Jackie read out a salutary item for me from BBC News this morning. My regular followers will know of my penchant for becoming stuck in the mud. She therefore thought I should take note of the couple in their late sixties who ventured into The New Forest not far from us. Twenty firefighters using specialist equipment were employed in freeing them when they ‘found themselves stuck in a bog near Burley. They were lucky to have a mobile phone and a signal’. ‘Phone Signal Saves Couple In Bog’, was the headline.
It was quite a pleasant morning when we set off in the hopes that the ailing car would reach Wells Garage in Ringwood. Tony, at the garage had said they were fully booked and one man short today, but we could bring the Modus in and they would do what they could. We made it to the garage, where he kept the vehicle and gave us a courtesy car.
John had lit a bonfire down the slope to the south east corner of the garden. Masking the trees, the smoke from this blended well with the clouds and patches of blue sky above. It wasn’t long before the rain set in and the blue disappeared.
We spent the rest of the morning at Helen and Bill’s, where we had coffee and a good salad lunch. By the time we returned home the roads were just as water-covered as at any other time recently.
This afternoon I finished reading Margaret Forster’s absorbing novel ‘Keeping the World Away’. I have focussed before on transitional objects. In a sense, Forster uses one in her novel. Passing from one woman to another over the period of a century, in a variety of circumstances, is a presumably imagined painting by Gwen John. A number of women are involved and their lives sometimes overlap quite apart from the connection with a real work of art.
John was essentially a portrait painter. Our author has chosen to weave her tale around a rare exception, ‘A Corner of the Artist’s Room in Paris’, of which the work carrying her story is said to be a previous version.
The writer invites us into the minds of her characters, in particular their emotional lives, including their sexuality and their responses to Gwen John’s masterpiece. She is particularly skilled in this, as she is in story-telling. I will not reveal the ending of the book, which I would recommend for your reading pleasure, but I can say that Gwen’s childhood is the starting point. I think this version of the gestation and creation of the painting itself is probably imagined, linked as it is with the artist’s waning affair with Auguste Rodin, because it is at odds with the creator’s own comments. Nevertheless, it is credible and keeps us intrigued.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice and peas. Strawberry jelly and evaporated milk was to follow. I drank some La Patrie Cahors 2012 malbec.