Posted by: Corri van de Stege | July 2, 2007

Another bit of the ‘travelogue’

Will be away (for work this time!) for a couple of days so here goes a bit more of my ‘saved’ travelogue:


Foxes started howling late last night and carried on throughout, followed by an appalling sound of frogs, there must be a lake somewhere nearby.  I slept fitfully at first, then sinking into dreaming heavily and consistently most of it gone now.  Every night I dream now and I find there are processions of people all linked to the past, my family, friends, siblings, different countries, all in weird settings as if they have decided to craft their own quite separate existences, unrelated to my own real experiences, as if I never quite understood.

The weather is still a strange mixture of heavy downpours, hot sun and fast moving clouds, interspersed with quite blue skies, then a heavy thunderstorm the night before last, with gusts of wind forcing our bedroom windows wide open, the top ones, letting in sharp fresh and chilly air, lightning and thunder, and then in the morning everything was calm again. 

The owner of the place has a shed full of bikes all in different states of repair, so that when we wanted to take them for a spin to the village brakes were not quite working properly and all had tyres in urgent need of air, before being in a state safe for riding.  I went to the main house, a huge affair, where the owners live and tried the knocker on the big white front door, up some steps.  At the front of the house all windows were wide open, but not a soul in sight.  After knocking a few times the door opened carefully and an elderly kindly looking lady in a neat yellow cardigan, over a silk blouse on a checked skirt and flat shoes, silvery tidy hair very, peeped through the side. She looked inquiringly and I said in my best French, pointing at the bike behind me that we were guests in one of the gites and that we needed a bycicle pump.  ‘Ah, mon fils’, she said, you want my son.  ‘Est pas la’, and she pointed up the drive and out.  She was going to try and find someone else and started shouting, disappeared back into the house, went left and right, shouting someone’s name all the time, then came out again, smiled at me and gestured that she knew what we wanted, ‘a pompe!’ making pumping gestures with both arms, walked across the front of the house to the side, again calling, but there was no response.  She shrugged her shoulders, helpless and smiled again, wanting to be helpful, and I said that never mind I would come back later, some other time.  In the evening as we were sitting under the awning, the rest of the meal still on the table, with the wine bottle empty, the owner came round the corner, looking as if he had been running.  ‘You want a pump, bikes, yea?’, he said ‘don’t worry, I will fix them for you.  Tell me which ones you want’.  R got up and went with him to the bicycle shed at the back, to point out the ones we’d like to use. 

‘You can leave them here’, the owner said ‘just keep them for your own use.  I will fix them first and bring them to you.’  Now we can go to the village on the bike, no need to use the car.   We sat outside and had a coffee, bought some bread and came back another route.  It is very hilly and either you go at breakneck speed down a hill or you struggle to get up the next one, over narrow country roads, with heavy trees on both sides and sudden vistas of fields with the white or brown cows, the local breed, and some sheep, already shorn, looking naked.  Houses are far and between and are often rambling affairs.

I am struggling a bit with my story and spent yesterday reading, rather than writing.  Saul Bellow The Victim is a story that you go on reading even though none of the characters are likeable.  The story of Leventhall slowly being undermined by Allbee in a setting that is quite oldfashioned now, with men domineering all activities and women only have a ‘supporting’ role, is claustrophobic and Kafkaeske.  Character descriptions are worked out to a tee and slowly you get the feeling that you know who these people are, even if you don’t want anything to do with them and the slow but forceful destruction of Leventhall by Allbee is paranoid and inevitable, given the character he is.   


  1. One line for you to know I keep reading your posts, which I find very interesting.

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