Sunday, 18 March 2012

Hopeland (Notes from Corsica) 17. Ennui on the Mountain

Life in England was now in stark contrast to Corsica. The everyday realities of commuting into London to an uninspiring job had started to chip away at Di’s newfound joie de vivre. Working as a ‘size model’ for various high profile high street designers seemed a glamorous career to folk looking in. The humdrum reality was different. A cross between a mannequin and a fashion technician, she laboured long hours in cramped conditions with designers, buyers and technicians who stuck pins into her, bitched and moaned and invariably forget that she was there; she was but a living breathing template. Di withdrew and could feel nothing but diminished by her windowless working day; the pay was excellent, the payoff was an increasingly derelict soul.
Life was pretty good for me; I was working for a large international school in central London, as Director of the extra curricular activities. In the summer I ran the school’s summer camp. The school, a successful independent, provided a privileged environment for wealthy families, mainly Americans. As such it was an easy place to be; the problems of most inner city schools did not raise their ugly heads there. I was surrounded by an intelligent, urbane faculty whose sole motivation was the well-being of a happy, healthy student population.
I loved the company of the lower school kids, aged between four and ten; it was a constant reminder of the wisdom of children and the joy that their lack of cynicism can bring. If you’re ever feeling jaded just sit with a group of five year olds and ask them about the colours inside their heads. I learnt to trust children. I wish I could invest my writing with their sense of wonder and clarity of thought; they encouraged me to keep gazing at the stars whilst staying focused on ‘the bleeding obvious’.
Gradually this side of my life was deviating me from my expected route, that of a recording songwriter. I needed to work to fuel the fire but, where once I could happily wear the two hats, it now felt a misfit. I was marking time instead of fully committing to the muse; still creatively inspired but feeling vocationally impotent; I lacked luster; perhaps work at the school offered too much of a comfort zone. Contentment kicked in alongside a vague ennui; if this was my lot I wasn’t too unhappy in my underachievement.
I started to drink; not to excess, just more regularly and more eagerly, eventually turning to single malts to give some culture to my craving; just to loosen things up and blur the edges a little. This of course dulled any edge that I had. Di wasn’t happy and let me know it, wincing at the sound of the ice machine; she’d be spending another evening in my compromised company.
“Whiskey makes you sour.”                                    

Increasingly it seemed that we were at our most relaxed in Montemaggiore and for a while we thought seriously about selling up and moving to Corsica. The short lived plan was to invest any meager savings that we could realize, alongside profit made from selling our cottage, into a property near Calvi. Initially this would be as a holiday let, but possibly as an alternative to Chez Diane, should we find that life in the valley beckoned us down from the mountain. Di would develop her passion for photography into something more lucrative, and I would sit atop the mountain and write my songs. We had Lisa Cottage valued and were set for a life change This, in turn, set us towards some serious soul searching. We eventually recognised that our happiness was founded on having the two bases; one ‘ideal’ enhanced the other. Only then did we truly count our blessings; in England we had good friends and a lovely home on a village green, where we woke to birdsong and the footfall of horses in the meadow behind us. Buckinghamshire offered up what pleasures remained of ‘Olde England’, with easy access to the excitements of London. 
The pleasures of Corsica were obvious. 
We had two good lives; why not make the best of both worlds?


  1. Nice post, Trevor. My three year old yesterday asked "Are we somebody's dream?" but the question held no angst for him. He was happy with "Maybe" as an answer. Their eyes recreate the world again and again.
    (Any sign of Beautiful Losers?)

  2. 'Are we somebody's dream?'; Seamus, that's quite a question from a three year old.
    Was it unsolicited? If so you need to buy him an acoustic guitar right now... Meanwhile I may well put that in a song (I'll need his full name for a PRS credit and can guarantee a '50% of f*ck all' royalty).
    I ordered 'Beautiful Losers' (still no sign) at the same time as '2666' and 'Savage Detectives' all courtesy of your influence. The two Bolano's have arrived (I'm currently eating breakfast off one and using the other to help me get to those cobwebs).
    When are they putting the clocks back?
    I hope that you celebrated yesterday... are you a rugby man also?

    1. Hi Trevor - sorry for tardy response - cutting down time on laptop due to backpain. Tomas would be delighted with a co-credit and no, it was not solicited. In fact, we've racked our brains but can't think hat inspired it.
      Glad the Bolano's are proving domestically useful - don't need to feel any guilt if you don't like reading them.
      skcolc next weekend, I think: )
      Not a rugby man, I'm afraid, so I could celebrate the quietening of the Irish rugby supporters for a while. (Played in my early youth but gave up partly following boy being paralysed in school match. Also general thuggery, biting, stamping etc which all seemed to be expected. Not my idea of sport.)
      Well done Wales, though! Used to love watching them back in the days of JPR Williams, Phil Bennett etc They always tried to run the ball, which is the good part of the game.
      But having just watched a video compilation of Lionel Messi's 234 goals for Barcelona I am feeling very football centered.

    2. Sorry Seamus, I've written out of turn.
      Look under Di...

  3. My darlin' you write so beautifully!
    Now I need to get off this computer and go and see the sky.
    At last the sun is shining!
    Love Dips

    P.S. The clocks are going forward.

  4. Ay, that Messi is the real 'special one'; seemingly on rails and looks to play for the love of it; refreshing to behold in these mercenary times. I'd love to see the same physical 'honesty' from the football boys; the simulation is driving me nuts; making me far too grumpy for my years. Speaking of which, we must be of the same vintage; I too loved the glory days of JPR, Phil Bennet, and 'that' Gareth Edwards; I can even remember Barry John. There was a distance between the backs and forwards that shaped the game for me. It's all become one big hairy arsed mass; with the ref's whistle more and more the defining element.
    I think that I might give up on the Amazon 'Cohen'; it was but 0.01p plus p&p. I thought it was too good to be true. I'm currently eyeing the kindle version although not sure that would be in the spirit of the thing; I'd need to scrawl in the margins wouldn't I?