlylike.....well blow me down I thought, I must tell Christopher..(can I call you Chris by the way? it takes f...... ages to type Christopher every time)
That's it....it seemed quite exciting at the time! LOL

oh by the way you must persist with the herbal/homeopathic remedies....you feel worse before you feel better!

Christopher said...

Yes, yes, anything, Sarah....who was she? How old was she? How did she carry herself? What was she wearing?

People are going to start seeing Claires - my character - everywhere now. It's going to be like Dorian Grey, like Cathy Earnshaw, like Giselle, like some other lover whose name I've forgotten who turned out to be a ghost... this is really exciting!

Terrible headache tonight. I expect it's the wolfsbane.

Dave said...

I have checked. There is no-one in Norfolk with long blonde hair.

Other than Rick Parfitt, from Status Quo, of course.

Christopher said...

Thank you, Dave, most kind, and you seem to have taken your popular culture off the bottom rung, but if it's a dream (or ghost) lover with long blonde curls we're looking for, please don't feel obliged to do more than lie in bed and let it happen. One can take empirical research only so far. (I was going to write a posteriori but feared some of my more earthy visitors might misinterpret this.)

zIggI said...

This reminds of a story told by Himself. He too could see the long flowing beautiful blond locks of a woman sitting at a table not far from him whilst he was having a meeting. So distracted was he that eventually the person he was having the meeting with turned around to see what Himself was so fascinated by. On seeing the back the 'hair' he yelled across "Oy Kev, another one here thinks your a woman now turn round and put him out of his misery!"

So Chris, are you sure it wasn't Kev?

zIggI said...

(Chris apologies! I know I ended a sentence with a preposition (please don't tell Dave) and that blonde is spelled incorrectly - I don't see these things whilst I'm typing but I get my new glasses soon! That will surely help with grammar and spelling)

Christopher said...

This is the sort of embarrassment that can happen so easily if you go to meetings, Zigs. When I retired, or 'came out' if that's your preference, I promised myself never to go to another meeting. And I haven't and it's been a wonderful taste of true liberty.

(What is it you're drinking in your image? I'm sure I'd know if I'd paid proper attention. It looks like Swarfega.)

zIggI said...

ah that is a locally brewed green beer as served at the annual locally hosted scarecrow festival for locals.

Christopher said...

Lo-cal beer, I expect, too. Is it on draught at your local?

*bets she can't keep this up*

Dave said...

Oh, and Ziggo, another little error in that comment was that 'your' should be 'you're', as in: one consolation is that you'll get the eye test free now that your optician thinks you're a pensioner?

Christopher said...

You're right, Dave, they don't teach grammer like they done in days of your.

zIggI said...

'your' instead of 'you're' is a colloquialism round 'ere and colloquial is also spelt colLOCALly here abouts.

Christopher said...

I see. How ingenious. So 'Ziggi' in you're part of the world means 'fag' or 'gasper'?

How does it feel to be shining the flaming torch of learning into dark places?

Z said...

Even better, there's a village called Gasper not too far from Ziggi, isn't there?