Monday, 9 August 2010

O-O-O-Olivia


Most mornings we watch the French TV breakfast programme 'Télématin'. It's streets ahead of the BBC breakfast magazine, which we watch with deep disappointment whenever we come over to the UK: its concept is lively, colourful, far-ranging and fast-moving, with expert contributors, serious and light-hearted, throwing in their glittering two centimes-worth under the paternal eye of its chief presenter (and owner), William Leymergie. After a dose of Télématin you start the day light of foot and high of spirit, which is more than ever happens, to me anyway, with the wooden Bill Turnbull and the frumpish Sian Williams.

M. Leymergie is on holiday at the moment, but he still sends in occasional book reviews from his seaside resort in discussion with the programme's literary consultant, the gorgeous Olivia de Laremberterie. The other morning Mlle de Laremberterie gushed and swooned over the translation from English of a book called Mr Thake, which I can't say I'd ever heard of, by J.B.Morton.

J.B.Morton? A moment's thought over the Special K and Dorset Cereals purple mix, and the spark ignited. Of course! J.B.Morton, who must have died during World War II, was otherwise known as Beachcomber, and wrote a seminally humorous column for the Daily Express called (I think) By The Way. (For devotees of his contemporary A.G.Macdonell's England, Their England, J.B.Morton was the original of 'Tommy Huggins'.)

M. Leymergie raised an eyebrow. (This pillar of the French TV establishment cut his teeth on telesales and once cut a novelty single called, I believe, Monsieur Pacman. We all have episodes in our pasts we would prefer to forget.) Clearly M. Leymergie had never heard of J.B.Morton.

O-O-O-Olivia tossed her lustrous shoulder-length tresses, made a little moue, and gently scolded M. Leymergie for not keeping up. J.B.Morton, she insisted, is very much read in England just now. He is hyper, hyper, hyper popular. You could say he is in the top five English writers...

...we live in the remote fastnesses of the Languedoc (tho' it seems central enough to us) and maybe we're out of touch with current UK literary trends. But can this possibly be true?

19 comments:

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

No.

She's thinking of 'Fly Fishing' by J R R Hartley.

Christopher said...

In fact Mlle. O selected two English books for review. The second was Mr Thake, but the first was La mise à nu de M et Mme Ransome, which is none other than Alan Bennett's The Clothes They Stood Up In done into French. Maybe she muddled the undoubtedly popular Alan Bennett with J.B. Morton. I'm sure Mademoiselle Olivia would be delighted to hear from you if you felt moved to contact her, especially in your new image.

Charlene said...

I used to watch two hours of network shows and then an hour of a silly show, just to get me going.

Now I watch the 10 minutes of national show from 7:45 to 7:50, 5 minutes of local news and weather. Then I watch reruns of West Wing.

My day goes much better now.

Sarah said...

Ha ha I was thinking exactly wot dave wrote!

I've never heard of him but that doesn't mean he doesn't exist. For years I have only read 'travel' accounts and more recently mountains of Zen Dharma.

Christopher said...

Comment deleted: Ah, but I know what it said!...

...Dave: I just remember this commercial (Yellow Pages, wasn't it?) before going to live in France. Am I right in thinking that someone exploited this advert and actually wrote the book?

Charlene: Hi. Three hours'-worth of breakfast TV does seem a little excessive, I agree. But you weren't actually eating breakfast all that time?

Sarah: Ah, there you have me. Pig ignorance here. Afraid I haven't heard of it. Zen Dharma appears to be an anagram (or very nearly) of Dream Haze. Could this be significant, or is it merely a household deodorant?

Sarah said...

Yes you are right....all of life is a dream, and I'm playing mine out to the max.

Z said...

Indeed, Sarah - or, as the very young Ro put it, "Melanie, Melanie, Melanie, Melanie, Have a good dream."

Christopher said...

Sah: Who are these 'max'? Are they some Scotsmen?

Z: Babes and sucklings. Has anyone called Melanie featured in Ro's later life? A river nymph, maybe?

Vicus Scurra said...

Huntingdonshire cabmen. Did they get a mention on your television programme? I would be very impressed.

Z said...

His sister's best friend at the time, whom he adored, was called Melanie.

The song started "Ro, Ro, the Ronan boat..."

Christopher said...

Vicus: Les Cochers de Huntingdonshire, presented by a M. Marc Vaurien, is understandably popular. I believe RAI also finds the occasional spot for Le Cocchiere di Huntingdon. Where will it stop?

Z: Yes, in this context 'Ronan' was characteristically wisely chosen. I imagine it was for this reason you discarded 'Homer', 'Lowboy', 'Popery' and 'Doughnut' as possible names for the new infant.

Vicus Scurra said...

PS - since you ask, I am currently reading "The Diary of a Country Parson" (for those of your readers who are not familiar with this tome, I should point out that the "The" is significant - I have not taken to prying into the private writings of strangers). James Woodforde was a contemporary of our own dear mischievous Methodist, yet Dave's exploits have not featured in the memoir yet. On the whole, I prefer the Rev. East's writings.

Dave said...

How very odd, Vic. I read an article about Woodforde only yesterday. He was apparently far from representative of Norfolk clergy of the time (being a bachelor with a comparatively high stipend, with an Oxford education [most Norfolk clergy were Cambridge men] and a West Country accent marking him out as a stranger) and his account should not be reagrded as the norm.

Similar comments could be made about me.

Christopher said...

Too true, V and Ð. In the 80s I drove all the way from Moray to Ranworth to research a novel that never got written. Having taken several months of great self-discipline to plough through Parson Woodforde's journal I stopped off at Weston Longueville (?), but found the place as narcoleptic as the events its erstwhile incumbent described. My only other Norfolk sortie, some 25 years later, was to Long Stratton,out of a much less misplaced homage to another clerical author.

Vicus Scurra said...

Christopher. You fail to point out that your second visit was much less narcoleptic.
Or did you?

Christopher said...

Vicus: 'I couldn't possibly comment.'

Anonymous said...

We know all about 'deleted pages' don't we?...Then when he turns the leaves again after Southern French wine has dissipated in the morning out through urology bits and pieces and eyes and other faculties become focused once more...He relents and says and digitally types "Apologies...I made a mistake to delete you so offhandedly."

LOL!

Christopher said...

Well we do and we don't, Anon. Don't take it to heart. The deleted message was a trembling-fingered anticipation of the following comment. The management declines all responsibility for its deletion.

How are you? Still as gilt-edged as ever?