I came across this again today – noted down from the window of the Babushka bookshop on the Isle of White in – was it 2014?
It’s a poem by James Fenton, called The Ideal:
This is where I came from
I passed this way
This should not be shameful
Or hard to say
A self is a self
It is not a screen
A person should respect
What he has been
This is my past
Which I shall not discard
This is the ideal
This is hard
‘He craved for an idea, inspired yet concrete, that would show a clear path and change the world for the better, an idea as unmistakable even to a child or an ignorant fool as lightning or a roll of thunder. He craved for something new’
From Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
The old Chinese calendar divided the year into 24 mini seasons with names like ‘Clear and Bright, ‘White Dew’, ‘Great Heat’, ‘Little Cold’ and ‘Squirming Insects’.
March is when the insects squirm, apparently.
(From Lost Japan by Alex Kerr)
A French student called Bruno once told me about the time, walking through a graveyard at night, he was scared by a dark shape suddenly lumbering out of the shadows.
‘What was it?’
‘What did you do?’
Bruno curled his lip and, with disdain, told me ‘ I insulted it’
Whenever I read or hear about France I think of Bruno.