Or the Inverse Proportionality of Expectation
There must be some kind of a law governing the things in which one ends up involved. If the episode on the outskirts of sanity getting my work OUT of Switzerland and INTO France would have had Franz Kafka nodding his approval (and probably taking notes), the actual sojourn in La Baule was pure pleasure.
Does this mean that the more harrowing the preparation, the better the actual event?
La Baule is a most curious town, build atop sand dunes (you wouldn’t know now) around the middle of the 19th century, when the French began to consider the advantages of towns near the sea for something other than fishing and shipping goods, namely the pleasures of going to the beach. Thus the whole town, where the 60’s didn’t demolish and rebuild in that inimitable and much-deplored orgy of high-rises (most of the 6 miles of beachfront) and where commerce hasn’t claimed frontage, the entire community of La Baule is 19th-century villas of the most extravagant shapes and sizes, with a certain desuetudo Victorian charm and loads of shrubbery. (Our favourite car game immediately became spotting the names of the villas.) It could be highside Wellington, Shaugnessy Heights, one of those intriguing localities which is more a time than a place.
Left and centre: The Chapel Saint-Anne, which houses the show. (The chapel was built in 1880.) Once by day, once by night..
Right: I’ve always wanted to be on one of the famous “colonnes Morris”. They first appeared in Paris in 1868, and took the name of their inventer, the printer Morris. Nowadays, they are all over France. Most of them rotate, except the ones with public toilets inside (or so I imagine, thought that would be rather a novelty.)
Left and centre: More posters in La Baule.
Right: I’m a huge fan of neon signs and only a certain restraint (and the knowledge that the novelty might well wear off really fast) keeps me from filling our house with them.
Left and centre: Quick side trip to Guérande, very near La Baule, one of the few towns with the ramparts intact. But the best part was the church, which has an exterior pulpit and the most extraordinary tree motifs on the facade. We arrived right in the middle of a medieval fête, so the place was wall-to-wall people, and of course I had forgotten my camera, so the journalist took these with his iPhone. It appears that external pulpits (you reach it from a little flight of steps from the nave) are a Breton speciality, and there are only five in all of Brittany.
Right: The VERY kind organiser of the festival fetched the keys, so I zipped up to the top of the collégiale. (It’s not a cathedral, though it’s big enough; cathedrals require bishops, and this, like its counterpart in Neuchâtel, was run by a college or assembly of monks.) Alas, the camerman and microphone followed me up and eventually cornered me at the top.
Though calvaries are the true Breton speciality, the rough granite that most churches are made from abridges the finer detail, attainable in smoother, finer-grained rock like sandstone, conferring on them a curious turn-of-the-last-century pre-weathered elegance reminiscent of Gaudi’s free-form Modernismo catalán.
Photos © Christophe Turgis
Thanks, most heartfelt, to Jean-Jacques and Diane Launier for surviving the border crossing saga without developing ulcers, and to Yan Baczkowski of the Office of Tourisme, for looking after us so well.
Anyway, we had a wonderful time, and now the bar is placed VERY high for the next exhibition. Wherever and whenever it may be, see you there!
Over the next few months I must concentrate on work, so if I’ve accepted interviews and questionnaires and the like, I’m terribly sorry, but they will all have to wait (as will the stack of mail accumulated like a snowdrift under my desk) until my looming deadlines have been taken on and beaten.
One more (long) interview will appear shortly on The Land of Shadow and then I’ll have to call it quits, draw the blinds, get a promising stack of CDs fed into the sound system and then work until I’m done. (These interviews are always good fun to do, but typing out something legible, vaguely sensible and hopefully occasionally witty just takes so long it’s easy to end up spending far too much time on them.)
I’ll do my level best to keep the newsletter going, despite the fact that all work and no play will definitely make John a (hopefully temporarily) dull boy, and there will be the little trips to Comic Con and the Edinburg Festival (about which, more later). I hope to resurface properly after September.
And, speaking of Comic Con: Spotlight Panel, on Saturday July 26th, at 12h00, which is scheduled to run for an hour, followed by a signing session at the Impact booth at 13h00. There will be signing sessions Thursday and Friday too, I’ll post the times when I have them.
There is also a live chat, organized by TORN, lined up for the film documentary “Reclaiming the Blade”, which I believe takes place the Thursday evening. Once again, more when I know more.