Monday, July 18, 2005

speaking in tongues


After three glorious days of oozing figs from a friend's garden and rosé sunsets with my beloved I'm up, up and away again....

This time to Salzburg.

"Frankreich ist schon aber es ist so schlecht organisiert....." is exactly the phrase, behind me in the airport queue, that makes me want to educate all those who cannot revel in the mess of a bursting fig.

I do not do well in Germany and Austria. Something here brings out the rebel in me. I do not like being told I can or cannot cross the road or that my cello is taking up someone's personal space... and yet my discomfort is a bit like looking in the mirror and coming face to face with my inner Ms Bossy, Ms Rigid, Ms Organised, and it is not a pleasant sight! I'm always trying to better people with my 'superior' ways, telling them to turn their music down, shut their babies up, not jump the red light, take their mobile phones outside.....

...and this is how I make people feel. Ouch.

The great thing about living in France for me is that it doesn't make me face any of my demons. I can escape the clipped still English Ruth, avoid the control freak and touch the shores of the sensuous and gesticulatory woman I fantasise about being. Languages are like sonic maps of our sub-personalities: Some we love and want to hang out with a lot and some we would rather ignore. Sometimes it's good to revisit the neglected ones. They may well bear gifts.



Anonymous millie said...

dear writerly-Ruth,
I well remember the figs of France, freshly picked along the banks of the Canal du Midi.

As a child, I didn't understand the messy fruit, would dutifully go and pick for my father his favorite fruit, black gooey figs from our tree. (Only knew them myself as found in 'Fig newtons'.)

What would be the Teutonic contrast (for it would be a contrast, not a parallel.....) to Figs, I wonder now? Something orderly, of course. An apple, sliced with precision using a Wenger knife? Can't rightly say.

What we can learn from language, I'm always drawn to that. I did try to study Deutsch, years ago, it seemed so mysterious and sure of itself. After years of French I looked forward to a new experiment. Sadly, it never got off the ground: the German teacher left the school, in his place a music teacher was pressed into service at the last minute. She gamely tried her best, bringing her violin to class and teaching us "Du, Du, Liegst Mir im Herzen".

I share your affliction/affinity for control. For me it is not to control for power, it is to vainly try and shed light on the ease and poetry to be found if only people would seek the most efficient, flowing, artful and dare I say common-sense way to do something.
I'm not saying I always exemplify this, but I can't help myself from noticing it when things are haphazard, jarring, convoluted and crazy. Just the queue in the bakery can drive me mad; why is the sign 'Order Here' displayed, with me dutifully waiting there, yet the patrons who walk up to the far counter minutes later take precedence? "Move the sign" I want to shout, or at least abide by your own rules......

It is all to laugh at oneself.

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Becca said...

I totally identify with this post ... as I grow older, I am able to more quickly see a "control" moment coming on and laugh it off before it gets me in trouble. We have a massive fig tree in our back garden here in, of all places, Pittsburgh (a gift from Italian friends) and I wait impatiently for the end of August and early September when hundreds come "online" at the same moment. Bliss ... especially with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and a drip of honey!

6:20 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

Thanks equally writerly Millie. The guy who runs the student place where we are staying sits smoking all day in front of his own no smoking sign. Howzat? So far I have just managed not to point it out to him!
A friend says she fell for German in a big way when someone read Rilke to her. Must try that. Anyone out there ready to read Rilke to me? Julian?.....
I'm afriad mascarpone is off the diet sheet Becca but they're pretty good neat!

1:22 PM  

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